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

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 <>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 26/09 07-09.02.2009


  • [01] Talat predicts serious developments by the end of the year in case of no solution
  • [02] Ozdil Nami will hold contacts in Brussels ahead of Rehns Cyprus visit
  • [03] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan at the 45th Munich Security Conference
  • [04] Avci accuses the Government of Cyprus of being the only occupier on the island
  • [05] Scheduled flights between Germany and the occupied areas to start in April
  • [06] They are not Turkish, they are not Cypriots, they are Turkish Cypriots
  • [07] The village church of occupied Agios Sergios will be turned into a kindergarten
  • [08] YKP decided to boycott the early elections
  • [09] Turkeys main opposition leader to visit Brussels after five years. CHP office in Brussels to be inaugurated
  • [10] From Cemil Ciceks interview to Todays Zaman. He blames the EUs crooked conception of justice for Turkeys slow EU course

  • [11] From the Turkish Press of 06, 07 and 08 February 2009


    [01] Talat predicts serious developments by the end of the year in case of no solution

    Illegal Bayrak television (06.02.09) broadcast the following:

    Speaking during a visit today, President Mehmet Ali Talat said that although the international community expects the Cyprus issue to be solved by the end of the year, no concrete steps have been taken to make this come true.

    The international community may desire that the Cyprus issue be solved by the end of this year, I cannot say that this will happen but what I can say is that a lot of developments will occur by the end of the year, said the President.

    Upon being asked a question regarding the EU Commissioner in charge of Enlargement Olli Rehn that he expects the Cyprus negotiations process to intensify from April to the end of autumn, the President said the international community had recently started showing more attention towards the Cyprus issue.

    Noting that serious developments will take place within this year, the President said although no concrete steps have been taken towards finalizing the Cyprus issue, there were signs of development on the issue.

    Stressing that it was unacceptable for the European Union to interfere with the Cyprus issue, President Talat said, it is not possible for the European Union to be partial when it comes to the Cyprus issue as South Cyprus and Greece are members of the Union. But when necessary the European Union may give technical support, he added.

    Explaining that although South Cyprus and Greece have seriously influenced the European Union, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cypruss relations with the European Union is at a good level.

    And while receiving the head of Religious Affairs Yusuf Suicmez today, the President referred to the respectful nature of the Islamic religion. He said although the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church knew that religion wasnt an issue of conflict during the Cyprus negotiations process, it was presenting it as such. The President said Turkish Cypriots are Muslims but are secular, and noted that there was no room for religion during the negotiations process.

    On 08 February illegal Bayrak television broadcast statements by Mr Mehmet Ali Talat at the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Industry meeting yesterday.

    Explaining that the negotiations process to find a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue were continuing, Mr Talat reminded that they had finished their discussions on power sharing and governance and had moved on to the property issue.

    Noting that they knew that the road ahead was a difficult one, he said the negotiations process would continue nevertheless and expressed the hope that a solution will be found by the end of the year. Pointing to the economic issues in Cyprus, Talat alleged that due to the isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus the economic situation on the island was different to other countries. We must act with this reality in mind, he added.

    Referring to the problems being experienced in selling local produce and the deficiencies in the Green Line Regulation, he said although there had been many developments since 2004 in this field, it hadnt reached the desired level.

    Meanwhile the new premises of Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Industry were inaugurated by Talat yesterday.

    The new premises include a fully equipped conference hall with a capacity of 170 people, two meeting rooms and a library.

    [02] Ozdil Nami will hold contacts in Brussels ahead of Rehns Cyprus visit

    Illegal Bayrak television (08.02.09) broadcast the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talats Special Representative for Negotiations and EU-UN Affairs-Ozdil Nami will hold a series of contacts in the European capital Brussels. Mr Nami and his delegation left the Republic today. The visit to Brussels is perceived as an important development as it comes ahead of the EU Commissioner on Enlargement Olli Rehns visit to Cyprus.

    Speaking to the TAK News Agency, the Presidential Spokesperson Hasan Ercakica informed that the TRNC delegation will meet the Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehns, high-level bureaucrats and permanent representatives of some EU member states.

    The delegation will also come together with some think-tank institutions during which the Cyprus issue will be discussed. Mr Ercakica noted that preparations for Mr Rehns Cyprus visit will also be made within the framework of the Brussels agenda. Nami and his delegation will return to the TRNC on Wednesday.

    [03] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan at the 45th Munich Security Conference

    Illegal Bayrak television (08.02.09) broadcast the following:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan attended the 45th Munich Security Conference and answered questions regarding the Cyprus issue. He reminded that the Cyprus issue had started in the 1960s and in 2004 a referendum was held on the island which turned out to be inconclusive. He noted that last year, a new leader had emerged from the elections in South Cyprus, Demetris Christofias.

    When Mr. Christofias announced his intentions regarding the Cyprus issue, that negotiations must start so that a solution can be found, hope was renewed, he added.

    Underlining the fact that since September the 3rd 2008, the leader of the Greek Cypriot administration Demetris Christofias and President Mehmet Ali Talat had met 18 times, Turkish Foreign Minister said that although the negotiations process was not moving forward at the expected speed, there was hope that a positive result will emerge. Turkey fully supports President Mehmet Ali Talat throughout this process, he said.

    Noting that Turkey wanted a timetable to be determined for the negotiations process and supported a solution being found under the auspices of the United Nations, Foreign Minister Babacan said although there could be no guarantee that a solution will be found, there is still hope that a positive result will emerge.

    The 45th Munich Security conference has brought together 300 participants from more than 50 states. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and some 50 ministers from various states are all attending. Russia is being represented by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

    [04] Avci accuses the Government of Cyprus of being the only occupier on the island

    Illegal Bayrak television (07.02.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Deputy Prime Minister-Foreign Minister Turgay Avci has reacted to statements made by Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias regarding Turkeys presence in Cyprus. He said that the only occupier on the island was the Greek Cypriot Administration.

    In a written statement issued yesterday, the Foreign Minister called on Christofias to stop trying to pressure Turkey and the TRNC.

    Stressing that Christofias statements were absolutely unacceptable, Avci said that the Greek Cypriot leader had exceeded its boundaries. The usurper Greek Cypriot leader which has become ever more spoiled with its unilateral membership into the EU and by ignoring the interests of the 500 million strong European Union has shown the audacity to put forward preconditions for Turkeys entry into the bloc, Avci said in his statement.

    Stating that the Greek Cypriot Administration, hiding under the cloak of the so-called Cyprus Republic, was the only occupier on the island, the Foreign Minister said that the Turkish Forces were stationed in the TRNC to maintain peace and to protect the Turkish Cypriot people. Had Christofias and his party AKEL not rejected the Annan Plan, the number of Turkish and Greek forces stationed on the island would have been reduced to a minimum number in line with the time table included in the agreement, he added. Avci also accused the Greek Cypriot leader of trying to mask his uncompromising and hard stance at the talks by creating artificial issues.

    Moreover, illegal Bayrak television (08.02.09) broadcast the following:

    Deputy Prime Minister Foreign Minister Turgay Avci has said that the Greek Cypriot side is continuing with its usurper policies.

    In a written statement Foreign Minister Avci said the Greek Cypriot administration, which usurped the rights of the Cyprus Republic in 1963 by the force of arms, and is using the advantages of its EU membership against Turkish Cypriots at every opportunity, is now occupying the two seats allocated for the Turkish Cypriots at the European Parliament.

    The Foreign Minister evaluated this occupation of EU parliamentary seats by the Greek Cypriot administration as a violation of Turkish Cypriot rights.

    The Turkish Cypriots have equal sovereignty rights and a right to determine their own future, this move by Greek Cypriots is unacceptable, he added.

    Avci also pointed to the fact that the Greek Cypriot administration had tried to look good for the international community and tried to legalize its unlawfulness by allowing Turkish Cypriots to use its vote at the European Parliament on the 6th of June.

    Foreign Minister Avci stressed that on the contrary these efforts by the Greek Cypriot side were aimed at watering down the equal political status of the Turkish Cypriot rights obtained in international agreements.

    [05] Scheduled flights between Germany and the occupied areas to start in April

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (08.02.09) reported the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Turkish Cypriot Economy and Tourism Ministry said on Sunday that scheduled flights would be conducted from Germany to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) starting from April 1.

    Scheduled flights will be conducted between TRNC and German cities of Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Hannover via Turkish provinces of Istanbul and Antalya, a statement from the ministry said on Sunday.

    The flights will start after the ministry signs a protocol with the Turkish airline company Pegasus on February 10, the statement also said. With these flights, TRNC's Economy and Tourism Ministry desires to accommodate 800 tourists in the first phase.

    The protocol will enable tourists from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark to travel to TRNC at rates of flights to Turkey. The protocol will be in effect till April 2010, officials said.

    [06] They are not Turkish, they are not Cypriots, they are Turkish Cypriots

    Under the above title Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (09.02.09) writes that Muharrem Faiz, the director of the KADEM Research Centre, gave an interview to the illegal TAK news agency in which he referred to the results of various public opinion polls conducted by KADEM as regards the values of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    According to some of the most important results of the opinion polls, as regards the identity of the Turkish Cypriot community, the Turkish Cypriots in a great majority consider themselves as Turkish Cypriots and as Turkish or as Cypriots. In addition the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, is the most favourite politician, while the most favourite MP is Mustafa Arabacioglu. According to the results there is a trend for Turkish Cypriots to go for shopping to the free areas of the Republic and to Turkey. They buy electronic equipment and clothing from the free areas and furniture and curtains from Turkey.


    [07] The village church of occupied Agios Sergios will be turned into a kindergarten

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (09.02.09) publishes a report by journalist Abdullah Azizoglu who writes about various occupied villages in a column under the title Cyprus Tur. In a report about occupied Agios Sergios village, the journalist, who spoke with the self-styled mayor of the village, Cemal Biren, writes that the village church will be turned into a kindergarten. The paper publishes a picture of the church and writes the following: This ruined church will be transformed into classrooms for pre-school children of four years old. Cemal Biren indicated that there is a great need for this. In addition the paper writes that the historic school building of the village, which was built in 1886, will be used as a cultural centre.


    [08] YKP decided to boycott the early elections

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (08.02.09) reports that the executive committee of the New Cyprus Party (YKP) after its extraordinary meeting which was held yesterday in the restaurant of the Primary School Teachers Trade Union (KTOS), has announced that the Party will boycott the early elections which are scheduled to take place in the occupied areas on April 19.

    The paper reports that Murat Kanatli, secretary of the executive committee of the New Cyprus Party stated, inter alia, that they will not participate in the elections since what will come out from the ballot box, will not be the will of the Turkish Cypriots but the will of Turkey.


    [09] Turkeys main opposition leader to visit Brussels after five years. CHP office in Brussels to be inaugurated

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily (09.02.09) reports the following from Ankara:

    The leader of the countrys main opposition party, Deniz Baykal, will travel to Brussels today to hold talks with European Union officials, after a five-year interval, his office said Sunday.

    The agenda of Chairman Deniz Baykal is the EU, read the Republican Peoples Party, or CHPs press release. Baykals first meeting will be with Olli Rehn, the enlargement commissioner. Tomorrow he will meet Jose Manuel Barroso, the chairman of the European Commission. The visit will help Baykal show his party is not against Turkeys membership bid to the EU. Critics of the CHP argue the party is blocking key reforms.

    During the visit, the inauguration of CHPs Brussels office will also take place, established last year by Kader Sevinc, the partys representative in Brussels. Baykal will also meet with Martin Schulz, chairman of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament.

    He will convene with socialist deputies of the parliament later Tuesday. Baykal will also deliver a speech on Turkey-EU relations at the European Policy Centre, or EPC.

    [10] From Cemil Ciceks interview to Todays Zaman. He blames the EUs crooked conception of justice for Turkeys slow EU course

    Todays Zaman (09.02.09) publishes an interview with State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek. Following are Mr Cemil Ciceks replies to questions on Turkeys EU course and the occupation of Cyprus by Turkish troops:

    Question: You would agree that there has been a general slowdown in the [EU accession] process. Why?

    Answer: There are several reasons for the slowdown in the process. One of these factors can be grouped as obstacles caused by the EU itself. Initially, the process was quite fast. There were countries in Europe that were warm to the idea of accepting Turkey as an EU member. These countries were being ruled by social democratic governments. Now the Christian Democrats, or the parties that oppose Turkey's EU membership, are in power throughout Europe. These governments either have a distorted view about Turkey's EU membership or propose other options for Turkey. Second, the prerequisite for Turkey starting negotiations with the EU has long been advertised as its fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria. We have satisfactorily fulfilled these criteria. Indeed, [EU Commission Vice President] GŁnter Verheugen said at the time that there were no more problems. But they placed the Cyprus issue on the table.

    However, it was never mentioned as a prerequisite. The EU made another wrong move and made the Greek Cypriots [the Republic of Cyprus] a full member, even though they had ongoing disputes with their neighbours and were not inclined to solve them. The Greek Cypriots have dominated the EU's policies.

    With respect to the Cyprus issue, the EU has not only failed to offer any solution, but it has also started to block any move toward settling the issue. By doing so, it shows that it is not and will not become a strategic power. They have admitted this half-heartedly, but they still lend support to the Greek Cypriots and they want every step to be taken by the Turkish side.

    This is the EU's crooked conception of justice. Its scales are insensitive and wrong. They have blocked eight out of 33 negotiating chapters because of the Greek Cypriots. Five chapters were blocked by France. The screening reports under 10 chapters are yet to be sent to Turkey. When these are removed from the table, nothing significant remains for negotiations. There are already 10 chapters that were opened. There remain only six chapters. Those who complain about a slowdown must realize this.

    Question: So you are putting all the blame on the EU. Aren't there any developments in Turkey that have blocked the process?

    Answer: Of course, there are obstacles on our side, but we can overcome them, as we did in the past. But the EU's negative and obstructive attitude has been encouraging the groups that oppose Turkey's EU membership. This serves as a factor of discouragement for the implementation of the bills we pass. This also reinforces the Turkish people's perception that the EU is not inclined to accept Turkey as a members, regardless of how it performs. However, the EU is a comprehensive project. There must be popular support for the membership process. But negative statements and attitudes are wearing down this support.


    [11] From the Turkish Press of 06, 07 and 08 February 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 06, 07 and 08 February 2009:

    a) Turkey's Stance on France's Return to NATO's Military Wing

    According to a report by Guven Ozalp in Milliyet (06.02.09), Turkey is not opposed to France's returning to NATO's military wing. Detailing the procedural discussions being held on the issue, the report says: "In the assessments being made, members of the alliance are seeking the answer to the following question: 'Will issuing a unilateral declaration on the return of France, which is already a NATO member, to the military wing be sufficient, or should this decision be reached through the consent of all member countries as is done with regards to all issues?'" The report quotes a Turkish diplomatic source to have stated the following on the issue: "In principle we are not opposed to France's return. We do not have an approach of seizing this opportunity to draw benefits. However, we are in favour of following procedures. This is valid not only on this issue but on all issues."

    In Milliyet (06.02.09) columnist Semih Idiz in an article dwells on the difficult decision awaiting Prime Minister Erdogan regarding France's return to the military wing of NATO. If Turkey does not exercise its right to block France's re-entry in retaliation to France's obstructions to opening eight chapters in the Turkish-EU negotiations, Erdogan will be facing "serious repercussions" in the domestic front, writes Idiz, adding: "The issue, however, has another side. The impression we got from diplomatic sources is that attempts on the part of Ankara to block France's return to the military wing of NATO might carry certain risks for Turkey because the majority of NATO member countries and primarily the United States currently favour France's presence in the military wing. Anyhow, the alliance is in need of France's military capabilities."

    Arguing that Turkey's use of its veto card will not only weaken the alliance, but it will also isolate Turkey within NATO given the importance the alliance attaches to France, which is a nuclear power, Idiz maintains that Turkey will not create any obstacles on the issue even if it has to face certain domestic reactions.

    b) Erdogans Davos angry walk out

    Under the headline, "Saudis show special interest in Turks: Your coffee was Paid for at Davos," Zaman (06.02.09) publishes a front-page report which asserts that Prime Minister Erdogan's "sharp reaction to Peres" at Davos is continuing to find an echo in the Arab world. According to the report, Arabs have launched an online campaign called "Travel to Turkey" in response to "rumours" that Israeli tourists have changed their minds about visiting Turkey.

    In an article entitled "Turkey's stance targets Arab regimes rather than Israel", Today's Zaman (06.02.09) Editor-in-Chief Bulent Kenes asserts that "the new Turkey, which is democratic and at peace with itself and which was quintessentially represented by Erdogan's walkout in Davos, will have a transforming influence on the Middle East in the medium and long term."

    In an article entitled "Caliphate? One minute, one minute", in Today's Zaman (06.02.09) columnist Huseyin Gulerce criticizes certain Arab commentators for "exaggerating" the significance of Erdogan's Davos walkout by urging that the Turkish prime minister be declared caliph of the Islamic world. In taking issue with this suggestion, Gulerce refers to Fethullah Gulen's views on the issue of caliphate.

    In an article entitled "A dizzying historical transformation" in Milli Gazete (06.02.09) columnist Mustafa Ozcan asserts that the Israeli offensive on Gaza has created a domino effect in the Middle East, triggering a chain of events that has started already to put a strain on the "outmoded" government structures in this region. He also comments on the way commentators like WINEP fellow Soner Cagaptay have represented Erdogan's Davos walkout and reactions to it in the Arab world as an indication that Turkey is turning away from the West. He claims that Turkey is returning where it naturally belongs in "developing its relations with the Middle East," adding that as Erdogan aide Ahmet Davutoglu has suggested, Turkey is following a policy aimed at uniting rather than dividing the West and the East.

    In his article entitled "Palestine should join forces," in Milliyet (07.02.09) columnist Fikret Bila asserts that Prime Minister Erdogan's Davos walkout seems to have turned him into a "hero" in the Arab world. Drawing attention to the Arab people's interest in the Turkish delegation during President Gul's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Bila says: "Erdogan's strong reaction to Israeli President Peres in Davos might shelve Turkey's mediation role between Israel and Syria, but the recent developments, including Palestinian leader Abbas's visit to Turkey, show that Ankara might still play an effective role between Israel and Palestine." Recalling Erdogan's "pro-HAMAS" rhetoric during the Gaza crisis, the columnist says that the Turkish leaders should show during the Abbas visit that Turkey is siding with the "whole Palestine," not only with HAMAS. Warning that the hostility between Al-Fatah and HAMAS harms the interests of the Palestinian people, he urges Ankara to make every effort for the establishment of the "united Palestine."

    A commentary by Sami Kohen in Milliyet (07.02.09) views whether the Erdogan governments pro-HAMAS stand during the Gaza crisis really indicates a policy shift in Turkey. Pointing out that even certain Turkish officials admit that Ankara has started to pursue a "multi-dimensional" policy on foreign issues, Kohen notes that it is still difficult to predict to what extend Turkey will change its "traditional foreign policy." Stressing that certain steps taken by the Erdogan Government created the impression that Turkey is moving away from the West and establishing closer ties with the Arab-Islam world, he urges the Foreign Ministry to show that Ankara's recent policy is shaped with a "pragmatic and multi-dimensional" understanding rather than an "ideological and emotional" approach. That is the only way for Turkey to assume a leading role in the region without severing ties with any country, he says.

    An article by Cengiz Aktar in Hurriyet Daily News (07.02.09) assesses the internal and external reaction to Prime Minister Erdogan's walkout from a panel meeting on Gaza in Davos. Pointing out that Erdogan's "historic reaction" is likely to increase the Justice and Development Party, AKP, votes in the upcoming local elections, Aktar disagrees with those who claim that the government's international mediation role is now "getting stronger." He says: "Arab adoration of Erdogan stems from his being an unconditional Hamas supporter from now on, not from his efforts as mediator."

    Writing in the same newspaper on 07.02.09, Gila Benmayor says in her column that the Davos incident led the international community to ask the question: "Is Turkey shifting away from the West?" According to Prime Ministry advisor Ahmet Davutoglu, she notes, Turkey has "more than one dimension" in its policy. Describing Davutoglu as a significant architect of the Turkish foreign policy, she says that the advisor defines Turkey's relations with the Middle East as a "proactive diplomacy in the region."

    In his article in Referans (07.02.09), Cengiz Candar supports Prime Minister Erdogan's Davos walkout, saying that Israel's "irresponsible" attacks on Gaza and its massacre of the Palestinians in the area led the Turkish prime minister to strongly display his reaction to the current situation in Gaza. Candar slams Israel for expecting Turkey to adopt an "understanding" approach despite the operations that killed more than 1,300 Gazans, wounded 5,000 others, and destroyed many buildings. Recalling that Israel "blackmailed" Turkey by threatening it with the Armenian genocide bill at the US Congress, he asks whether it is possible to talk about a "reliable relationship" under the present conditions. Erdogan has achieved a "moral leadership" in the Middle East and has been treated like a "hero" in the Arab world because he voiced the feelings of millions of people, he notes. According to Candar, Turkey's importance in the Middle East has significantly increased because President Obama declared that he supports the "two-state" formula for the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    c) The Republican Peoples Party gestures towards Islamist voters

    An article in Sabah (07.02.09) by columnist Hincal Uluc strongly criticizes the recent CHP initiatives on religious issues, saying that the opposition party is pursuing a "shameful" policy just to secure the votes of the religious electorate. According to Uluc, by admitting veiled women to party membership and proposing to open Koran courses, the CHP "betrayed its founder Ataturk and his principles." Recalling the effort made by Deniz Baykal to obstruct the election of Gul as president because of his wife's headscarf, the columnist accuses him of being the "first CHP leader who exploits religion for political purposes." He concludes by saying that voting for the CHP in the local elections will be "a betrayal of the republic."

    An article by Goksel Bozkurt in Hurriyet Daily News (07.02.09) says that CHP leader Deniz Baykal's support for mayoral candidate Sefa Sirmen's proposal to open Koran courses in every neighbourhood in Izmit created uneasiness within the party. Warning that the "silent rebel" is on prowl, Bozkurt quotes a party member as saying that an initiative might be launched to change the party leader, if the CHP loses Izmir and Ankara's Cankaya District in the local elections to be held on 29 March.

    In an article entitled "It is they who have a reactionary mentality", in Yeni Safak (07.02.09) columnist Fehmi Koru criticizes the "preposterous opposition" from some commentators to certain recent "initiatives" by Republican People's Party, CHP, leader Deniz Baykal such as admitting veiled women to party membership and announcing support for Koran courses. Koru argues that while it is doubtful yet whether the CHP's "timid" initiatives will yield any political dividends, there is nothing contrary to secularism in allowing veiled women to join the CHP or opening Koran courses in municipal districts ruled by the CHP, as maintained by journalists like Oktay Eksi, who accused the CHP of "betraying secularism" in his column yesterday. He proceeds to assert that while these initiatives might run counter to "what used to be represented as secularism in the past," true secularism is a Western principle that guarantees freedom of conscience and religious faith.

    In an article entitled "They are about to lose Baykal," in Yeni Safak (08.02.09) columnist Tamer Korkmaz says that Baykal is accused of betraying the secular regime and siding with its foes because of the CHP's proposal to open Koran courses throughout the country. He says: "The CHP's overture about Koran courses is breaking Turkey's old fetters in spite of the fact that it was a move designed to lure voters and there are doubts about its sincerity. It was a crucial step. Another psychological threshold has been crossed. The CHP's overtures strengthen our secular system rather than posing a threat to it."

    In an article entitled "CHP's Koran courses," in Zaman (08.02.09) columnist Mumtazer Turkone says that interpreting the CHP's overtures to religious voters as opportunist moves designed to win more votes in the upcoming local elections would not be sufficient to analyze the CHP's intentions. He says: "The forthcoming local elections are necessary but not sufficient to explain the CHP's project. The CHP is actually changing its skeleton rather than its skin as a result of its overture. If the CHP eventually drops its plan to open Koran courses, it would be tantamount to abandoning its project to secularize society which is the CHP's hallmark." Turkone concludes by saying that emphasis laid by the CHP on religious issues resulted from the declining strategic importance of debates over secularism.


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