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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-11-19

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. 222/08 19.11.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Ercakica: Mr. Christofiass interlocutor in the Cyprus problem is not in Moscow but in Lefkosia.
  • [02] The British Minister for European Affairs on the Cyprus problem
  • [03] Avci: The solution is very difficult.
  • [04] Self-styled minister of agriculture held contacts in Turkey.
  • [05] 2009 fiscal budget of the occupation regime is being discussed.
  • [06] Ersin Tatar accused the self-styled government for not taking any positive and concrete step towards confronting the economic crisis.
  • [07] Turkish Cypriot trade unions warn to go on indefinite strike
  • [08] Swedish experts will attend a conference in the occupied areas
  • [09] Statements by the chairman of the European Scout Committee: Turkish Cypriots should be ready to abandon state control scouting in case of a solution.
  • [10] Illegal Eastern Mediterranean University participated in the EUCEN
  • [11] The Palm Beach Hotel in occupied Famagusta will be renovated
  • [12] Bahceli stated that the TRNC is condemned to a dark process
  • [13] Turkey will increase spending in defense
  • [14] Turkey will boost its trade with Belkans, Central and Eastern Europe
  • [15] Russia concerned on Georgias efforts to boost military potential
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [16] Turkey -- a rising power in the region
  • [17] From the Turkish Press of 18 November 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Statements by Hasan Ercakica: Mr. Christofiass interlocutor in the Cyprus problem is not in Moscow but in Lefkosia.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that Mr. Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader, stated yesterday that the leader of the Greek Cypriot administration as he called President Christofias, is trying to change the principles jointly agreed for the solution.

    Speaking at his weekly press briefing Mr. Ercakica said that The Greek Cypriot Leader Demetris Christofias should end his efforts in the international arena and stop trying to reshape the principles agreed by the two leaders. He then added the following: We want to warn the officials of the Russian Federation on the issue and he added that Christofiass interlocutor is the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat.

    Commenting on President Christofiass visit to Russia in order to sign a declaration with Russia that includes the Cyprus problem, Mr. Ercakica said: We want to remind to Mr. Christofias that his interlocutor in the Cyprus problem is not in Moscow but in Lefkosia.

    Mr. Ercakica expressed also the belief that the campaign launched by the Greek Cypriot side within the international community regarding the Cyprus problem, especially in a period that the negotiation process continues, will not contribute to the efforts for finding a solution and the most concrete indication of this he said, is the memorandum signed before by the Greek Cypriot side and the United Kingdom.

    On the negotiation process, Mr. Ercakica announced that the two leaders will have more meetings until the end of the year which will be held on November 25 and on December 8, 16, 22, 29. Mr. Ercakica said also that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat is to visit Brussels on December 9.

    ()

    [02] The British Minister for European Affairs on the Cyprus problem and the ongoing negotiations

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that Mrs Caroline Flint, the British Minister for European Affairs, speaking at a reception given by Britains former Cyprus Special Representative and current Labor Party MP for Enfield, Joan Ryan in honor of the Federation of the Turkish Associations in the UK, referred to the Cyprus problem and said that the negotiation process launched by the two leaders in Cyprus is the most significant opportunity in the way for a solution. She also said that she got impressed by the efforts the two leaders exert in the negotiation process. Noting that impressions she get has encouraged her, the British Minister said also that the efforts by the two leaders have created a unique opportunity for the unification of the island.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports in its front page on the same issue under the title London gave the green light to Talat. Caroline Flint stated to Star Kibris that the possibility for sending an invitation to Talat is on the table. She then said that during the negotiation process, she could meet with the two leaders either in London or in Lefkosia.

    Answering a question put to her by journalists whether the Cyprus problem will be on the agenda on her forthcoming visit to Ankara, Mrs Flint replied: I will meet with Foreign Minister, Mr. Babacan. Cyprus problem will be on the agenda. The support of the bilateral talks in Cyprus will be on the list of our priorities. Regarding Turkeys EU membership, she said that this would be refreshed.

    On the same issue, Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (19.11.08) in its world news pages, reports on the statements made by the British Minister for European Affairs Mrs Caroline Flint. As the paper reports, the British Minister stated that even if she is newly appointed at the post, she is aware of the importance of the (Cyprus) problem. She said that there are a lot more difficult issues to be discussed between the two sides in Cyprus and that there is a difficult journey ahead in order to reach a solution. According to the paper, Mrs Flint stressed that the systematic negotiations between the two leaders are important.

    (AC/EA)

    [03] Statements by Turgay Avci, self-styled foreign minister and chairman of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP): The solution is very difficult.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that Mr. Turgay Avci, the self-styled foreign minister and chairman of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) stated yesterday in a program broadcast by Kibris TV station that their 40 years struggle in the Cyprus problem is for the next generation not to experience the same struggle they are waging. Regarding the negotiation process, Mr. Avci said that finding a solution is very difficult since there is not any change in the position and stance of the Greek Cypriot administration.

    (AK)

    [04] Onder Sennaroglu, self-styled minister of agriculture held contacts in Turkey.

    ¤urkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that the self-styled minister of agriculture Onder Sennaroglu went yesterday to Ankara for talks with Turkish officials. According to the statement made by the ministry , Mr. Sennaroglu met yester day with the Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Mehdi Eker. Mr. Sennaroglu will return to the occupied areas today.

    (AK)

    [05] 2009 fiscal budget of the occupation regime discussed by the self styled Economy, Finance, Budget and Plan Committee.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that the so-called Economy, Finance, Budget and Plan Committee of the assembly started yesterday discussions regarding the 2009 fiscal budget. The committee is expected to complete its discussions on the proposed budget on 27th of November. The budget was set at two billion, 566 million, 745 thousand 472 New Turkish Liras.

    (AK)

    [06] Ersin Tatar accused the self-styled government for not taking any positive and concrete step towards confronting the economic crisis.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (19.11.08) reports that Mr. Ersin Tatar, Deputy General-Secretary of the opposition National Unity Party (UBP) said that it is wrong that the government has not still take any positive and concrete step towards confronting the economic crisis.

    Referring to some commentaries that the government asked from Turkey the amount of 100 million dollars in order to overcome the economic crisis and restructure the debts of the private sector, Mr. Ersin said that this amount will not be enough and stressed that there is need for 350 million dollars.

    (AK)

    [07] Turkish Cypriot trade unions warn to go on indefinite strike

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that Baraka Cultural Center, along with 17 Turkish Cypriot Trade Unions announced yesterday that they are determined to go on indefinite strike in case the government tries to do away with the workers rights. Mr. Sener Elcil stated that 17 Turkish Cypriot Trade Unions are the following: KTOS, KTOEOS, HUR-IS, KAMU-SEN, BURO-IS, HAVA-SEN, BAY-SEN, BEL-SEN, MEMUR-SEN, KAMU-SEN, SAGLIK-SEN, TUR-IS, GUC-SEN, CAG-SEN, DAU-BIR-SEN, BASS, ATES, and Baraka Cultural Center.

    (AK)

    [08] Swedish experts will attend a conference in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that Mr. Soren Backman, Mr. Rolf A. Karison and Mr. Carl Astedt, experts from Sweden, will come to the occupied areas in order to participate in the conference under the name Conference for the ongoing rehabilitation of quarries in the framework of a complete program. The conference will be organized with the cooperation of the Near East University and the Turkish Cypriot Municipalities Union. The paper does not mention the date of the conference.

    (AK)

    [09] Statements by Craig Turpie, chairman of the European Scout Committee: Turkish Cypriots should be ready to abandon state control scouting in case of a solution.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.08) reports that Mr. Craig Turpie, chairman of the European Scout Committee, speaking during the 10th meeting of Friends of Scouting Europe which was held in Hungary, stressed that the Turkish Cypriots should be ready to abandon state control scouting in case of a solution.

    Answering to questions put to him by the newspaper, Mr. Turpie said that Turkish Cypriot scouting pays the price of the non solution in the island. He then called on Turkish Cypriot scouts to be prepared for the new process in the island. Mr Turpie made this statement to Kibris newspaper.

    (AK)

    [10] Illegal Eastern Mediterranean University participated in the EUCEN

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (19.11.08) reports that the illegal Eastern Mediterranean University (DAU) participated in the 36th European Universities Continuing Education Network Conference (EUCEN) which was held in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The occupation regime was represented at the conference by Dervis Eksici, responsible in the Education Center of the illegal Eastern Mediterranean University and by Aygun Ozyahyalar, Deputy Director of Preparatory School of DAU. The paper writes that 212 people from 40 countries participated at the conference.

    (AK)

    [11] The Palm Beach Hotel in occupied Famagusta will be renovated

    Turkish Cypriot daily Sozcu (19.11.08) reports that Palm Beach Hotel in occupied Famagusta will remain closed for visitors for one year. According to the paper, there will be a radical renovation work in the hotel. The renovation process started on the 3rd of November. A new casino will be added to the Hotel and its bed capacity will be increased to 221 beds.

    (CS)

    [12] Devlet Bahceli stated that the TRNC is condemned to a dark process

    Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan (19.11.08) reports that Devlet Bahceli, the chairman of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) in Turkey, stated that the TRNC is condemned to a dark process. Mr Bahceli made these statements yesterday while speaking at his party's group meeting in Turkish Grand National Assembly.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem and to the negotiation process, the chairman of MHP strongly criticized the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Reminding that on the 15th of November the TRNC celebrated the 25th anniversary of its declaration Mr Bahceli stated, inter alia, that the TRNC which for a quarter of century exists on the historys stage as a symbol of a protest against the injustice, the cruelty and the pressure faced by the Turkish Cypriots, today is condemned to a dark process.

    (CS)

    [13] Turkey will increase spending in defense

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News newspaper (online, 19.11.08) reports the following:

    As Turkey intensifies its efforts to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, the budget for the National Defense has increased from YTL 13.3 billion to YTL 14.5 billion for 2009. The 2009 budget, submitted to Parliaments Plan and Budget Commission, was approved Monday.

    During talks over the budget, Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul stressed the importance of strengthening the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSKs, power to fight terrorist organizations.

    "Through the development of technology and its increasing accessibility, terrorist organizations have increased their opportunities and improved their abilities. In this way, they can attack any part of the world. Maintenance of TSKs deterrence power is very important in this context," he said. Pointing to Turkeys bilateral military relations, Gonul said Turkey had signed an agreement for the cooperation of defense industries with 38 countries and on military training with 43 countries. Turkey has also signed bilateral framework agreements with 51 countries.

    While TSKs weapons, ammunition, equipment and other needs are met from public and private sector companies through tenders open to competition; research, development and technology activities that aim to meet needs by creating domestic opportunities are conducted by the Ar-ge and Technology Department within the National Defense Ministry.

    "The cost of 41 research and development projects in the area of defense will be met by the national budget for the Ar-ge project during the 2007 to 2016 term, while the cost of 61 projects will be met by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, or TÜB0TAK," he said. Referring to the increase in revenue of Turkey s defense industry companies, which exceeded $2 billion in 2007, Gonul said exports from the sector are around $420 million. Revenue created by TSK s internal needs is the most significant indicator of the industrys performance, increasing 41.6 percent in 2007. "This supports our belief that our strategic target of 50 percent will be attained," Gonul said.

    [14] Turkey will boost its trade with Belkans, Central and Eastern Europe

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.11.08) reports the following:

    Turkey's State Minister Kursad Tuzmen has said that Turkey's trade volume with central and east Europe as well as Balkan countries would reach up to 100 billion USD in the next four years.

    Making opening remarks of a meeting "Turkey-Central and Eastern Europe foreign trade bridge" hosted by the Confederation of Industrialists and Businessmen of Turkey (TUSKON) in Istanbul, Tuzmen said, "Turkey's dream of cooperation in central Europe and the Balkans has come true. We have signed 32 free trade agreements with regional countries so far."

    "As of end-2007, Turkey's trade volume with central European and Balkan countries stood at 24 billion USD. We aim at increasing this amount up to 100 billion USD in the next four years," Tuzmen added.

    [15] Russia concerned on Georgias efforts to boost military potential

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.11.08) reports the following:

    The Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov said Tuesday that the Georgian administration's efforts to grow its military potential and to get closer to NATO cause concern. We believe that such initiatives will give rise to greater consequences than the incidents that took place last August, Serdyukov stressed.

    Having arrived in Ankara on an official trip, Serdyukov and the Turkish Minister of National Defense Vecdi Gonul held a press conference following their tete-a-tete meeting.

    Relations between Turkey and Russia are at an excellent level, Gonul said: The trade volume between Turkey and Russia has reached 30 billion USD. The projects assumed by Turkish contractors in Russia are worth around 30 billion USD. The Blue Stream project, carrying Russian natural gas to Turkey, is an important energy point that connects the two countries. Our countries cooperate in the best way possible in the Black Sea region, including in the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (Blackseafor). We work together against all forms of illegal trafficking, terrorism and illegal migration. We continue to cooperate with Russia in the defense sector.

    The Military Technical Subjects and Agreement for Cooperation in the Defense Industry and meetings of the Defense Industry Cooperation Joint Committee are activities that shape the cooperation in the defense sector. Certain ammunition are being procured from Russia. We are about to procure Medium Range Anti-Tank guns from Russia. Turkey procured MI-17 helicopters from Russia in the past. The Russians participated in Turkish tenders for Long Range Air and Defense Systems. We wish to work with the Russians in various projects, Gonul said.

    We hope that our successful projects will continue in both the military and defense industry sectors, Gonul said.

    Serdyukov, in his part, said that his meeting with Vecdi Gonul on Tuesday was an important step in promoting relations between the Turkish and Russian defense ministeries.

    We discussed, in details, bilateral military relations Serdyukov said: "The Russian side declared its readiness to develop dialog: We are pleased with the cooperation among our naval forces. We support Turkey's efforts in the Black Sea region to establish security. We support Turkey's efforts to bring together the high level military officials of Black Sea countries. We handled precautions to be taken against international terrorism in the Black Sea zone. There is a legal infrastructure for the fight against terror and a will to fight against new threats.

    Referring to the "Caucasus Stability Platform" suggested by Turkey as a very important initiative, Serdyukov said that Russia appreciates such an initiative."We join in Turkey's views on the territorial integrity of Georgia. However, Georgia's efforts to boost its military potential creates concern. We are also concerned with Georgia's efforts to get closer to NATO. We think that such efforts may result in bigger consequences than what took place last August. Russia is trying to develop cooperation with NATO. We expect dialog to be resumed in this field. We want to promote dialog in all fields," Serdyukov said."We are concerned with the air defense systems that are being thought for Poland and the Czech Republic. Such initiatives make it a must for Russia to act in a similar fashion," Serdyukov said.

    Serdyukov will be in Istanbul on Wednesday to hold talks after which he will return back to Moscow.

    Top of Form

    Bottom of Form


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [16] Turkey -- a rising power in the region

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (online, 19.11.08) publishes the following commentary by Amanda Akcakaca:

    Without a doubt Turkey's foreign policy has improved by leaps and bounds in recent times. Whereas only a few years ago Turkey was seen as a destabilizing force in its neighborhood, nowadays the country is increasingly being seen as a rising power; Turkey is becoming an important and powerful regional player.

    There can be little doubt that Ankara's new approach has made a big impression on the international community, which has been strikingly impressed with Turkey's new approach toward its neighborhood. Soft power has replaced the aggression of the past, and engagement has replaced isolation as Ankara now strives to widen and deepen its sphere of influence.

    Whether it will be the Middle East, the southern Caucasus or the Black Sea region, Turkey has been playing a very constructive role -- acting as a mediator between Israel and Syria and between Israel and Palestine and cooling increasing tensions between the West and Russia. This approach is reaping results not just for Ankara but for the whole region and beyond. Shuttle diplomacy, close cooperation with other key players and new political initiatives are becoming everyday business for the government. Furthermore, this role will now be further enhanced given that Turkey has gained a seat on the UN Security Council, meaning Ankara will be involved in key decisions far beyond its neighborhood.

    It is possible to further boost developments in Turkey's neighborhood with the inauguration of US President-elect Barack Obama. Obama should put the US's relationship with Turkey on a strong footing very early on in his presidency given that the US's biggest foreign policy challenges -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Russia -- are all on Turkey's doorstep. If Obama is as serious as claims to be about pulling out of Iraq and boosting operations in Afghanistan, he is going to need Turkey because the US's strategic airbase at Incirlik will more than likely be a key exit route for US soldiers departing Iraq. The US should make the best use of Turkey's unique geostrategic position when planning foreign policy in the region. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already put himself forward as a possible mediator between Iran and Obama when and if Obama decides to engage the Iranians. Turkey is very well placed to do this since it is a close ally of the US, but at the same time has the ear of the Iranians; to this end, the US should seriously consider this option. Perhaps in this respect it would be wise for Obama not to pursue the election promises he made to his Armenian-American constituents to recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915, which would be the worst possible start to his presidency in regard to relations with Ankara. The window of opportunity that has now opened for developing a strong partnership should not be stupidly slammed shut.

    At the same time, Turkey also continues to play a strong role in NATO missions around the world -- including Afghanistan, where Turkey maintains 1,500 troops, and the Balkans, where Turkey maintains a sizeable troop contingent in Kosovo. Turkey also continues to be involved in several EU European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) missions, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, there still remain difficulties vis-à-vis EU-NATO strategic cooperation due to Turkey's non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. Because Turkey has no institutionalized role in the ESDP decision-making process (given that it is not an EU member), it remains concerned about possible EU operations in or near Cyprus or the Aegean Sea, and therefore has used its NATO veto in the past to deny the EU access to NATO assets and capabilities.

    But, of course, there is always more to do. Turkey needs to continue to pursue the normalization of relations with Armenia following President Abdullah Gul's historic visit to Yerevan in September. This highly symbolic step needs to be built on. And of course there is Cyprus. Turkey must be seen as taking a very constructive approach towards the current talks that are going on between Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias. Success here will benefit the whole region and further increase Turkey's profile around the world.

    [17] From the Turkish Press of 18 November 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 18 November:

    a) Economy

    Assessing the government efforts to conclude an agreement with the IMF in an article in Hurriyet, Erkan Kumcu views them as a positive step even though they are belated. In the agreement to be signed with the IMF the focus should not be the economic growth rate, argues Kumcu, adding that the issue should be to secure foreign liquidity sources. He continues: "The financial support the IMF will allocate to Turkey should positively influence foreign markets. It should reduce the risk factor of the Turkish economy." The important issue is to convince world markets that Turkey has a lower risk factor than those of other developing countries, maintains Kumcu, adding that this should be the main target of the IMF program.

    Viewing the negotiations being held between the government and the IMF in an article in Hurriyet, Erdal Saglam explains that the IMF does not find the figures in the 2009 budget realistic, maintaining that the tax revenue figures noted in the budget cannot be attained. The writer goes on to clarify that the IMF wants these figures to be reduced or the expenditures based on these revenues to be decreased. Noting that the government is against either, Saglam contends that the prime minister is opposed to against additional taxes to meet the expenditures. Underlining that not only the IMF but many analysts and economists have found the 2009 budget figures to be unrealistic, Saglam argues that no one is deceived by the four percent growth rate foreseen in the budget.

    Focusing on the rising rates of unemployment in an article in Vatan, Gungor Mengi lambasts the populist policies of the government and the funds spent distributing food parcels and coal sacks to the needy in order to obtain their votes. Arguing that these funds should be spent in creating jobs for the unemployed, Mengi urges the prime minister to approach the economic crisis with the seriousness and responsibility befitting "the leader of one of the 20 large economies controlling the fate of the world." Had he acted as a statesman obligated to prepare a secure future for his citizens he would not have encouraged them to have at least three children and he would not have distributed food parcels and sacks of coal in a bid to receive their votes, writes Mengi, adding that instead he would have tried to create places of employment since this is the definition of a social state.

    Viewing the negotiations the government is holding with the IMF as a sign that it has failed to formulate policies to deal with the crisis, Vatan's Okay Gonensin says that it is very natural that the votes of the AKP are on the decline. What Gonensin finds unnatural in his column is that the votes of the main opposition party are not increasing. The writer interprets the recent TNS Piar poll results to mean that the voters do not believe that either the Republican People's Party, CHP, or the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, are capable of dealing with the crisis. Pointing out that the CHP has failed to put forth any proposal to counter the crisis, Gonensin argues that the CHP together with the labor unions could have at least attempted to put pressure on the government to establish a consultation system with the economic organizations in the country. In conclusion, the writer likens the AKP to a boxer in the ring who has received too many punches, adding that, however, there are no boxers outside the ring who can come up and defeat the AKP.

    Ortadogu columnist Ali Oncu refers to the fact that Standard and Poor's has reduced Turkey's credit note and argues that it is unfair. Underlining that Turkish banks have shown a profit while other world banks are going bankrupt, Oncu claims that the financial system in Turkey is not going through a crisis. Accusing the western world of using credit rating companies to destroy the new economies that might become rivals in the future, Oncu maintains that in this way they stop the flow of capital to those countries.

    Assessing the change made by Standard and Poor's in Turkey's credit note downgrading it from stagnant to negative, Taraf columnist Suleyman Yasar charges that it is not compatible with the realities. In his article, Yasar disagrees with the new credit note claiming that it is difficult to predict whether the private sector will encounter difficulties in paying its debts. Of the $190 billion owed by the private sector only 47.8 billion are short term loans, the writer specifies, adding that most of which are loans extended by the shareholders to their own companies. The writer points out that such negative assessments might have adverse affects on the economy and goes on to cite examples from the past involving Canada and Malaysia. Describing the dire economic situation in Island, Yasar questions why that country's credit note is higher than that of Turkey's.

    b) Islamic Attire in CHP

    In an article in Milliyet, Bila relates a conversation he held with CHP leader Deniz Baykal who explains that there is no contradiction between the party principles and its new chador-wearing members. According to Baykal, all those who believe in the social democratic principles of the party are free to join the CHP. The CHP leader further maintains that these religious individuals are joining his party as a reaction to the Justice and Development Party, AKP, which, despite its election platform, has done nothing but pillage the nation during its terms in office.

    Commenting on the Islamic attired members of the CHP in an article entitled "The Headdress has entered the CHP" in Milliyet, Taha Akyol refers to Baykal's comments that they are "conservative" citizens wearing traditional attire and grants that Baykal's stand is the right one. He adds that the duty that befalls parties today is to embrace everyone with tolerance and to unite them around a political program, thus avoiding cultural clashes. Calling on the AKP to embrace the Alevis, Akyol believes that parties should base their platforms on political programs and not on ethnic and cultural identities. In conclusion, Akyol writes: "The CHP should realize that the headdress is not a symbol of reactionism but one of 'pluralistic modernization!' The CHP should become a social democratic party not only in words but in essence as well!"

    In an article in Hurriyet, Bekir Coskun ridicules the attempts made by the CHP to win the religious sector on its way to what he calls the "great march toward power." The CHP, which has failed to motivate the intellectual and the contemporary sectors and to generate projects and programs to win their votes, has now targeted the religious sector, writes Coskun, arguing that the headdressed and chadored sector does not need a program but only religious fervor.

    In an article entitled "CHP and women in black chador", Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru comments on what he describes as an unusual development at a recent local congress of the Republican People's Party, CHP, where CHP leader Deniz Baykal presented a group of women in black chador with party badges to mark their admission to CHP membership. Koru asserts that the CHP is trying to obtain the support of conservative masses ahead of the local elections through such moves before he proceeds to claim that there is no reason to be hopeful about a change in the CHP's stance on Islamic attire based on the said development unless the CHP leadership is eager to follow up this move with other gestures signaling its desire to promote freedoms. He also calls on the CHP to move from "the crude secularism associated with the single-party era" in Turkish political history to "moderate secularism."

    Vakit in a report entitled "Baykal is exploiting religion, "asserts that CHP leader Baykal has come under fire from NGOs over his "hypocritical" behavior in putting party badges on a group of veiled women who joined the CHP. According to the report, Baykal has offended devout people and women wearing Islamic headscarves through numerous public statements in the past.

    In an article entitled "With the ballot box in sight", Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone describes CHP leader Baykal's remarks about the veiled women on whom he put party badges at the recent local CHP congress - "It is not right to reach conclusions about people's ideas and moral identity based on their clothes," etc - as a favorable result of increasing democratic competition in advance of the local elections in March. He claims that the same competition has caused also the AKP and the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, to revise their political stance, as seen in the way Prime Minister Erdogan has started to emphasize the notion of "a single state, a single nation, and a single flag" and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli has begun to say that the people of this country are "equal and honorable" citizens in a convergence that is "higher than any blood or race ties."

    Todays Zaman in a report entitled "Baykal's sharp U-Turn on scarves raises eyebrows," asserts that the "unexpected softening" in CHP leader Baykal's stance on Muslim headscarves "begs the question of whether the secularist politician is seeking to gain the support of conservative voters in the approaching local elections or [whether] he is really signaling a radical change in the CHP's intraparty politics toward the wearing of headscarves."

    c) US withdrawal from Iraq

    According to a report by Ugur Ergan in Hurriyet, the agreement on the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq includes an article that is very critical for Turkey. This article, which transfers sovereignty over Iraqi airspace to Baghdad, constitutes a serious obstacle to Turkish fighter jets that conduct cross-border operations against the PKK, adds the report.

    Assessing the US-Iraqi troop withdrawal agreement from the viewpoint of Turkey in an article in Hurriyet, Oktay Eksi says that as of 1 January, 2009, Turkish fighter jets will require the permission of Baghdad to conduct cross-border operations against the PKK, stressing that Turkey will be the first and foremost injured party in this agreement.

    Cumhuriyet columnist Mustafa Balbay in an article interprets the US-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement, SOFA, on the withdrawal of troops to mean that "the United States has extended its presence in Iraq for another three years." According to the UN mandate granted to the United States, all troops were supposed to withdraw from Iraq by 1 January 2009, writes Balbay, adding that not having shaped Iraq in line with its wishes, the United States needed another extension which came in the form of this agreement that is expected to endorse the prolonged presence of US troops in Iraq through the stamp of its parliament. Questioning whether the US troops will withdraw from Iraq in 2011, Balbay maintains that they might if the Iraqi administration is under US control and if sufficient bases are established by then.

    In the first section of his article in Hurriyet Daily News.com, Enis Berberoglu assesses the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and speculates on who will protect the Kurds that cooperated with the invading U.S. forces during the Iraq war from the Arabs.

    EG/


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