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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-01-12

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. 06/09 10-12.01.2009

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat attended a luncheon of the Society of Martyrs and Disabled War Veterans
  • [02] The commander of the occupation forces stresses that the occupation army is the real guarantor of the Turkish Republic set up in the occupied northern Cyprus
  • [03] Details on the number of foreigners purchasing land in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus during the recent decade
  • [04] BKP General Secretary sees connection of mafia in occupied Cyprus with the Ergenekon organization
  • [05] Ozkan Murat on the citizenship issue
  • [06] Statements by Sonay Adem on a new regulation for foreign workers
  • [07] Afrika argues that Ankara wants ORP to the new self-styled coalition government at all costs
  • [08] The self-styled Attorney General started investigations against KTOS
  • [09] The global financial crisis affected the tourism sector in the occupied areas
  • [10] Adal: We are looking for a way out
  • [11] Turkish Cypriot potato producers received the Global Gap certificate
  • [12] Egemen Bagis took over as neogitator for EU accession
  • [13] Kosovo counts on Turkey for integration to Euro-Atlantic organizations
  • [14] Poll by the Political Researcher Strategy Development Centre on the forthcoming local elections in Turkey
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [15] From the Turkish Press of 09, 10 and 11 January 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat attended a luncheon of the Society of Martyrs and Disabled War Veterans

    Illegal Bayrak television (11.01.09) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr

    Mehmet Ali Talat, has said that the Turkish Cypriot side is acting cautiously in efforts to reach a possible agreement between the two sides to prevent events experienced in the past.

    Mr Talat was speaking at a luncheon organized to mark the 35th anniversary of establishment of the Society of Martyrs Families and Disabled War Veterans.

    In his speech, Mr Talat described the Society as a symbol of Turkish Cypriot Peoples bitter experiences and its reflection upon today.

    Stressing that the Turkish Cypriot side is really in favor of a solution in Cyprus, Mr Talat said war does not suit to the humanity adding that the conflict in Gaza reminds the Turkish Cypriots of all the sufferings they experienced in the past.

    He also noted that they will do their best to achieve peace in Cyprus.

    Also speaking, the President of the Society of Martyrs Families and Disabled War Veterans, Mr Ertan Ersan said his society will continue to support Talat during the negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    [02] The commander of the occupation forces stresses that the occupation army is the real guarantor of the Turkish Republic set up in the occupied northern Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (10.01.09) broadcast the following:

    An oath-taking ceremony has been held at the Gulseren Barracks in Gazimagusa [occupied Famagusta] for reserve officers and sergeants who have been recently called up for military service at the Cyprus Turkish Security Forces Command.

    Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer, The Commander of the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces Lieutenant General Hilmi Akin Zorlu, the Commander of the Cyprus Turkish Security Forces Major General Abdullah Recep, Foreign Minister Turgay Avci and the former President Rauf Raif Denktas were also present at the ceremony.

    The oath-taking ceremony started with a minutes silence and the hoisting of the flags to the national anthem.

    The first ceremony was delivered by the reserve officer candidate Vural Gebes who stressed that they are sons of a nation wanting to maintain their freedom and dignity.

    He added that they would follow the principles and revolutions of Ataturk the founder of Turkish Republic - to achieve this objective.

    A show depicting the freedom struggle waged by the Turkish Cypriot people was performed and a rescue operation was carried out during the ceremony.

    Another speech to the ceremony was delivered by the Commander of the Cyprus Turkish Security Forces Major General Abdullah Recep who stressed that the Security Forces together with the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces are the real guarantors of the existence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    He also said that the Security Forces would overcome all the obstacles with a strength provided by the Turkish Cypriot people.

    The ceremony ended with a parade.

    On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Volkan newspaper (10.01.09) under the title TRNC will live eternally reports on statements of the Commander of the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces Lieutenant General Hilmi Akin Zorlu during a visit to the Fighting Commanders Association in occupied Famagusta, accompanied by the military leadership. General Zorlu said he hopes that the people of the TRNC will live better days from now on and that as Turkish Armed Forces they work day and night to keep the tranquility. He added that the TRNC will continue to live eternally as an independent and modern country and that the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces are always in the service of the people.

    Furthermore, General Zorlu stated, inter alia, that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, which is there for 35 years now, is not consistent with any international rule of law and when he asks foreign diplomats about this he gets the response that this does not exist in any book... this is a political decision.

    (EA)

    [03] Details on the number of foreigners purchasing land in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus during the recent decade

    Under the title Increase in the purchase of real estate property by foreigners, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (10.01.09) publishes an exclusive report on details given by a reliable source on the demand by foreigners to purchase land and obtain title deeds in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Kibris reports the news as follows:

    According to information obtained by Kibris reporters a reliable source, the number of applications by foreigners to purchase real estate property in the TRNC increased to 1850 in 2008 in comparison to a total of 309 applications in 2001.

    This is how the purchase of real estate property by foreigners developed during the years:

    2001 .. 309

    2002 .. 591

    2003 .. 955

    2004 .. 2827

    2005 .. 1571

    2006 .. 1842

    2007 .. 1780

    2008 .. 1857

    In the meantime, an increase in the number of the title deeds given to foreigners was also observed.

    Following is a list of the number of title deeds given by year:

    2000 .. 114

    2001 .. 231

    2002 .. 130

    2003 .. 421

    2004 .. 249

    2005 .. 674

    2006 .. 1137

    2007 .. 1794

    2008 .. 2136

    (ML)

    [04] BKP General Secretary sees connection of mafia in occupied Cyprus with the Ergenekon organization

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (10.01.09) reports on a written statement issued by the General Secretary of the United Cyprus Party (BKP), Izzet Izcan, on the ongoing investigations in Turkey regarding the Ergenekon organization and the need for this investigation to be extended in the occupied part of Cyprus.

    In his statement, Mr. Izcan expressed the view that some criminals in occupied Cyprus hosted and gave refuse to members of the Ergenekon organization and claimed that there are also links of the Ergenekon in occupied Cyprus with centres of black money laundering, owners of gambling houses and real estate mafia, writes Kibris.

    (ML)

    [05] Ozkan Murat on the citizenship issue

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (10.01.09) reports on statements made to the paper by the so-called Minister of Interior, Ozkan Murat, on the citizenship issue and writes that Mr. Murat has denied the allegations made by the General Secretary of the National Unity Party (UBP), Nazim Cavusoglu, on January 9th to Star Kibris daily that the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) has distributed citizenship to 4,000 persons.

    Ozkan Murat has stated that citizenship was distributed to 68 persons to 30 persons based on a decision taken by the ministry and to 38 persons based on a decision made by the cabinet.

    (ML)

    [06] Statements by Sonay Adem on a new regulation for foreign workers

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (12.01.09) reports in its front page that Mr. Sonay Adem the self-styled Minister of Labour and Social Security, has made important statements to the newspaper regarding the regulation which has been introduced for the families of foreign workers in the occupied areas. Mr. Sonay Adem stated that the families of the foreign workers in the occupied areas cause serious problems in the fields of education, health and housing, and thus, he said, they decided to prepare a new regulation in order to overcome these problems. According to the paper, the new regulation provides, inter alia, that foreign workers cannot bring their families to the occupied areas immediately upon their arrival but after one year on condition that they complete one year of work and if their work permit is extended for one more year.

    (AK.)

    [07] Afrika argues that Ankara wants ORP to the new self-styled coalition government at all costs

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (11.01.09) carries a commentary in its daily column Afrikadan Mektup (Letter from Afrika) regarding the pre-election activities for the early elections in the occupied areas.

    The column argues that after the last visits of the General Secretary of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Omer Kalyoncu and the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) leader Turgay Avci to Ankara the situation is becoming clearer. According to the paper, Avci got a promise from Ankara to become for once more a partner in the new coalition, which Ankara desires. In addition, Ankara promised that if the CTP acquires the required number of votes it will continue the present coalition of the two parties [of CTP and ORP].

    The paper emphasizes that Ankaras real aim is to gain for the ORP a good result in the upcoming election at all costs. For this reason Ankara promised its full support to Avci. As the commentary continues, Ankara will try to raise the percentage of ORP and reduce the percentage of CTP in order to succeed a better balance between the two parties.

    (EA)

    [08] The self-styled Attorney General started investigations against KTOS

    Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (12.01.09) in its front page under the title Investigations for (KTOS) - Cyprus Turkish Teachers Trade Union, reports that the self-styled Attorney General with the approval of the Council of Ministers has started investigations against the Cyprus Turkish Teachers Trade Union (KTOS) for a statement issued by KTOS last November. According to the paper, the Attorney General started investigations against KTOS on the ground that the KTOS statement was putting forth that the Turkish Ambassador is acting as a Vali (Governor) and that those who are governing the country are considered servants of Ankara.

    In his statement, the Genaral Secretary of the Cyprus Turkish Teachers Trade Union (KTOS), Mr. Sener Elcil, expressed his reaction to the investigations and said that the investigations have started with the order of Ankara with the aim to put political pressure to the union. Mr. Elcil then said that they will bring this matter up to the international arena.

    Moreover, speaking during the press conference organized by KTOS, the chairman of KTOS, Mr. Guven Varoglu has said that KTOS has and will always continue issuing such statements and stressed that the assimilation policy which is implemented in the occupied areas is obvious in the streets, in the hospitals, in schools.

    (AK.)

    [09] The global financial crisis affected the tourism sector in the occupied areas

    Turkish Cypriot Kibris newspaper (12.01.09) in its front page under banner headlines Difficulties in tourism reports that Kibris newspaper conducted a research the previous days which has indicated that the tourism sector in the occupied areas suffers from the effects of the global financial crisis. According to the paper, one out of three hotels in the occupied areas are closing down due to the lack of clients and because of the increasing expenses. The paper further reports that out of the 120 hotels which are registered in the catalogues of the Turkish Cypriot Hoteliers Union (KITOB), 32 of them are suffering a loss and as a result of that they are forced to close down.

    Meanwhile the paper reports that hotel capacity in the occupied areas has been reduced to less than 15%.

    Mr. Mehmet Dolmaci, chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Hoteliers Union (KITOB) stressed the need to stop the policy of encouraging investments for new hotels in the occupied areas.

    (AK)

    [10] Adal: We are looking for a way out

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (10.01.09), the Chairman of the so-called Turkish Cypriot Football Association, Mr Omer Adal, organized a briefing session for the sports writers last Thursday. During the meeting, Mr. Adal referred to the so-called associations membership to the Cyprus Football Association (KOP) and said that whatever the membership outcome, they will not give up their attempts. He said: Regarding the membership to the KOP there are reactions coming from the politicians and the public. No one should expect from us to take a decision contrary to the views of our politicians and our people. We think to solve the problem together with our politicians. Despite the fact that sports are not included in the leaders agenda, we have proposed to our President to hold four or five-sided meetings. He has accepted it. If the Greek Cypriot side agrees as well to this, together with both leaders, we too, as the Greek Cypriot and Turkish sides, will attend this meeting. FIFA people as well stated their participation. Soon this meeting could take place. If no way out is found, we will continue to look for a way out for our football.

    (MHY)

    [11] Turkish Cypriot potato producers received the Global Gap certificate

    Illegal Bayrak television (10.01.09) broadcast the following:

    A certificate award ceremony was held yesterday for potato producers in North Cyprus who successfully completed a program organized by GLOBAL GAP, also known as Good Agriculture Practices.

    GLOBAL GAP is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agriculture production around the globe with the aim of establishing one standard for good agricultural practices.

    The GLOBAL GAP certificate awarded to 12 producers from the Cayonu [occupied Kalopsida] village development cooperative covers the process of the certified product from farm inputs like feed of seedlings and all the farming activities until the product leaves the farm.

    Speaking at the ceremony, EDGE Agriculture Team project leader Dr. Gerhard Zecher briefed participants on various support programs for developing agriculture in North Cyprus.

    He said developing the agricultural sector will contribute greatly to the economy.Explaining that the GLOBALGAP was open to all producers in over 88 different countries, Zecher gave detailed information about the project.

    Also speaking, the President of the Chamber of Cyprus Turkish Agriculture engineers Ali Goksu stressed the importance of adopting sustainable farming models and said that they aimed to increase the producers competitiveness and sustainable development when getting involved with the GLOBAL GAP project.

    [12] Egemen Bagis took over as neogitator for EU accession

    Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.com (12.01.09) reported that Turkey's new chief European Union negotiator, Egemen Bagis, took his post yesterday, taking over from Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

    There was a symbolic ceremony held in the General-Secreteriat of the European Union, or ABGS to mark the handover. Bagis will start his official work today in his new role and immediately begin preparations for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan s first trip to Brussels in four years.

    Erdogan will travel to Brussels on Jan. 19 and he will meet with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Bagiss appointment to the post also led to an administrative change in the position of the ABGS. Formerly under the roof of the Foreign Ministry, the ABGS will now be predicated to the Prime Ministry. State minister and chief negotiator, Bagis was informed of his appointment when he was in Morocco where he was attending a conference as deputy party leader. On his return to Istanbul on Saturday he was welcomed by a large crowd of party members congratulation him for the new post.

    On Mr Egemen Bagis appointment Hurriyet Daily News.com (12.01.09) publishes the following in the column Opinion under the title: Egemen Bagis: Right time, right man:

    Egemen Bagis, parliamentarian-turned-chief-EU-negotiator, is someone we know well at the Daily News. And lets admit it, we like him. Hes the kind of politician journalists take to: affable, gregarious and a good storyteller. He is someone able to rise above partisan politics without betraying partisan loyalty. He also has a sense of humor.

    In short, Bagis is a communicator. We can think of no qualification among those of his new job description that is more important. As we have argued in this column before, the sense of crisis in the European Union generally, and within the Turkish relationship specifically, turns on the collapse of narrative. What is the long-term vision for the European Project? If anyone in Brussels (or Paris or Berlin) knows, this is a well-kept secret. Just where and how does Turkeys dynamism fit within the motionless stasis that defines the planning of European Commission? We cant say.

    But we can say that only someone with Bagis unique skill set can force the articulation of answers to these questions. The trust and the ear of the prime minister, the ability to talk to all sides at all levels, an ear for the political tones of the larger trans-Atlantic relationship are all strengths Bagis possesses. These assets are all the more essential at a time of great change in Washington, with the incoming Obama administration, when repair of the EU-Turkey relationship will be an issue within the larger task for repair of the US-EU relationship. Of course, we have heard and listened to the criticism that Bagis is more comfortable on Connecticut Avenue than he is on Unter den Linden, that he knows his shortcuts across Central Park far better than his way around the Grand Place. We know there is a great deal of technical material to be mastered at this stage of the negotiation game and this is not akin to the Washington lobbying at which Bagis has been notably successful. And this criticism is fair enough, too. Yes, he has a steep learning curve ahead of him and the ascent will not be easy. But directly relevant experience is not always the critical criteria for a new job. America has concluded as much with the choice of its new president. In this case we will coin a new phrase, "indirectly relevant experience." We believe this is what Bagis exhibits and more importantly we believe this is what the EU-Turkey relationship demands at this juncture.

    We also believe that whatever the good intentions behind the decision in 2005 to vest the negotiators job in Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, this move proved a mistake. Understandably, Babacan has been faced with countless distractions. But his neglect of negotiations has contributed to the sad state of todays relationship. Now is the right time to correct this. And Egemen Bagis is the right man to do it.

    [13] Kosovo counts on Turkey for integration to Euro-Atlantic organizations

    Ankara Anatolia (A.A.) news agency (11.01.09) reported the following from Pristina:

    The foreign minister of Kosovo defined on Sunday Turkey as a strategic partner. Kosovo's Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni said that Turkey was a friend and a strategic partner of his country. We expect that our relations with Turkey will further improve, Hyseni told A.A. correspondent ahead of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's scheduled visit to Kosovo.

    Babacan is expected to begin a trip to Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday, and return to Turkey on Friday.

    The Kosovar foreign minister said that he would discuss with Babacan an agreement to lift visa procedures between the two countries and they wanted to contribute to free movement among regional countries with this agreement.Hyseni expressed his hope that Turkey would support efforts aiming to integrate Kosovo to Euro-Atlantic organizations.

    [14] Poll by the Political Researcher Strategy Development Centre on the forthcoming local elections in Turkey

    Istanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (09.01.09) publishes the following report:

    Support to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) fell sharply in the Istanbul mayoral elections, a poll conducted ahead of the March local elections showed on Friday.

    The support to the AKP fell to 29.4 percent from 45.3 percent since the local elections in 2004, the ANKA News Agency reported citing a poll conducted by the Political Researcher Strategy Development Center.

    The poll showed that support to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) fell slightly to 25.9 percent from the 28.9 percent achieved in past elections in Istanbul.

    The Islamist Felicity Party (SP) increased its votes to 8.9 percent from 5.38 percent, it said. SP has organized anti-Israel protests in Istanbul, attended by hundreds of thousands, since the Jewish state's offensive on Gaza began.

    Support to the opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) was 5.5 percent, according to the poll. The nationalist party gained 4.1 percent of votes in the 2004 elections.

    A total of 25.7 percent of voters said they were waiting for the announcement of candidates for Istanbul, the poll showed. The AKP is the only major political party to determine its candidate for the Istanbul mayoral elections, announcing its candidate as the current mayor, Kadir Topbas.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [15] From the Turkish Press of 09, 10 and 11 January 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 09, 10 and 11 January 2009:

    a) On Israels incursion into Gaza Strip:

    In an article entitled "The rise of Anti-Imperial awareness has been prevented" in Milli Gazete (09.01.09) columnist Afet Ilgaz questions the sincerity of Prime Minister Erdogan's criticisms of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, asserting that if Erdogan were earnest in what he is saying against Israel, he would already have resigned as co-chairman of the Broader Middle East Project and returned the Profiles in Courage awards he received from Jewish groups, that he would not have permitted the sale of his country's "vital concerns," factories, banks, etc to foreigners, and that he would protect Turkey's Constitution and its republican institutions as strongly as he appears to be objecting to Israel's military campaign.

    In his commentary entitled "Our Place in Middle East Has Weakened" in Milliyet (10.01.09), Semih Idiz notes that "Erdogan's pro-Hamas stand and statements on Israel has weakened Turkey's role as a 'potential mediator'" because a claim like this warrants such a country to stand on equal grounds to the sides." Referring to the possibility of having an international force deployed on the Gaza border, Idiz says: "It is understood that there is a knock on the door of Ankara on the issue of dispatching soldiers to the region. Erdogan, however, will have to explain clearly one thing to his pro-Hamas grassroots. If Turkish soldiers are deployed on the Gaza border, their main responsibility will be to prevent the smuggling of weapons and equipment from tunnels on the Egyptian border. Hamas will definitely not want this. Under the circumstances, however, it will have no choice but to accept it."

    In his commentary entitled "UN Prestige" in Sabah (10.01.09), Erdal Safak refers to the UN Security Council resolution on Gaza and the extent that it was stillborn as both Hamas and Israel did not abide by it. He writes that "the UN arrived at a crossroads" and that "it should either be disbanded and a brand new organization established or a deep-rooted reform be carried out so that the UN will be restored to an organization that reflects the realities of our era because the oppressed people are paying the price."

    Commenting on the statement to the NTV by former AKP Deputy and current Zaman columnist Ihsan Dagi that more than the ruling AKP the global players are behind the recent Ergenekon detentions to distract Turkish public attention from Gaza, in Hurriyet (11.01.09) Ahmet Hakan says in his column "Believe It Or Not" that Dagi's claim might excite people to come up with various conspiracy theories. In advancing his own conspiracy theory, Hakan says that foreign powers might have used Fethullah Gulen as an intermediary to encourage pro-Gulen forces inside the judiciary and the police to launch the detentions. Hakan says if his own conspiracy theory is correct, then one has to commend the global forces, for they have managed to deflect the public attention from Gaza to the Ergenekon.

    In an article entitled "How should the struggle be waged?" in Zaman (11.01.09) columnist Ahmet Selim says that Israel cannot be defeated unless the United States is also defeated because Israel is actually "a US aircraft carrier" rather than an independent state. Pointing out that a solution can be found by taking a different stance and following a different policy aimed at forcing the United States to change its own approach to the matter, Selim notes: "Is it a reasonable, prudent, efficient, and legitimate way to attempt to bring Israel and the United States into line by using those rockets for making them anxious and relying on possible reactions arising from humanitarian considerations after suffering civilian casualties?" He also urges Muslims to allocate one percent of their budgets to Palestinians rather than advising them to maintain their struggle by employing methods that they are using today.

    b) Ergenekon:

    In his commentary in Radikal (10.01.09), Cengiz Candar emphasizes the "extraordinary importance and value" of the weapons unearthed in Ankara. He explains that this arms cache is of great importance and value because it is as though a "murder organization" that spread its octopus arms within the state structure was unearthed. This organization would have remained underneath as long as its weapons remained underground." He adds that "as of yesterday, the Ergenekon investigation has paved the path for Turkey to face its recent past, illegal activities, and blood-stained near past. Facing this past also means for Turkey to save its future, he concludes.

    In his commentary entitled "Ergenekon and Institutions" in Milliyet (10.01.09), Taha Akyol stresses the importance of care taken by "the ARMY and the judiciary" in "not taking sides" in the Ergenekon discussion. Obviously, the Office of the Chief of Staff is disturbed by the detentions of Wednesday, but refrains from issuing a 'memorandum' for the time being. It is not even issuing a 'communiqué.' The Chief of Staff prefers to express his views to the Prime Minister and to the President himself." Explaining that the Supreme Court of Appeals displayed "judiciary maturity" when it refrained from issuing a "judiciary memorandum" against the detentions and did not take to the streets marching with their robes, Akyol calls on Erdogan to also show "political maturity" and stop making speeches in support of the Ergenekon investigation and assuming the role of a 'prosecutor.'"

    Under the banner headline, "Bomb Field," Yeni Safak (10.01.09) publishes a front-page report which asserts that the police unearthed an arms cache belonging to the Ergenekon network in excavations carried out in the Golbasi district of Ankara yesterday based on a map found in the possession of Ibrahim Sahin, a former police chief who was detained in the latest operation against Ergenekon and who, the report claims, was implicated in the Susurluk scandal in 1996.

    In an article entitled "Everything from scratch" in Vakit (10.01.09) columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak asserts that the latest developments in the Ergenekon investigation have enabled Prime Minister Erdogan to reaffirm his authority at a time when the ruling AKP had been coming under increasing pressure at home because of the Israeli strikes on Gaza. He claims that a criminal gang "masquerading as the deep state" has been "caught red-handed" once again thanks to the police operations being conducted. He also asserts that the prosecution of Ergenekon will help end terrorism in the southeast.

    Ali Sirmen in his column in Cumhuriyet (11.01.09), argues that all those detained in the recent operation are people who are opposed to AKP's efforts to replace the secular republic with an Islamic one. As such, he argues, the Ergenekon operation is "part of the civil coup" being staged by the AKP. What the society should be asking now is whether the AKP government has not lost its legitimacy with its recent action.

    Commenting on Ankara public prosecutor's decision to investigate the intellectuals behind the Armenian apology campaign under Article 301, in Hurriyet (11.01.09) Cengiz Candar declares in his column "From yesterday to today; From Ittihatists [Ittihati ve Terakki Cemiyeti -- Committee of Union and Progress] To Ergenekonists...," that prosecuting 26,000 signatories of the apology text would have its drawbacks but on the positive side it might engender a new debate about the extent of the freedom of expression in Turkey. Castigating the prosecutor's tortuous Turkish text in which Armenians are accused of massacring the Turks and pointing out that the text of the apology does not accuse Turks of committing a genocide against the Armenians, Candar quotes Talat Pasha's own figures about the deportation of 924,158 Armenians as a proof that a great calamity took place in 1915, and concludes his column by a quotation from Gokhan Bacik's 3 January column in Zaman in which Bacik says the crime against the Armenians was committed by the Ittihat officials who, contrary to Ottoman values, were extremely nationalistic and racist, just like their present "political DNAs" in Ergenekon.

    This link between the Ittihat and Ergenekon is also stressed by two other writers in Radikal (11.01.09). Avni Ozgurel says in his article "The Ottoman Ergenekon" that the Ittihat and Terraki was a Masonic-type secret society during the last days of the Ottoman Empire that survived inside the state and was even responsible for the overthrow of the Erbakan government in 1997. Commenting on the abiding influence of Ittihat in current Turkey, Radikal columnist Perihan Magden says, without giving name that a "very important columnist in one of the major newspapers" never takes off her Teskilati Mahsusa [Ittihat's Special Organization that massacred the Armenians] necklace. Referring to the Ergenekon operation, she says the real patriots have to unite to prevent the country from sliding back into the Dark Ages.

    In Radikal (11.01.09) Columnist Murat Yetkin says in his column "The Lion Tamer" that a segment of the society is disillusioned with Chief of the General Staff Ilker Basbug for not creating havoc over the recent Ergenekon detentions. They suspect he has "surrendered" himself to the AKP government. Yetkin believes despite the shortcomings in the Ergenekon investigation, it is very hard to understand this segment's alarm over the cleansing of the state of gangs. Yetkin thinks it is discourteous to criticize Basbug as if Basbug is not aware of the criminal activities of his own personnel, pointing out that Basbug is trying to resolve the matter within the laws not by assuming the role of a lion tamer.

    Under the banner headline "Handgun used in Council of State was provided by Ergenekon," Yeni Safak (11.01.09) carries a front-page report which says that a Glock handgun which was used by Alparslan Arslan in an attack against a group of judges in a building housing the Council of State was given to him by retired Captain Muzaffer Tekin who, in turn, had received it from Ibrahim Sahin, former head of the Special Operations Unit in the Federal Police Department, according to the results of an investigation conducted by public prosecutor Zekeriya Oz. The report notes that Arslan was working as an attorney at law for a firm owned by Tekin.

    A report entitled "Ergenekon planned to assassinate Chairman of Alevi Federation" in Zaman (11.01.09) says that a police operation conducted on Wednesday revealed that Ibrahim Sahin had set up teams for assassinating two Alevi leaders in order to set the stage for sectarian tension before the local elections to be held in March 2009.

    In an article entitled ""An Idiot's guide to Ergenekon: Admiral Ornek's memoirs," in Sunday's Zaman (11.01.09) columnist Ihsan Yilmaz says that there seems to be a tacit agreement between the military and politicians and possibly the United States that Ergenekon should be dissolved. He says: "But, one always presumes that as part of the bargain or in the name of protecting the integrity and honor of state institutions, the trial will only put the spotlight on the third-tier members of the organization, leaving the top echelons out."

    Finally in an article entitled "Israel and the United States are behind every incident," in Milli Gazete (11.01.09) columnist Afet Ilgaz disagrees with the argument that recent detentions in the Ergenekon case were intended to take revenge for the military's ultimatum which led to the collapse of a coalition government led by Necmettin Erbakan in 1997. Drawing attention to comments that former generals arrested in connection with the Ergenekon case were in favor of leaving NATO and ending alliance with the United States in order to establish a new alliance in Eurasia, Ilgaz comments: "Considering that Israel and the United States are behind every incident and if you add the EU to that picture, you can understand the reasons for the tragedy being experienced by Turkey and the Muslim world."

    c) Appointment of Egemen Bagis as Chief Negotiator for EU:

    Writing in Milliyet (10.01.09), Sami Kohen describes the appointment of Egemen Bagis as the chief negotiator for the EU as "appropriate and significant" in his commentary entitled "Chance to return to the European vision." Explaining that "transferring this duty to a separate ministry shows the renewed importance attached by the government to the EU relations and that it is one of its priority objectives," Kohen adds: "What is expected now, however, is for the government to take seriously the reforms, which will revive the relations with the EU."

    In an article entitled "An unsuitable name for Chief Negotiator" in Hurriyet (10.01.09), Tufan Turenc maintains that appointing Egemen Bagis as chief negotiator to EU talks denotes that the Justice and Development Party, AKP, government no longer consider important the EU process. Detailing the history of his relations with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Turenc says that Bagis, being educated in the United States, speaks perfect English but that Bagis's knowledge, education, and ability are insufficient to act as chief negotiator. Turenc concludes that appointing, "despite his perfect knowledge of English, someone who lacks diplomatic language and knowledge, who is distant to economic issues, and who has never participated in international negotiations," shows that the AKP government is not concerned about the EU and that it acts as it pleases in domestic politics.

    Zeynep Gogus refers to the appointment of Egemen Bagis as chief negotiator in EU talks in her article in Hurriyet (10.01.09). Gogus praises the decision to take away the burden of this job from Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and to appoint a person solely responsible for it. She adds that the decision to pick Bagis, however, might create some criticism because Bagis is not a "technical" appointment and because he is "one of the closest names to Erdogan." His close ties with the US Administration and his status in US-Turkey relations might bring about some questions in some European institutions in Brussels, adds Gogus. Pointing out 2008 was a slow year with regard to taking new steps in the EU process, Gogus says the expectations from a chief negotiator are high. Noting that Bagis should not solely be head of commission, Gogus says her highest expectation from Bagis is for him to guide the public opinion, which has been gradually radicalized, to a point where it is convinced that our national interests lie with EU membership.

    In his "Summary of the week" column in Hurriyet (11.01.09), Rauf Tamer assesses Egemen Bagis' new job as EU negotiator, and writes that at the talks with the Europeans "Turkey should appear to be ready to join the EU, but at the same time stand tall by showing that it can do without that membership." Tamer believes Bagis is the perfect person to pursue such an "honorable" policy.

    EG/


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