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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-11-12

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. 217/08 12.11.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] UN Secretary-General asks for support to the negotiation process in Cyprus
  • [02] The seventh meeting of Christofias and Talat has been completed
  • [03] Soyer denied rumors that reductions will be made to the 13rd salary and retirement pay
  • [04] The self-styled minister of transportation comments on President Christofias statements regarding the airspace and international waters
  • [05] A conference under the title Cyprus from yesterday to today will be organized in Ankara for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the occupation regime
  • [06] Avci is holding contacts in Sweden
  • [07] MHP leader Bahceli criticized AKPs Cyprus policy
  • [08] Exclusive interviews to Turkish dailies by the Italian Premier on Turkeys EU process and Cyprus
  • [09] Turkeys and Switzerlands strategic partnership was praised by the Swiss President
  • [10] Turkish-Iranian Sub-Security Committee convened in Turkey
  • [11] General Assembly meeting of EOC to take place in Istanbul
  • [12] IMF: Turkey will continue to hold the title of the 17th largest economy worldwide
  • [13] The French Danone company to invest billions in Turkey
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [14] Commentary in Hurriyet stresses the importance of 2009 the time set for Turkey to abide by its EU obligations towards Cyprus
  • [15] From the Turkish Press of 11 November 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] UN Secretary-General asks for support to the negotiation process in Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.11.08) reported the following from the UN Headquarters:

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the international community to support the ongoing negotiation process in Cyprus.

    Ban said at a news conference at the United Nations headquarters that the international community should always support the extremely fragile process on the island.

    He said that his special envoy for Cyprus Alexander Downer had already arrived in Cyprus to hold talks with the two leaders.

    The UN Secretary-General said that both leaders were displaying a very sound political will to find an acceptable formula to solve the 40-year Cyprus issue.

    [02] The seventh meeting of Christofias and Talat has been completed

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.11.08) reported the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias met on Tuesday for the 7th time under the full-fledged talks aiming at finding a permanent solution to the Cyprus issue.

    The meeting took place at the buffer zone in Lefkosia and U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Alexander Downer and UN Secretary-General's Special representative in Cyprus Taye-Brook Zerihoun also attended the meeting.

    The leaders continue negotiating administration and share of power as well as execution and legislation.

    Downer will meet Talat and Christofias separately on Wednesday.

    During their previous meeting on November 3, the Turkish Cypriot side expressed its views on legislative organ.

    The leaders are set to meet once again on November 13.

    The full-fledged talks were launched on September 11. In their previous six meetings, the leaders discussed administration and share of power. They first handled authorities and then negotiated federal administration.

    The Turkish Cypriot press report on the issue today (12.11.08) as follows:

    Under the title The kiss of life from the UN Kibris reports in its first page about yesterdays meeting between the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat and President Demetris Christofias in the framework of the negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem. According to the paper, there was an intervention from the UN to the negotiations which are proceeding slowly and adds that the UN Secretary-Generals Special Adviser for Cyprus Alexander Downer participated in the tet-a-tet meeting between the two leaders.

    Halkin Sesi reports on the meeting under the title Talat and Christofias met for the 7th time. According to the paper the two leaders discussed the governance and power sharing as well as legislation.

    Yeni Duzen reports on the same issue under the title The process was safeguarded and notes that the next meeting between the two leaders will be held on Thursday.

    Star Kibris also reports on its first page about the meeting noting that the two leaders passed the 7th crossroad.

    (CS)

    [03] Soyer denied rumours that reductions will be made to the 13rd salary and retirement pay

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (12.11.08) writes that Ferdi Sabit Soyer, the self-styled prime minister of the occupation regime, stated that the claims that a 13rd salary will not be given and that reductions will be made to the retirement pay are unfounded. He went on and stated that in the European Union the salaries are up to 10.7% of the gross national product while in the occupied areas this amount is up to 25%. As he said, this number must be reduced without decreasing the standard of living.

    He went on and stated that during his recent visit to Ankara he called on the Turkish businessmen to make investments in the occupied areas and to take common initiatives with the Turkish Cypriot businessmen.

    Moreover, Afrika newspaper (12.11.08) reports about reactions expressed by the opposition parties the Social Democracy Party (TDP) and the United Cyprus Party (BKP) regarding the statements made by the so-called prime minister of the breakaway regime Ferdi Sabit Soyer.

    The General Secretary of the TDP Meltem Onurkan Samani, in a statement strongly criticized Ferdi Sabit Soyer for his wrong policies that led to economic crisis in the occupied area and as way out, Mrs. Samani said: He again knocked on Ankaras door for economic assistance. She said that Mr. Soyer has to announce to the public the projects that he says he had submitted to Ankara. She went on and said that with wrong economic policies Mr. Soyer made the occupied area more dependent on Turkey. She urged Mr. Soyer to apologise to the Turkish Cypriots for the difficulties he caused. She said that Mr. Soyer and his colleagues with their statements are in a state of panic in their effort to hide the realities.

    The General Secretary of the TDP Meltem Onurkan Samani, concluded by saying that accusations and statements made by Mr. Soyer became tragicomical.

    In his turn, the General Secretary of the United Cyprus Party (BKP) Izzet Izcan, in a written statement strongly criticized the breakaway regime for being responsible for the economic crisis in the occupied areas. He added that they will not let the breakaway regime to put its hands in the peoples pockets.

    He said: It is enough. We neither want Ankaras nor the CTP-ORP governments imposed packages. We will not allow you to implement the applications that are tantamount to economic torture that you consider appropriate for our people, under the disguise of savings measures. The Turkish Cypriots are against these impositions. Once more we would like to remind you that we will not bow to these impositions which are against the will of the community. We have to plan, structure and administer our economy.

    (CS/MHY)

    [04] The self-styled minister of transportation comments on President Christofias statements regarding the airspace and international waters

    Illegal Bayrak television (11.11.08) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The Minister for Public Works and Transportation Salih Usar has commented on statements made by the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.

    He also called on the European Union to encourage the Greek Cypriot side to support a solution in Cyprus.

    The Minister for Public Works and Transportation Salih Usar has said that a great job falls upon the Greek Cypriot administration and the European Union if the airspace and the international waters bordering Cyprus is to be run jointly by both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides once a solution is reached to the Cyprus problem, as claimed by the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.

    Mr. Usar evaluated the Greek Cypriot leaders statement that once a possible solution is reached on the island he will do everything in his power to create an airspace and maritime fleet to be run jointly by the two sides.

    Of course once a solution is found to the Cyprus problem, the air space and international waters will be jointly managed by both Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides. They will both have a right of say over how it will be managed. But this should not just be a verbal agreement this should be enforced, he added. `

    Mr. Usar also called upon the European Union to encourage the Greek Cypriot administration toward supporting a new partnership state being established in Cyprus.

    Referring to the current negotiations process that is taking place in Cyprus Mr. Usar pointed to the importance of the Greek Cypriot leader sharing the developments that are being made with his people.

    For the negotiations process to run smoothly and move towards a possible solution, Mr. Christofias must tell his people the truth about the progress being made, he added.

    Both President Talat and the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias must try and find a solution that is acceptable by both sides, one that safeguards their rights and political equality and federal solution in Cyprus.

    Noting that during the former Greek Cypriot Presidents reign the Greek Cypriot people were not informed correctly about the Annan Plan and therefore voted against it the Minister for Public works and Transportation called on the current leader to be open with his people and inform them of the developments being made so they know exactly what is going on and are not left in the dark.

    On Mr Usars statements Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (12.11.08) reports that Mr Salih Usar stated that on the agenda of the occupation regime is the construction of a container port in the Lefka region. He also said that the necessary efforts are being made as regards this issue both at the YAGA and the related ministries.

    Mr Usar made these statements commenting on the construction of the Lefkosia-Morfou two lane high-way which is in its 3rd stage. Mr Usar who gave information about the construction of the road, stated, inter alia, that it will be completed until the end of the year 2009 and stressed the importance the road will have for the illegal Lefka American University, since the road will be extended to occupied Lefka.

    (CS)

    [05] A conference under the title Cyprus from yesterday to today will be organized in Ankara for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the occupation regime

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.11.08) writes that a conference under the title Cyprus from yesterday to today will be organized in Ankara for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the occupation regime. Among the persons who will participate in the conference, which will take place on Saturday morning at the Alkin Hotel of Ankara, will be former MPs, like Aydin Menderes, Sukru Elekdag and Oktay Vural as well as the retired general Necati Ozgen who will evaluate the situation in Cyprus from the military point of view. Various other persons will participate in the conference, in the name of the Turks of Thrace, the Turks of Bulgaria, the Turks of Iraq, the Turks of Ahiska and the Turks of Afghanistan.

    (CS)

    [06] Avci is holding contacts in Sweden

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.11.08) writes that the self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Turgay Avci, who is currently in Sweden, stated that the lobby support, offered to the cause of the Turkish Cypriots by the 100.000 Turks who live in Sweden, is very important. According to a statement of the foreign ministry Mr Avci will convey to Sweden, which will be in 2009 term president of the EU, the expectations of the Turkish Cypriots from the EU. In the framework of his visit Mr Avci visited the Stockholm II General assembly, escorted by Hasan Dolek, who is member of the Social Democrat Party of the Stockholm II General assembly. Mr Dolek is of Turkish origin. He also visited the Mediterranean Museum where there is an exhibition of Cypriot antiquities.

    (CS)

    [07] MHP leader Bahceli criticized AKPs Cyprus policy

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.11.08) writes that Mr Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) stated that the careless and submissive Cyprus policy followed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the last five years has dragged the Cyprus solution process into a dangerous adventure. Mr Bahceli, who was speaking at his Partys weekly group meeting, stated , inter alia, that at the point reached the ground for the solution of the Cyprus problem is not stable and that the solution of the Cyprus problem must ensure the creation of a structure with two regions, two nations and two states. He also stated that the policy that the new administration of the USA will pursue as regards the Cyprus problem will be of special importance.

    (CS)

    [08] Exclusive interviews to Turkish dailies by the Italian Premier on Turkeys EU process and Cyprus

    Under the front page title I am a solicitor of Turkey, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (12.11.08) publishes an exclusive interview given to the paper by the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, before his arrival in Izmir today in order to attend the Intergovernmental Summit to be held between the two countries.

    In its internal pages, the paper reports on the interview under the title Italian Prime Minister, yet great love for Turkey and writes that the Italian Premier has stressed his support to Turkey, noting that his country and himself are the number one supporters of the Turkish interests in Europe: I and my country are the number one solicitors of Turkey. As from 2001, we had the opportunity to prove this by all means, said Silvio Berlusconi and added that Italy which is holding similar annual intergovernmental summits with Russia, Germany, France, Spain and Britain will also hold intergovernmental summits with Turkey.

    Praising Turkey, the Italian Premier said that apart from being a NATO member for half a century and a member of the Council of Europe for sixty years, Turkey is also an important leading player in maintaining the intercontinental security.

    Stressing his intimate friendship with the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Italian Premier said that among all the leaders, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a special place with whom there was a strong and immediate sympathy between the two of them and added that this kind of relations carry high importance for both Italy and Turkey.

    Praising Mr. Erdogans efforts while in the prime ministership as regards Turkeys EU process, Silvio Berlusconi said that during the time when the Czech Republic and Sweden will hold the rotating EU presidency, he expects support to be provided to Turkey to perform the wished for by everyone progress and noted that Turkey's secular institutions had become stronger over the last 15 years.

    Upon a question on the trade volume between Italy and Turkey, the Italian Premier used figures to say that the last five years (2002-2007), the trade volume between the two countries reached $17 billion from $9 billion, while he also referred to indications that 2008 will end with the trade volume reaching $20 billion.

    Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (12.11.08) also publishes an interview of the Italian Prime Minister before his arrival in Turkey, under the front page title The EU cannot be thought of without Turkey.

    Referring to Turkeys EU course, Silvio Berlusconi said that it is not possible to have a Europe without Turkey and added that keeping Turkey outside of the EU would be a great mistake.

    Turkey is a fine example of harmonious coexistence of the Turkish Islamic model with the secular and democratic institutions, Premier Berlusconi said and added that from his point of view, Turkey is ready to re-launch negotiations with the EU, to add that putting a break on Turkey's EU membership contradicts the interests of Europe.

    Upon the question: The Cyprus problem is another obstacle in [Turkeys] EU membership. What does Italy do in order for Turkey to overcome this obstacle?, Silvio Berlusconi replied:

    There is a concrete possibility for negotiations to start in the near future. There are problems for sure and these problems, before all else, must be resolved by the Greek Cypriot side. In this perspective, I have seen that there have been encouraging developments. Within the framework of the UN and the EU, Italy will do its part to the full.

    (ML)

    [09] Turkeys and Switzerlands strategic partnership was praised by the Swiss President

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.11.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    Swiss Confederation President Pascal Couchepin said on Tuesday that Switzerland considered Turkey a strategic partner, and expressed his hope that the cooperation between the two countries would continue.

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his visiting Swiss counterpart Pascal Couchepin attended a ceremony at a historical museum in Ankara along with other high level Turkish and foreign officials.

    Couchepin said that Switzerland had appointed its first ambassador to Turkey in 1928 and he had presented his diplomatic credentials to President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He also underlined the importance of the Lausanne Treaty signed in 1923 for bilateral relations.

    Referring to improving commercial relations between Turkey and Switzerland, Couchepin said Turkey was an important trade partner for Switzerland. He also said Turkey was an important energy corridor.

    Further on the Swiss Presidents visit to Turkey, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (12.11.08) writes in its front pages that the table on which the Treaty of Lausanne was signed between the allied countries and the Republic of Turkey on 24 July 1923 was given as a gift to Turkish President Abdullah Gul by Pascal Couchepin, President of the Swiss Confederation during a ceremony held in Ankara.

    (ML)

    [10] Turkish-Iranian Sub-Security Committee convened in Turkey

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.11.08) reported the following from Van:

    Ozdemir Cakacak, governor of eastern province of Van, said on Tuesday that Turkey and Iran should take common measures in borders to eliminate elements that threaten security of both countries.

    Governor's Office released a statement after the 46th Turkey-Iran Sub Security Committee meeting.

    The statement said Van Governor Cakacak said Turkish-Iranian relations improved within the scope of good-will, we aim to prevent illegal passages and smuggling by boosting trade, he added.

    Iranian delegation is expected to depart from Turkey on Wednesday.

    [11] General Assembly meeting of EOC to take place in Istanbul

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.11.08) reported the following from Istanbul:

    The 37th general assembly meeting of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) will take place in Istanbul on November 20 and 21.

    The meeting will take place on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Turkey's National Olympic Committee (TMOK) and be held at the Hilton Exhibition Centre.

    President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Jacques Rogge will be decorated with an honorary doctorate degree by the Istanbul University on November 21.

    The Istanbul meeting will also be attended by the President of EOC Patrick Hickey.

    Representatives of Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid will make presentations to EOC officials in Istanbul in their bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

    The EOC is an organization based in Rome, Italy. Its European membership is 49 National Olympic Committees.

    [12] IMF: Turkey will continue to hold the title of the 17th largest economy worldwide

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.11.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkey's gross domestic product would reach 968.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2013 according to the figures made public by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    Predictions made by IMF for the period between 2008 and 2013 showed that Turkey would keep holding the title of the 17th largest economy of the world in 2013 as well.

    Turkey's gross domestic product would become 798.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 and it would drop to 789 billion U.S. dollars next year, the predictions said.

    [13] The French Danone company to invest billions in Turkey

    Under the front page title Giant investment in Diyarbakir, Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (12.11.08) writes that the Turkish Agriculture Minister, Mehmet Mehdi Eker, said that they agreed to implement a project with a French company which envisages an investment worth $3 billion in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakir. It was learned that the French company is under the name Danone. Minister Eker said that there was a big demand from Gulf countries and Middle Eastern countries to invest in Turkey after the food crisis in the world.

    According to information, the Danone Company asked to benefit from the incentives provided to the Turkish companies for the materialization of this giant investment.

    On its part, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs promised to provide the necessary support on the issue, yet the project is subject to the approval of the Ministry of Finance.

    (ML)


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [14] Commentary in Hurriyet stresses the importance of 2009 the time set for Turkey to abide by its EU obligations towards Cyprus

    Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (11.11.08) publishes the following commentary by Mehmet Ali Birand:

    The progress report, as a mirror reflecting relations between Turkey and the European Community, has shown us the breaking point: 2009 will be a turning point. I'm sure you noticed. We are facing a situation that looks like Turkish and EU authorities have agreed to do their best to slow down the negotiations.Whenever our prime minister meets EU authorities and whenever our foreign minister meets with EU ministers there is always the same complaint. The European Community treats Turkey differently. It exhibits an extremely slow approach.

    Ankara is very uncomfortable

    Attention has been drawn to the Commission slowly scanning paragraphs to be added soon. The inadequacy of the new negotiation topics and constantly appearing political barriers frankly disincline Turkey.

    Turkey, stating this case, says that Brussels is the reason for the slowdown in negotiations. If we were to take a look at the EU front, they blame Turkey for slowing things down. This sentence is often heard the AKP administration neglected the reforms. We lost last year because of elections. 2008 was lost because of the presidential elections and AKP's court case at the Constitutional Court there are big reforms that need to be implemented. But the administration has no such desire.

    What's even more important is that in some capital cities Turkey's EU target is being questioned for the first time. The general impression is along the lines of the AKP not being as ambitious for full membership as it was in 2004 and even started to drink in the idea of remaining as a "prospective candidate country." In simple phrase, there is a slow down but in regards to who is the source of this; everybody throws the ball at each other. A race is being done in this regard. The most important process takes place during the period from the beginning of 2009 and year-end. The below list will show how relations will be affected.

    The EU Commission will change

    Commission is protecting and watching over candidate countries like Turkey. On the outside there might not be a difference between the Commission and the Council. However, the commission is acting on behalf of the council and strives for full membership of the candidate country. So for example, the full membership of Turkey would be a success of the commission. In this context, members of the Commission are very important. It is a huge advantage if the attitude of the commissioners is positive toward Turkey's full membership. Today's commission consists of names, like especially commissioner Rehn who is responsible for the expansion, and Commission President Barosso and former enlargement commissioner Verheugen, who all know and support Turkey. By the time the Commission changes in 2009 we don't know whom we will confront. With commissioners who have an adverse view on Turkey, we will have a hard time.

    Parliament elections will take place

    European Parliament elections will distress relations between Turkey and Europe. The shortest way to win votes is to attack Turkey, considering allegations that Turkey is not European we can conclude that European members of the Parliament will do whatever they can.

    A verdict date is approaching for Cyprus

    Finally, the last and foremost subject, Turkish ports opening for Cypriot Greek ships. You'll remember, that a time until December of 2009 when the EU heads of state summit takes place was granted for the opening of the Turkish ports to Greek commercial ships. When by December 2009 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Republic have not come to an agreement or Turkey has not delivered its obligations within the frame of customs union, the EU Council could suspend relations all together. Ways are being sought to overcome constipation Reality is that neither the EU is thinking about changing its attitude nor any effort is being made by the AKP administration to accelerate reforms in order to surpass the constipation in relations.In situations like these new scenarios are being produced. A trial balloon is being thrown and reactions waited upon.

    In this sense a gradual membership formula has been dropped into the EU corridors. The first balloon was dropped by Kadri Gursel in his article in Milliyet to be summarized as:

    If it would take too much time to admit the whole of Turkey into the EU and for the EU to assimilate Turkey as a large county then we should do this gradually starting with the most possible and functional areas.

    Gursel explains this point of view, which arises from institutions with European based ideas that participated in the last EDAM (Economy and Foreign Politics Research Centre) meeting in Bodrum:

    Taking into view that two mutual areas of cooperation wanted on both parts, Turkey and EU, one being energy and the other being defence and security, the formula for the defence and security dimension will function like this: Turkey will first enter the EU in regards to the defence and security dimension and will have all the authorities of a full member limited to this area.It was stressed during the meeting that a gradual membership is not to be confused with a privileged partnership. A privileged partnership represents a full membership but a gradual membership is an intermediate stage on the way to full membership.

    A gradual membership is an idea supposed to keep the process alive but needs much discussion. EU's legal structure does not allow for a gradual membership to pass. But let's not forget that all transformation starts at the level of an idea.

    Kadri Gursel is right. Especially in Europe these kinds of scenarios start at an idea level and if everybody embraces it, a legal cover will follow. To tell the truth, this is a very dangerous formula, but as long as Ankara does not react it won't get rid of these kinds of formulas.

    [15] From the Turkish Press of 11 November 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 11 November 08:

    a) New approach towards Erdogans policies:

    In a column in Milliyet, Derya Sazak underlines the recent criticism levelled against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan by "liberal-democratic circles" and "conservative writers" alike for the transformation observed in the attitude of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in its "reformist" line in connection with democracy and rights and freedoms. According to Sazak, the most "visible" area of this change is in "military-civilian relations determined by the 'Kurdish problem.'" Sazak recalls that following the PKK attack on the Aktutun outpost, Erdogan sided with Chief of Staff General Basbug on the method to fight terror, and adopted a hard-line policy vis-a-vis the Kurdish population. Referring to Yeni Safak writer Fehmi Koru's criticism against Erdogan, in which Koru claimed that Erdogan came to power like Barack Obama but now turned into George Bush, Sazak says that even according to pro-AKP writers Erdogan has failed with regard to "civil rights" and became a defender of the state rather than of the individual.

    An article entitled "Liberals turning on one-time hero" by Izgi Gungor in Hurriyet Daily News.com expresses similar views, maintaining that "liberals are turning their back on the government because its leaders have failed to live up to reform promises. With recent PKK attacks and local elections rapidly approaching, the AKP is being criticized for changing direction and embracing the status quo."

    In a commentary in Hurriyet, columnist Cengiz Candar dwells on the metaphor used for Erdogan as well as with the prime minister's reaction wanting to be likened to Turkish leaders, rather than to Obama and Bush. Describing the prime minister as a "pragmatic" and "populist" politician, Candar asserts that Erdogan is aiming directly at the current goal of local elections, and if the polls show that he is nearing the target on the basis of the policies he is pursuing, he will not abandon those policies. At this point, Candar argues, the wishes or statements of the EU or the liberal-democrats are not important, as he appears to be doing well in the opinion polls. Only after the elections are held and the picture that will emerge in the southeast becomes clear will we know what direction Erdogan will pursue and whether he will open "a new page" in this regard.

    In Hurriyet Enis Berberoglu also comments on Fehmi Koru's remarks about Erdogan, asserting that the "disagreement in the southeast (Kurdish) policy" was the trigger for this exchange. Pointing out that the Kurdish issue toppled many governments in the past, Berberoglu says that "learning a lesson from the past the AKP and the new leadership of the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] established a balanced relationship. The political responsibility was given to the government, while the authority to conduct military operations was granted to the General Staff." Berberoglu adds, however, that the religious community of Fethullah Gulen, which has been very active in the southeast in the past few years and whose policy to expand in the region "is no secret," suffered from this rapprochement between the government and the military. Berberoglu also expresses his personal opinion that Erdogan is concerned that Koru's remarks might be perceived as reflecting the position of the president. Any perception of a discord between Erdogan and President Gul would harm the AKP, he argues.

    Commenting on the replacement of AKP's Dengir Mir Firat with Abdulkadir Aksu, who is known for his "pro-state" and "traditional" approach to the Kurdish problem, Nazli Ilicak suggests that this was sanctioned by Erdogan. In her column in Sabah, Ilicak asserts: "For Erdogan, the goal is the local elections. In the elections in the southeast, the DTP [Democratic Society Party] is its rival. Therefore, Erdogan chose struggle over dialogue with the DTP. It is Erdogan's religious identity that renders the AKP attractive in the southeast. And, Aksu is more suitable than Firat for these set policies, because he does not entertain a dialogue with the DTP and he is religious.

    In an article entitled "The AKP's Kurdish policy", Yeni Safak columnist Ali Bayramoglu asserts that Mehmet Mir Dengir Firat's replacement as AKP deputy chairman with Abdulkadir Aksu has consolidated the impression of an authoritarian tendency in the AKP leadership's outlook on the "Kurdish issue" signalled by the tone of Prime Minister Erdogan's recent criticisms against the Democratic Society Party, (DTP). Bayramoglu asserts that although Aksu is "of Kurdish origin" like Firat, the mindset that he represents is closer to the state than to society.

    b) The aftermath of Alevi demonstration:

    In Milliyet Guneri Civaoglu censures State Minister Mustafa Said Yazicioglu's dismissal of the demands put forward by our Alevi citizens. In his article, Civaoglu criticizes the state minister in charge of the Religious Affairs Directorate (DIB) for trying to marginalize the Alevis by terming their demands "extremist ideas." Although he disagrees with the demand to close down the DIB, Civaoglu says that "cemevis' should be accepted as official worship places and they should be built in Alevi populated areas.

    In an article in Radikal, Turker Alkan also comments on Minister Yazicioglu's remarks in reaction to the Alevi demands that the government does not take seriously "extremist ideas." Alkan comes to the defence of the demands submitted by the Alevis, only taking exception with two of them -- namely, the demand to register Alevi citizens as Alevis in their identity cards and the demand to close the DIB. Alkan also lauds the "effective" and peaceful rally held by the Alevis.

    In an article entitled "They are anything but Alevis", Vakit Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya questions the Alevi identity of some participants in the recent Alevi rally in Ankara as well as their commitment to Kemalism on the basis of the slogans and banners they used during the rally. He argues that true Alevis would not raise any opposition to Islamic sharia or call for the dissolution of the Presidency of Religious Affairs established by Ataturk. He also asks Ali Balkiz, Chairman of the Alevi-Bektashi Federation, "whether our Alevi citizens believe in a holy book other than the Koran," "whether they practice any form of worship other than namaz," "whether Alevi citizens' qibla points in a different direction from the Kaaba," [whether Alevis' direction for prayer is different from Mecca] and whether Alevis do not recognize the Prophet Mohammad as their own prophet.

    In a commentary entitled "Being master of your hand, waist, and tongue", Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone asserts that the recent rally in Ankara held by Alevi and Bektashi groups represented a first in a very long historical process in the sense that it marked a mass gathering of Alevis under the Alevi banner rather than any other identity. He also asserts that virtually all demands voiced by Alevis are political in character, adding that "it is no less our duty to object to the Alevi-Bektashi faith being exploited for political purposes than it is to respect Alevi-Bektashi demands related to religious faith."

    In an article entitled "The dark side of an Alevi rally", Today's Zaman columnist Ekrem Dumanli explains why the Zaman daily voiced opposition to the recent Alevi rally in Ankara. He describes the rally as part of an effort by certain European-based groups to "lure Alevi citizens into a political struggle" against the Turkish government.

    c) Defence Ministers remarks criticized:

    Gungor Mengi, in a column in Vatan, criticizes Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul for his statement during an Ataturk commemoration ceremony held in Brussels about the benefits of the population exchange involving Greek and Armenian citizens in building a nation-state in Turkey. Mengi asks the minister to retract his words, which he says will be used by those who are waiting to slander Turkey and Ataturk, before it is too late. The enemies of Turkey will base themselves on Gonul's statement to claim that the Turkish state is racist and knowingly pursued a policy of annihilation, Mengi states.

    d) On the change of President in the US:

    In an article entitled "Here is our man", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul provides a profile of Rahm Emanuel, calling attention to his "Nazi connections," his "involvement in the killing of hundreds of Palestinians and the Deir Yassin massacre" and referring to him as a "Zio-Fascist" and "a dyed in the wool racist who has accused even Bush of failing to extend adequate support to Israel." Karagul cites Obama's decision to appoint Emanuel as White House chief of staff as evidence that there will be no change in the US policy on the Middle East during his term.

    In an article entitled "Obama and the CHP", Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru criticizes main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal for "remaining silent" on Barack Obama's political program despite the fact that Obama campaigned on a social reform platform similar to the CHP's. He also asserts that unlike other social democratic parties, the CHP has no solutions to offer for the economic crisis and "nothing to say about the Kurdish issue."

    In a commentary entitled "What Bush has achieved", Zaman writer Herkul Milas notes what he describes as the role that President Bush's aggressive foreign policy agenda played in setting the stage for Barack Obama's election victory. He also emphasizes the "significance" of Obama's win by asserting that the election of a black person as president in the United States is like the late Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink being elected as prime minister in Turkey.

    In an article entitled "Obama scenarios", Milli Gazete columnist Hasan Unal comments on what he claims to be the uncertainties regarding Barack Obama's prospective Iraq policy. He claims that Obama is, on the one hand, "talking about how Bush's misguided policies have alienated Turkey" and appears set on the other hand to incorporate most elements of those wrong policies into his own program. He also argues that while the "breaking point" in Turkish-US relations would be "a puppet [Kurdish] state" in northern Iraq that would serve US and Israeli interests, Obama's "policy document" cites the terrorist PKK as the only source of problems in Turkish-US relations.

    EG/


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