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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-09-05

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. 170/08 05.09.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Exclusive statements by Mehmet Ali Talat to Kibris TV: Asking for recognition is tantamount to committing suicide
  • [02] Talat briefed the Turkish Cypriot political parties on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem
  • [03] Avci declares that this negotiation process is the last chance for the settlement of the Cyprus problem
  • [04] Erdogan to meet today the U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • [05] Ankara sends military observers to South Ossetia
  • [06] US and EU welcome President Guls visit to Armenia
  • [07] Metropoll Research Company publishes a new survey: the majority of Turks are in favor of AKP, its leader and President Guls policies
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [08] Columnist warns that there are signs of a dangerous bipolarity in the Turkish politics
  • [09] From the Turkish Press of 03 September 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Exclusive statements by Mehmet Ali Talat to Kibris TV: Asking for recognition is tantamount to committing suicide

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.09.08) reports under banner headlines Asking for recognition is tantamount to committing suicide and says that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, during the TV program Current events of KIBRIS TV, when asked whether in case of non-solution recognition could be on the agenda said that at present to have such a demand is tantamount to committing suicide.

    Recognition could be on the agenda if it is decided that it is a realistic and achievable objective. Naturally it could be. However, at present to imply such a thing from the top of the state is tantamount to committing suicide. We are not stupid. I am not an adventurer, Mr. Talat replied.

    When asked whether the red-line telephone will be installed between him and President Christofias, Mr. Talat replied that such a red-line will be established so that no one will be able to monitor it. At present we are using mobile telephones to communicate with each other and it is a known fact that mobile phones are monitored in the Greek Cypriot side.

    Nothing that at the direct negotiations one of the most difficult subjects is the property issue, Mr. Talat said that it is the third issue to be taken up at the negotiations. He went on and said that they are taking the Annan plan as reference. The Greek Cypriot side favors to leave [the choice] to the wishes of the owner of the property before 1974, he said.

    In case of an impasse Mr. Talat suggested to involve Turkey and Greece to find a way out to settle the difference. He also expressed support for a mediator who could be the UN Secretary-General or another person, acceptable to both sides. However, he said, the Greek Cypriot side refuses in principle to accept this.

    As for the Limnitis crossing-point Mr. Talat said that it is normal that the Greek Cypriots demanded to use Limnitis Crossing-point to Ayios Mammas for prayer, however, he claimed, to turn it into crisis is not normal.

    As for guarantees the Turkish Cypriot leader said that until the two peoples in Cyprus really learn and prove that they can live together we need to have a guarantee system. I do not find it right to do away with the existing guarantees under the EU roof. Does the EU prevent conflicts? See what happened in Georgia. We do not consider right the changing of the Guarantee agreement. I do not expect incidents that we all experienced in 1963. However, who could guarantee that they will not be repeated again? Are you sure that it will not happen? Will the EU last forever?

    As for Turkeys opening of its ports and airports to Cyprus-registered ships and planes, Mr. Talat said that he does not think that Ankara will open its ports and airports because, he said: The Greek Cypriots continue the isolations they imposed on the Turkish Cypriots.

    (MHY)

    [02] Talat briefed the Turkish Cypriot political parties on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.09.08) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, has briefed the so-called assembly on the new negotiation process. The closed-door session was called by Mr. Talat.

    During the session the so-called deputies from the opposition Democrat Party (DP) walked out of the session protesting that they were not given the right to explain their views to the Parliament.

    Speaking at a press conference, the DP leader Serdar Denktash said that the attitude to be adopted by the party from now on would be decided at a meeting of the DP Executive Committee, which is to convene in the coming days.

    During the press conference, Mr. Denktash who read parts of an eight-page document consisting of the Democrat Partys views, said that his party has decided to ask for an appointment with Mr. Talat to present him the document.

    Coming out of the session Mr. Talat told journalists that in the 1977 high level agreement no concession was made to the Turkish Cypriots. The only thing which was done was that the functional federal system was turned into a bi-zonal federal system where the existing Turkish Cypriot rights were accepted. He branded unfortunate President Christofias statement to the effect that the 1977 high level agreement is the limit of the concessions that the Greek Cypriots could make.

    Mr. Talat declared that the Republic of Cyprus was not a unitary state, in fact it was a functional federative state, Mr. Talat said.

    (MHY)

    [03] Avci declares that this negotiation process is the last chance for the settlement of the Cyprus problem

    Illegal Bayrak television (04.09.08) broadcast the following:

    The new negotiations process is the last chance to provide a solution to the Cyprus problem with a partnership to be established by two constituent states of equal status, Deputy Prime Minister-Foreign Minister Turgay Avci has said.

    Speaking on BRTs news programme, Mr. Avci said the Cyprus issue has been negotiated for many years and that the Turkish Cypriot People will not wait for another 40 years for a solution.

    A solution may not be found by 2008, but we need to get a conclusion by 2009, he said.

    Mr. Avci also underlined the need for the Greek Cypriot side to agree on the reality that there are two equal peoples in Cyprus and that a solution will be brought to the Cyprus problem on this basis.

    Answering a question on statements being issued by Greek Cypriot officials that the continuation of Turkeys guarantee over the island is unacceptable, he reaffirmed that Turkeys guarantee is inalienable and that the Greek Cypriot side must accept this as a fact, if it wants a solution.

    Reminding that the Greek Cypriot side has taken new initiatives for oil exploration around the waters of Cyprus just days before the launch of negotiations, he described the move as another example to unacceptable steps that should be avoided in a solution process.

    He also criticized the Greek Cypriot Administration for its attempts to halt ferry services between Syria and the TRNC.

    Mr. Avci criticized the Greek Cypriot Administration for trying to present the Turkish Cypriot side as the side preventing the solution of the problem, but said that the opposite had already been proved to the whole world with the Turkish Cypriot Peoples approval of the UN brokered Peace Plan in 2004.

    [04] Erdogan to meet today the U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (04.09.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would receive U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns on Friday.

    According to the Prime Ministry Press Center, Erdogan's meeting with Burns would take place in Istanbul.

    [05] Ankara sends military observers to South Ossetia

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (05.09.08) reports that Turkey announced yesterday that it has sent two military observers to South Ossetia to participate in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) mission there.

    Last month, two weeks after Russia crushed Georgian forces in a brief war and pushed deep into the former Soviet state's territory, the OSCE Permanent Council decided to increase for a minimum period of six months the number of military monitoring officers (MMO) in the OSCE mission to Georgia by up to 100.

    The council also said 20 MMOs would be deployed immediately in areas adjacent to South Ossetia and that the rest of the additional MMOs would be deployed subject to a new decision of the Permanent Council on the modalities of the MMOs, to be proposed by the chairmanship without delay. This decision will apply to the abovementioned 20 MMOs as well, the council noted at the time. The Turkish Foreign Ministry, in a written statement released yesterday, first referred to the decision by the OSCE Permanent Council, noting: "Turkey has decided to contribute with two military observers to this first group made up of 20 individuals; within this framework, our observers had arrived in Tbilisi as of Sept. 2, 2008."

    "Turkey -- which attaches great importance to building peace and stability and which has been exerting efforts in this direction -- will continue lending active support to efforts by the international community which aim for the same goal," the ministry added. The Turkish observers arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Tuesday, the ministry also said. It did not say when they will be deployed in areas adjacent to South Ossetia.

    [06] US and EU welcome President Guls visit to Armenia

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (04.09.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    The top diplomat of the United States in Ankara said Thursday Turkish President Abdullah Gul's upcoming visit to Yerevan is a step forward.

    Speaking to reporters at the national day reception of Macedonia [FYROM] in Ankara, Ambassador Ross Wilson said that the U.S. supported Turkish-Armenian dialog for a long time.

    President Gul's visit to Yerevan would contribute to a more peaceful Caucasus, Wilson noted.

    In regard to a question on Turkey's proposal for a 'Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform', Wilson said that the U.S. works with Turkey for joint interests in the region.

    We welcome with pleasure initiatives designed to strengthen dialog in the region, Wilson said.

    The Presidency of the Council of the European Union said on Thursday it welcomed Turkish President Abdullah Gul's decision to pay a visit to Yerevan, Armenia.

    A statement of Presidency of the Council of EU released by France's embassy in Ankara said it welcomed Turkish President Abdullah Gul's accepting an invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsian to watch a World Cup qualifier in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

    The statement said this visit could create a positive atmosphere for normalization of relations between the two countries.

    Sargsian invited Gul to watch a World Cup qualifier to be played between the national teams of Turkey and Armenia in Yerevan on Saturday.

    A statement released by Gul's office on Wednesday said that the president accepted Sargsian's invitation.

    [07] Metropoll Research Company publishes a new survey: the majority of Turks are in favor of AKP, its leader and President Guls policies

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (Internet Version) (04.09.08) publishes the results of a survey conducted by the Metropoll Research Company on peoples political preferences, President Guls decision to visit Armenia, secularism issues, Democratic Society Party closure, and others. The results of the survey are as follows:

    According to the results of a recent survey by the Metropoll Research Company, the most admired leader in the country is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The outcome of the survey shows that 33 percent of the people supported Erdogan. President Gul is the next. He is supported by 14 percent of the people.

    Some 50.9 percent of the people will vote for the AKP [Justice and Development Party], 9.5 percent will vote for the CHP [Republican People's Party], and 6.6 percent will vote for the MHP if elections are held today. The survey shows that 67 percent of the people support President Gul's visit to Yerevan to watch a football match.

    The Metropoll Research Company held a survey shortly after the outcome of the opinion poll that was carried out by daily Vatan on 27 August, which showed that the Cankaya Mansion was the fourth on the list of establishments the people trust most, was disclosed. The presidential officials disclosed that the Metropoll Research Company was not asked to carry out a survey for the presidential palace and noted that the company conveyed the results of its research to them. Some 1,251 people in 31 provinces, including Kayseri, were called during the survey. They were asked, "Who do you trust more, former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer or President Abdullah Gul?" Some 56.4 percent of the people said that they trust Abdullah Gul and 21.7 percent said that they trust Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

    Anxiety continues to exist on secularism

    Responding to a question as to whether or not the anxiety that existed on secularism and the regime when Abdullah Gul was elected president was justified, 52 percent of the respondents said "no, the anxiety was baseless" and 26.6 percent said that it was justified at the time. Asked whether or not the anxiety still exists, 73.4 percent said "yes." That drew attention. Some 18.6 percent said "it does not exist." The survey established that 78.4 percent of the people believe that President Gul's decisions do not pose a threat to secularism in Turkey.

    Asked whether or not they believe the headdress Mrs Hayrunnisa Gul uses to cover her head is a problem, 85.8 percent of the respondents said "no" and 13,6 percent said "yes."

    Decision to pardon Erbakan

    Some 55.7 percent of the respondents said "yes" when asked if they believe that Abdullah Gul is the president of all the people. However, 19.7 percent said "no."

    The survey shows that 60 percent of the respondents believe that Abdullah Gul maintains an impartial approach and 59.6 percent believe that he appropriately controls the laws and government decrees. Some 62.5 percent of the people approve Gul's decision on the appointment of university rectors and 25.5 percent disapproved. Regarding Gul's decision to pardon former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, 54.6 percent supported his decision and 33.7 percent said "it was wrong."

    Gul must go to Armenia

    Asked whether or not President Gul should visit Yerevan to watch the football match between Armenia and Turkey, 67.4 percent of the respondents said "he should go" and 22.9 percent said "he should not go."

    CHP is wrong

    The respondents were asked to express their opinion on the decision the CHP officials made to avoid holding talks with Abdullah Gul and participating in the official and private meetings at the Cankaya Mansion. They were asked, "Can you comment on the CHP policy?" Some 80.9 percent said "the CHP approach is wrong" and 12.7 percent said "the CHP policy is right."

    DTP must be closed down

    Some 57.6 percent of the respondents called for the closure of the DTP [Democratic Society Party] and 31.2 percent said that it must not be closed down. The survey shows that 37.4 percent of the people are generally opposed to the closure of political parties. Some 40.9 percent support the closure of the political parties that are involved in violent activities. Some 43.7 percent of the people support the TRT [Turkish Radio and Television] initiative to have a channel that will broadcast in Kurdish and 51.8 percent oppose it, saying that "it will increase separatist activities." According to the survey, 69.1 percent of the people will cast a "yes" vote in a referendum on Turkey's accession to the EU.

    Erdogan is the most admired leader

    The most striking aspect of the survey was the question on who is the most admired leader among the living Turkish politicians and statesmen. Some 33.3 percent (417 of 1,251 respondents) said that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the most admired leader. Abdullah Gul is the second. Some 14.7 percent (184 respondents) said that he is the most admired leader. Former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer is the third with the support of 5.1 percent (64 respondents), former President Suleyman Demirel is the fourth with the support of 2.6 percent (32 respondents), MHP leader Devlet Bahceli is the fifth with the support of 2.4 percent (30 respondents), and CHP leader Deniz Baykal is the sixth with the support of 2.2 percent (27 respondents). The respondents were asked to reply to the question, "Which of the existing political party leaders do you trust most?" Some 51.9 percent said AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Baykal and Bahceli are the two other political party leaders who are trusted most. Each of them was supported by 4.2 percent of the respondents.

    AKP to secure 50 percent of the votes

    Some 51.5 percent of the voters in the general elections on 22 July 2007 said that they voted for the AKP, 12.9 percent said that they voted for the alliance between the CHP and DSP [Democratic Left Party], 7.8 percent said that they voted for the MHP, and 2.2 percent said that they voted for the DP [Democratic Party].

    Responding the question "Which party would you vote for if general elections were held today?," 50.9 percent of the respondents said that the would vote for the AKP, 9.5 percent said that they would vote for the CHP, 6.6 percent said that they would vote for the MHP, 2.6 percent said that they would vote for the DTP, 1 percent said that they would vote for the DSP, and 1 percent said that they would vote for the DP. Some 11.3 percent said that they are undecided.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [08] Columnist warns that there are signs of a dangerous bipolarity in the Turkish politics

    Under the title Signs of a dangerous bipolarity in politics, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (05.09.08) publishes the following commentary by Yavuz Baydar:

    As I hopefully will have reached Yerevan early this morning, not only to watch football, but to witness an unprecedented visit -- the first in history -- by a Turkish president, my initial intention was to write about glimpses of my earlier personal encounters with this mysterious, sad city and its sorrowful and deeply proud people, to comment about the true meaning of rapprochement between those who are truly Anatolians -- Armenians and Turks -- in that order.

    I meant to express a wish, however unrealistic it may be, that President Abdullah Gul might pass beyond the threshold of denial and pray at the Genocide Monument, mourning the tragic fate of Ottoman Armenians, who perished in the folly of war some 90 years ago.

    Alas, the shaky agenda of Turkey never leaves you alone. Wherever you go, part of your mind is always kept occupied with the notion of what's next? And the puzzle of politics never leads to closure but only becomes more intriguing.

    The main questions before me and my readers, as I understand it, is what to expect in the coming months of politics and where we stand in the ongoing, seemingly endless battle for power in deep Ankara.

    In a way, we have seen cards being reshuffled recently and that redistribution has begun. I am referring to some major turning points and minor events. With the Justice and Development Party (AKP) having received a severe warning -- to use an expression by a top court judge -- Turkey is to continue with a new top command, which made its stand clear in recent days on how much more deeply involved in politics the military will be. The picture is reminiscent of an older one depicting an arduous, uphill battle between the elected and the appointed.

    The annual ceremony of the top command handovers told us the same story: filled with lengthy robot talk, it was, as some pro-military columnists already wrote, made obvious even for those with differing levels of understanding (referring to domestic and foreign observers who question the current military-civilian relations in Turkey) that issues linked with sine qua non of the republic will be kept under strict scrutiny by the military and that most of the matters related to the EU reform process were seen as unacceptable by those who are keen on the unitary nature of Turkey. In short, the top command says between the lines that the AKP should forget a new, liberal constitution.

    There are symptoms of trouble already. I mentioned in an earlier article an apparent clash at the decision making level in Cyprus, where Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) President Mehmet Ali Talat was sidelined by the Turkish military over a temporary opening of the border gate for Greek Cypriot worshipers, a minor scandal that could not have happened without the knowledge of Ilker Basbug.

    The other incident was a political statement by the top command: As reported extensively, two generals under arrest in the Ergenekon case were visited in prison by a three-star general two days ago in Kandira. The fact that the visit was done under the orders of the top command and in the name of the chief of general staff is undoubtedly an intervention in the judicial process and likely to have significant consequences in the process of the criminal case.

    Add to this a fresh survey on the state of politics in Turkey. Today's Zaman reported yesterday on the findings of a Metropoll survey, which somehow seems to confirm what I have been hearing from other pulse-takers. Let's look at part of yesterday's story: Asked who they would vote for if there was an election today, 50.9 percent of respondents said they would vote for the AK Party. The figure demonstrated the ruling party's considerable increase in popularity in less than a month, as around 42 percent of those polled had said in early August they would vote for the AK Party if parliamentary elections were to be held the day of the poll. The survey revealed that the CHP and the MHP would remain below the election threshold should general elections be held on the poll date. Only 9.5 percent of respondents said they would vote for the CHP; 6.6 percent said they would favor the MHP and 2.6 percent said they would vote for the Democratic Society Party (DTP).

    Metropoll is a serious opinion investigator. And what it tells us in this crucial segment is of serious concern. It tells us that a) regardless of the "vacuum" of political pledges, the AKP is simply rising; b) after distributing the undecided, the AKP now has around 60 percent of the vote; and c) the opposition is sliding severely, although two parties may pass the 10 percent threshold. The result, therefore, in the upcoming national elections would have to be the AKP dominating more than 90 percent of the municipalities.

    With the lack of opposition, the center of antagonism may shift even more to the already tense area between the military and the AKP. Considering the apparent change of route of top command, together with the picture above taken by Metropoll, this all comes inevitably as a message for extreme caution -- if not alarm -- for Turkey.

    [09] From the Turkish Press of 03 September 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 03 September:

    a) Turkish Armed Forces officials pay a visit to arrested Generals in connection with the Ergenekon case

    According to a report by Aydin Hasan in Milliyet, Kocaeli Garrison commander Lieutenant General Galip Mendi has paid a visit to retired Generals Sener Eruygur and Hursit Tolon who are under arrest within the framework of the Ergenekon investigation. The report adds that the visit was paid on behalf of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), upon the instructions of General Basbug. The report further draws attention to the fact that this visit took place on the day General Basbug, the chief of the General Staff, paid a visit to Prime Minister Erdogan. The prime minister is reported to have said the following on the visit: "We assess this visit as one made for humane reasons. I believe that it is wrong to seek other interpretations." Asked whether the visit was raised during his meeting with General Basbug, Erdogan is reported to have said that it was, as were other issues on the country's agenda.

    According to a report in Hurriyet, observers view the visit as a sign of a change in the army's stance toward the Ergenekon investigation and the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    In an article in Milliyet, Fikret Bila analyzes the moves made so far by General Basbug saying that his fine-tuning is aimed at improving the image of the TSK. Commenting on the TSK visit paid to Generals Eruygur and Tolon, Bila says that this visit "portrays an organizational and professional solidarity as well as a humane responsibility."

    Referring to the visit paid to the generals in an article in Milliyet, Derya Sazak argues that the statement issued about the visit on the website of the General Staff to the effect that "the army has full confidence in the judiciary" only strengthens the view that the General Staff will be a "party" in the Ergenekon investigation during the Basbug era. Viewing the statement made by General Kosaner that "isolated" incidents should not represent the Gendarmerie as the first sign of this trend, Sazak concludes by noting that this visit raises the suspicion of a TSK "intervention in the judicial process."

    Assessing the messages conveyed by Lieutenant General Galip Mendis visit to the generals in the first section of his column in Hurriyet, Ahmet Hakan interprets the visit to mean that there was no agreement between the General Staff and the government on the Ergenekon issue. The fact that the visit was limited to the two retired general and did not include Veli Kucuk can be interpreted as a sign that the army will vouch for only the two general and that the TSK does not believe that "Ergenekon is an entire nonsense," Hakan writes. Maintaining that the silence of the General Staff created unease in the ranks of the TSK, the writer argues that this visit will help boost General Basbug's respectability within the army. Hakan concludes by noting that the timing of the visit shows that General Basbug had planned this move well in advance.

    Commenting on the same issue in Vatan, Okay Gonensin argues that this visit will surely be interpreted as the TSK taking a stand on the Ergenekon investigation. Referring to rumors that Prime Minister Erdogan received the consent of General Buyukanit regarding the Ergenekon investigation during a meeting they held, Gonensin maintains that the prison visit will be interpreted as follows: "Buyukanit had reached an agreement with Erdogan, but Basbug, the new Chief of Staff, has annulled that agreement." Focusing on the judicial aspect of the visit, Gonensin questions whether the release of the retired generals will be possible in the aftermath of this visit, claiming that the general view will be that the decision came as a result of the "open pressure" the armed forces applied on the judiciary.

    Under the headline, "Three-Star Visit to 'Good Generals,'" Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report which criticizes Lieutenant General Galip Mendi for visiting two "Ergenekon suspects," retired generals Hursit Tolon and Sener Eruygur, in the F-type prison in Kocaeli yesterday. According to the report, the visit, carried out with the General Staff's approval, has been interpreted as a revelation of bias.

    In an article entitled "Welfare Party Was Closed Because of Visit to Prisoner. What Will Happen to the TSK?", Vakit columnist Ali Ihsan Karahasanoglu recalls how the Constitutional Court based its 1998 decision to close down the Welfare Party, RP, and ban Deputy RP Chairman and Justice Minister Sevket Kazan from politics on [among other things] a prison visit that Kazan paid to RP Sincan Mayor Bekir Yildiz, who faced charges of spreading terrorist and religious fundamentalist propaganda at the so-called "Jerusalem Night" in Sincan in 1997. Karahasanoglu argues that the top court's ruling provides sufficient basis for prosecuting the military officials who arranged yesterday's visit to Hursit Tolon and Sener Eruygur and expelling them from the army.

    In an article entitled "Prison Visit to Generals", Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone argues that the military visit to Tolon and Eruygur appears to have been carried out in a spirit of "professional solidarity" with the retired generals, adding that the imprisonment of Tolon and Eruygur must have caused some intense debate within the military and led some TSK members to raise questions about the TSK's prestige, causing the new commanders of the military to plan such a visit to boost morale among the higher echelons of the army. He goes on to claim that the remark in the General Staff statement that the visit was carried out on behalf of the TSK is a "dangerous" sentence indicating that the TSK has thrown its "institutional support" behind "these two suspects." "If the aim was to make a show of professional solidarity, would it not have been more appropriate for the Chief of Staff to pay this visit himself and explain it as a token of personal fidelity to his former comrades-in-arms?"

    b) President Gul's visit to Armenia

    Welcoming Gul's visit to Armenia in an article in Milliyet, Semih Idiz stresses the importance of melting the ice between the two countries given the developments in the region. Assessing the expectations this visit has created, Idiz argues that it would not be realistic to expect the two presidents to discuss all the bilateral issues and to achieve progress on them. Noting that this visit might contribute to reducing the lack of trust between the two countries, the writer adds that the discussion of the difficult issues can only be the next step. Yerevan needs amelioration in bilateral relations more than Ankara does because of the problems caused by its isolation, Idiz notes, adding that the current concern of the Armenian people is not the "genocide" issue but the opening of the borders.

    Assessing Republican Peoples Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal's opposition to President Gul's forthcoming visit to Yerevan in an article in the Turkish Daily News, Mustafa Akyol criticizes the "cheap nationalistic rhetoric" of Baykal regarding what he describes as a "historic act of rapprochement." The writer goes on to praise the government policy of "zero problem with neighbors."

    Likening President Gul's Yerevan visit to the historic Sadat visit to Jerusalem of 1977 in an article in Radikal, Cengiz Candar criticizes the logic behind the opposition of the CHP and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) to the visit. Noting that these two parties are opposed to the visit because Armenia is occupying Azerbaijani territory, Candar argues that according to this logic Turkish officials should not be visiting Israel or Russia either. The writer points out that the hiatus in Turkish-Armenian relations has not ended the occupation and has even consolidated it, adding that the establishment and normalization of relations between these two neighboring countries will inevitably lead to ending the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory. In conclusion, Candar advises Gul not to go to Yerevan before reading Hrant Dink's book entitled "Two Close Peoples, Two Distant Neighbors."

    On Gul's visit to Yerevan in an article in Ortadogu, Ali Oncu argues that the president does not even like football. Reminding the president that it is his duty as the head of state to safeguard the interests of the state, Oncu questions what Turkey will gain out of this visit. Arguing that Armenia will not renounce its territorial claims or its genocide allegations, Oncu believes that this visit will lead to nothing except distressing Azerbaijan. Pointing out that the United States, the EU and France might be pleased with the visit, the writer advises the president to visit Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan or Azerbaijan instead if he wishes to make foreign trips.

    In an article entitled "To go or not to go to Yerevan", Milli Gazete columnist Hasan Unal criticizes calls from the EU and the United States as well as from domestic business groups, like the TUSIAD, for a presidential visit to Yerevan as part of an effort to get Turkey to open its border with Armenia, which, he says, was closed because Yerevan refuses to recognize Turkey's territorial integrity. He also argues that while nobody is against a rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, it reflects a "typically Crusader" mindset to expect only Turkey to take steps toward that end.

    ES/


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