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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-09-03
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 168/08 03.09.08
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Statements of the Turkish Cypriot leader after his meeting with President Demetris ChristofiasAnkara Anatolia news agency (03.09.08) reports the following from Lefkosia:
The Turkish Cypriot president expressed hope on Wednesday that negotiations between the two parties in Cyprus would not last long. President Mehmet Ali Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said that talks with the Greek Cypriot administration would not last long.
We do not start from the beginning, so I hope negotiations would not last long, Talat told reporters before meeting Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.
Talat and Christofias met at the buffer zone in Lefkosia to set the method of negotiations in Cyprus, expected to be launched on September 11th. Alexander Downer, the United Nations (UN) special envoy for Cyprus, also participated in the meeting.
The Turkish Cypriot president said that the Treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty of Alliance, signed in 1960, should be preserved. None of the parties should try to legally dominate the other, and the guarantor status should be maintained, Talat said.
Mr. Talat said, our aim is to make a divided island a common place where two nations are living.
Also, Mr. Christofias said that a solution should be within the framework of the European Union (EU) because the Greek Cypriot administration was a full member of the union.
Mr. Christofias said every one had to respect territorial integrity of Cyprus, and it was high time that the problem had been solved.
The Greek Cypriot leader expressed wish for a solution on a single state status, and said that they would be in full cooperation with the UN.
Also speaking to reporters, Mr. Downer said that it was a historic day for Cyprus and there were many reasons to be optimistic about a settlement. Mr. Downer added that the UN would support the process, but said that there might be challenges and problems in the future. Cyprus problem is not an issue that could not be solved, he said.
The UN envoy defined the long-term friendship and the belief of the two parties in a settlement as a common vision, and the main factor for peace. Mr. Downer also said that reunification of the island was for the best interests of all Cypriots.
 How the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Press cover the launch of the negotiations todayAll the local papers in the occupied areas and Turkey report about the direct negotiations that will start today between President Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat at the UN Secretary-Generals special representative in Cyprus Mr. Taye-Brook Zerihouns residence in the buffer zone.
Following are the titles of the Turkish Cypriot newspapers:
KIBRIS: Last chance for a solution
YENIDUZEN: Be brave
STAR KIBRIS: The chess solution
KIBRISLI: Pertev: A slippery ground
VATAN: Today is the meeting of Talat-Christofias
SOZCU: Avci: They want to extend it for 40 years more. For the Greek Cypriots, it may be their last chance, but for the Turkish Cypriots it is stated that they will continue their road. Every day, we are living new developments. Every day new foundations are being laid. TRNC is growing up.
BAKIS: The gang of ORP (Freedom and Reform Party)
VOLKAN: The alliance of evil against the Turkish Cypriot people
GUNES: Be effective. Irsen Kucuk called Talat to behave as TRNC President and to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriot people.
ORTAM: Cakici: Lets not miss this opportunity
HALKIN SESI: Guarantorship cannot be debated
AFRIKA: Talat and Christofias meet
Following are the titles of the Turkish newspapers:
MILLIYET: «Christofias and Talat are meeting for the 11 of September summit»
HURRIYET: «The most crucial negotiations in Cyprus, today».
RADIKAL: «Negotiations start today: The first round in Cyprus».
TARAF (02.09.08): «The Turkish Peace Keeping Forces cast a shadow on tomorrows meeting between Christofias and Talat».
 Ercakica on the negotiation talks starting todayTurkish Cypriot Kibris newspaper (03.09.08) reports that Mr. Talats spokesman Hasan Ercakica, has declared that the Turkish Cypriot side is ready for the negotiations.
Speaking to reporters at his weekly press briefing, Mr. Ercakica said that the period following the 2004 referendum was effectively ending with the start of negotiations tomorrow.
Explaining that the two leaders will be discussing procedural aspects of the process during todays meeting, Ercakica said that they expected actual negotiations to begin on the 11th of September.
Ercakica also said that the whole process had been evaluated at political and technical levels during Mr. Talats contacts in Ankara last week.
Ercakica further said: Mr. Gul and Mr. Talat specially stressed the equal status of the two founding states and the political equality of the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot peoples and the Greek Cypriot spokesman reacted to this. This is a very meaningless reaction which caused astonishment and reaction in the Turkish Cypriot side, since these issues have been decided by the two leaders. Ercakica said.
He went on and said that in principle the sides have agreed and formulated the points the details of which will be included in the agreement. He said that the solution will be a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution based on the political equality of the two peoples and the equal status of the two equal founding states. To these points the Greek Cypriot side later on added single sovereignty, single international identity or single citizenship, Ercakica declared.
 Nami calls on the Republic of Cyprus to learn lessons from the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by RussiaIllegal Bayrak television (02.09.08) broadcast the following:
The Presidential Adviser Ozdil Nami has said that the new negotiation process to be launched tomorrow would be a difficult one, but added that the two sides should determinedly continue the talks.
'We should be ready for all; the leaders may one day leave the talks with a smiling face and another with a sad face, and even we may face with deadlocks', Mr Nami told BRT, adding that the Turkish Cypriot Side would continue its efforts to the end.
Mr Nami who has long been holding discussions with George Iacovou - an aide to the Greek Cypriot Leader said it seems that the Greek Cypriot Side has also got the will to strike a deal.
`But, we will see whether the Greek Cypriot Side really wants a solution or not when the direct talks are launched`, he noted.
Responding to a question on his last meeting with Mr Iacovou when the Greek Cypriot aide left the table after being told that villagers from Pirgo would not be allowed to use the Yesilirmak Gate for ceremonies at Ayios Mamas, Mr Nami said that the move will not turn to a crisis at the talks.
Commenting on Greek Foreign Ministers statement that a solution plan should be prepared in Cyprus, he said the two sides should try to draw a plan themselves, adding that the United Nations could present a plan to the sides if they fail to do so.
Answering a question on possible effects of the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia on the Cyprus issue, he said that the two are separate issues which should be taken up separately.
But, he said that the Greek Cypriot Side should learn lessons from the recognition of two Georgian regions and should stop playing for time.
He noted that the international community would get involved in the Cyprus problem in case of a failure at the talks and that it could bring a solution to the problem itself.
But, he warned that the solution to be found may not be the one desired by the sides, however, he stopped short to say what kind of a step could be taken by the international community.
Responding to another question, Mr Nami said that the chances of finding a solution to the problem are higher than a failure.
Stressing that the Turkish Cypriot Side will sit at the negotiations table with good will, he expressed the hope that a solution would be reached at the talks.
He also noted that the UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Cyprus Alexander Downer will be visiting Ankara, Athens, Brussels and London in the coming days for further contacts on the Cyprus issue.
 Turkish Cypriot daily cites the former commander of the Turkish Occupation forces in Cyprus as reason for the non-opening of Limnitis crossing-pointTurkish Cypriot Afrika newspaper (03.09.08) reports that it was the former commander of the Turkish Occupation forces in Cyprus Lieutenant General Hayri Kivrikoglu who violated the agreement reached between President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat regarding Limnitis crossing-point on 25 July 2008.
Afrika newspaper, quoting Turkish mainland newspaper Taraf, reports that the violation of the agreement reached between President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat regarding Limnitis crossing-point on 25 July 2008 by the Turkish side was the reason why presidential Commissioner Mr. George Iacovou walked out of the meeting he was having the other day with Mr. Talats advisor Mr. Ozdil Nami. The paper goes on and reports that the agreement was violated by the Turkish Army officers, which was a serious blow to the Turkish sides credibility and trustworthiness, as well as to the dialogue.
The paper further reports that the agreement reached between the leaders on 25 July stipulated that the sides will use the Limnitis crossing-point once a year reciprocally, that is, the Turkish side will use it to cross into Kokkina and the Greek Cypriots for going to Ayios Mammas to pray. The paper goes on and reports that on 8 August around 1200 Turkish Cypriots crossed the Limnitis crossing-point and went to Kokkina without any problems. However, when it was the Greek Cypriots turn, Lieutenant General Hayri Kivrikoglu, reneged his decision and violated the agreement.
The crisis was solved, reports the paper through a telephone conversation between Mr. Talat and President Christofias, with the two leaders agreeing not to escalate the situation and to be calm.
The paper concludes by reporting that during todays meeting the Turkish sides hand is week because of the action of an actor who is not on the negotiation table and the Turkish sides breaking of its promise.
 Rasit Pertev declares that any agreement reached between the sides shall be against the Turkish Cypriots due to the weaknesses experienced in economyTurkish Cypriot Kibris newspaper (03.09.08) reports that the leader of the Peoples Party (HP) Rasit Pertev on the occasion of the starting of the direct negotiations has declared his red lines as follows: Two peoples, bi-zonality, equality, just and lasting solution. He said: Any agreement reached will be against us as the weak side as a result of the weaknesses experienced in the economy and in governance because of the mistakes committed by the present government.
 Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council sign a MoU. Babacan thanks GCC countries for their support to the pseudo-stateAnkara Anatolia news agency (03.09.08) reports the following from Jeddah:
Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Tuesday. Turkey and the council, thus, established a high-level dialogue mechanism.
Turkey believes that institutionalizing our relations with the council will serve our common interests and open new horizons for our cooperation, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said during the Turkey-GCC Strategic Dialogue First Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Babacan underlined the importance Turkey attached to the stability and security of Gulf countries. Today, there is a belt of crisis in the Middle East, and it is unfortunately in an area between Turkey, in the north and the Gulf, in the south, he said.
The foreign minister said that Turkey and the Gulf countries were located in two wings that could help solution of the crises and contribute to regional stability.
The role of Qatar in signature of Doha Agreement and our country's role as a mediator between Israel and Syria are indicators of it, Babacan said.
Babacan said that the council undertook significant responsibilities in ensuring security, stability and prosperity in the region, and expressed his belief that the dialogue mechanism would boost strategic relations between Turkey and the member states.
The Turkish foreign minister defined Turkey and Gulf countries as the two economic stars of the Middle East in the last five years, and said Turkey's trade volume with the region was up by four-folds in the mentioned years.
Babacan wished to sign a free trade agreement with the council as soon as possible, and expressed his expectation from the member states to make more investments in Turkey.
The minister suggested construction of a railway transportation network that would connect regional countries to each other and Turkey, and said that it could also be backed by sea and airway connections.
On Cyprus problem, Babacan thanked for the support of GCC member states and said that the member states had a significant cooperation potential with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in areas including tourism, trade, education culture and direct transportation.
Babacan told the participants that the presidents of Syria and France, Qatari amir, the prime minister of Turkey would meet in a quartet summit in Damascus on Thursday and expressed Turkey's belief that all regional countries should deal with Middle Eastern problem.
The minister said that Turkey, which was against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, did not want to see an Iran with a nuclear weapon capacity, and also said that the problem should be solved through diplomatic means.
Babacan also invited the member states to the second annual forum of the Alliance of Civilizations that Turkish city of Istanbul would host on April 2nd-3rd, 2009.
 Gul exchanges views over the phone with President Bush on the negotiation talks to be launched in CyprusAnkara Anatolia news agency (02.09.08) reported from Ankara that the Turkish president spoke to the U.S. president by phone on Tuesday, his office said.
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul had a phone conversation with U.S. President George Bush, and exchanged views on regional and international issues.
President Gul briefed Bush on Turkey's "Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform" proposal.
Also, the two presidents debated Kirkuk problem and comprehensive Cyprus talks to be launched on Wednesday.
 Russian and Turkish Foreign Minister hold a joint press conference. Cyprus on the agendaAnkara Anatolia news agency (02.09.08) reported the following from Istanbul:
The Turkish foreign minister expressed belief on Tuesday that trade problems with Russia would be solved.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said he believed that trade problems between Turkey and Russia would be overcome with a flexible attitude and cooperation of Russia.
'We discussed in a sincere and constructive way the problems caused by keeping and checking Turkish products at Russian customs gates longer than usual,' Babacan told a press conference in the Turkish city of Istanbul with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Babacan defined Turkey and Russia as two neighboring countries, and said that Turkey was seeing Russia as not only a friend and neighbor but also as its main trade and energy partner.
The Turkish foreign minister said that Russia was Turkey's number one trade partner in the first half of 2008 with a trade volume of about 20 billion USD, and appreciated the investments of Turkish businessmen and construction firms in Russia.
Babacan said that the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey was over 2.5 million, and also said that this figure was 1.6 million in the first seven months of 2008.The foreign minister underlined importance of cooperation in energy, and hoped that new joint projects would be implemented in the future.
'Turkey has a key position in transferring oil and natural gas of Russia and other producer companies in the region to consumer markets safely and economically,' he said.
Babacan expressed belief that the cooperation between two countries would contribute to energy supply safety.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is paying one-day formal visit to Turkey. The two ministers had a meeting at an office of the Turkish Prime Ministry in Besiktas, Istanbul.
They discussed regional problems, particularly the Caucasus, Cyprus, Middle East, Iraq and Iran.
On the same issue, Ankara Anatolia news agency (02.09.08) reported the following from Istanbul:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that his country appreciated Turkey's efforts to advance the solution process for Caucasus problem.
Holding a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in Istanbul, Lavrov said that relations between Turkey and Russia had always been friendly.
Lavrov said that the trade volume between the two countries developed significantly, and he expressed hope that they would reach 25 billion USD of foreign trade volume which was targeted by state ministers of the two countries. He added that investments and cooperation between Turkey and Russia were developing each day.
Lavrov said that Russian tourists were rushing to Turkey, adding that 2.5 million Russian tourists visited Turkey last year and this figure would increase in 2008. Lavrov also said that Turkey was the top trade partner of Russia.
Russian foreign minister stressed that the target of relations between Turkey and Russia was 'cooperation on basis of advanced multilateral partnership'.Noting that they also discussed the problems in Caucasus, Lavrov said that they agreed to maintain peace, security and tranquility in the region. Lavrov said that international responsibilities were violated and attacks were staged on South Ossetia. He added that under those circumstances recognition of independence of Ossetia and Abkhazia was the only way out. Lavrov said that recognition would not only protect the security of Abkhazia and South Ossetia but also it would be the only alternative for those people to pursue their existence.
Lavrov said that Russia supported Ankara's proposal to set up Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.
We have also agreed to further develop cooperations (in the Black Sea) such as Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), he said.
Lavrov said that Russia wanted to pursue its cooperation with Turkey on economic, political, commercial and cultural areas.
 Turkish and Russian admirals met on frigate in Black Sea and discussed regional issuesAnkara Anatolia news agency (02.09.08) reported from Ankara that the Turkish and Russian admirals met on a Turkish frigate on the Black Sea on Monday, the Turkish General Staff said on Tuesday.
Admiral Metin Atac, the commander of Turkey's Naval Forces, had a meeting with Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, at the TCG Kemalreis frigate that was sailing on international waters of the Black Sea on Monday, a statement posted on the web-site of the General Staff said.
The General Staff said that the commanders exchanged views on issues concerning the two naval forces and regional developments.
 Azerbaijan uneasy over President Guls visit to ArmeniaIstanbul NTV broadcast (01.09.08) the following from Baku:
President Abdullah Gul's possible visit in Armenia has caused unease in Azerbaijan. The leading political scientists and politicians in the country believe that such a step will constitute a "strategic mistake.'
According to Azerbaijani political scientist Agayev, President Gul's visit in Armenia aims at improving the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government's negative image in Western countries. Agayev claimed that if Turkey makes policy changes without a mutual step from Armenia, this will adversely affect Turkish-Azerbaijani relations.
Cahangirov, another Azerbaijani political scientist, noted that it will be wrong to make a goodwill gesture toward Armenia that neither changes its genocide policy, nor shelves its territorial demands from Turkey.
Vefa Guluzade, former adviser in the Azerbaijani President's Office, noted that the Russian factor may be behind Turkey's approach.
According to Guluzade, Moscow may have offered Ankara special conditions in tourism and a discount in natural gas prices.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Turkish columnist assesses that it will be difficult to reach to a solution since the intervention of the Turkish army has weakened the Turkish Cypriot sideUnder the title Turkey must surely balance, but it has to make choices, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (03.09.08) publishes the following commentary by Yavuz Baydar:
I meant to devote this entire article to President Abdullah Gul's now almost-confirmed visit to Armenia, but an event definitely aimed at undermining today's talks on Cyprus came up. It has to be commented on.
Daily Taraf reported yesterday that an agreement between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaderships on civilian visits, dated July 25, was broken by the Turkish side because the Turkish Army Command on the island unilaterally decided not to allow Greek Cypriots to open a border gate for a single event.
The agreement initially allowed some 200 Turkish Cypriots to visit a cemetery in the Erenkoy area [occupied Kokkina], which was accomplished because the Greek Cypriot side kept its promise to open passage on August 8. When, according to the agreement, it was the Greek Cypriots' turn to go to the northern side via the same border gate some days ago, the former commander of the Turkish Peace Force, Hayri Kivrikoglu, sidelining the Turkish leadership, insisted that the gate would not be opened.
Mehmet Ali Talat, reportedly deeply infuriated at what he saw as an indecent act of breaking a promise, chose to keep a low profile. Speaking to Demitris Christofias, both leaders agreed that talks should proceed regardless of the event.
It is obvious the intervention of the military has already weakened the Turkish Cypriot side, and moreover, it signals how difficult it will be for Talat and his team of negotiators to reach a lasting solution that will reflect the civilian will of northern Cyprus and Ankara.
In Turkey's troubled neighborhood policies, it has always been a walk on a tightrope for the elected governments, more often than not operating under what appears to be the independent policy-implementing mechanism of the military. It should be noted that, also more often than not, failures due to the schizophrenic nature of dual leadership rule in Turkish foreign policy vis-ą-vis Greece, Cyprus, Iraq and Armenia are registered in the performance of those governments themselves rather than the military headquarters whose responsibilities are not seen as accountable.
Against all odds, like a car whose gas pedal is pressed while the hand break is on, both the government and the Foreign Ministry insist in plunging into foreign policy areas long overdue to be solved. The latest example is the visit to Armenia by President Gul, which, unless a huge obstacle arises, will take place as a one-day event parallel to a soccer match in Yerevan between the Turkish and Armenian national teams.
It will be a historic event at a historic turning point for the Caucasus. It comes also at a time when Turkey's alliances and strategic partnerships will be tested to the limit. There is awareness in Ankara, now, more than ever, that the famous saying by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Peace in the land, peace on earth, no longer means neutrality and passivity. Sticking to a sophisticated brinkmanship, Ankara has to make its strategic choices clear and visible. If not, it may lose its compass and be unable to find any secure accommodation in the emerging new world of bipolarity.
Therefore the choice of visiting Yerevan involves an enormous number of opportunities, despite the risks. The more Yerevan and Ankara talk to each other, the closer the vision of Georgia, Armenia and even Azerbaijan joining one day -- even if it may be through privileged partnership -- the European Union. The more Yerevan is persuaded to be involved in a solution in Nagorno-Karabakh, the more distant the risk of Russia recognizing it as an independent entity will be. The more Turks and Armenians talk to each other, the more visible the prospects for peace and democracy in the region, certainly. If the West loses Georgia and eventually Armenia to Russian expansionism, it is clear Turkey will be a loser, too -- at least in terms of its increased dependency on its northern giant neighbor.
It is difficult not to pay attention to these lines written only recently by former Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan:
Georgia's eagerness to get into NATO is understandable. But the security benefits to Georgia that NATO membership would bring would be offset by the creation of a dividing line in the Caucasus, and its attendant security challenges.
Perhaps this is the Caucasus moment: a historic opportunity, in the context of a new regional security pact, for Brussels, Washington and Moscow to meet with Tbilisi, Yerevan and Baku and create a nonaligned Caucasus, free of security memberships and adversarial alliances. Such positive, engaged, inclusive neutrality will be possible and beneficial all around.
This would be in the best interest of this highly combustible region. A US-Russia confrontation at the Georgia-Russia level will make life very difficult, not just for us here in Armenia but also for Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The proposal today, in this new tense environment, must be more serious and sustained. It must marginalize no one. Security issues are intertwined, and they ought to be addressed in a stability pact with a comprehensive, strong security component."
 Turkish columnist assesses President Guls visit to Armenia and the level of relations between Turkey Armenia and Turkey CyprusUnder the title "Gul is going to the Armenia match, columnist Murat Yetkin pens an article in Turkish daily Radikal newspaper (02.09.08) where he assesses President Guls visit to Armenia on September 6 and the level of relations between Turkey Armenia and Turkey Cyprus.
Murat Yetkin, inter alia, writes on the issue:
Gul, on the occasion of this visit, will also open up to Armenian President Sargsyan the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform [KIIP] project that has been put forth by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The issue is included among the main topics of the meeting that Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, who will accompany Gul, will have with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. The KIIP proposal was previously made to Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and of those suggested to take part in the platform, there remained only Armenia. Sargsyan, in the interview he gave to Radikal, said that he welcomed Erdogan's words regarding dialogue for stability and security in the region" and said that when we receive the proposal, we will study its details and then announce our stance.
Ankara is in this way thinking to implement the line of moving a step forward that it had previously announced on the Cyprus issue. Sargsyan, based on Gul and Erdogan's having left an open door to dialogue, had said that he saw the 2010 World Cup group elimination seedings pairing the Turkish and Armenian national football teams against each other for the first time in history as an opportunity to improve Turkish-Armenian relations. With this step, Gul is showing that he wants to expand the opportunity emerging with the match so as to take in not only the Turkish-Armenian relationship, but to broaden the framework to reduce the tension in the Caucasus in such a way as to include Azerbaijan, Russia, and Georgia as well, and to bring about stability and cooperation.
A Foreign Ministry official with whom I spoke yesterday said: It is true that the match is an opportunity, but it is essential not to focus just on the match. It is necessary to seek ways of utilizing this as an opportunity to contribute to an atmosphere of stability in the Caucasus. One question that comes to mind here is this: Is there a contradiction between these contacts and the absence of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia? For instance, is there no similarity between this situation and the Republic of Cyprus under Greek Cypriot rule, which Turkey officially describes as the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus [GKRY]?
The same source explained it as follows: There is a difference between them. We have recognized Armenia from the very start. For us, Armenia is a country that is an entity subject to international law, and whose existence we recognize. We have relations, but these are not at the level of reciprocal diplomatic relations. Yet we do not recognize the GKRY as a subject of international law. Consequently, there is no contradiction from the diplomatic standpoint.
It is expected that the political component of the Turkish delegation headed by Cevikoz, which will be in Armenian tomorrow, will return on the same day. It has been learned that the components of it concerned with security and with protocol will remain in Yerevan until the match is over.
 From the Turkish Press of 02 September 2008Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 2 September:
a) Developments after the crisis in Georgia
In an article in Milliyet, Fikret Bila relates a chat he held with Prime Minister Erdogan who assessed the Caucasus problem, the US-Russian confrontation, and Turkey's position regarding the crisis. Noting that the United States is Turkey's closest ally and that Russia is an important energy and trade partner, Erdogan has said that Turkey will not side with one or the other party and will act in line with its national interests.
In an article in Hurriyet, Hadi Uluengin assesses Russia's muscle-flexing toward the United States, the EU, and Turkey. He argues that through its "gradual embargo" on Turkey, Russia is punishing Ankara and issuing a strategic threat to the West. Pointing out that Kremlin is warning the West through Turkey with regards to the control of the oil and gas transport routes, Uluengin says that Kremlin's "wishes" will gain clarity during the talks to be held between the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers in Ankara today. If Moscow is determined to launch a Cold War against the West, then Turkey has no choice but to side with the West, Uluengin concludes.
Assessing Kremlin's new foreign policy in an article in Milliyet, Sami Kohen says that the developments in Georgia have granted Russia the opportunity to announce to the world and to implement the new strategies it has been formulating for some time. Russia, which has reached political stability and a certain "petrodollar wealth," believes that the time has come to prove to the world that it is a power that the West can no longer ignore, Kohen writes, adding that the Russian leaders want the United States and Europe to accept this reality and to refrain from acts that might damage Russia's interests in the future. Noting that the West's initial reaction to the developments in Georgia was united, Kohen is doubtful whether this unity will continue in the face of the Russian fait accompli and the sanctions that might be imposed on Russia for a return to the old status quo. Yesterday's EU summit has shown that it is very difficult for the West to impose effective sanctions, Kohen says, stressing that this is not the choice of many European countries. The writer points out that the Western European and the Eastern European countries have different opinions on the issue, adding that Moscow has already taken into consideration that certain European countries are dependent on Russia especially in the field of energy.
Analyzing the mistake made by Georgian President Saakashvili in South Ossetia and the US role in the Georgian move in an article in Radikal, Cengiz Candar views Turkey's stand in this crisis saying that the time has come for Turkey to choose a side. Turkey, which is a NATO member and EU candidate member conducting accession negotiations, cannot initiate 'regional formations' such as the Caucasus Platform by excluding NATO and the EU, Candar argues. Noting that Georgia does not view this Platform favorably and that the stands of Azerbaijan and Armenia on the issue are not known, Candar wonders what Foreign Minister Babacan will be marketing to his Russian counterpart today and how he will do it. Describing the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform as an initiative that will raise doubts about Turkey's "Western identity," the writer argues that it may, nonetheless have a by-product, that of establishing direct ties with Armenia. The establishment of relations between Turkey and Armenia at the highest level can, paradoxically, be viewed as a development that might strengthen Turkey's "Western identity," Candar argues, adding: "From the viewpoint of its outcome, one can liken Gul's Yerevan visit that of Christopher Columbus who ended up America while trying to sail to India."
Assessing the developments in the Caucasus in an article in the Turkish Daily News, Barcin Yinanc draws attention to the heavy responsibility resting on the shoulders of Azerbaijani President Aliyev, pointing out that Russia is waiting for Azerbaijan to make in Nagorno-Karabakh a mistake similar to the one Georgian President Saakashvili made in South Ossetia. Barcin advises Turkey, which is modernizing the Azerbaijani army, to tell Aliyev to stay away from military solutions.
In an article entitled "So Much Obstinacy is Harmful for Milliyet", Yeni Safak columnist Taha Kivanc [pseudonym for Fehmi Koru] criticizes Milliyet for arguing, despite what he claims to be evidence to the contrary, that the Georgian military operation against South Ossetia was not a neo-con "conspiracy" aimed at having John McCain elected as the United States' next president.
In an article entitled "Why is Georgia so important for the United States and Israel?", Vakit Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya comments on what he describes as US and Israeli interest in Georgia in light of an American Chronicle article by Ian Brockwell entitled "Georgia Needed for Iran Attack." He also argues that it is because Russia has been making effective use of its "remarkable weapons" of oil and natural gas that EU leaders were "extremely unwilling" at the summit in Brussels yesterday to adopt any sanctions against Moscow.
In a commentary entitled "The customs crisis with Russia: Advantages, Disadvantages", Sinan Ogan, Chairman of the Turkish Center of International Relations and Strategic Analysis, argues that the customs crisis between Turkey and Russia is not related to the conflict in the Caucasus and warns that if the disagreement is not resolved within its own framework and allowed to become part of the Caucasus war, it could assume geopolitical dimensions and touch off other crises.
In Today's Zaman a front-page report entitled "Crisis in Caucasus: An Opportunity for Ankara-Yerevan Ties?" details reactions from academic, financial, and political circles to President Gul's possible visit to Armenia to watch the soccer match between the Armenian and Turkish national football teams.
In an article entitled "Taking sides", Today's Zaman columnist Andrew Finkel argues that the crisis in the Caucasus is set to "force Turkey again to take sides" after seeking a policy of independence from NATO in recent years.
Under the headline, "Russia refuses to budge," Milli Gazete carries a front-page report which asserts that Russia has risked "even" a commercial crisis with Turkey in the name of not shifting ground in the "escalating crisis" in the Caucasus.
In an article entitled "The new geopolitical struggle", Milli Gazete columnist Hasan Unal argues that given its dependence on Russia for natural gas and its "comprehensive commercial relations" with this country, Turkey should refrain from showing "Cold War" responses to Russia's imposition of non-tariff barriers. He warns that retaliatory measures could only have a "boomerang" effect.
b) Ergenekon Investigation
According to a report by Ismail Kucukkaya in Aksam, a General Staff officer has been arrested within the framework of the Ergenekon investigation. The report adds that the officer is accused of leaking a top secret National Intelligence Organization, MIT, and document.
In an article entitled "Britain hits Turkey with Ergenekon", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul comments on an Executive Intelligence Review article entitled "British unleash Ergenekon network to destroy Turkey and its Peace role" by Dean Andromidas, who links Ergenekon's activities to a British plan to obstruct regional peace initiatives by Turkey that conflict with Britain's war strategies. Karagul argues that if Turkey is contending with British and US imperial strategies in its region, as Andromidas argues in this and other articles, then "new Ergenekons will emerge and serious attempts will be made to stop Turkey's long march."
c) Discussion on religion
In an article in Hurriyet, Enis Berberoglu views the economy of the religious sects saying that it is normal to oppose the economic growth and strengthening of religious sects if it is obvious that these sects are a threat to the regime. Otherwise, economic rules should be enforced equally, regardless of it being a sect company or not, writes Berberoglu.
Under the headline, "Koran courses should increase," Vakit runs a front-page report which highlights remarks by Religious Affairs President Ali Bardakoglu criticizing objections to Koran courses as unfair and asserting that the number of Koran courses run by the Religious Affairs Presidency, DIB, should be increased.
In an article entitled "September 1 = Ramadan 1", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak criticizes certain Muslim groups for treating their own religious interpretations as the "ultimate truth" and trying to impose their own concept of Islam on other Muslims. He cites this situation as the reason behind Muslims' "failure to live in peace together" and calls for "consultation and conference" to overcome such issues. He also announces the recent establishment of an electronic network among Islamic scholars worldwide.
Milli Gazete devotes its back page to the second and last part of the interview with Religious Affairs President Ali Bardakoglu. In today's installment, entitled "There are No Restrictions on Sermons," Bardakoglu denies claims that in the face of demands from the EU, he banned references in religious sermons to verses in the Koran where Islam is described as the only true religion in the eyes of God.
d) Aftermath of change of command in the army
In an article entitled "Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and Combating Terrorism", Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay asserts that new Chief of Staff General Ilker Basbug and new Land Forces Commander Isik Kosaner's recent handover speeches suggest that the Turkish military will continue to play a role in political life in Turkey however much generals might be aware that they are undermining their own career, Turkey's national defense capabilities, and the prestige of the Turkish Armed Forces, TSK, by intervening in politics.
In an article entitled "Discussing the concept of 'Nation' in the term 'Nation State'", Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone takes issue with General Ilker Basbug over his recent remarks objecting to any debate on Turkey's nation state structure. Turkone argues that although Turkey cannot abandon the nation state model as long as the current world order of nation states remains the same, the concept of "nation" can always be redefined.
In an article entitled "How many estates are there?", Milli Gazete columnist Abdulkadir Ozkan asserts ironically that if the recent handover addresses of certain senior Turkish generals are to be treated as legitimate warnings to the Government, then the Turkish Armed Forces should be added to the current estates of the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary.