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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-12-31
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 248/08 31.12.08
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Soyer: The Turkish Cypriot Football Federation cannot be a member of the Cyprus Football AssociationUnder the title It cannot be a member of CFA Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Volkan newspaper (31.12.08) writes that the self-styled prime minister, Ferdi Sabit Soyer stated that he is very much against the self-styled Turkish Cypriot Football Federation (TCFF) becoming member of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA). Mr Soyer made these statements speaking at the Kanal T television station. Mr Soyer stated that Mr Adal, the chairman of TCFF, asked the opinion of all the political parties on the issue, therefore he asked the opinion of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) as well, which was obliged to give its opinion on the issue.
Mr Soyer stated, inter alia, that it is not possible to be accepted that the TCFF becomes member of CFA as an association and he told this to TCFF: But they wanted me to reject the initiative of TCFF to become member of CFA. I, as a government cannot reject this. [I told them] you have to do it, as club, he stated. Mr Soyer went on and stated that he cannot accept special matches to take place with CFAs permission and added that if TCFF becomes member of the CFA it will be a step which will be even back from the Annan Plan.
Under the title Adal behaved intolerantly even in his New Year message, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.12.08) reports that in his message on the occasion of the New Year, the chairman of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot Football Federation, Omer Adal warned with an accusatory style those who criticize him in the negotiations with FIFA and UEFA. Mr Adal said that they held very important negotiations with FIFA and UEFA and added that at the current stage they will try to take the most correct decisions in cooperation with the state officials. Everybody should do its duty on this issue and act responsibly, he noted.
Mr Adal said, inter alia, the following: The prejudiced behaviors and the attacks, which are product of static thinking, are harming more our football rather than us. On top of our targets for 2009 will be opening our football abroad and saving it from loneliness. We should get rid of the outskirts psychology and not be afraid to be opened to the world.
 Turkish Cypriot political parties commented on CTPs decision for early electionsTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.12.08) under the title The political parties expect the date for early elections, reports that after the decision of the party Assembly of the senior coalition partner-Republican Turkish Party (CTP) to hold early elections in 2009, the Turkish Cypriot political parties are expecting now the finalization of the date. Officials of the political parties commented on this decision to the illegal TAK. The leader of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP), Turgay Avci said that the decision of CTP for early elections was taken in consultation with them also. The General Secretary of the National Unity Party (UBP), Nazim Cavusoglu, said that since September 2006, they have said several times that democracy in the country is dirty and the situation in the economy is bad. He also added that the CTP officials saw that the economy will lead them to a stalemate. Commenting on the decision of CTP, the leader of the Democratic Party (DP), Serdar Denktas said that they are waiting for the approval of the decision by the so-called TRNC Assembly. He also added that it is not the first time that the CTP announces something and then it recalls it. The General Secretary of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP) Meltem Onurkan Samani, said that the date of the early elections is still uncertain and described the statement of Ferdi Sabit Soyer I challenge you as very unfortunate.
On the same issue illegal Bayrak television (30.12.08) broadcast the following:
The main opposition National Unity Party (UBP) has called on the ruling Republican Turkish Party (CTP) to deliver its early elections decision to the Parliament as soon as possible.
At a press conference, the UBP Leader Dervis Eroglu stressed his partys readiness for early elections in April or May.
Mr Eroglu held a press conference in response to the governments decision to hold early elections in 2009.
Making a general evaluation of 2008, the UBP leader expressed the hope that 2009 will be a year leaving war and terrorism behind and leading to prosperity and equal share instead.
On the Cyprus issue, he expressed his partys desire to reach a settlement which is going to be based on the realities of the Cyprus problem.
Commenting on the measures taken by the government to minimize the effects of global economic turmoil in the TRNC, Mr Eroglu claimed that the package of measures wont work towards that goal.
 Turkey's National Security Council discusses Cyprus developments during its last meeting for 2008Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.12.08) reported the following from Ankara:
The National Security Council expressed Tuesday deep concern over the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli offensive in Gaza.
After the last meeting of this year, the council said in a statement that the military operation should be stopped immediately, parties should give a chance to diplomacy, humanitarian aid should be allowed to Palestinian people in Gaza and Palestinians should reach a compromise as soon as possible.
The statement said that the council also discussed Turkey's fight against terrorism and underscored Turkey's determination to fight terrorist organization and its supporters until the threat is defeated.
It also said that the council discussed relations with Iraq and took up the issue of the future of Iraq after deal between the United States and Iraq about the withdrawal timetable of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Additionally, the issue of the PKK terrorism based in Iraq and three-party mechanism established by Turkey, Iraq and the United States was discussed at the council meeting, the statement said.
The National Security Council talked about the need to improve cooperation with Iraq within the framework of Turkey-Iraq High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.The statement also said that Cyprus talks launched in September 3 was examined in detail at the council meeting.
The council expressed Turkey's support to talks carried out by President Mehmet Ali Talat of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and stated that the solution should be found in the basis of UN parameters and the principle of a new state which would be bi-communal and based on political equality.
 Erdogans address to the nation on the 2008 achievements and the 2009 goalsAnkara Anatolia news agency (30.12.08) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that despite all domestic negative developments, we have managed the process with great care and sensitivity.Addressing the Turkish nation on television channels on Tuesday, Erdogan stressed that the year 2008 was a tough one. However, it has not been a year in which the Turkish nation lost.
In 2009, there are tough days waiting for us due to the global financial crisis. With God's help, we will turn 2009 into a year of opportunities for Turkey by taking preventive measures, Erdogan said.
Erdogan stressed that the Turkish government continues to hold talks with the representatives of the real sector and social bodies in order to deal with the problems of the real sector.
Just as the pleasing export figures of Turkey in the past six years, we have lived a positive development in the amount of foreign investments coming into the Turkish market. While the annual foreign investments were worth one billion USD between 1993 and 2002, this figure rose to 22 billion USD annually in 2007. Despite the negative consequences of the global financial crisis, Turkey succeeded in attracting foreign investments worth 12.3 billion USD between January and September, 2008. By the end of 2008, this figure would rise to 15 billion USD, Erdogan said.
In the past six years, 336,000 residences were constructed throughout Turkey. These construction projects made available jobs for around 800,000 Turks, Erdogan said.
Civilization implies highways. Between 2003 and 2008, we have built highways and asphalt roads with a total length of 9,227 kilometers, Erdogan said.We are connecting Ankara to Istanbul with a speed train project. Likewise, Ankara will be connected to (central Anatolian) province of Konya with a speed train and it would take only one hour ten minutes to reach Konya from Ankara, Erdogan said.
Our multi-dimensional fight against separatist terror will continue. We are in a position to strengthen our unity and make our democracy deeper with reforms, Erdogan said.
We will continue to work, produce and overcome difficulties all together. As the government, we continue investments in all corners of Turkey, Erdogan said.We will evaluate the new year based on our people's demands vis-à-vis the EU accession process, Erdogan said.
No one should be misguided by some debates taking place in Turkey. All of the organs of the (Turkish) republic must continue working without competing with each other and must complement each other, Erdogan said.
These organs should not forget that they exist to serve the Turkish nation, Erdogan said.
With these wishes and excitement, I pray to God that the year 2009 will bring peace and welfare to our nation and the humanity in general, Erdogan also said.
 Pro-Kurdish party leader apologizes to Armenians and Assyrians for Kurds' role in 1915 genocideIstanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (30.12.08) reported the following:
Turkey's pro-Kurdish party leader apologized on Tuesday to Assyrians as well Armenians for the 1915 incidents.
Maybe Kurds have contributed to the loss of this (cultural) richness. We are ashamed when we look at our Armenian or Assyrian brothers, said Ahmet Turk, the leader of pro-Kurdish DTP.
They are always ready to apologize for their mistakes and they struggle to allow people to live in peace, he was quoted as saying by the Dogan News Agency.
A group of Turkish academics, journalists and artists recently launched an Internet campaign to apologize on behalf of all Turks for ignoring what happened in 1915 at the time of the Ottoman Empire.
Armenians claim the Ottomans conducted genocide against them. However there are many historical documents showing that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia.
 TRT to launch Armenian satellite TV channelTurkish daily Sabah newspaper (English edition, 30.12.08) reported the following:
Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) is now in preparation for the new Armenian TV station, which will begin broadcasts at the end of 2009. An affirmative outlook has been given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the upcoming Armenian TV channel. The start of radio broadcasts in Armenian and an official website in February will prove as a test for the new television station. The television broadcasts will include famous Armenian musicians, such as Ara Gevorgian, Tata, Nune Yesayan, Andre and Sirusho as well as KardeTurkuler and other Turkish groups that sing Armenian songs. Categorized as a family channel, Armenian TV will provide top headlines of developments in Turkey and Armenia on their newsreel. The new satellite channel, which will employ Armenian staff members, will also focus on those living in Armenia as well as on Armenians living in Turkey.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Paper assesses the challenges the AKP government will have to deal with in 2009, among them CyprusUnder the title Tough challenges call for bold action in 2009, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (31.12.08) publishes the following analysis by Fatma Demirelli:
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has had its share of difficult times in government since it first came to power in 2002, but it may have to face the most critical tests of its six-year tenure in the year that is about to begin.
Turkey's bid to become a member of the European Union, a heartfelt commitment for the government until around two years ago, faces a major stumbling block over Cyprus and the EU's growing impatience over the stalled reform process. The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by far the most reformist government of Turkey in the past few decades, has built its reformist agenda mainly on the goal of EU membership. It has said several times that Turkey will go ahead with reforms even without the objective of EU membership, but the marked decrease in the intensity of reforms over the past two years is obvious -- even to the remotest observers.
The EU issued a loud and clear warning in November that it was high time to focus again on the stalled reform efforts after two years of distraction amid fierce fighting between the AK Party government and the secularist state establishment. The EU deadline will expire at the end of March, when local elections are due to take place in Turkey. A further slackening in reform efforts after the first quarter of the year could well mean irreversible damage to the EU membership process. A fresh drive for reform does not, as the government now appears to believe, mean new packages of measures to help Turkish law adjust to European norms, mostly in technical fields.
Turkeys friends in the EU, a number which is shrinking by the day, expect Ankara to restore its supporters confidence by taking undisputedly bold and radical steps in the political field and a credible shift in the governments increasingly pro-status quo rhetoric, rather than cosmetic changes in technical and bureaucratic areas.
2009 may be a make-or-break year with the EU for another reason as well: Cyprus. In a solid warning, the EU suspended accession talks with Turkey over eight chapters due to Turkeys refusal to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus, and said it would review the situation once again in 2009. The government is calm, saying it did not expect any major hurdles over Cyprus, but Turkeys opponents within the EU -- perhaps the biggest group within the 27-nation bloc -- are likely to seize the opportunity and press for a halt if Turkey continues to keep its ports and airports closed to traffic from EU-member Greek Cyprus despite pressure from Brussels to open them.
One growing concern is that no matter how strongly it rejects the idea, the Turkish government may be steering Turkey towards a privileged partnership, that opponents to Turkeys EU membership in the EU are promoting. The concern is based on the fact that the government is increasingly shying away from democratic reforms at home that the EU says are at the heart of the membership bid of any country, while boosting Turkeys appeal for the EU as a foreign policy partner by undertaking successful efforts to expand its influence in the troubled Middle East and Caucasus.
President Abdullah Guls courageous visit to Yerevan to watch a football game between the national teams of the two countries in September was obviously a step that proved Turkeys readiness to undertake bold initiatives for peace, but 2009 will be a period when this manifest readiness will be put to the test. Failure will not only mean a collapse in the rapprochement with Armenia but also may have serious repercussions its relations with the United States, which has just elected a Democratic administration that has openly committed itself to recognizing the Armenian genocide.
Threshold in Kurdish issue
Another litmus test where inaction could spell danger is the Kurdish problem, both at home and in regard to the newly instigated period of dialogue with Iraqi Kurds. Prime Minister Erdogan has upped the ante in a fierce competition with the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) for Kurdish votes in southeastern Anatolia with a visit to the region in autumn that was widely protested in violent demonstrations by DTP supporters. He poured petrol onto the fire when he said those who do not accept that this is a one-nation, one-flag country should leave and he defended a citizens right to self-defense in the face of violent demonstrations by DTP supporters in the Southeast and elsewhere in Turkey.
The run up to the local elections in March will truly demonstrate if Erdogan will stick to his fiery rhetoric in bid to marginalize the DTP or soften his line in search for a tension-free election. Analysts say Erdogan may wish to pressure the DTP, hoping that it will become a small party supported by a marginal radical group with just a few percent of the vote, as his government has initiated dialogue with Iraqi Kurds who run the northern Iraqi administration in an effort to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Many, including a top state prosecutor seeking the DTPs closure, believe that the PKK has links with the DTP. Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani is believed to enjoy widespread sympathy among Turkeys Kurds and the DTP may well be alienated if Barzani starts acting in concert with Turkey, Erdogans advisors believe. Others are worried that Erdogans furious rhetoric against the DTP will alienate not only DTP supporters but also the wider Kurdish community in Turkey.
As tension has escalated with the DTP on the one hand, the government is trying to win Kurdish support by pledging economic development and launching Turkeys first state television station broadcasting in Kurdish as of Jan. 1, 2009. The election results will be a major indication of whether the governments attack-the-DTP-woo-the-Kurds strategy will bring it Kurdish votes.
The government will also have to decide what to do with growing calls from Iraqi Kurds for an amnesty for PKK members as a way to eliminate the PKK threat. Erdogan and other officials have declined to openly dismiss a prospect of an amnesty amid reports that Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds are working on a plan to get rid of the PKK, which may also include an amnesty. But any amnesty is certain to be an unpopular move in a country where tens of thousands of people have died as a result of PKK terrorism and will be met with fierce resistance from the nationalist opposition.
Fears of populism
2008 drew to a close amid an economic downturn in global markets that has also begun to take its toll on Turkish businesses. The fact that the March elections are looming on the horizon leaves the government with yet another difficult decision on whether to stick to fiscal discipline in order to protect the national economy from the adverse impacts of the global crisis or to increase spending ahead of the polls particularly in the Southeast to win big against the DTP.
The government will have to make some tough decisions in domestic and foreign policy amid a global financial crisis that will force Turkey to tighten its belt and come to terms with a growth rate that will be far below the average for the past few years. Increased spending could mean sweeteners for a population that is most likely to continue facing crises and traumatic shifts in the year to come, but failure to manage the economic crisis could be simply devastating.
 Columnist in Todays Zaman: There will be another crisis at the end of 2009 due to Turkeys continuing refusal to extend the Ankara protocol to the Republic of CyprusUnder the title Resuscitating Turkeys EU reform process: mission impossible?, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (31.12.08) publishes the following commentary by Amanda Akcakoca:
As far as progress on Turkey's EU bid is concerned, 2006, 2007 and 2008 were all lost years. Domestic difficulties and lethargy for anything EU related resulted in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) hardly lifting a finger on EU business.
Looking back, the opening of membership negotiations in 2005 was the easy part --the really difficult stuff was still to come and, more than three years later, Turkey has hardly scratched the surface of the deep and intense process. Perhaps Turkey was taken by surprise, not realizing that this process pries into every corner and crevice, bringing skeletons out of closets and airing dirty linen, making it a difficult, painful and expensive experience. It would have been easier if the EU could have offered Turkey unrelenting support, which would have helped keep the government motivated, maintained an EU fan club and kept public opinion on its side. This did not happen and support for the EU in Turkey crumbled.
Turkey is not treated like Croatia: While Zagreb has had a clear road, Turkey's has been full of potholes. Croatia has heard one message from all 27 member states, while Turkey has received and continues to receive several. Therefore, the joint efforts of Turkey and the EU have stalled the reform process and hardened the hearts of citizens toward the once-so-desired EU. Nowadays there are not many people in Turkey still promoting the EU project; there is no political party strongly backing the reform process; at Cabinet meetings EU business is dealt with in about 30 seconds; and there is nobody holding a big stick with which to beat the government for doing nothing. The results are a hopelessly sorrowful reform record, including backsliding on torture; continued meddling of an over-active military full of too many generals with too much time on their hands poking their noses into government business; and continued appalling violations of freedoms. The argument that Turkey should be doing these reforms regardless of the EU doesn't hold much appeal, either.
In addition, the EU has used the current situation as an excuse to move Turkey's process along at a snail's pace, linking the speed of negotiations to the speed of the reform process. Actually, many in the EU claim that Turkey has been lucky to open two negotiating chapters per presidency in recent times! I have no doubt that many in the EU would love this to go on -- giving weight to their arguments that Turkey is incapable of meeting EU norms and is just too different to ever join.
The question is whether 2009 will be any different. Can this progress be resuscitated and brought back from the brink of death? Given the current state of the EU nowadays, it is unlikely its approach to Turkey will change. Therefore, getting Turkey's reform process out of its current comatose state is going to be up to Turkey, and that means a miracle taking place. Is the government capable of putting new momentum back into the reform process and proving all of Turkey's critics wrong, or is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan fearful of everything he does possibly resulting in another court case? Or does he simply not care anymore given that a number of his so-called advisors are seemingly telling him to keep the EU dossier on the backburner because France and Germany will never allow Turkey to join anyway.
In this respect, Erdogan's planned visit to Brussels in mid-January, when he will meet all the top EU officials and give a public speech, is important. If it goes ahead, because it would not be unlike the prime minister to change his mind, it will be highly symbolic, given that Erdogan has not visited Brussels for several years. He will, doubtlessly, assure everybody that he is still as committed as he was when the AK Party first got elected back in 2002. However, what really matters is if he has the political will to deliver on his promises when he returns home or whether it will just be more lip service. Also, just as important, what will be the EU response both to his visit and to a rejuvenated reform process? After all, why should he bother when the EU itself is not playing by the rules? It would be the easiest thing in the world for Erdogan to use the EU's ambiguous attitude toward Turkey as a continuing excuse to do very little. The EU won't freeze the negotiations, Turkey is simply too important. The EU has said 2009 will be a litmus test for Turkey. It should also be a litmus test for the EU, which means playing fair and helping, rather than hindering, Ankara.
However, even if a miracle does take place and the process is resuscitated, it will probably be killed off again in the second part of the year. Unless the Cyprus problem is resolved, there will be another crisis at the end of 2009 due to Turkey's continuing refusal to extend the Ankara protocol to the Republic of Cyprus. Until this Cyprus mess is cleared up, Turkey's relationship with the EU will remain poisoned and membership a mission impossible.