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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-12-04

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. 233/08 04.12.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Reaction by the Turkish Cypriot side to the recently announced report by the UN Secretary-General on the UNFICYP
  • [02] The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to the declaration signed between the Republic of Cyprus and Russia
  • [03] Appointment of TRNC representatives still a bone of contention between Talat and the Foreign Ministry
  • [04] Irish Minister argued that the Greek Cypriot side supported separation in 2004
  • [05] Giant investment in Morfou; Turkish Cypriot columnist argues that Erdogan has ignited the wick of the construction boom in Morfou
  • [06] The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce will organize a cooperation summit with the chambers on non-EU member Balkan countries; FYROMs state minister to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [07] The cost of living in the occupied areas of Cyprus increased by 0.7 % in November 2008
  • [08] Turkeys consumer price index rises 0.83 percent, producer price index falls in November
  • [09] Net Holding has managed to import the slot machines needed for the Merit casino benefiting from the tax exemption for the casinos in spite of the fact that it does not possess permit yet
  • [10] Sanlidag said parliamentary elections will be held in autumn 2009
  • [11] Eroglu reiterates that the guarantees of Turkey and the existence of the Turkish army is vital for them
  • [12] Pertevs film The Missing Bus to be screened in a competition in the United States
  • [13] Turkey to receive the Sports and Peace prize for its participation in the football match with Armenia
  • [14] Statements by Turkish Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan: Turkeys determination Commitment to EU continues
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [15] Columnist in Radikal assesses Obamas foreign policy team and argues that for Turkey the situation is better during the Bush period
  • [16] Cyprus problem to benchmark Turkeys EU course
  • [17] From the Turkish Press of 03 December 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Reaction by the Turkish Cypriot side to the recently announced report by the UN Secretary-General on the UNFICYP

    Under the title Reaction to Ban, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.12.08) reports that disappointment has been caused by the reference in the UN Secretary-Generals report regarding the term of duty of the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) that the isolations are a feeling of the Turkish Cypriots.

    The self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Turgay Avci has said that the UN Secretary -Generals report reflects the unjust situation in which the TRNC people are living as a psychological event and added that this approach has once more caused disappointment in the Turkish Cypriots. In a written statement issued yesterday, Mr Avci noted that they continue the detailed evaluation of the above-mentioned report.

    He said that the report referred to damage caused to a property at Pyla village in August 2008 and avoided to say that this property was the Turkish school of the village and to accuse the Greek Cypriot side. Mr Avci argued that the report exposes the Turkish Cypriot side to unjust accusations and pointed out that the report refers to the issue of not allowing the Greek Cypriots to visit occupied Ayios Mamas Church in Morfou through Limnitis barricade. He expressed his satisfaction that the report refers to the fact that a Turkish school is not currently opened in Limassol, which is of great importance for the Turkish Cypriots.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (04.12.08) reports that Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader, has commented on the UN Secretary -Generals report regarding UNFICYP and alleged that the Turkish Cypriots are really experiencing the isolation. In statements during his weekly briefing to the press, Mr Ercakica argued yesterday that the isolation is not an illusion. He described the reference in the report as great negativeness which hurts them.

    Mr Ercakica said that in spite of the fact that the report is generally balanced, the isolation has not been taken into consideration seriously and this saddened them. Mr Ercakica alleged that the isolations are influencing negatively the future of the Cyprus problem, that the Greek Cypriot side is continuously increasing its efforts on this issue and that it is using its EU membership to this end. He claimed that the statements made by President Christofias in Greece and by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Dora Bakoyannis that Turkey is not helping in the solution of the Cyprus problem, is a contradictory approach which is not in harmony with the realities.

    Responding to a question, Mr Ercakica said there is lack of consultation on the issue of the appointment of new ambassador of the breakaway regime to Ankara and added that they expect the government to overcome this problem.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.12.08) reports that Mr Ercakica referred also to the issue of the two young Turkish Cypriots who are under custody with the accusation that the insulted Mr Talat on the Facebook. He noted that Mr Talat has not filed a personal complaint on the issue and that the inquiry has been launched by the police as required by the law. He said that Mr Talat told the police he has no complaint and tried to reduce the period of two young persons being under custody. He alleged that this inquiry was necessary for the police to carry out their duty and for preventing other young people from exhibiting similar behaviour.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to the declaration signed between the Republic of Cyprus and Russia

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (04.12.08) reports that Burak Ozugergin, spokesman of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has stated that the Greek Cypriots should understand that reaching an overall solution and lasting peace in Cyprus could only be possible through negotiations conducted between the sides on the island with good will and by remaining faithful to the parameters of the UN.

    Asked yesterday to comment on the possible effects of the declaration signed between Russia and the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Ozugergin argued that the parameters agreed by the two sides within the framework of the negotiations have been ignored in this declaration which mentions that the Cyprus problem should be solved on the basis of the 1977- 1979 High Level Agreements and within this framework the unitary Republic of Cyprus should be transformed into a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal state.

    He added the following: However, neither the 1977- 1979 High Level Agreements nor the UN Security Council resolutions include the approach that the unitary Republic of Cyprus, which does not exist anymore, will be transformed into a federal state. On the other hand, the mentioned declaration makes no reference to the joint statement of 23 May 2008 by the two leaders that the federation to be created after the solution will be formed by two founding states. This approach is a new indication that the Greek Cypriot Administration is trying at the international platform to change the mutually reached agreement within the negotiation process on the island.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (04.12.08) covers the issue under the title Reminder to the Greek Cypriots by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and notes that Mr Ozugergin said that the declaration refers to the 1996 agreement for military and technical cooperation and alleged that these efforts for armament, which caused concern to the Turkish Cypriots and serious crises in the past, are not in harmony with the solution process.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Appointment of TRNC representatives still a bone of contention between Talat and the Foreign Ministry

    Hurriyet daily News.com (04.12.08) publishes the following from Ankara:

    Major overseas posts to represent northern Cyprus are still vacant due to the Turkish Cypriot president's refusal to stamp ambassadorial appointments. ´Appointments are pending. We are on the one side struggling to break international isolation but on the other side we are not represented in major capitals´, a senior Turkish Cypriot official, who declined to be named, told the Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review.

    The Turkish Cypriot cabinet approved the decree on appointments a long time ago but the document still needs final approval from President Mehmet Ali Talat. No envoy has been appointed to Turkey since the tenure of former ambassador Tamer Gazioglu expired Aug. 31.

    Northern Cyprus was represented by its foreign minister, Turgay Avci, at a reception given in HYPERLINK "http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/index/Ankara/" \t "blank" Ankara on Nov. 15, marking the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Cypriot state.

    ´The reception held in the heart of Turkey was a very important event for northern Cyprus. The foreign minister had to attend as the position of ambassador remains vacant´, said the official. Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey but it has representative offices in various capitals overseas, including in Europe.

    ´Several events take place in London for example, and we are represented by our press attached there´, the official said.

    The problem has been attributed to a nuisance between the Turkish Cypriot Foreign Ministry and the president. Talat was furious when officials from the ministry allegedly leaked selected diplomats' identities to the press before his approval, the Daily News learned.

    Subtitle: Talat seeks active role in foreign policy

    Talat also wants structural changes to play an active role in ambassadorial appointments, a diplomatic source said. "The relevant law needs to be amended to raise the influence of the president but this is currently off the government's agenda even though the Republican Turkish' Party, or CTP, from which Talat was elected president, is the major coalition partner," he added.

    If sealed by Talat, Turkish Cypriot Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Namik Korhan is expected to serve as ambassador to HYPERLINK "http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/index/Ankara/" \t "blank" Ankara.

    Meanwhile, Turkey yesterday opposed the signing of a joint declaration between Greek Cyprus and Russia that came at a time the two Cypriot leaders are negotiating under United Nations auspices for a final settlement to the decades-old problem.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin, in written response to a question, said the deal concluded last month would not help peace talks aimed at reunifying the divided island.

    The joint declaration makes reference to a 1996 agreement for military-technical cooperation. The spokesman said the budget allegedly set aside by Greek Cypriots for weaponry acquisitions did not sit well with peace efforts. ´Greek Cypriots pretend to negotiate at the table, but behind closed doors they are doubling efforts to further isolate us´, the unnamed Turkish Cypriot official said.

    [04] Irish Minister argued that the Greek Cypriot side supported separation in 2004

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.12.08) reports that Jonathan Powell, former advisor of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Michael Mansergh, Minister of Public Works and Transport of south Ireland met yesterday with journalists at the building of the British High Commission in the occupied part of Nicosia and conveyed to them the experience of the peace process in Ireland. The British High Commissioner to Nicosia, Peter Millet attended the meeting.

    Mr Powell said that the politicians should take risks regarding the peace process and pointed out to the social and economic benefits of the peace process in Ireland. Mr Mansergh said that the possible agreement should be strengthened by the two sides through referendum and added that it is important for the result to be determined with concrete rules.

    In 2004, the Greek Cypriot side which has always been saying abstractly that it supported the unification, became the side that opposed unification when the issue came to concrete rules, that is, it supported separation, he alleged adding that the Turkish side voted in favour of the unification.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Giant investment in Morfou; Turkish Cypriot columnist argues that Erdogan has ignited the wick of the construction boom in Morfou

    Under the title Giant investment in Morfou, Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (04.12.08) writes that a ceremony to lay down the foundation stone of a project consisting of 32 residential houses and working places took place yesterday in occupied Morfou.

    The project will be constructed in the area of Morfou highway and each residence will be of 125 and 150 square meters in area.

    Furthermore, writing in Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.12.08) Turkish Cypriot columnist Hasan Hasturer refers to the laying of the foundation stone of the Tosunoglu Groups project for building apartments and shops in the occupied area of Morfou. Under the title Changing point of view in Morfou, Mr Hasturer writes, inter alia, the following:

    The people of Morfou have been relieved from the fear for investments. The increase in constructions is a concrete indication of the fact that people have no longer a fear. According to the border in the Annan Plan, the campus of the Middle East Technical University (ODTU) was remaining in the north side of the border. However, ODTU started to flow towards Morfou from the Kapouti hill. The ODTU campus was the first place under consideration for the construction of the amphitheatre the founding stone of which was laid some period ago in the Morfou Festival Area. The Amphitheatre, which will be built with the contribution of Turkey, has been constructed inside Morfou. People have interpreted this kind of investments, according to their own thinking. The statements by the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that We have made so many investments in Morfou, Morfou cannot be returned, has ignited the wick of the construction boom. The ignited wick is live for long or slowly, but finally it is burning.

    The political message from the construction of the housing blocs and shops project, the foundation stone of which was laid yesterday, is strong. I have no doubt that yesterdays laying of foundation stone will be evaluated seriously especially in the Greek Cypriot side. .

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce will organize a cooperation summit with the chambers on non-EU member Balkan countries; FYROMs state minister to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.12.08) reports that the Turkish Cypriot Chambers of Commerce and Industry have participated in the 1st Economic Summit of the Balkan Countries in Istanbul.

    According to a statement issued by the Chamber of Commerce, the member of its administrative council, Salih Celiker submitted a suggestion to the chairmen of the chambers of Turkey, FYROM, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia for a cooperation summit to take place between the TRNC and the countries which are not members of the EU.

    The paper reports that the representatives received positively this suggestion and agreed that this summit should be materialized next year. Mr Celiker met also with FYROMs State Minister, Hadi Nezir and discussed with him the possibilities for cooperation between the two countries. He invited Mr Nezir to the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] The cost of living in the occupied areas of Cyprus increased by 0.7 % in November 2008

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.12.08) reports that the so-called state planning organization has stated that the cost of living increased by 0.7% in November 2008 in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The consumer price index increased by 0.7 % in comparison with the previous month, 16.4 % in comparison with December last year and 16.9 % according to the same month of last year.

    The highest increase in the groups of the main expenses was observed in entertainment and culture (13%). Increase was also observed in the expenses for transportation (3.2%), restaurants and hotels (1.2%), housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel (1%), communication (0.9%), education (0.7%), various products and services (0.3%), furniture house equipment and house upkeep services (0.3%) and health (0.1%).

    Decrease was observed in the expenses for clothing and shoes (2.4%) and food and non-alcoholic drinks (0.7%). The paper notes that according to the previous month, increase was observed in the average price of the 173 goods and services which are included in the index, while decrease was seen in the average prices of 43 goods.

    The higher increase was seen in the price of lottery tickets (200%), the cost for entering football matches (100%) and daily newspapers (41.2 %). The highest decrease was observed in the price of lemons (38.9%), fresh coriander (35.9 %) and spinach (35.8%).

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] Turkeys consumer price index rises 0.83 percent, producer price index falls in November

    Istanbul Hurriyet daily news.com (03.12.08) reported the following:

    The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.83 percent, while the producer price index (PPI) fell 0.03 percent in November, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TURKSTAT) said on Wednesday.

    Turkish CPI hit 10.76 percent on a 12-month basis, as the PPI rate over 12 months declined to 12.25 percent, the TURKSTAT said.

    An earlier CNBC-e poll expected Turkey's consumer price index is to rise 1.09 percent month-on-month in the same period and the producer price index is seen climbing 0.85 percent.

    Turkish Central Bank expects Turkey's inflation to be in the range of 6.1-9.1 percent in 2009 and 4.3-7.9 percent in 2010, while it says it expects it to fall to 5.4 percent as of the third quarter of 2011. 83 percent, PPI falls 0.03 percent in November.

    [09] Net Holding has managed to import the slot machines needed for the Merit casino benefiting from the tax exemption for the casinos in spite of the fact that it does not possess permit yet

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (04.12.08) reports that Net Holding, the administrator of Merit Hotel and casino, has managed to import the slot machines needed for the casino benefiting from the tax exemption for the casinos in spite of the fact that it does not possess yet permit for a gambling house.

    The paper notes that the Net Holding was able to import these machines by using the administrative right of Voyager Kibris Ltd which it had taken over from Asil Nadir.

    The self-styled council of ministers approved the above-mentioned tax exemption for the machines of Voyager Kibris Ltd with a decision taken on 20 August 2008, whereas on 28 October 2008 it determined the conditions under which permit for casino could be given to Net Holding. The paper notes that thus the Net Holding, which has brought its construction material, its furnishings and personnel from Turkey, was tax exempted for the playing machines.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] Sanlidag said parliamentary elections will be held in Autumn 2009

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (04.12.08) reports that the self-styled minister of economy and tourism, Erdogan Sanlidag has said that the general parliamentary elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus will be held in October or November 2009. In statements yesterday during a television program on Ada TV, Mr Sanlidag noted that the elections will not be held in spring and said he could make a bet on this issue.

    (I/Ts.)

    [11] Eroglu reiterates that the guarantees of Turkey and the existence of the Turkish army is vital for them

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Volkan newspaper (04.12.08) publishes statements by the newly elected chairman of the National Unity Party (UBP), Dervis Eroglu who alleged that the efforts by President Christofias to humiliate the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat are insult to the TRNC and our people.

    Mr Eroglu said that the continuation of the active and effective guarantees of Turkey and the existence of the Turkish army in Cyprus is vital for us and could never become an issue of bargaining.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (04.12.08) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has sent a congratulatory message to the newly elected chairman of the National Unity Party (UBP), Dervis Eroglu.

    In his message Mr Talat noted that healthy function of democracy in the political parties is a necessity for the healthy function of the TRNC democracy. The paper reports that Mr Talat will meet with Mr Eroglu to discuss and evaluate the Cyprus problem within the framework of the meetings he holds with the political party leaders.

    (I/Ts.)

    [12] Pertevs film The Missing Bus to be screened in a competition in the United States

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (04.12.08) writes that the documentary film The Missing Bus which follows the story of 11 Turkish Cypriots, who went missing in 1964, will be screened in the traditional documentary and short film competition which is organized within the framework of the 13th Turkish Culture and Art Festival in Boston, United States.

    The festival will last until December 7th and thirty films in total will be screened in order for the Best Documentary and the Best Short Film to be selected.

    (ML)

    [13] Turkey to receive the Sports and Peace prize for its participation in the football match with Armenia

    Turkish Cypriot daily Cyprus Times newspaper (04.12.08) reports that Turkey was chosen for the Sports Peace Prize of the Peace and Sports organization that is based in Monaco, after Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsian shook hands prior to a World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia in Yerevan on September 6th. Turkey will receive the prize today from Prince Albert II of Monaco.

    [14] Statements by Turkish Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan: Turkeys determination Commitment to EU continues

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (03.12.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish foreign minister reiterated his country's commitment for accession to the European Union on Wednesday, rejecting claims that Turkey had lost "appetite" for membership in the Union.

    ´It is quite normal and natural that there may be ups and downs in this process. Our determination for EU membership remains intact and I expect a new momentum in the reforms process after local elections (in Turkey)´, Babacan told a televised interview.

    An EU report on Turkey's progress recently criticized the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, claiming that it had slowed down reforms needed to become a member of the European club.

    Babacan said Turkish President Abdullah Gul was scheduled to pay a formal visit to Brussels soon, adding that Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also planning to pay one.

    The Turkish foreign minister said he expected that a number of ´serious steps would be taken sooner or later´ for a major overhaul of the Turkish constitution.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [15] Columnist in Radikal assesses Obamas foreign policy team and argues that for Turkey the situation is better during the Bush period

    Radikal newspaper (02.12.08) publishes the following commentary by Murat Yetkin under the title: Obamas Foreign Policy and Security Team and Turkey:

    US President-Elect Barack Obama announced his foreign policy and security team yesterday.

    Obama's choices were consistent with the "above-parties foreign and security policy" that he promised yesterday.

    The fact that, following the elections conducted in such a clear atmosphere of polarization, such an above-parties core cadre has been established 1) is surprising, and 2) shows that the "state of war" in the United States continues. Obama, saying yesterday that "when it is a matter of security, we are not Democrats or Republicans, but Americans," pointed out this fact. Washington is going to continue the war, but with a different style. And he showed this with the choices that he announced yesterday.

    The most "mediatic" name in Obama's core cadre was Senator Hillary Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, who had fought a tooth-and-nail battle with him for the Democratic Party candidacy. Obama wants in this way to show that there is no place in his politics for personal passions or personal rivalries, and that he ascribes importance to compromise and functionality.

    A positive indication that Obama will keep his promise not to act in a partisan manner in his foreign and security policies was his retaining in office as Defence Secretary former CIA Chairman Robert Gates, whom George [W.] Bush had chosen (by removing Donald Rumsfeld from the cabinet due to influence from his father and the American deep state.)

    Likewise, his announcement of retired General James Jones, the Commander of US Forces in Europe during the Bush period, as National Security Advisor, indicates that Obama is not a man for sharp changes, but rather a man of smooth transitions.

    The inclusion in Obama's core foreign policy and security cadre of Eric Holden as Attorney General and Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security are perhaps not considered as marking anything new. But his inclusion of Susan Rice, whom he announced he would appoint as United Nations General Secretary [as published; should read "Ambassador to the United Nations"] was something new.

    By including the UN Representative in his foreign and domestic security cadre, Obama is in fact displaying one of the most significant differences between himself and Bush. One of the greatest criticisms directed against Bush was his jumping into the Iraq war with "unilateral" decisions, reached without consulting with the UN, NATO, or his allies. Obama, by once again including the UN consultation mechanism within his national security system, wants to give the world the message that he is not going to behave as imperiously as Bush.

    Obama wants to show that he intends compromise, abroad as well as domestically, or at least following a policy that is more open to dialogue.

    When looked at from Turkey's standpoint, it is possible to say that the situation appears better than during the Bush period. When we include Vice President John [as published; should read "Joseph"] Biden, four of the seven people who will conduct Obama's foreign and security policy (Biden, Clinton, Gates, and Jones) are individuals who are familiar with Turkey. That they have this or that judgment regarding Turkey is not a disadvantage, and on the contrary should be counted as an advantage; at least they have the basis on which a debate can be held. It should not be forgotten that Jones was influential in repairing the relations between Turkey and the United States that had reached a bottom during the period 2003-2006 (due to the [Turkish parliamentary rejection of the Iraq war military authorization] motion and the "sack" incident in Al-Sulaymaniah), and that he had close contact with the General Staff Chiefs during the period, Hilmi Ozkok and Yasar Buyukanit. Likewise, it should be kept in mind that, following Rumsfeld's stance of holding Turkey responsible for the Iraq fiasco, effective intelligence sharing on the PKK presence in Iraq began between Turkey and the United States during the Gates period. (The United States' new Ambassador in Ankara, James Jeffrey, is also a figure who knows Turkey and the region intimately.)

    The Democratic Party's stance in terms of the Armenian issue is well known. But the rapid developments since [President] Abdullah Gul went to Yerevan in response to the invitation from [Armenian President] Serj Sarkisyan may have a positive impact on the situation. The really important thing in this is whether, for new steps to be taken in relations with Armenia, there will be a wait until the 29 March 2009 local elections, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants, or whether there will be further steps taken before things cool off too much, which is Gul's preference.

    There is also another important point. Obama held his first meeting with his core cadre yesterday. He announced that the first topic they took up was the terrorist attack that caused bloodshed in the Indian city of Mumbai. Because of this attack, relations have become tense between India and Pakistan, both of which possess atomic weapons. With a call from Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Ziya Gilani, Prime Minister Erdogan, and thus Turkey, have also gotten involved in international diplomacy on this issue. According to diplomatic sources, the tension continues, even if not as grave as over the weekend.

    [16] Cyprus problem to benchmark Turkeys EU course

    Todays Zaman daily newspaper (04.12.08) reports the following:

    The current negative climate in Turkey, where democratic reforms are at a standstill, has been exacerbated by the expected impact of the global economic crisis on the country, making it more vulnerable to external shocks.

    As the country prepares for the local elections scheduled for March 29 of next year, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has ironically furthered its anti-reformist stance with the hope of emerging on top in the local elections in a country where nationalist fervour has been on the rise.

    Some steps taken lately by Turkey as part of its reforms, such as addressing the problems of the country's Alevis, are not considered genuine attempts at improving the country but rather as sweets being distributed before the elections.

    ´This new Alevi policy does not stem from a deep conviction that this problem should be addressed´, asserts a Western diplomat, hinting that they are not convinced about this latest move.

    Such steps, seen as window dressing or an election tactic, have been deepening the conviction among pro-Turkey Europeans that Ankara does not desire membership in the European Union.

    The current anti-reform climate in Turkey has further eroded Ankara's already fading interest in joining the EU.

    It is then safe to predict that it will be very hard for Turkey to come up with tangible reforms in the year 2009. Partly because it does not seem possible for the AK Party to come up with bold reforms -- such as the introduction of a brand new Constitution to replace the military-dictated 1982 Constitution -- just after the local elections since it will be busy tackling the results of the elections, whether they turn out in favour of the party or against it.

    The absence of support from opposition parties for constitutional reforms that would open a new page in Turkey in promoting a more pluralistic society will make it more difficult for the ruling party to come up with bold and courageous reforms next year.

    A second, and perhaps equally important, reason for predictions that 2009 will be a bad year for Turkish-EU relations is the Cyprus issue and Turkey's refusal to comply with the Ankara Protocol, which requires opening its ports and airports to all EU member countries without exception.

    Turkey does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island as a state even though it joined the EU in 2004 representing the whole island. Thus Ankara refuses to comply with the protocol in relation to Cyprus, prompting the EU to suspend negotiations on several chapters before opening several others last year.

    Next year in November, the EU will review the Ankara Protocol and will take a position depending on whether or not Turkey has opened its ports to the Greek Cypriot administration.

    ´We, as EU members, do not expect Turkey to comply with the Ankara Protocol unless there is going to be a breakthrough in peace talks between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders,´ said an Ankara-based EU diplomat.

    The Cyprus reunification talks are tied up with Turkey's already troubled EU membership. But ongoing talks between the leaders of both communities in Cyprus have not given any clue promising a breakthrough in those negotiations.

    Worsening these problems is the economic crisis Europe is currently going through and its impact on the Turkish economy since over half of Ankara's trade has been with EU countries.

    An analysis of Turkey from an economic perspective paints a bleak picture of Turkey's future if it does not take the necessary measures swiftly to address internal economic and political problems to minimize the effects of outside shocks as much as possible.

    Dr. Ian O. Lesser, from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, noted in a recent article titled ´Turkey and the Global Economic Crisis´ that Turkey's EU candidacy is already troubled, with little prospect for improvement in the near term.

    ´A deep and prolonged recession in Europe could further complicate Turkish relations with Europe. Job losses and financial stress in Europe could reinforce existing concerns over immigration and the costs of future large-scale enlargements. A poorer Europe may also be a more xenophobic Europe, with obvious and negative implications for Turkey's European aspirations. Even those European politicians willing to exercise leadership on Ankara's behalf may find themselves distracted by more pressing economic and social challenges. The business constituency for Turkey may be similarly distracted and limited in its ability to make the case for completing Turkey's European project. An atmosphere of heightened nationalism on all sides will also make a Cyprus settlement much more difficult, and ultimately, this is a sine qua non for progress toward full membership´, he asserts.

    Despite the negative internal trends coupled with the expected results of the global economic crisis, Turkey can find a way out if it acts quickly in addressing its problems in all spheres.

    [17] From the Turkish Press of 03 December 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 03 December 2008:

    a) Meeting of the Supreme Military Council:

    According to a report by Aydin Hasan in Milliyet, the Supreme Military Council, (YAS), has decided to expel 19 of its personnel for drug abuse and amoral relations and five of its personnel for their involvement in reactionary activities. The report adds that the YAS decisions were endorsed by President Abdullah Gul.

    A report on the YAS meeting in Hurriyet states: "Prime Minister Erdogan and National Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul have expressed their reservations on the expulsion decisions. The General Staff statement, stressing that the expulsion decisions were taken with a 'majority of votes,' has conveyed the message that Erdogan and Gonul have expressed their reservations without actually naming them."

    b) Local Elections:

    Assessing how the economic crisis will affect the election results in an article in Milliyet, Hasan Cemal predicts that a shrinking economy and a growing unemployment might reduce the votes of the Justice and Development Party, AKP, considerably. Questioning whether the Republican People's Party, CHP, or the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, will benefit from the outcome, the writer maintains that one has to wait till February for a sound assessment of the situation.

    Researcher Bulent Tanla has claimed that the increase in the number of voters by six million in one year creates the doubt that the 2007 elections were flawed. According to a report in Vatan, Tanla has said: "If the number of 48,265,000 voters is correct, then the population census is wrong, and if the population census is correct, then the number of voters during the 2007 elections is wrong." Pointing out that one cannot file a suit against the decisions adopted by the High Election Council, (YSK), Tanla has suggested that political parties apply to the European Court of Human Rights, ECHR.

    Commenting on the six million "unregistered voters" of the 2007 elections as claimed by researcher Bulent Tanla, Can Atakli in his article also in Vatan wonders whether the results of the elections would have been the same had the six million been registered and had they cast their votes. Referring to the option of resorting to the ECHR on the issue, Atakli point out that if the court rules that the elections should be held once again, Turkey has to abide by it. Explaining that political parties or candidates who claim that they have been wronged can apply to the court, Atakli concludes that we have made a mess of the system concerning the registration of voters.

    Commenting on CHP leader Deniz Baykal's Islamic attire overtures in an article in Vatan, Okay Gonensin interprets them as moves to win votes in the upcoming local elections. Baykal who defended the most radical secular ideas a year ago has now chosen to adopt the views expressed by former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in 1973-74, writes Gonensin, arguing that if this stand does not instantly yield fruits then Baykal will come up with another scheme.

    Recent polls show that the AKP will receive 32-33 percent of the votes, CHP 12.5 percent, and MHP 7.6 percent, writes Cuneyt Arcayurek in his article in Cumhuriyet. Drawing attention to some 40 percent of the voters who are still undecided, the writer argues that with the distribution of the undecided votes the AKP can raise its percentage to 40 and more. Expressing his amazement at the poll results given the reaction of the people, Arcayurek wonders why citizens complain but still continue to cast their votes in favour of the AKP. This contradiction might be explained by the fact that voters are pressed to find an alternative, laments Arcayurek, rejoicing, however, over the announcement made by the Metropol Company, known for its closeness to the government, that the AKP will be able to receive only 28.5 percent of the votes in the mayoral elections.

    Referring to the resignation of the Indian interior minister in the wake of the terrorist incidents, Vatan columnist Mehmet Tezkan wonders if such a thing could occur in Turkey. In his article, the columnist recalls how the Turkish interior minister disappeared from the scenes and did not even issue a statement following various terror attacks, adding that resignations occur in Turkey only when that official intends to participate in the elections. I was expecting the RTUK chairman to resign in order to participate in the local elections, notes Tezkan, mockingly adding that he must be waiting for the general elections to resign because he needs to be elected as a deputy and receive parliamentary immunity in preparation for all the allegations of fraud being made against him. Commenting on the resignation of Adana Mayor Aytac Durak from the AKP, Tezkan remarks he resigned because he was not elected as a candidate for the upcoming local elections.

    In an article entitled "The PKK left as their only means of creating unrest", Zaman columnist Mehmet Kamis blasts Democratic Society Party, (DTP), Co-Chairman Emine Ayna's recent "threats against Kurds" facing them with a choice between "voting for us" or never knowing peace again as an example of how this party exploits the terrorist PKK for political purposes. Kamis criticizes DTP municipalities for what he describes as their failure to increase Kurds' quality of life and "hit the mark" in providing basic public services before he proceeds to accuse them of trying to increase regional tensions ahead of the local elections in March. He also warns that the PKK might use the Nevruz festival in spring as an excuse to stage terrorist acts in a last-ditch attempt to turn the tide of public opinion in the southeast in its favour.

    c) Gul's mediation between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan:

    In an article in Sabah Muharrem Sarikaya describes the initiatives taken during President Gul's recent visit to Turkmenistan as very significant developments from the viewpoint of Turkey's future. Recalling the continuing tension between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan since the day they gained their independence, Sarikaya recounts the various reasons for the tension and Gul's efforts to reduce the tension between the two countries culminating in the Ashgabat energy summit. Drawing attention to the steps taken in the Nabucco Project, the transport of Turkmen gas to the West via Turkey, and the extension of the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway beyond Ashgabat during the summit, the writer describes the Ashgabat summit as the first step toward an energy peace in the Caspian Basin.

    d) The role of Incirlik airbase:

    In an article entitled "Is this the 'Shocking claim' about Turkey?", in Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul comments on a recent Spanish news story which quoted Spanish Defence Ministry officials as saying that most US military aircraft that participated in secret CIA operations from 2002 until 2006 used Incirlik Air Base as a departure or destination point. Karagul claims that the said operations are continuing, with US planes and "ghost ships" carrying alleged suspects to US "torture centres" in Europe, South Asia, and Africa. He also recalls how he drew attention to this "slavery trade" in earlier articles in 2005 and 2006 and said that Incirlik had played a "key role in this traffic."

    e) The Turkish press on the Mumbai terrorist attack:

    In an article entitled "We Have Not Forgotten About the Big Fiasco" in Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru responds to certain recent reports in the mainstream Turkish media that urged "our politicians" to "draw a lesson" from the resignation of some Indian government officials following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. He recalls how some commentators in part of the Turkish press called on the Government to go to war against Iraq on the United States' side in 2003 and maintained that Parliament had made a mistake in rejecting the 1 March authorization bill on Iraq. After pointing out how President Bush "has come to the point of wishing he had never launched the Iraq war," Koru asserts that rather than calling on politicians to step down over their mistakes, these commentators and journalists should look into resigning their jobs over the "fiasco" that would have happened if politicians had listened to them.

    In an article entitled "The Mumbai attacks" in Vakit columnist Serdar Demirel describes the terrorist strikes in Mumbai as being part of an effort to get the non-Muslim world to adopt an anti-Islamic line. Demirel finds it highly significant in this sense that the attacks were "hastily" linked to Lashkar-e Toiba, which is "alleged to have been established with the help of the Pakistani intelligence," rather than to groups based in India.

    In an article entitled "World in flux" also in Vakit newspaper columnist Ahmet Varol asserts that India is trying to exploit the Mumbai attacks as a "golden opportunity" to step up pressure on Pakistan by holding this country responsible for the strikes. Varol dismisses the allegations linking the attacks to Pakistan as a farfetched conspiracy theory, asserting that it is not realistic to assume that Pakistan might want to create new frictions with India at a time when it is busy dealing with domestic issues and is vulnerable to the developments in Afghanistan. He also predicts problems in the implementation of the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq and reiterates his assertion that the agreement only means that the United States is withdrawing from combat operations "without pulling its hands off Iraq."

    In an article entitled "What is really confusing" in Milli Gazete columnist Ekrem Kiziltas describes the Deccan Mujahedeen, the group that is claimed to have carried out the Mumbai attacks, as a "throwaway" organization that appears to have served as part of a bid to increase pressure on Muslims and compound the current problems between Pakistan and India and possibly set the scene for a nuclear war between these countries. Kiziltas argues that considering the possible implications of the strikes for Muslims, it is illogical to attribute the attacks to a Muslim group.

    EG/


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