|Friday, 20 April 2018|
Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-01-05
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. 02/09 03- 05.01.2009
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Talat analyzed the latest developments in the Cyprus problem addressing the first meeting of the Democratic Dialogue project launched by ORPIllegal Bayrak television (03.01.09) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, has said there is a need for outside factors like the United Nations during the negotiations process in Cyprus. He made the statement during the first meeting of the Democratic Dialogue projects launched by the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP).
The Democratic Dialogue project aims to host many political party leaders and members with the aim of hearing their views and opinions regarding important issues concerning Cyprus and opening the issues up for discussion during the Freedom and Reform Party assembly meetings.
Making an opening speech, the leader of the Freedom and Reform Party, Mr Turgay Avci said democracy isnt just the ruling of people who win elections and those failing to become the opposition but the mutual respect and cooperation. Avci stressed the importance of working together in deciding on the future of the nation and the people instead of political rivalry.
Addressing the meeting Mr Mehmet Ali Talat said he had found the perfect opportunity to explain the latest developments of the Cyprus issue during the Freedom and Reform Partys Democratic Dialogue project.
He conveyed all the developments that had taken place before the launching of the Cyprus negotiations process and said that in spite all the negative developments that were experienced in the year 2008, the start of the negotiations is a positive development.
Referring to President Demetris Christofias stance before the elections, saying that he would be taking the Annan Plan as a basis and then refusing it after he was elected, Mr Talat said this was an example of the Greek Cypriot sides going back on its word, and added: If the Annan Plan was accepted as a basis or if they had continued from where they had left off then a solution could have been found.
It is only natural that the negotiations process has been extended, but we hope to finish one of the six titles that we have been discussing by the end of this month.
Explaining that the Greek Cypriots are not bound to the Annan Plan and they are blaming the Turkish Cypriots of being so, Mr Talat said: The Turkish Cypriots are bound to the Annan Plan as much as the Greek Cypriots are.
Alleging that the Greek Cypriot side does not want international factors to take place during the negotiations process, so they extended the process, Mr Talat stressed: It is not possible to reach an agreement on every subject so we need outside factors to help us, like the United Nations.
Concluding Mr Talat reiterated that it is not possible to reach a solution only with the agreements reached by the two leaders during the negotiations process, and added: If a solution is wanted then there is a need for outside factors.
 Talat explains how in July 1974 he arrived in Keryneia on an army landing craft behind Keryneia castle after meeting the Turk minister of DefenceUnder the title Talat 1,240 days since our last interview, Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Observer newspaper (03-08.01.09) cites an interview Brian Self got from the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat 1,240 days after his election to the so-called presidency with references to an interview he got from Mr Talat 100 days after his election to the highest post of the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus.
Following are excerpts from the report by Brian Self on both interviews:
There are conflict-divided cities whose physical wounds are almost healed, like Berlin; still gaping as in Beirut, or slight and hardly noticeable, but still traumatic for neighboring communities where only a modicum of trust between them was shattered by ethnic/civil conflict into feelings ranging from suspicion to hatred. North Nicosia belongs to the latter. On the heart shaped Quirini bastion, one of eleven connected by massive walls built by the Venetians four hundred years ago, and still intact, is the office of Mehmet Ali Talat, elected President of the unilaterally declared Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) recognized only by Turkey. Forty-five years ago Dr Fazil Kucuk, the Cyprus Republics first and only Turkish Cypriot Vic-President held cease-fire meetings in his official residence, aimed at quelling bloody armed clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots while bullets were directed at it from two sides.
Today Mehmet Ali Talat works in the same building, where his predecessor, Rauf Denktas dominated the Turkish Cypriot political world, working unremittingly for over twenty years to achieve recognition of the statelet he helped create in 1983.
The many decisions taken by the UN Security Council made it impossible to make an agreement which would ratify permanent division of the island; therefore Denktas was working for a non-achievable goal. Talat had said he was working hard with different ideas and policies to achieve the lifting of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people pending a solution of course, which is the ultimate goal I am always targeting.
The interview was conducted 100 days after Mehmet Ali Talats election to the Presidency; prospects for a settlement to the Cyprus problem seemed once again remote.
In a large calm room with an enlarged print of an antique map on the far wall, Talat looked relaxed and urbane in a dark suit; his hands rarely moved from their open position on the chairs arms like the last time he chose words carefully, almost never emphasizing with any bodily gestures. In the other corner a young girl press assistance took notes. Before our interview began I mentioned to Mehmet Ali Talat that 1,240 days had passed since our last discussion. He asked if I had worked it out with the aid of a programme; it reflected a passion for electronic gadgetry; he had he said an older version of a Palm programme which could go back to the 16th century. Mental arithmetic I answered, wondering whether it would seem irreverent to ask how many days had elapsed since the July 8 agreement or the Gambari Process the current basis for negotiations was accepted by both sides in the Paris summer of 2007. Papadopoulos had turned the game around, blaming the Norths leader for avoiding any meetings until he (Talat) manages to arrange a meeting that will not fall within the Gambari process.
Like many couples Talat met his future wife Oya, who was studying chemistry in the same University, through the student union; sharing, he told me, the same socialist views. Life might have taken a very different turn for the twenty-two year old without political ambitions but who planned to further his education. In 1974 the future President was in his last year at METU, graduated with a diploma and had a place in England at Manchester University where he intended to study for a Masters degree. Not as he pointed out, on a scholarship, but his family would pay the expenses.
Talats mother asked him to stay in Ankara for another week; she was fond of traveling, he said, but wanting to visit his friends and their families, and to see her son who was leaving Turkey, not to return to the island for the foreseeable future was obviously a normal and stronger maternal motive. A short civil war and Turkeys military response changed everything. The news was shocking, he said, all of a sudden the coup d etat took place, and the airports were closed, it was impossible for us to come back, within days the army intervened making it even more difficult to return.
The Turkish Cypriot representative in Ankara was unable to help Talat and his mother. We started to seek somebody to help us and, according to Talat the most logical place to look was the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, which had won an election with enthusiastic help from Talat and fellow students. A chance meeting at an occasion with the Minister of Defence and the insistence of friends through various channels led to mother and son being given permission to board a ferryboat to Cyprus during the lull between the two military operations. Unable to enter Kyrenia harbour the two were put onto an army landing craft which docked behind Kyrenia castle. Talats mother went home immediately while her son went directly to do my military duty on the mountains. When I asked if he thought as many Greek Cypriots did, that the events of that summer of 74 would quickly be over he immediately said they thought the same, maybe some days or weeks. He added that if the Greek Cypriots had not rejected a proposal for a Federal solution based on six Cantons put forward by Turkey in Geneva between the two military advances it would have been solved.
In February 2006 less than eight months after our first interview the 53-year-old Talat underwent by-pass surgery in an Istanbul hospital to replace a defective artery. The English language newspaper Todays Zaman quoted him at a news conference when he described the deterioration in his health: I think the stress over the Cyprus problem has made me ill. When I asked him at our first interview if he had time to read anything other than documents he said unfortunately not, and that this was definitely a shortcoming. Today the documents are still read, but now, Daily, for forty minutes every morning I read while walking, books, sometimes magazines, but mainly books. Were there, apart from Kemal Ataturk, political figures he admired, whose ideas he read? Actually I admire, or rather admired, maybe because hes not so important for me now Vladimir Ilich Lenin. And Gandhi whose ideas during our time were an alternative, mainly those type of politicians. And, I suggested, an entire range of personalities whose Non-Aligned Movement made room for many political creeds between the iconic revolutionary Lenin and the gentle pacifist Gandhi. Yes, Castro, Che Guevara And Nasser, Tito? Nasser. I had doubts about Nasser, he said, you know why? Because he was very supportive of Makarios who was totally against Turkish Cypriot interests and I lost my admiration for him.
What years end message would he give to the Greek Cypriots? I want of course a solution to the Cyprus problem in 2009, its our duty, our obligation, and I want the Greek Cypriots to think about the possibility of a solution in 2009; they should also prepare themselves for that as the Turkish Cypriots did a few years ago. Our fate is to live on the same island; we should work together in order to make it more prosperous and peaceful. We thank each other and on the way to his door exchange a few words about elections; he tells me he heard that the CTP party council is discussing today the possibility of having the (parliamentary) elections next year in April, a possibility confirmed the following day.
Another political complication would be added to an already complex landscape.
 The Orams receive financial boost with legal bills over the law suit of Meletis Apostolides for his property in occupied CyprusUnder the title Mystery backer to boost Orams fight, Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Today newspaper (03-09.01.09) reports the following on developments in the Orams case:
A British couple at the centre of an international legal row over property rights in North Cyprus have received financial backing to continue their fight from a mystery backer.
David and Linda Orams have been embroiled in a three-year court battle with Meletis Apostolides after the Greek Cypriot claimed land in Lapta [occupied Lapithos] on which they have built a £170,000 villa was his.
Speaking from her Sussex home this week, Mrs Orams, 62, revealed she and her 64-year-old husband were receiving help from people with an interest in North Cyprus to pay their mounting legal bills. We have backers who wish to remain anonymous, said Mrs Orams. This is about politics it is not really about us. We have just been caught up in it.
Crisis talks between the couples UK and TRNC lawyers took place in North Cyprus this week after one of the most senior legal figures in Europe ruled against the couple.
Juliane Kokkot, European Court of Justice advocate general, judged the Orams should demolish their Lapta villa and pay rent on the land to Mr Apostolides or pay him substantial compensation.
Her ruling is expected to send a strong signal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) when it makes its decision on the landmark case in the next three to six months.
More than 85 per cent of Ms Kokkots rulings are backed by the court.
Baris Mamali, Chairman of the Lefkosia Local Bar Association, said TRNC residents could pay a heavy toll if the ECJ did rule against the Oramses.
Mr Mamali said: The British Court of Appeal has referred the issue to the Court of Justice for an opinion in order to be able to make a decision on whether the ruling of the Greek Cypriot court can be implemented. The decision will be an itnermediary decision and will be binding.
If the European Court of Justice rules that such cases can be implemented in all EU member states it is obvious that such a decision will cause great upheaval in our society. Dangerous days will be in store for many of our citizens, he added.
 During the last three years more than 200,000 persons have arrived in the occupied areas from TurkeyTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (03.01.09) reports that in a written statement the General Secretary of the Turkish Cypriot Teachers Trade Union (KTOS), Mr Sener Elcil, stated that the decisions of the so-called government in the framework of the early elections, regarding the employment of illegal workers in the occupied areas of Cyprus, are aiming at electioneering. Mr Elcil added that in the last three years more than 200,000 persons have come to the TRNC from Turkey. Mr Elcil said that the decision of the government to create a fund for support to the local workers, instead of making any reductions to the Providence Fund of the workers coming from abroad, shows disrespect to the labor and the laborers and at the same time discrimination among the workers. He also accused the self-styled government of being a puppet of the Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
 The Turkish Ambassador Sakir Fakili has been appointed to the illegal Turkish Embassy in occupied LefkosiaTurkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (05.01.09) reports that the Turkish Ambassador in Kuwait Sakir Fakili has been appointed as the new illegal Turkish Ambassador in occupied Lefkosia. Mr Fakili has served in the past as counselor of the so-called Turkish Embassy in occupied Lefkosia, in 1989. Ankara is planning to overcome the impasse that the negotiations have reached with an experienced diplomat writes the paper.
On the same issue, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (05.01.09) reports that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has appointed Sakir Fakili (56) as the new envoy to the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also announced the names of the new ambassadors appointed to Dublin, Mexico, Beijing, Sanaa and Washington as follows: Altay Cengizer, Alev Kilic, Murat Esenli, Mehmet Donmez and Mehmet Taser respectively.
 Babacan on EU-Turkey, Cyprus and US-Turkey relationsAnkara Anatolia news agency (03.01.09) reported from Ankara that the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr Ali Babacan, speaking at a program at the state-run TV channel TRT-1 on Turkey's foreign policy, referred to Turkey-EU relations, and said: "There are some difficulties in our relations with the EU. However, a weakening is out of question. Turkey has a multi-dimensional foreign policy, and our relations with the EU are on the track."
On Cyprus recalling that a new negotiation process has been under way, Babacan said: "The 12th round of the talks was held just before the new year. We think that a timetable should be set as soon as possible."
In reply to a question on Turkeys relations with the United States during president-elect Barack Obama's term in office, Babacan said: "Turkey and the United States have a common agenda in their foreign policy. I hope that Obama administration will give priority to consultation and dialogue. I think that the events of 1915 could be the most risky area in our relations with the new U.S. government."
 DP discusses the possibility of returning to the so-called assemblyTurkish Cypriot daily Bakis newspaper (05.01.09) in its front page and under the title A return from DP on conditions, reports that the Turkish Cypriot political party Democratic Party (DP), in a written statement, decided to return to the so-called TRNC Assembly on condition that the so-called assembly will discuss the proposal for early elections. DP has been boycotting the meetings of the so-called assembly since November 2006.
On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (03.01.09) reports that the leader of the DP, Mr Serdar Denktas, speaking to the local Turkish Cypriot television channel KIBRIS TV, said that they will propose to the so-called mayor of occupied Lefkosia, Cemal Bulutoglulari, to be candidate in their ballot for the coming elections. In his statements, Mr Denktas rejected the allegations of cooperation with the National Unity Party (UBP).
 Data on the crossings from and to the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, the money spent and the trade volume between the illegal regime and TurkeyTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.01.09) reports in its front page under the title People have crossed nineteen million times, reports that the persons who have crossed from the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus to the government controlled areas and vice-versa have approached to twenty million times since April 2003, when the restrictions imposed by the Turkish occupation army have been partially lifted.
According to the paper, since 2003, Turkish Cypriots have crossed to the government-controlled areas nearly eleven million times, Greek Cypriots have crossed over to the occupied areas for around four million times. As regards tourists crossing over from the government-controlled areas to the occupied areas the number is given as 3.7 million.
On the shopping flow between the occupied areas and the government controlled areas, Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Observer newspaper (03-09.01.09) reports inter alia the following:
According to a Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) statement, Turkish Cypriots spent more than 100 million euro shopping in the south annually. Greek Cypriots spent 7 million euro shopping in the north, including 3 million on gambling. As a result of the process, the northern economy has become dependent on the southern economy.
On the issue, the paper publishes the following data:
Remarkable expenditure items (only credit card sales)
Supermarket shopping: 2,179,577 New Turkish Liras (YLT)
Clothing: 1,949,650 YTL
Furniture: 1,081,392 YLT
Fuel oil: 425,151 YLT
Gambling: 2,792,431 YLT
Clothing: 142,923 YTL
Supermarket shopping: 40,312 YLT
Staying at the hotels: 434,465 YLT
Greek Cypriots: 624,053
Turkish Cypriots: 1,575,158
Greek Cypriots: 576,844
Turkish Cypriots: 2,142,971
Regarding the trade volume between Turkey and the illegal regime, Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Star newspaper (02-08.01.09) publishes the following report:
While the amount of goods imported to the TRNC in the first 10 months of the 2008 increased by 12% compared to the same period last year, the amount of exports remained the same.
According to data from the Trade Office regarding the amounts of foreign trade in the January to October 2008 period, imports increased by 12% compared to the same period of the previous year and actualized at $1,374 billion USD.
During the same time, $931 million USD of goods were imported from Turkey, while the value of the goods imported from the third countries was $443 million USD.
While vehicles were in first place among imported products in recent years, they fell to second place giving over its position to petroleum with $132 million USD. The value of imported vehicles increased by 9% compared to the same period of the previous year and reached $122 million dollars. Construction iron followed vehicles with an import value of $50 million USD.
Exports in January to October period stayed at the same level as 2007 and realized $69,8 million USD.
During this period, the amount of exported products, citrus fruits lead with $20,6 million USD, while milk products take the second place with $19 million USD.
It was stated that most of the exports and imports have been done to and from Turkey.
 First results of the incentives by the occupation regime bringing in Italian touristsTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (03.01.09) reports that Italian tourists with a charted flight arrived in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus for the New Years Eve. According to a press release issued by the self-styled press office of the economy and tourism ministry, the Director of Northern Travel trading (NTL Ltd) Ozbek Dedekortu, making a statement for the launching of tourists from Italy to the occupied areas, thanked the self-styled economy and tourism minister Erdogan Sanlidag for his support towards the tourism sector.
Mr Dedekortu added that this is only the beginning and tourists from all over Europe will continue to visit the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.
 An Israeli company has submitted a project for renovating the occupied port of FamagustaTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.01.09) reports that the so-called director of the Famagusta port department, Mr Davut Iskan, said that they are preparing a project to re-organize the occupied port of Famagusta. He also added that an Israeli company has submitted a project to renovate the passenger lounge of the occupied port. Mr Iskan said that if they reach an agreement with the Israeli company, the project will start in March 2009. Mr Iskan went on and said that they are concerned that the Greek Cypriot side will prevent them from carrying out the project. For this reason, Mr Iskan said, they will confine in making only the necessary statements. Mr Iskan also said that the reason they want the Israeli company to invest on the passenger terminal is to attract tourists from Israel to the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.
 The illegal regime signs the International SOLAS Convention on maritime securityTurkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Observer newspaper (03-08.01.09) reports the following:
Despite not being a member of the Convention which has not been signed by most of the members, northern Cyprus has proved the importance given to maritime and passed the related law.
In December, the SOLAS convention of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was renewed and came into circulation in North Cyprus. In 1999 the law was passed and put into practice for the first time in North Cyprus and new comprehensive sections were added after the September 11 attacks as protection against similar attacks.
SOLAS, which defines security precautions at sea, has brought standards to international maritime law and was signed by most of the countries dealing with the sea. North Cyprus guarantees to make the necessary laws and to update the version and practice the necessities of SOLAS although it has not yet been signed by some IMO member countries.
Despite not having signed the convention, should the ships obey the necessities in harbours of countries which are members of SOLAS? Although only security precautions about ships had been included at the beginning, after September 11th comprehensive security precautions were added to the SOLAS convention.
Besides the updated changes, which should be accepted by countries that signed the convention, the protocol about navigation systems in 1988 and the Protocol of Ship Security and Pollution Protection in 1978 were accepted and open to signing.
Moreover, after the attacks on September 11 in New York, new amendments and arrangements were made rapidly in 2002 to SOLAS in case of sea attacks.
The importance given to the development of sea usage in northern Cyprus is proved by the act of accepting the convention.
The new version of SOLAS was reaccepted by the Parliament after 1999 and was released in the official gazette.
Countries supportive of SOLAS are responsible with the precautions to raise SOLAS efficiency with their laws, national matters, rules and arrangements. Although the protocol is signed under the protection of IMO, it was not signed by some of the members of the organization.
 Soyer praises the British boxer who trains in the properties of the Greek Cypriots who were forced by the Turkish troops to abandon their ancestral homesIllegal Bayrak television (02.01.09) broadcast the following:
Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer says that the Turkish Cypriot people perceived the success of World Cruise Weight Boxing Champion David Haye as its own success.
The British boxer who prepares for his fights in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and who promotes the TRNC at every opportunity he gets was received by Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer.
The world cruise weight champion has fought his last title match wearing shorts emblazoned with the flags of the TRNC, becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world adding the WBO to his WBC and WBA belts.
Speaking during his visit to Prime Minister Soyer today, David Hayes wished the Turkish Cypriot people a happy new year, wishing success to everyone.
Explaining that he become a world champion at 90kgs last year and had achieved the same success in the cruise weight category this year, Haye thanked the Turkish Cypriot people for their support both in the preparation phase and the matches.
For his part, Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer said that the Turkish Cypriot people perceived his success as their own success.
Explaining that he watched the boxers matches on TV with great excitement; Soyer said that he was proud of the boxers achievements.Expressing his sincere belief that Hayes will win an extremely important cruise weight fight this coming June at Britains Chelsea Stadium, the Prime Minister said that the Turkish Cypriot people will continue to support the boxers future efforts.
 French company sends a new helicopter to Kutlay Erks company in the occupied areas of the Republic of CyprusUnder the title A new helicopter will arrive, Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Star newspaper (02-08.01.09) reports that the company of Kutlay Erk, Tekser Ltd, which was chosen as the preferred bidder to eliminate the pest control in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, has contacted the helicopter company in France (of which the helicopter was recently fell during the pest control), in order for a new helicopter to be sent in the occupied areas.
The Chairman of Tekser Ltd, Kutlay Erk, has declared that they have contacted the helicopter company and that they are sending a replacement helicopter immediately.
 The director of the sloppy documentary The Vanished Bus has been granted the award for services to the Turkish worldIllegal Bayrak television (02.01.09) broadcast the following:
The Vanished Bus wins another award. The documentary which narrates the tragic and touchy story of 11 Turkish Cypriot missing persons has lately been awarded by the TURKSAV Foundation.
The short film documentary titled The Vanished Bus has won another award. The director of the documentary Fevzi Tanpinar has been granted the `Award for services to the Turkish World` by the foundation of the writers and artists of the Turkish world, TURKSAV.
This was announced by the Chairman of TURKSAV at press conference yesterday.
The Vanish Bus which departed from Larnaka and has never returned back, depicts the tragedy of 11 Turkish Cypriots on board through witnesses testimonies.
The film was made in memory of the 11 people who had not been heard of in 43 years. The film directed by Fevzi Tanpinar and written by Rasit Pertev won several awards. The award will be presented to Fevzi Tanpinar at a specialceremony to be held in April.
The remains of the 11 workers on the Vanished Bus were found in 2006 at the bottom of a well at the Voroklini village near the Larnaka-Dekelya road.
 The Greek Cypriot cemetery in occupied Omorfita has been plunderedTurkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (05.01.09) under the title Look, who has plundered the graves?, compares the condition of a Turkish Cypriot cemetery, which is located in the government-controlled area of Omorfita and the Greek Cypriot cemetery in occupied Omorfita. The Turkish Cypriot one has been cleaned by the municipality and it is in a good condition, while the Greek Cypriot cemetery is in a bad condition and the graves have been plundered.
 Turkish Parliament Speaker calls on OIC meeting in Turkey to discuss developments in Gaza stripAnkara Anatolia news agency (03.01.09) reported from Ankara that the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Executive Committee will convene extraordinarily in Istanbul on January 14 to discuss the recent Israeli offensive against Palestine.
Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan sent letters to his counterparts in the OIC-member states, saying that the parliamentary union executive committee should hold an emergency meeting in the face of the ongoing tragedy in Gaza. The meeting will be held on the level of parliament speakers. The executive committee of the 50-member Parliamentary Union of OIC-member states consists of Turkey, Niger, Egypt, Mali, Azerbaijan, Iran, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Chad and Benin.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 University professor evaluates Turkeys foreign policy in 2009Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (05.01.09) publishes an interview with Sabanci University Professor, Mr Ersin Kalaycioglu, who evaluated the most pressing issues facing Turkey this year.
Following are Professor Kalaycioglus views on the most critical issues the Turkish government will have to address in 2009, from its relations with the United States to its role in the UN Security Council.
Question: What are your political and economic expectations for Turkey in the year 2009?
Answer: First of all, we should expect to see financial problems resulting from the global economic crisis dominate the scene. In addition, we have the local elections approaching in March, and the results may give us some idea about how well or poorly the political parties are doing. As of Jan. 1, Turkey became a temporary member of the UN Security Council [UNSC] and a lot of tough issues, including wars in Congo and the Israeli-Hamas conflict, and others in Afghanistan and elsewhere, are awaiting our attention. Then we have a number of foreign policy issues, such as relations with the European Union, which have become tied to the issue of Cyprus, where talks have been continuing between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
Question: Are the Cyprus talks essential to easing Turkey-EU relations, since many negotiation chapters remain suspended by the EU, which says Turkey should first open its air and sea ports to Greek Cypriot traffic?
Answer: We dont know the details of the talks between the Turkish and Greek sides on the island. However, if the EU expects Turkey to do something, the feeling in Turkey -- the government included -- is that Turkey has already done its share. Turkish Cypriots, supported by Turkey, approved the UN-mediated Annan plan to reunify the island in 2004 just prior to the EU accession of Greek Cyprus as the official government of the Republic of Cyprus. But the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan plan and, by extension, the reuniting of the island. Now, having been accepted into the EU as a full member, the ball is in the Greek Cypriots court.
Question: What do you think they should do?
Answer: The Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish government alike expect the Greek side to agree on a federal structure with two states and thereby unify the island. In addition, the guarantee agreements of 1959-1960 should continue. The rest would be about legal-technical details, which will take some time to solve. The main issue is about the definition of the structure of the state of Cyprus.
Question: Cant Turkey open its ports to the Greek Cypriot traffic to show the EU that it is willing to overcome deadlocks because it wants membership?
Answer: It is possible. Turkey closed its ports after 1984, so Turkish ports had been open to Greek Cypriot traffic before. But Turkey has had a new political stance since 2004. In that case, why should Turkey take another goodwill step without guaranteeing the Turkish Cypriots well-being is not so clear to Turks. There is a problem of trust between the sides and, without establishing trust, Turkey will not change its stance because we have had too many bad experiences.
Question: Would you elaborate on this idea?
Answer: When we academics talk with our EU counterparts, we ask them if Turkey would be accepted in the EU with full membership if it renounced its right to Cyprus and the Aegean Sea, and they still cannot say yes. Such a relationship, in which, when one side says it is ready to do anything to be accepted into the EU, but the other side is still not sure, is hard to sustain. But if the EU is also ready to give credible guarantees to Turkey about full membership, then Turkey can consider changing its stance. Secondly, the problem was supposed to be solved by the UN. It is not Turkey that asked the EU to make the Cyprus problem a problem of the EU. That was done solely by the EU when it admitted Cyprus into the union in 2004 as a representative of the entire island, even though the island had been divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north. Currently the Turkish Cypriots cannot take full advantage of the EU membership of the island because their status is not clear. Since the EU has been willing to make Cyprus a problem of its own, it is welcome to solve it as well and improve the status of the Turkish Cypriots to the level of the Greek Cypriots.
Finally, in reply to a question on the policy to be followed by the AKP government after the local elections, the Turkish professor said:
The ruling Justice and Development Partys [AK Party] performance at the March 29 local elections will not provide motivation for it to follow a more reformist course. What we have seen following the July 2007 election is that a stronger mandate does not correspond to a more reformist approach, even though thats what the AK Party spokespersons had promised. If they increase their support, such a record will only reinforce their belief in what they had been doing and motivate them to be complacent. If they have a drop in support at the polls, then they may re-evaluate their policies.
 Columnist in Todays Zaman assesses Turkeys attack on Gaza and stresses that Turkey needs the Jewish lobby in the US to balance Greek and Armenian lobbiesUnder the title: The complexities of Turkeys relationship with Israel, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (05.01.09) publishes the following commentary:
After isolating Gaza and staging operations against it, thus violating the terms of a cease-fire, Israel has declared war on Hamas, allegedly to defend its citizens against Hamas rockets.
Gaza being one of the world's most densely populated settlements, an increasing part of the casualties is Palestinian civilians, women and children, The Israeli aggression has led to great indignation among nearly all segments of Turkish society because this is surely an unjust war. As the Economist rightly commented: A war must pass three tests to be justified. A country must first have exhausted all other means of defending itself. The attack should be proportionate to the objective. And it must stand a reasonable chance of achieving its goal. On all three of these tests Israel is on shakier ground than it cares to admit.
It is, unfortunately, also true that in Turkey this war is being exploited for condemnation of Jews by anti-Semitic racists and of the West by ultranationalists. Obviously, those responsible for this unjust war are neither the Jewish people nor the West as a whole. An important part of the world's and Israel's Jewish people and the peoples of the West strongly denounce the Israeli aggression. All members of the UN Security Council except for the United States have called for an end to hostilities.
There is undoubtedly widespread sympathy for the Palestinian people in Turkey. When Israel attacked the West Bank and nearly killed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in April 2002, Turkey's (secular) prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, said, A genocide is being perpetrated against the Palestinian people. When Israel attacked Gaza in March 2004 and killed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Turkey's (Islamist) prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared Israel a terrorist state. He called the recent attack against Gaza a crime against humanity. He also said he regarded this ruthless aggression as an act of disrespect towards Turkey, coming barely four days after the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Ankara, which has been involved in active diplomacy to secure peace between Israel on one hand and Palestinians and Syria on the other.
Israel's aggression has united even Turkey's National Security Council (MGK), which brings together the country's civilian leaders and military commanders, who often disagree. The council said in a statement that the military operation should be stopped immediately, that parties should give diplomacy a chance, that humanitarian aid should be allowed to reach Palestinian people in Gaza and that Palestinians should reach a compromise as soon as possible. A total of 136 deputies out of the 316 members of the Turkey-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group have resigned.
In response to a question as to whether the developments in Gaza would affect ties with Israel, however, government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek without hesitation stated, Though there have been ups and downs in the political relationship between Turkey and Israel, military ties are not expected to be affected because of the depth of that relationship, which serves Turkey's national interest.
The attack on Gaza is not expected to have a lasting impact on relations with Israel mainly because Ankara believes that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state is absolutely necessary for peace and stability in its region and the world as a whole. It is equally convinced that Israel living within secure borders at peace with its neighbors is also a must for the region. On these grounds, it will continue diplomatic efforts to facilitate peace between Israel and its neighbors. Ankara has, on the other hand, substantial economic and military interests in relations with Israel. Israel is not only supplying Turkey valuable military intelligence, but is also involved in nearly $2 billion worth of defense industry cooperation with Turkey. Ankara, lacking a Turkish lobby in the US, (if not always successfully) relies on the Israeli lobby to balance the influence of the Greek and Armenian lobbies.
Looking at the relationship from the Israeli side, strong ties with Turkey, which is a member of the Western alliance and has a Muslim majority but is secular, certainly have great psychological and strategic value. This is why, although Israeli authorities find Prime Minister Erdogan emotional and accuse him of disregarding Israel's side of the story and making statements that conflict with the way friendly countries talk about each other, they do not expect that the Gaza attack will have a lasting impact on relations. (The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1)
But if Israel wants to win over the support of Turkish, as well as world, public opinion, it will have to realize as soon as possible that it cannot achieve security by military means alone, that it needs to negotiate and make a deal with Palestinians, including Hamas, and with Syria on the principles laid down by none other than Prime Minister Olmert just three months ago and end the occupation and recognize the independence of a Palestinian state with 1967 borders. This is the only way Israel can achieve lasting peace and security for its people, who surely deserve it.
 From the Turkish Press of 03 and 04.01.09Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 03 and 04 January 2009:
a) Israeli attack on Gaza and Turkey:
In his commentary in Milliyet (03.01.09) entitled "Is Israel Taking Erdogan Seriously?" Semih Idiz writes about Erdogan's stand in the recent Israeli operation in Gaza. Referring to his previous commentaries that Erdogan's harsh reaction to Israel gained him points in the streets of the Middle East, Idiz adds: "However, Erdogan's counterparts in the 'real world' are not the street but those who govern the streets. In fact, he also met with these people during his Middle East tour this week." Explaining that he will not repeat what everybody already knows about the visit, Idiz adds that in this commentary he will assess whether Israel is taking Erdogan seriously. Along these lines, he refers to the Israeli Jerusalem Post correspondent Herb Keinon's report, which says that according to "government sources" Erdogan is not coming to Israel within the framework of his Mideast tour because "he has no concrete proposal to bring here." Idiz concludes by noting that Keinon's report on "extreme critical comments" by Erdogan and "his disregard of Israel's side of the story," constitutes an example that explains the grounds for Erdogan's anger toward Israel and his accusation of "disrespect."
In his commentary entitled "Erdogan's difficult mission," in Milliyet (03.01.09), Sami Kohen writes that PM Erdogan's four-country Middle East tour was both "timely and appropriate" adding, however, that "one tour only is not enough." In reply to his question on Erdogan's chances of success under the present circumstances, Kohen says: "It is obvious that the designated goal cannot be attainted by a three- or four-day Mideast tour. More time is needed for realizing the two-level plan proposed by the prime minister. The Turkish diplomacy, in turn, will launch new initiatives and steps both in the region and outside after this visit. In other words, Erdogan's visit constitutes the start of a new diplomatic process."
Cengiz Candar, in turn, writes about the immense "political energy" of Erdogan in his commentary entitled "Tayyip Erdogan's Middle East Tour: Quo Vadis?" in Hurriyet (03.01.09). Recounting that Erdogan managed to fit in a Mideast tour, the announcement of the Ankara mayoral candidate, and launch of Kurdish broadcasts on TRT to three days, Candar continues by explaining that according to a mini-survey he conducted in Beirut, the tour "was very well received."
Writing in Sabah (03.01.09), Nazli Ilicak says that "the AKP [Justice and Development Party] may be expected to bounce back big until 29 March after Erdogan's high performance. It is as though, Israel's Gaza's attack was a turning point for Erdogan.
In an entitled "Israeli Atrocities and 'Turkey's interests,'" in Yeni Safak (03.01.09) columnist Hakan Albayrak criticizes the Turkish government for not making a diplomatic move such as recalling its ambassador to Israel in order to protest against Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip and describes it as a "shameful" stance." He says: "Would Israel which does not and is unlikely to face strong reactions from any country or even a minor sanction stop beheading Palestinian children? Should not Turkey end military cooperation with Israel just to avoid sharing Zionist cruelties even if it will not eventually bring any benefit?"
In an article entitled "The Gaza strip and Turkey," also in Yeni Safak (03.01.09) columnist Resul Tosun accuses the leaders of Arab countries of remaining silent about Israel's attacks against HAMAS because they fear that they could fall from power if HAMAS succeeds. Noting that agreements concluded between Turkey and Israel strengthens the latter's position, Tosun comments: "Israel's atrocities can be stopped by suspending those agreements. By lowering diplomatic relations with Israel to the lowest level and suspending bilateral agreements Turkey would both relieve Gaza residents and strengthen its position in the Muslim world. No country in the region would want to lose Turkey."
In an article entitled "Aiding and Abetting the Murderer," in Milli Gazete (03.01.09) columnist Zeki Ceyhan accuses Israel's supporters in Turkey of hypocrisy and asserts that they are shedding crocodile tears following the recent Israeli attacks. He says that pious Muslims will attend demonstrations to be staged in Ankara and Istanbul in order to protest what he describes as Israel's atrocities.
In a commentary entitled "Erdogan's so-called plan and the facts" in Milliyet Kadri Gursel, argues that Prime Minister Erdogan's two-stage plan to bring peace to the Middle East is not really a plan but a goal. "Had the prime minister disclosed how the goal was to be achieved, we could have spoken of a plan. In short, this so-called two-stage plan was not something to be taken seriously," Gursel says, adding that "the main goals should be a lasting cease-fire and a lasting reconciliation among the Palestinian factions." He goes on: "The reason for the failure to achieve those goals lies with HAMAS's ideology. HAMAS is a radical Islamist organization. It does not recognize Israel, it wants its destruction, and it does not renounce violence against Israel." The columnist argues that the way to a solution is to force HAMAS to change, without forgetting that Iran and Syria are its main supporters. Gursel does not think too highly of Erdogan's role as a mediator in this conflict, saying that the prime minister's main aim is to prevent the impression that Egypt is stealing the limelight. "What Erdogan should do if he wants to make a real contribution," Gursel concludes, "is to persuade HAMAS to resort to more moderate and pragmatic ways."
In an article entitled "The 'what-would-Israel-say lobby' in our news media", in Yeni Safak (04.01.09) columnist Tamer Korkmaz blasts certain "embedded" commentators within the Turkish news media for expressing "displeasure" at Prime Minister Erdogan's criticisms of the Israeli offensive against Gaza by asserting that Turkey "has no business supporting radical Arabs" and that Erdogan's "angry" comments are harming Turkey's interests. Korkmaz describes these journalists as members of a pro-Israeli "lobby" whose mission is to mobilize public opinion in favor of US-Israeli policies and get the public to believe that there are legitimate reasons for Israel's use of "terrorist methods."
In an article entitled "Gaza" in Vakit (04.01.09) columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak accuses Israel of "perpetuating Hitler's legacy" in Gaza. He also calls attention to the "obstacles" facing a strong national backlash against Israel, asserting that "if you want to sell textile to the United States, you have to find an Israeli partner and sell your products via Israel. If you take Israel out of the picture, you will come up against quotas and higher taxes. ... If you buy goods or weapons from the United States via Israel, you do not have to worry about Congress permission, or quotas, or taxes. That is why it takes guts to say no to Israel."
b) Kurdish broadcasting on TRT:
In an article entitled "The meaning of Kurdish and Alevi talk shows in TRT," in Zaman (03.01.09) columnist Sahin Alpay describes the (TRT) Turkish Radio Television television programs in Kurdish language and talk shows about Alevi faith as very crucial steps intended to preserve national unity and peace in Turkey, albeit they have been delayed. He comments: "Those steps represent a turning point in the identity policies of the Republic of Turkey. Turkey is now admitting that there are Kurds and Alevis among its citizens, a reality which it persistently denied until the 90s. Thus, it has formally declared that it respects different ethnic, linguistic, and religious identities of its citizens for the first time since its foundation."
Kurdish is being spoken on state television and it is not the end of the world, writes Emre Akoz in a commentary in Sabah. Referring to a recent TESEV report on the Kurdish issue, the columnist argues that the report failed to address the issue of reconciliation with the past. The Kurdish question was mishandled for years, he says, adding: "Killing, imprisoning, and torturing does not mean solving a social problem. A solution can be reached only by talking, by trying to solve problems, by expanding rights. In other words democratically. The demand for a democratic solution came in the 1980's, but pro-violence hawks systematically prevented a democratic and peaceful solution. As a result, 30,000 persons were killed and $1 trillion was wasted. Who is going to pay for this?... There cannot be a solution without putting on trial those who killed the demands for a democratic solution. Those hawks are still among us and they continue to claim that they were right, they continue to defend their crimes. I do not mean the bureaucrats and the politicians only, but the terrorist organization leaders as well."
In an article entitled "Commanders' competence" in Zaman (04.01.09) columnist Mumtazer Turkone underlines what he presents as the outrageously "bizarre" and "stupid" quality of the defunct "law on publications and broadcasts in languages other than Turkish," which "prohibited the use of any languages other than Turkish as a mother tongue." He recalls how this law was passed by the architects of the 12 September coup and asserts that its enactment by a number of former army heads provides adequate grounds for questioning the competence of the military establishment to make any political decisions. He also disagrees with CHP leader Baykal over his remarks referring to the launch of TRT 6 as a move that signifies state support for efforts to promote ethnicity.