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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-01-02

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. 01/09 01-02.01.2009

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] New Year messages from Mr Talat and political parties
  • [02] Another package of measures was announced for the occupied by Turkish troops territories of the Republic of Cyprus
  • [03] The third National Program was published in the Official Gazette of the Turkish Republic last Wednesday
  • [04] Turkeys UN Security Council non-permanent member seat is seen as a test in its ambition to become a global player in international politics
  • [05] Baki Ilkin to remain at UN even after retirement
  • [06] MIT was restructured with a single deputy undersecretariat and the intelligence and operations being reorganized as domestic and foreign intelligence units
  • [07] Turkish Minister views the issue of Alevis in Turkey
  • [08] The roadmap for a solution to the Kurdish problem
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [09] From the Turkish Press of 01.01.09

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] New Year messages from Mr Talat and political parties

    Illegal Bayrak television (01.01.09) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, has evaluated the year 2008 to the illegal Bayrak news room.Stating that the year 2008 was a very eventful year for Turkish Cypriots, Mr Talat said the Turkish Cypriots have started to look forward to their future with hope, with the start of the negotiations process on the 3rd of September. Noting that the most important event for the year 2008 was the start of the fully fledged negotiations process on the island, he said a new process had begun for a solution to be found to the Cyprus problem.

    With the election of Demetris Christofias as the leader of the Greek Cypriot administration a new hope for peace was born, and this is how the negotiations process started, he added.

    Referring to the efforts being made to build closer relations between the two communities on the island, Mr Talat said due to the continuation of the non-solution the people feel as though they cannot build closer ties with one another.

    Evaluating the latest phase reached during the negotiations process, Mr Talat expressed the hope that the year 2009 will be the year peace will be found to the Cyprus problem.

    He said he believes that once a solution is found this will help the economic situation on the island by carrying it forward and expressed the hope that the so-called isolation felt by the Turkish Cypriots will be overcome in the New Year. I hope the year 2009 will bring peace and friendship to Cyprus and to the World, he concluded.

    On his part the self-styled prime minister of the illegal regime, Mr Ferdi Sabit Soyer has expressed the hope that a solution would be found to the Cyprus problem in 2009.

    As broadcast by illegal Bayrak television (01.01.09) in his new-year message, Mr Soyer also wished that the year 2009 will bring peace, democracy and health to all Turkish Cypriot people.

    Reminding that the negotiations process has been launched in 2008 to find a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, Mr Soyer said everybody should continue the struggle together with determination in order to celebrate the future in peace. He also underlined that 2009 will be the year of so-called elections in the occupied by Turkish troops territories of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Finally, illegal Bayrak television (01.01.09) broadcast the New Year messages of Turkish Cypriot political parties.

    In his message, the leader of the Freedom and Reform Party, Mr Turgay Avci stressed that the Turkish Cypriot side will continue to be at the negotiations table in 2009 to find a solution to the Cyprus problem based on the political equality and the two constituent states under the guarantee of Turkey.

    Noting that the new openings that have been made in 2008 will continue in 2009, Mr Avci said this year will be the year of early election which will put an end to the policy being carried out for 30 years.

    Also issuing message, the leader of the main opposition National Unity Party Dervis Eroglu said everybody in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus wants a new government with the early elections in 2009.

    Alleging that the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr Demetris Christofias, is carrying on the osmosis policy of his predecessor the late Tassos Papadopoulos during the negotiations launched in 2008, Mr Eroglu said, however, public surveys carried out in 2008 revealed that people is wishing a two-state solution in Cyprus.

    The leader of the Democratic Party Serdar Denktas, in his message, said that the Turkish Cypriot people, as he called the Turkish Cypriot community, will not remember the 2008 as good year claiming that the occupied areas economy will shrink more and the hopes for a solution will again be cancelled due to the Greek Cypriot sides attitude.

    [02] Another package of measures was announced for the occupied by Turkish troops territories of the Republic of Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (01.01.09) broadcast the following:

    The government has announced another package of measures in the labour field, following the banking measures taken to fight against the heavy negative effects of global financial turmoil in the TRNC.

    The latest measures were announced at a joint press briefing held by Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer, Deputy Prime Minister Foreign Minister Turgay Avci and the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Sonay Adem.

    Firstly speaking, Mr Soyer said almost all circles of the society have given positive feedback to the economic measures announced earlier and criticized the main opposition for politicizing the economic situation but not saying a word that would improve it.

    Then announcing the measures in the field of labour, Minister Adem said the package is consisting of 6 components.

    These are; Labour Regulations, the Support Programme for Local Work Force, Regulations on families of workers with foreign nationality, New Arrangement for the Minimum Wage Applications, Lowering of Delayed Interest Rates on Social Insurance and Inspection.

    [03] The third National Program was published in the Official Gazette of the Turkish Republic last Wednesday

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (01.01.09) reported the following:

    The third National Program of Turkey, which is considered as a road map for relations with the European Union, has taken effect after being published in the Official Gazette late Wednesday.

    The draft program was made public by the Turkish government in August. It contains Turkey's commitments regarding its EU bid for the next four years.

    More than 100 new legislations are planned in the third national program under several subjects such as functionality of public administration, civil-military relations, jurisdiction, prevention of torture and maltreatment, access to judiciary, freedom of expression, fundamental rights and freedom, women's and children's rights, union rights and regional imbalance.

    The program also envisages to protect the overall framework of stability-oriented macroeconomic policies implemented in Turkish economy.

    The government's priority will be to strengthen market economy and improve the competitive power of economy. The government aims to maintain fiscal discipline and actively implement public revenue, expenditure and debt policies.

    The Central Bank will continue the inflation targeting regime, and the government will keep following privatization program.

    [04] Turkeys UN Security Council non-permanent member seat is seen as a test in its ambition to become a global player in international politics

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News.com (02.01.09) publishes the following report:

    Turkeys two-year mandate on the United Nations Security Council officially commenced yesterday, in what is seen as a test of Turkish diplomacy as Turkey is seeking to become a global player.

    Turkeys last seat as non-permanent member of the Security Council was in 1961. Turkey will become the member of the European group, with Austria and the two permanent members, France and Britain. It will also take the councils presidency for one month in June. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan will spend most of his time in New York during this period according to diplomats.

    Subtitle: Uncertainty over envoy

    The first meeting of the Security Council is expected to be held January 5, when Turkeys permanent representative, Baki Ilkin, will take the seat. However, there is still uncertainty over Ilkins position in the council as he was actually retired from the diplomatic service due to the age limitation. Thanks to a presidential decree appointing Ilkin as the presidents chief foreign policy adviser he kept his post in New York but caused unease within the Foreign Ministry. According to some diplomats, Ilkin has no representative authority, as the Foreign Ministry regulation does not allow retired diplomats to talk on behalf of the state. It is uncertain whether Ilkin will continue his task in the United Nations during the two-year term or will be replaced by another diplomat.

    The first issue that the council will discuss is Israelis offensive in Gaza, which has already claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent people. Turkey has already initiated an intense diplomatic campaign to persuade Israel to halt its attacks and allow humanitarian aid to Palestinians. The campaign will continue on within the Security Council as well.

    For many diplomats, this two-year term will constitute a test for Turkey, which seeks to be a regional and global player. On issues such as Iraq, Iran and its nuclear program, the Middle East conflict, the Russia-Georgia dispute, the Nagorno Karabagh problem, the Cyprus question and the disputes with Greece over the Aegean, Turkey faces some difficult foreign policy decisions.

    [05] Baki Ilkin to remain at UN even after retirement

    Recalling that as of today Turkey will be a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council (UNSC) in his column in Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (01.01.09), Mehmet Yilmaz questions whether Turkey will be successful in this mission. Noting that Turkey will be represented by a retired ambassador who has ended his career at the UNSC because the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has not found a suitable candidate to the position, Yilmaz argues that the AKP has sacrificed this position to partisanship by not appointing one of the many able officials from the Foreign Ministry who would have seen this position as a stepping stone in their career.

    [06] MIT was restructured with a single deputy undersecretariat and the intelligence and operations being reorganized as domestic and foreign intelligence units

    Under the title Fundamental Change made in MIT, which is under the microscope Turkish daily Radikal newspaper (01.01.09) published the following by Murat Yetkin:

    The National Intelligence Organization [MIT], which has once again drawn the attention of the public recently due to its role in the Ergenekon investigation, is entering into the new year with a fundamental restructuring.

    With this restructuring, intelligence and operations, being combined within a single deputy undersecretariat, are reorganized as domestic and foreign intelligence units, and the counter-espionage unit is raised in terms of importance to a level equal to domestic and foreign intelligence. While all of MIT's domestic and foreign representations are being restructured in accordance with this, the level of the electronic and technical intelligence unit, which is responsible for listening and surveillance tasks, is being raised to that of a deputy undersecretariat. Meanwhile, MIT's Psychological Intelligence Department, which is known as its face oriented toward the public, is being eliminated.

    Because the restructuring, which had begun to be implemented a while ago with the approval of MIT Undersecretary Emre Taner, had not reached its final form, it was not reflected in the official structural diagram of the organization, and was not shared with the public. According to information obtained from intelligence sources, the restructuring was completed during the month of December, and implementation has begun in all components.

    The Old Structure

    According to the MIT organizational structure valid until the end of December, there were three main units subordinate to the Undersecretary, who reports directly to the Prime Minister. These were the main units of Intelligence, Operations and Administration, each of which was headed by a Deputy Undersecretary.

    There were three departments subordinate to the Deputy Undersecretary for Intelligence. These were the Intelligence Department, the Psychological Intelligence Department, and the MIT Information Systems Department. During the restructuring process, the Psychological Intelligence Department, which also included duties that we could term as manipulating public opinion, was abolished; the responsibilities of this unit were distributed to other units. And Information Systems, in which all grey area activities, ranging from monitoring telephones to opening locks, was removed from the Intelligence unit.

    There used to be three departments subordinate to the Deputy Undersecretary for Operations, now eliminated, which had been one of the three pillars of the National Intelligence Organization structure. These were the Electronic and Technical Intelligence Department, the Operations Department, and MIT's domestic and foreign representations. In the new structure, the Operations Department has been eliminated, and its functions have been assigned to other, newly-established units.

    The New Structure

    The main component that has undergone the least change in the new structure is the administrative unit. The only significant change here is that the MIT Training Center, also known as the Academy, in which new personnel are trained, has been taken out of the administrative component and placed directly subordinate to the Undersecretary, just like the Inspection Board, the Strategic Research Unit, and the Legal and Press Advisers.

    There are two departments in the newly-formed Deputy Undersecretariat for Technical Affairs. One of these is the Department of Electronic and Technical Intelligence, which was previously in the operations unit, and the other is the Information Systems Department, which has been shifted from the intelligence unit to Technical Affairs. Sources stress that, in this way, the aim is to gather in one center activities pertaining to the use of technology and monitoring and surveillance.

    Domestic and Foreign Intelligence Units

    The units subordinate to the Deputy Undersecretary for Intelligence form the backbone of the new structure. The Security Intelligence Department deals with intelligence issues within the country, and all representations within the country are attached to this unit. Meanwhile, the Strategic Intelligence Department deals with issues of foreign intelligence. MIT's representations abroad are also attached to the Strategic Intelligence Department.

    One of the most important elements in the restructuring, for which a need was reportedly felt in order for MIT to operate more effectively and in accordance with its purposes, is the enhancement of the influence of the counter-espionage unit and its being raised to the level of a department, under the name Counter-Intelligence.

    Sources state that, with this new arrangement, MIT personnel who previously worked in the intelligence and operational units come together under one roof, and that the aim is to preclude the same task being performed by two units, as well as to eliminate bureaucracy and tensions among different units due to things remaining uncertain in cases when it might not be clear in whose purview something lies.

    Why Was the Need Felt?

    MIT Undersecretary Emre Taner had given the first signals of a reorganization of MIT two years ago. Taner, in a statement he issued on 5 January 2006 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary (6 January) of MIT's establishment, said that Turkey, for strategic and geopolitical reasons, can no longer satisfy itself with a defensive position, and that he considered it essential that intelligence functions be structured and developed in such a way as to support its security policies and its national interests.

    Consequently, the work to restructure the National Intelligence Organization did not emerge out of current debates, such as with the opening of the Ergenekon case. But if we look at the period up until the end of 2005 when the signal for a restructuring was provided, it is possible to find the developments that might have forced this change. Included among these, there might be, for instance, the fact that it emerged this year that MIT, after holding onto an Ergenekon document that it had acquired in 2002 for a year and a week, had then provided it, via Senkal Atasagun, the Undersecretary at the time, not to Prime Minister [Recep] Tayyip Erdogan, but rather to General Staff Chief Hilmi Ozkok, and that it had provided it without having removed the material errors in it? (Radikal, 13-14 September, 2008)

    I cannot provide an answer with the available information. But it is clear that the developments over the past 10-15 years in which the National Intelligence Organization has been implicated have forced the country's secret service into this fundamental change. This topic deserves to be considered further.

    [07] Turkish Minister views the issue of Alevis in Turkey

    Turkish daily Yeni Safak online newspaper (29.12.08) publishes the following interview with Turkish State Minister Said Yazicioglu by Mehmet Gundem under the title: Said Yazicioglu: We will devise a solution with Alevis:

    Question: People have been talking about the government's overture to the Alevi community for some time. Does the government have precise information about Alevis, including their number? What kind of religious practices are common in different regions? Are there sociological data and field studies?

    Answer: Alevism is not based on documents and this is a great disadvantage. They still have a verbal culture. There are perceptions and practices which are much different from each other. This is one of the key factors that further complicate the problem.

    Question: Could you elaborate?

    Answer: We do not have field studies and sociological data. Alevis do not have scientific data about Alevism. Reference documents must be available.

    Question: How does the government define Alevism?

    Answer: We do not have a clear definition. Whether we should define it theologically or sociologically is another issue. In addition, the government comes under criticism whenever it attempts to define Alevism. They say that we should let them describe themselves rather than telling them who they are. We have reached a certain point and we now tell them to describe their identity so that we can do our part.

    Question: There are different definitions of Alevism ranging from a version of Islam to Shamanism and Alevism excluding Caliph Ali.

    Answer: We have no objection to those definitions. It is a sociological phenomenon. In the final analysis, this confusion can be attributed to the fact that it is not based on reliable documents. What really matters from our standpoint is that a definition should somewhat reflect religious identity. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Alevi citizens regard themselves as Muslims.

    Question: Then, there should be more discussions on common denominators for a solution.

    Answer: The fact that they consider themselves a part of the Muslim community is an important common denominator. There are certain differences which I do not criticize. We have no prejudices.

    Question: But, there are mutual prejudices and ignorance in the Sunnite and Alevi communities.

    Answer: Negative comments have been made in both sides. Some unpleasant approaches taken by the Sunnite community strained relations between the two groups. But, they share certain values, including devotion to God and the Prophet as well as his family and this is important.

    Question: But, issues causing tension are still highlighted despite those shared values.

    Answer: Yes, it is true. Some demands such as the proposal that cemevis [Alevi places of worship] be registered as a place of worship do not actually serve Alevism. Unacceptable demands are not made by the majority of Alevis, but some marginal groups.

    Question: Izzettin Dogan has voiced his concern that Alevism could turn into a security problem if problems facing Alevis are not resolved.

    Answer: Mr. Dogan persistently draws attention to that issue. There are people who are trying to exacerbate the problem and to provoke people and they have collaborators within the Alevi community. A marginal and well-organized group which makes sure that its opinions are heard resorts to every possible means in order to undermine efforts to reach a settlement whenever it looks likely.

    Question: Is there a risk of rupture in Alevi-Sunnite fault line?

    Answer: There may be a deep rupture if we cannot find a solution. It is the government's duty to eliminate those risks.

    Question: Could it become an international issue?

    Answer: It can if it remains unresolved.

    Question: Do the government and the State take a similar approach to Alevism?

    Answer: I do not have much information about the State. We have our own point of view, albeit it is not clear. In brief, we have no intention of changing and transforming anybody. Our objective is to ensure that Alevis can practice their faith peacefully.

    Question: What was the factor behind the government's overture to Alevis?

    Answer: We decided to do something before the problem knocked on our door. The Prime Minister also began taking concrete steps. But, the government has not devised a framework yet. There are certain ideas and we are trying to find a reasonable solution.

    Question: So, efforts are under way.

    Answer: Yes. We must, for instance, resolve the Hotel Madimak issue which is a wound not healed yet. It should be converted into a reading and culture center with a library and computers where young people can perform music composed by Alevi poet-singers. We have taken a concrete step which will soon yield results.

    Question: Could Reha Camuroglu become a key player capable of reaching out to the masses from the government's standpoint?

    Answer: The opinion that Reha Camuroglu is spearheading the overture to the Alevi community is not true. He was an adviser to the Prime Minister. He quit for a while and now continues to serve as an adviser. It is not a task that a single person can accomplish. We are open to opinions and contributions from any person.

    Question: We cannot even reach a compromise about the number of Alevis. Izzettin Dogan insists that there are 25 million Alevis.

    Answer: We are not inclined to take a stance based on figures. If there is a problem --and there actually is-- it should be resolved from the perspective of rights and freedoms. Questions about sect and ethnic origin are not put during a census.

    Question: But, the government needs that information.

    Answer: Yes, it must be available. Related questions should be put during a census in order to find out the number of Alevis living in different regions. Some people may think that there may be certain drawbacks. But, that information would not create any problem. The government will not keep secret files on people. Finding a solution would be easier when we have clear scientific data.

    Question: Granting legal status to cemevis, representation in the Religious Affairs Directorate, including topics about Alevism in textbooks, and paying salaries to dedes [Alevi clergymen]

    Answer: Yes, those ideas are under consideration. But, describing it as salaries to be paid to dedes sounds somewhat awkward. We prefer to describe it as project-based support.

    Question: There are concerns that they could be regarded as dedes serving the government.

    Answer: That is true. We want to focus on the cultural aspect of the issue. We can provide financial support for their projects in that context. They are not unacceptable demands.

    Question: Is there a proposal to abolish the Religious Affairs Directorate?

    Answer: Izzettin Dogan and his group have not made such a proposal. They want it to be reformed. But, certain groups argue that it should be abolished and religious organizations should be controlled by non-governmental organizations.

    Question: As far as I know, you are averse to the idea of ensuring Alevis to be represented in the Religious Affairs Directorate.

    Answer: I find it somewhat inconvenient. Alevism is different from Islam. But, it is not a separate religion. It may be true that they are not able to benefit from it sufficiently. But, the Religious Affairs Directorate also belongs to our Alevi citizens. Its emerging status as an organization above sects will also dispel their anxieties over time.

    Question: Have you met with all Alevi groups?

    Answer: No, we have not. The process continues.

    Question: Could not you tell them that the government is ready to discuss proposals which may be jointly made by different Alevi groups?

    Answer: Everything would be easier. But, there was no such proposal.

    Question: Minister of Culture Ertugrul Gunay offered an apology in his capacity as a government official during the inauguration of the Alevi Institute.

    Answer: There is a general tendency to apologize and we have heard other people offering apologies recently. If there is a shortcoming, identifying and admitting it should be regarded as a certain step.

    Question: He said that Alevis experienced many tragic events, especially in Corum, Maras, and Sivas and apologized for those events. Were they planned by the government?

    Answer: It would not be fair to say that. The Minister probably offered an apology because he believed that the government was not able to prevent those tragic events.

    Question: Could he have said that he was sharing their pain?

    Answer: Yes, there is a lot of pain that should be mutually shared.

    Question: Do you believe that Alevism can be transferred to new generations?

    Answer: No, I do not. This is one of the issues which give rise to complaints among Alevis. We asked Alevis to explain why they were concerned given that we follow the same holy book and prophet because we regard Alevis as Muslims. But, this approach did not yield any result. We said that they could receive religious education offered to Muslims and there was not a strong response. Persuasion does not yield satisfactory results. We should not deceive ourselves. Young Alevis are gradually moving away from religion and moral values. We will now devise a solution with Alevis and we will listen to their ideas. We must take new steps to satisfy those needs of young people. Much can be done in cemevis in that sense.

    Question: Do Alevi leaders share those concerns?

    Answer: Some of them do and others do not. There are Alevis who are trying to portray Alevism as a phenomenon that has nothing to do with religion. There are also attempts to turn Alevism into a new faith like Protestantism over time. There is a serious plot and it is our duty to thwart it by meeting reasonable demands of Alevis.

    Question: There are arguments that the current Alevi theology cannot attract new generations.

    Answer: When you speak about Alevi theology, you must also describe its content. It is difficult to say that there is an Alevi theology in the real sense of the word. It would be more appropriate to speak about the place of Alevism within the Islamic theology.

    Question: Some people say that there has been an increase in religious tendencies within society after the AKP [Justice and Development Party] came to power in Turkey.

    Answer: Moral values and religions attracted more people in the world over the past couple of years. We are witnessing a similar phenomenon in Turkey. In fact, Turkish society respects religious values. This cannot be directly attributed to the AKP which tried to separate religion and politics since the very beginning. We have made no attempt to make society more conservative and religious. But, some people deliberately try to portray us that way. Our party embraces all people irrespective of their opinions and tries to ensure that every person lives freely notwithstanding his or her moral values and faith.

    Question: There are arguments that religious and conservative people ostracize others. Is it true that there is such pressure?

    Answer: Those issues are not discussed in a healthy climate by using reliable data in Turkey. We began with discussing whether Turkey could turn into a country like Malaysia and ended up debating community pressure and whether or not imams are more influential than teachers. Now, it is claimed that the conservative camp threatens pro-secular people. Generalization of isolated incidents in order to reach a conclusion would not be an objective attitude. Nobody poses a threat to the lifestyle of others in Turkey. Isolated incidents and mistakes should not be blamed on a certain group. Every person has a place in society according to our belief and we respect differences because we want to live together.

    Question: There is both ignorance and prejudices about religion in certain circles.

    Answer: This is another reality. There are gourmets and health editors in the media. Why do not they employ people specialized in religion? Importance must be ascribed to thorough knowledge in every field.

    Question: What is the situation of the Religious Affairs Directorate?

    Answer: I could have said that it is in a perfect situation if we were not facing that legislative problem.

    Question: Why has not the new bill been passed?

    Answer: Priorities frequently change and it was postponed on various occasions. Now, everything is ready and we are going to table it in the National Assembly. But, the bill on the Religious Affairs Directorate is a complicated one. Everybody has different expectations.

    Question: What is going to change?

    Answer: There will not be a significant change. The Religious Affairs Directorate has considerably grown and the system will be placed in a legal framework. It will be rid of bureaucracy so that it will be able to devise ideas and provide services. Clergymen will not only serve as imams and also function as social workers.

    Question: Will there be standards about construction of mosques?

    Answer: Mosques must undergo a transformation in terms of architecture and their functions. A second mosque is built in some neighborhoods although there is a mosque there. Furthermore, we are misunderstood when we ask whether a mosque or school should be built there. A mosque is not an alternative to a school and vice versa. We should build one of them depending on our priorities. Building a school would also be a service to the community.

    [08] The roadmap for a solution to the Kurdish problem

    Istanbul Referans online newspaper (24.12.08) publishes the following by Cengiz Candar under the title: "Kurdish Identity Equals Mother Tongue; Mother Tongue Equals Kurdish":

    As a study on Kurds took up the front pages of Radikal, TESEV [Turkish Foundation of Economic and Social Studies] yesterday released its report entitled: A Roadmap for the Solution of the Kurdish Problem: Recommendations to the Government from the Region. Although the report carries the stamp of TESEV, as is evident from its subtitle, it is an articulation of a "common minimum" that has emerged from interviews with a large number of Kurdish persons (mostly residents of the Southeast) with different political views and professions.

    After the TESEV report was introduced, I gave a commentary speech and offered the following generalization with regard to the report: If a solution is to be found to the Kurdish problem outside military methods and violence that is on the basis and within the framework of civilian politics, then this is it.

    This is my real opinion. Now no one can raise and hide behind any reasonable objection that says: You keep talking about a Kurdish problem. We understand but what is your proposal for a solution? Thanks to the TESEV report we now have Kurdish patented solution proposals that are in the domain of public knowledge.

    We can now say that the government, the General Staff, political parties, parliamentary deputies, and observers of the problem have a compass in their hands. Those who have not obtained the report can obtain it. In particular, the report can also be placed in the drawers of decision makers, who can take it out and use it once they really decide that they want to solve the Kurdish problem using civilian political means.

    TESEV's Road map and Radikal's The Kurds: Who are we? study, agree on many points. We can note this as a measure of the credibility and validity of both studies.

    As I pointed out in my commentary speech, from my perspective, the most dramatic recommendations of the Road Map --recommendations that must be implemented without delay-- are related to the language rights described in the subsections entitled Legal Reforms and Civil and Political Rights.

    These sections state: Another area where legal reforms are needed is language rights. While reforms that propose to air radio and television programs in Kurdish and other languages are positive, they fall far short of meeting Kurdish demands. Furthermore, the bureaucratic hurdles that have been imposed on implementation prevent the Kurds from taking advantage of even these extremely restricted rights. This is followed by the following concrete recommendations:

    The Constitution and the Basic Law on National Education must be changed to clear the way for Kurdish to be taught as a second or elective language in all educational institutions.

    Current language bans on organization and freedom of expression must be lifted.

    The changing of place names must stop. Those that have been changed must be restored to their original names in Kurdish or other languages.

    Sermons in regional mosques must be allowed in Turkish or Kurdish.

    Persons who speak Kurdish must be given preference in hiring personnel for health institutions in the region.

    Persons who speak Kurdish must be given preference in hiring personnel for educational institutions in the region.

    Kurdish-speaking personnel must be hired in courts in the region.

    Kurdish-language plays must be staged in state theatres in the region.

    Kurdology institutes must be created in universities to conduct research on Kurdish language and literature.

    These recommendations are the sine qua non of the recognition of the Kurdish identity. One proposal that I can add is legislation that would make Kurdish an official language together with Turkish in regions and areas of Turkey that have large Kurdish populations. For example, there must be no restrictions on bilingual road signs.

    Steps in this direction, that is toward the acceptance of mother tongues, are much more important and of higher priority than jobs and food. This is the conclusion of both the Road Map and the [Radikal] study.

    Some questions need to be answered with a cool head. Here is the first such question: Are there Kurds in Turkey?

    Is not the answer obvious? You will say of course there are. That means that there is also something called the Kurdish identity. What problem can you solve without recognizing or accepting the Kurdish identity?

    How can we perceive this Kurdish identity?

    Naturally, not through DNA tests, as [Republican People's Party Deputy] Canan Aritman might suggest. The principal attribute that distinguishes one ethnic identity from another is mother tongue. Consequently, the acceptance and recognition of the Kurdish identity and, beyond that, respecting it require the acceptance and recognition of the Kurdish language. They require respect for the Kurdish language and removing any hurdles before it.

    Otherwise, comments to the effect that our differences are our treasure would be just hypocrisy. If our differences really enrich us, it is because our Kurdish citizens enrich us and because of their mother tongue.

    Furthermore, let us not forget that, the bar for a solution of the Kurdish problem was raised substantially because of Iraq. Right next door to southeastern Turkey, Kurdish is an official language of Iraq together with Arabic, in accordance with a constitution that was approved by a referendum. That being the case, how are you going to satisfy the Kurds of Turkey--who are more numerous in absolute and relative numbers than the Kurds of Iraq--on the issue of mother tongue? Remove hurdles blocking the use of Kurdish and restore original place names in the [Kurdish-populated regions of Turkey].

    Do these so that you can prove that you are not trying to deny or to assimilate the Kurds and that your intention is to integrate the Kurds within Turkey's territorial unity and to live with them inseparably like flesh and nail.

    Identity stems from mother tongue, respect for identity stems from respect for the mother tongue; our enrichment through our differences stems from allowing people with different mother tongues to live in our country in peace and comfort. Is it so difficult to do all these? It is even more difficult to perpetuate the current situation.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [09] From the Turkish Press of 01.01.09

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 1 January 2009:

    a) Local Elections:

    According to a report in Milliyet, the High Election Council, YSK, has banned the use of the Kurdish language in election propaganda. Furthermore, the Turkish flag and religious passages will not appear in fliers or any other printed matter pertaining to election propaganda.

    A report by Ali Oztunc in Vatan notes that based on a survey conducted in Izmir, the Republican People's Party, CHP, is expected to receive 46.7 percent of the votes in the local elections whereas the AKP is expected to receive only 23.2 percent. Based on this survey, CHP leader Baykal has decided to appoint current Mayor Aziz Kocaoglu as the CHP candidate for Izmir in the upcoming local elections, adds the report. Arguing that the AKP has no chance of winning the elections in Izmir, Trabzon, and Cankaya, Baykal is reported to have raised the possibility that a defeat in the local elections might bring about early general elections.

    b) Listening Device at CHP Headquarters:

    Describing the uncovering of a listening device at the Republican Peoples Party (CHP) headquarters as the "greatest scandal of recent years" in an article in Vatan, Mustafa Mutlu writes that the main opposition party could not even report the incident to the police for fear that they were the perpetrators to begin with. Viewing this incident as the bankruptcy of a state of law, Mutlu speculates whether those listening to the CHP are the police, the National Intelligence Organization, MIT, JITEM, the alleged intelligence unity with the Gendarmerie, or the CIA. Calling on Erdogan and Interior Minister Besir Atalay to find the culprits, Mutlu asks the authorities to announce whether there is a court order to tap the CHP headquarters and, if so, to declare who has applied to the court and for what reason. In conclusion, the writer calls on the authorities to resign if they are unable to find the culprits.

    Under the headline, "Bug war," Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report which asserts that the Republican People's Party, CHP, has been thrown into chaos by the discovery of hidden listening devices at the CHP headquarters in Ankara. The report highlights CHP Deputy Secretary-General Algan Hacaloglu's remarks saying that the bugs cannot have been installed without help from within the party.

    c) Economy:

    Referring to the remarks made by the prime minister during his address to the nation that 2009 will be difficult year, Vatan columnist Bilal Cetin in an article maintains that 2009 will be a harder year than predicted by Erdogan because the government has failed to take the necessary measures on time. Forecasting that the economy will continue to shrink in 2009, Cetin argues that even a zero growth rate in 2009 should be considered a miracle. The economic data announced in the last days of 2008 are not encouraging, writes Cetin, adding that the negative trends in exports and domestic demands have caused a record decrease in production. Drawing attention to the rapidly rising unemployment rates, Cetin explains that the business world and the markets, which have lost all hope of government measures, are now pinning their hopes on the agreement to be signed with the IMF as though the announcement of such an agreement will increase exports and expand domestic demand and thus raise production and employment to their previous levels. Declaring that this will not be the case, Cetin argues that the agreement with the IMF will only contribute to closing the foreign financing deficit in 2009.

    Quoting world famous economic analysts in an article in Sabah, Erdal Safak writes that the unemployment figures for 2009 will far exceed those of 1929 and that even the zero interest rates will not help solve the liquidity bottleneck. Declaring that the growth rate in China will drop to almost zero percent, the writer envisages social unrest and chaos that might rock the foundations of the regime. The price of a barrel of crude oil will go down to $25, writes Safak, arguing that this will be tantamount to the bankruptcy of Russia and the Gulf States. Maintaining that the fall in oil prices will also shake the foundations of the Iranian regime, Safak points out that the predicted devaluation of the Euro will lead to disputes among the EU member countries. In short, he concludes, 2009 is not predicted to be an auspicious year.

    Arguing that initially the effects of the global financial crisis were not felt in Turkey because of its small budgetary deficit and its strong banking system, Taraf columnist Suleyman Yasar maintains in his article that the monies lost by certain wealthy Turks abroad led these people to demand compensation from Ankara under the pretext that the Turkish economy is in a crisis, adding: "The propaganda by those who lost money abroad depicting the Turkish economy worse that it really was, frightened the Turkish citizens, thus leading to a rapid decrease in domestic demand. However, despite these negative developments, private companies paid their foreign debts amounting to $10.4 billion during the last three months of 2008 without any problems. Furthermore, the Turkish lira was not devalued but revalued in this process. " Pointing out that this positive development was observed in foreign investments as well, Yasar continues: "According to data supplied by the Treasury Under Secretariat, direct foreign capital investments in Turkey during the months of August, September, and October in 2008 were 74 percent more than the same period in 2007." In conclusion, the writer predicts that in 2009 the Turkish economy will be in a much better shape than predicted.

    Under the banner headline, "Loan sharks in the streets," Bugun publishes a front-page report which asserts that "loan sharks" have started to increasingly take advantage of the economic crisis by offering to lend money to debt-struck citizens at an exorbitant interest rate of 30 percent. According to the report, such money lenders are posting fliers in public places offering quick solutions to people's debt problems.

    In an article entitled "Turkish Defense Industry and the Economic crisis," Today's Zaman columnist Lale Sariibrahimoglu asserts that Turkey cannot possibly push forward with several "ambitious" military projects unless it increases the allocation of resources for research and development.

    e) Reactions to the Gaza strip attack by Israel:

    In an article entitled "Open Letter to Jewish Lobbies", Yeni Safak columnist Meliksah Utku criticizes the Jewish groups in the United States including the American Jewish Committee, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee for issuing statements expressing support for Israel's air strikes on Gaza. He asks these groups how they can hope to fight anti-Semitism by announcing that Israel is exercising a "fundamental right" in staging its latest operations and "how much longer they can put up with being puppets" of Israel's "corrupt political mechanism." He also urges them to use their financial power to force Israel to change its policies instead of "fuelling enmity and terrorism" by "endorsing oppression."

    Under the banner headline, "Israel hits even ambulances," Vakit runs a front-page report which accuses Israel of massacring "innocent" noncombatants in Gaza in an operation that seems to "recognize no limits." According to the report, "the Zionist curs are not refraining even from hitting ambulances carrying injured people who need medical attention."

    In an article entitled "The UN and the definition of law", Vakit columnist Ali Ihsan Karahasanoglu contrasts the UN's adoption of measures against Turkey over its military intervention in Cyprus in 1974 and against Iran over its maintenance of a nuclear program with what he describes as the UN's complete failure to adopt any sanctions against Israel in response to its air strikes on Gaza. He claims that the absence of any international measures against Israel warrants a redefinition of international law as a collection of rules invented by powerful states to exploit weaker nations.

    In an article entitled "Where words end. Time for action not words", Vakit Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya calls on the Government to take urgent action in response to the "genocide" operations in Gaza by expelling the Israeli ambassador from Turkey and recalling the Turkish ambassador to Israel, calling off joint military exercises with Israel, canceling economic agreements with Israel entailing cooperation in agriculture, animal farming, telecommunications, and tourism, suspending agreements related to the modernization of tanks and the purchase of Heron aircraft, and canceling all defense agreements signed with Israel before the launch of the 28 February process.

    In an article entitled "The deep secret of Ergenekon and moderate Islam", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak argues that Israel's latest offensive against Gaza contains an implied threat to Turkey, warning that it will be "put in the crosshairs" if it refuses to side with Israel against Iran as well as a message that the Iraqi Kurdistan will be "gifted" to Turkey if it joins the coalition against Iran. He also claims that "Israel's Zionist leaders" are going out of their way to touch off a third world war.

    Under the headline, "Israel rejects calls for ceasefire, targets ambulances, doctors," Zaman carries a front-page report which slams Israel for continuing its "indiscriminate" strikes on Gaza and "turning a deaf ear to the international community's ceasefire calls."

    In an article entitled "Adventurist soldiers in Israel and Nationalist Demagogy", Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay asserts that Israel will incur pain and destruction rather than achieving peace and security by waging its latest "war" in Gaza. He claims that "the Gaza massacre is a severe blow not only to Israel's own security but also to efforts to establish stability and peace in the Middle East," adding that one of the objectives of the Israeli offensive could be to prevent the forthcoming Obama administration in the United States from pressing ahead with the Iraq pullout plan by creating chaos in the Middle East. He ends by asserting that while the Obama administration appears to be free of the influence of "Christian Zionists," it remains to be seen to what extent it will be able to resist pressures from Jewish lobbies in determining its foreign policy principles.

    In a commentary entitled "Erdogan's journey to hope for Gaza", Professor Samir Salha of Kocaeli University lauds Prime Minister Erdogan for taking a "concrete step" toward solving the latest crisis in the Middle East by starting a tour that includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. Explaining what he describes as the factors that render Erdogan's visits all the more important, Salha asserts that the Arab League has failed to show any serious reaction to the "human tragedy" in Gaza, that the UN has contented itself with issuing a lukewarm press statement, and that the United States, "the world's sole super power," is watching the situation in Gaza from the sidelines.

    Milli Gazete devotes its entire front-page to a message announcing that the Felicity Party, SP, will be organizing a rally in Istanbul's Caglayan Square on 4 January in protest at the Israeli strikes on Gaza. The message says, "Palestine Asked about us. I said: We are coming." Complementary to this notice is another full page announcement which says, "Keep Silent. Palestine is Dying. The six-billion-strong world cannot hear the screams of hundreds of babies, children, women, and young people being killed in Palestine every day. Let everybody keep silent if they are not courageous enough to say 'stop the carnage' so that the voice of death coming with Israeli bombs can be heard.

    In an article entitled "The World cannot surrender to a bunch of Rabid Zionists", Milli Gazete columnist Suleyman Arif Emre asserts that Turkey should respond to the Israeli attacks on Gaza by pioneering an effort to restructure the UN so that it ceases to be an imperialist playground and is turned into a body with an actual power to impose sanctions.

    In an article entitled "The screams rising from Gaza", Milli Gazete writer Muslim Coskun asserts that the Israeli offensive against Gaza confirms the truth of Iranian President Ahmadinezhad's remark some time ago that Israel should be wiped off the map. He also claims that the way to deal with the "threat to humanity posed by Zionism" is to push forward with Necmettin Erbakan's project to establish a "D-8 [Developing Eight] group," an initiative aimed at achieving a "union of Islamic states."

    EG/


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