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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-02-10

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. 27/09 10.02.2009

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Mr Talat repeated the Turkish sides limits during the presentation of the credentials of the new self-styled Turkish ambassador
  • [02] Nami continues his contacts in Brussels
  • [03] Turkeys EU Negotiator is holding contacts with EU officials in Brussels
  • [04] Turkeys opposition leader meets with the European Commissioner Olli Rehn prior to Mr Rehns visit to Cyprus
  • [05] The Turkish Chambers Union Head is holding contacts in Paris and Brussels
  • [06] YKP analyzes its decision to boycott the early elections
  • [07] KTOS issued a statement accusing Talat and the occupation regime for the various problems of the Turkish Cypriots
  • [08] The Keryneia castle is collapsing
  • [09] Hotel occupancy in the occupied areas is up to 10%
  • [10] The occupation regime will sponsor the Rallye Sunseeker in England
  • [11] AEGEE Spring Agora 2009 will be held in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus
  • [12] Twelve thousand properties sold to foreigners in the occupied areas of Cyprus remain unfinished. Meeting under Soyer for a solution
  • [13] A Turkish court releases its reasoned decision about the DTP deputys sentence
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [14] A NATO test for Turkey
  • [15] From the Turkish Press of 09 February 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Mr Talat repeated the Turkish sides limits during the presentation of the credentials of the new self-styled Turkish ambassador

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (10.02.09) reports that the new Turkish ambassador to occupied Lefkosia, Sakir Fakili, presented yesterday his credentials to the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat. Mr Fakili arrived in the occupied areas yesterday afternoon and he was received at the illegal Tymvou airport by the Commander of the Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus, lieutenant general Hilmi Akin Zorlu, the self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Turgay Avci, Talats spokesman Hasan Ercakica and other so-called officials.

    Speaking during the presentation of credentials ceremony, Mr Talat stated, inter alia, that Turkey, which has been close to the TRNC for many years now, is making during the last years together with the TRNC every effort possible for the solution of the Cyprus problem. Mr Talat stated that indispensable rights such as the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots, the equal status of the two founding states, the establishment of a partnership state and the Turkish guarantees will constitute the fundamental basis of the new solution. These are our limits and we will not lay down any other conditions, he stated. Mr Talat also said that Turkey is the country that has always supported the TRNC.

    On his part Mr Fakili stated, inter alia, that the reaching of a just and permanent solution to the Cyprus problem is the common wish and aim of both Turkey and the TRNC. The new self-styled ambassador was born in 1953 in Gaziantep and studied Political Sciences at Ankara University. He served in various embassies of Turkey and in 1989 he served as Counsellor at the illegal Turkish embassy to occupied Lefkosia. He speaks English and German.

    (CS)

    [02] Nami continues his contacts in Brussels

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (10.02.09) reports that Ozdil Nami, the advisor of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, who went to Brussels yesterday heading a delegation, is continuing his contacts. Mr Nami met yesterday with Olli Rehn, EU Commissioner responsible for the enlargement and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. The delegation will also meet with some think-tank institutions and will give information about the Cyprus problem. The delegation met with the permanent representatives in Brussels of some EU member countries.

    Reporting on the same issue Afrika writes that Mr Nami met yesterday with the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to Brussels.

    (CS)

    [03] Turkeys EU Negotiator is holding contacts with EU officials in Brussels

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (09.02.09) reported the following from Brussels:

    Turkish State Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis met with European Commission Vice-President Guenter Verheugen in Brussels on Monday.

    Bagis, within the scope of his talks in Brussels, will hold meetings with European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy Margot Wallstrom, European Commissioner for Transport Antonio Tajani and European Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs on Tuesday.

    Turkish Chief Negotiator will also meet with Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of European Parliament Jacek Saryusz-Wolski and European Parliament's Rapporteur on Turkey Ria Oomen-Ruijten.

    [04] Turkeys opposition leader meets with the European Commissioner Olli Rehn prior to Mr Rehns visit to Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (09.02.09) reported the following from Brussels:

    The Turkish opposition leader met European Commissioner for enlargement on Monday.

    Deniz Baykal, the chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) of Turkey, had a meeting with European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn in the Belgian capital of Brussels. We hope problems to be faced during ongoing Cyprus negotiations will not create a new handicap in Turkey's relations with Europe, Baykal told a joint press conference with Rehn.

    Baykal said that Turkey's negotiations with the European Union (EU) should be concluded with full membership, and told reporters that it was the duty of the main opposition party of Turkey to support Turkey-EU accession talks. The chairman said that a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus should be based on equality of the two communities and establishment of a new federal state.

    Also speaking in the press conference, Olli Rehn did not comment on the "headscarf step" of the CHP but underlined importance of Turkey's reaching a broader compromise on how it could intermingle different living styles within the scope of democratic secular spirit.

    Rehn reaffirmed the Commission's commitment and support for Turkey's EU accession process, and underlined the importance the EU attached to maintaining legal and political reforms in Turkey and meeting opening criteria regarding the remaining chapters.

    The Commissioner expressed his expectation that both the government and opposition would join their forces to make reforms on the road to EU membership, and also extended full political support to Cyprus talks.

    Rehn said he would visit Cyprus this week, and highlighted the importance of reunification of Cyprus for the EU, the island itself and Turkey. The Commissioner said he expected that Cyprus negotiations would bear positive result within this year.

    [05] The Turkish Chambers Union Head is holding contacts in Paris and Brussels

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (09.02.09) reported the following from Paris:

    The head of Turkey's chambers' union met his French counterparts in the French capital of Paris on Monday.

    Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the chairman of the Union of Chambers' and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), had a meeting with Pierre Simon, the chairman of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Jean-Francois Bernardin, the president of the Assembly of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of France.

    The heads of Turkish and French chambers discussed activities to be organized by TOBB and the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) regarding the Turkey season to be celebrated in France.

    Turkish and French authorities will sign a memorandum of understanding in coming days regarding the Turkey season.

    Hisarciklioglu will proceed to the Belgian capital of Brussels after completing talks in Paris, and attend a meeting of the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry (EUROCHAMBERS) in which global economic crisis and developments in European economies will be debated.

    Rifat Hisarciklioglu will also make the opening remarks of a meeting on "Talking Turkey: A European Union (EU) Communication Strategy for Turkey and Turkey's Communication Strategy for the EU."

    The meeting will be jointly organized by TOBB, Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), Rome-based International Affairs Institute, and European Economic and Social Committee.

    Turkey's State Minister and EU chief negotiator Egemen Bagis; Michael Leigh, the European Commission's director general for enlargement; and Jean Christopher-Filori of the enlargement department will participate in the meeting.

    Hisarciklioglu will return to Turkey on Tuesday evening.

    [06] YKP analyzes its decision to boycott the early elections

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (10.02.09) reports that after the extraordinary meeting of the executive committee of the New Cyprus Party (YKP) which was held during the week-end, and the decision to boycott the forthcoming early elections which are scheduled to take place in the occupied areas on April 19, the party has organized yesterday a press conference in order to analyze its decision and to call on Turkish Cypriots to boycott the elections.

    Speaking during the press conference, Mr. Murat Kanatli, secretary of the executive committee of the New Cyprus Party stated, inter alia, that there are no conditions dictating the declaration of early elections, since, as he said, they are trying to use the election platform since 2000. Mr. Kanatli stated also that the active population in the occupied areas is around 500.000 and added that it is not clear who can be considered an active voter. Kanatli went on and said that the population issue is an unfinished matter and added that under these conditions there is no possibility for fair and transparent elections.

    He then said that the assistance the parties received after the 2000 elections is without control; the contribution of the assembly to the political parties has reached to horrific dimensions, and all these, he said, bring out the unfairness which exists among the parties.

    (A.K)

    [07] KTOS issued a statement accusing Talat and the occupation regime for the various problems of the Turkish Cypriots

    Under the title Do you also know these?, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (10.02.09) publishes an advertisement/statement of Primary School Teachers Trade Union (KTOS).

    The advertisement goes as followed:

    Do you also know these?

    -According to the statements of esteemed Talat more than 500 thousand persons, live in north of Cyprus,

    -The Turkish Cypriot population is about 100 thousand persons,

    -With the demand of Ankara a new party was established and it was made the governments partner in our country,

    -There are claims that 650 thousand pounds Sterling were given to the owner of a firm who is member of CTP, without a tender for the publication of the Caretta Caretta magazine,

    -Permission was given by the Council of Ministers for gold exportation and that stolen gold was exported from the country,

    -The road taxes for vehicles have been increased by up to 300%?

    (CS)

    [08] The Keryneia castle is collapsing

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (10.02.09) publishes a picture of the castle of occupied Keryneia and writes that it is collapsing. According to the paper the walls are collapsing because of the sea waves and the wind and notes that the neglect to these historical beauties led to these problems.

    (CS)

    [09] Hotel occupancy in the occupied areas is up to 10%

    Under the title The hotels remained empty, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (10.02.09) reports that hotel occupancy in the occupied areas is up to 10%. In statements to the paper, Mehmet Dolmaci, the chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Hotel Owners Union (KITOB) stated that despite the hope that the winter school vacations could bring people at the hotels, the occupancy of the hotels was only 10% and by the end of the month this percentage will be reduced even more. Mr Dolmaci called on the self-styled government to take measures to help the hotel owners.

    (CS)

    [10] The occupation regime will sponsor the Rallye Sunseeker in England

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (10.02.09) reports that the occupation regime through its so-called economy and tourism ministry will be one of the sponsors of the Rallye Sunseeker, which is among the most important car rallies of Britain. Rallye Sunseeker will be held between 27-28 of February in the town of Bournemouth, England. The sponsorship agreement regarding the rally was signed yesterday during a press conference at Saray hotel in occupied Lefkosia. Richard Smith, Rallye Sunseeker organizer, also attended the signing ceremony. According to the paper, placards with the slogan Visit North Cyprus will be posted up during the rally and the sponsorship will be for three years. The rally winner will also receive a prize of a holiday for two in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

    (DPs)

    [11] AEGEE Spring Agora 2009 will be held in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (10.02.09) reports that the European Students Forum (AEGEE-Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l'Europe) will organize an education and youth meeting in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus. Oshan Sabirli, the spokesman of AEGEE Spring Agora 2009, in a written statement, said that the organization will be hosted by the universities Near East University (YDU) and East Mediterranean University (DAU) on 15th of April. More than 1000 European students and young professors from 42 countries will take part in the Forum. The committee of directors who will take duties in Brussels will also be elected.

    (DPs)

    [12] Twelve thousand properties sold to foreigners in the occupied areas of Cyprus remain unfinished. Meeting under Soyer for a solution

    Under the title Deeds for homes at Robb site Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Today (07-13.02.09) reports that a meeting of a committee chaired by the self-styled Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer was held to decide on the handling of the issue of 12,000 properties sold to foreigners, but remained unfinished. The meeting was initiated after Briton Garry Robb was handed over to the British Police to be tried on charges of conspiracy to supply drugs.

    The report by Osman Kalfaoglu is as follows:

    Title deeds are to be given out for homes at the troubled Amaranta Valley, it has emerged after the first top-level summit to discuss how to complete the site after the deportation of developer Gary Robb.

    Cafer Gurcafer, chairman of the Construction Contractors Union, revealed that issuing deeds for around 260 homes was being seen as a priority in order to boost confidence among Amaranta buyers, who are expected to learn within days what is to happen to the site.

    Buyers representatives have now been called to a high-level meeting on Monday.

    Thursday afternoons summit, chaired by Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer at his office, and attended by Interior Minister Ozkan Murat, and his under-secretary, Hasan Findik, Estate Agents Union chairman Hasan Sungur and Mr Gurcafer, came a week after 46-year-old Robb appeared before Teesside Crown Court on charges of conspiracy to supply drugs.

    He was deported to the UK after more than 11 year on the run, leaving the fate of Amaranta and other projects of his Aga Development Construction firm uncertain.

    Mr Soyer, Mr Murat and Mr Sungur would not comment after Thursdays meeting, but Mr Gurcafer said the way ahead for both Amaranta and other incomplete Aga projects would become clear over the next few days.

    He said two formulas were being worked on by his union and the estate agents, but they would not involve financial constructions from the state or his union for fear of setting a precedent for other troubled builders. The state may take the position of an organizer to solve the bureaucratic aspects of the job. Thats the kind of arrangement we are seeking, he said.

    Mr Gurcafer said the funding to complete Amaranta would come from Agas assets and the instalments still to be paid by buyers. There was also the possibility of entering into a deal with a construction consortium like Turk Barter, which last month said it was ready to finish off all 12,000 of North Cypruss unfinished buildings.

    The solution will be finishing the job in return for an amount of money and some properties, said Mr Gurcafer. The money that the homebuyers will pay is fixed. We are looking to solve the problem on this basis, he added.

    Once agreement is reached on how to proceed, buyers lawyers would be called on to lift injunctions on some of the plots so that title deeds could be allocated.

    Girne [occupied Keryneia] lawyer Akan Gurkan, who has brought legal actions on behalf of around 30 Amaranta buyers, welcomed Mr Gurcafers comments as a positive development, but warned that no deed transactions could take place until court orders against Mr Robb, totalling some £2 million, had been fulfilled.

    Mr Gurkan urged the government to step in and bring about a solution either by nationalizing Aga or appointing an administrator. The government does not have a clear picture of the situation, especially on the accounting side. An auditor should be appointed to determine who owes what amount to whom. This should be the governments primary task, he added.

    Chairman of the Amaranta Buyers Committee Ron Hugo said he and the other three committee members were to meet the Prime Minister on Monday, and they would not know where they stood until then. We dont know what the government is going to offer. Until we have met with the Prime Minister, I would not want to pre-empt anything, he said.

    [13] A Turkish court releases its reasoned decision about the DTP deputys sentence

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (10.02.09) reports the following:

    A Diyarbakir court which sentenced pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) deputy Aysel Tugluk to 18 months in prison released its reasoned decision on the case yesterday.

    The decision noted that the remarks by Tugluk, who once praised the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, during a speech, are not protected under the freedom of expression.

    The Diyarbakir 4th Higher Criminal Court last week sentenced DTP Diyarbakir deputy Tugluk to 18 months in prison for a speech she delivered in May 2006. Tugluk is expected to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court of Appeals.

    Tugluk said in a speech she delivered in a DTP congress in south-eastern Batman province on May 16, 2006, that the DTP would not be able to appear before the public if its officials called Ocalan a terrorist. The prime minister tells us to label the PKK a terrorist organization so that he will meet with us. If we declare the PKK a terrorist group, this problem will not be solved. Those people whom you call terrorists are heroes for others. We cannot appear before the public if we call Ocalan a terrorist. Kurdish people chose to carry out their fight through democratic means, she said.

    In its decision, the Diyarbakir 4th Higher Criminal Court stated that the terrorist PKK has killed more than 30,000 people since 1984 with the aim of establishing a Kurdish state that would cover the eastern and south-eastern regions of Turkey.

    Tugluk, however, supports the inhumane acts of the PKK in her speech. The defendant stated in her speech that she sees the PKK terrorists as heroes, openly showing moral support for the organization and for the members of the organization. Her speech cannot be interpreted as the expression of ideas in a democratic atmosphere, the court stated.

    The court further noted that Tugluk had spread propaganda and supported the terrorist PKK in reaching its aims. "Freedom of expression does not provide individuals the right to spread the propaganda of a terrorist organization," it said. The court also recalled that it did not reduce Tugluk's sentence, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that the same offense would not be committed again at a future date. A copy of the reasoned decision was sent to the Office of the Parliament Speaker.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [14] A NATO test for Turkey

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (10.02.09) publishes the following commentary by Lale Sariibrahimoglu:

    Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan indicated last week that Ankara would not make any objections over France's return to the military command of the alliance, from which it withdrew totally in 1966.

    Yet, as Babacan also mentioned, the way that France will return to the military flank of the alliance has not been clarified. In other words, France has neither made a formal request to rejoin NATO's integrated military structure nor has the NATO secretariat clarified from a legal point of view whether Paris' return will be automatic or will require a unanimous vote, something that will also necessitate Turkish approval.

    Raising their views concerning France's possible return to NATO's integrated military structure, Turkish political opposition parties have suggested that Ankara only vote yes if France ensures the lifting of its opposition to the opening of eight chapters with Turkey as part of its accession talks with the European Union.

    In addition, opposition parties have urged Ankara to also use its veto -- if it gets the chance to use it -- to ensure that Turkey does not fall into the same trap it fell into when retired Gen. Kenan Evren, the junta leader-turned-president, agreed to the return of Greece to NATO's military command in 1980 in return for nothing.

    In other words, it is in the minds of many Turks that Evren made a grave mistake in safeguarding Turkey's national interests by agreeing to a US plan, called the Rogers Plan, which paved the way for Athens to claim responsibility for command and control of the entire Aegean Sea, weakening Turkey's position.

    Despite the continuing-though-old mindset of Turks who were forced to swallow a bitter pill at the time as a result of Evren's foreign policy mistake, the current political environment seems unlikely to serve Turkey's interests if it decides to use its veto card to block France's return to NATO. Turkey's rejection of Greek Cypriot participation in joint NATO-EU peacekeeping missions have already complicated the smooth functioning of US-European cooperation in this field, as was the case in the Kosovo mission.

    After Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008, the 27 EU nations agreed to deploy the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) from mid-2008 to help its transition to a functioning, independent state; however, it has been plagued by delays and troubled by differences between EU member states, not all of whom are willing to recognize Kosovo. The differences between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus have also meant security arrangements about deploying personnel to Kosovo could not be discussed at meetings where not all attendees were members of both NATO and the EU -- which happens whenever Turkey and Greek Cypriots are in attendance, since the former is a member of NATO and not the EU and the latter is the opposite.

    After several years of negotiations, Turkey and NATO members, the majority of which are also EU members, signed a declaration in December 2002 on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), which enabled the use of NATO assets and capabilities by the EU as part of ESDP operations, known as the "Berlin Plus" arrangement.

    This became possible under the Ankara Agreement of 2001, which stipulated that Turkey would automatically participate in EU-led military operations when NATO assets and capabilities are used. At the time of the agreement, the Greek Cypriot administration was not a member of the EU, as it joined in 2004.

    As another reflection of the changed political environment, French diplomats recall that Paris has already been contributing to NATO's peacekeeping forces deployed elsewhere in the world, including the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, working closely with Turkish soldiers.

    In the meantime, France has not made a formal request to NATO for a return to NATO's military command except that French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared during a summit of the alliance last April that his country has had a desire to rejoin the military arm of the alliance.

    A French return to the military structure of NATO could be finalized in April. Meanwhile, as part of wider diplomacy, France has also consulted with Turkey over the issue, and according to reliable Turkish diplomatic sources Ankara has not objected to Paris' decision. Turkish-French consultations will continue to take place, even though the main responsibility over clarifying the way the French return will fall with the NATO secretariat.

    Turkey's rejection of France's return to the alliance's military flank may backfire, weakening NATO, the only international organization where Ankara has the power of veto. As Babacan said last Friday, in response to questions over the Turkish position on France's return to NATO's military flank, the continuation of a strong NATO alliance is important. Therefore, it is highly possible that Turkey will not stand in the way of this historic return of a nuclear power to the alliance's military command.

    [15] From the Turkish Press of 09 February 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 09 February 2009:

    a) Turkey's Palestinian Policy/Mahmud Abbas's Visit to Turkey

    Hurriyet columnist Ferai Tinc, in an article, asserts that the fact that Turkey has recently sided with HAMAS has made Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and his colleagues very uncomfortable, adding that Abbas expects Turkey to extend support to the Egypt-led peace and conciliation efforts.

    Commenting on the meeting Abbas held with Turkish journalists, Fikret Bila in a commentary in Milliyet cites the Palestinian leader as saying that HAMAS is to blame for the latest HAMAS-Israeli conflict. Drawing attention to the criticism levelled by Abbas against HAMAS for refraining from extending the cease-fire with Israel, Bila says: "[Abbas] openly refuses to describe HAMAS's rockets as resistance." Questioning whether Abbas is uncomfortable with the fact that Erdogan has sided with HAMAS, Bila quotes Abbas as saying: "We have come to the conclusion that both the honourable Abdullah Gul and the honourable Tayyip Erdogan stand at an equal distance to the Palestinian people."

    It is understood that Ankara will not play a major role in the peace talks in the Middle East, predicts Semih Idiz in an article in Milliyet, adding that the pro-HAMAS stand adopted by Erdogan has charged Turkey with the duty of persuading HAMAS. Stressing that thanks to Erdogan Turkey is currently being perceived as the member of the radical group led by Syria and Iran, Idiz says: "The strong support that Prime Minister Erdogan has extended to HAMAS has not enabled us to take place in the main table that has been established in the Middle East. In fact it has even pushed Turkey toward the undesirable axis. Our diplomats are currently making efforts to change this perception." Nonetheless the efforts made by Erdogan to repair the ties with Israel have proven that the strong ties between Turkey and Israel even go beyond Erdogan.

    Mahmud Abbas's visit to Turkey has merely served to eliminate the tension that had stemmed between the PLO and Turkey from the accusations levelled by Erdogan against Abbas during the Gaza raid, argues Murat Yetkin in a 900-word commentary in Radikal, adding that as noted by Gul and Abbas Turkey is at an equal distance to all Palestinian people. Recalling that Abbas underlined that HAMAS which has come to power through democratic means has later abandoned democracy and has begun to engage in totalitarian methods, Yetkin notes that with these remarks the Palestinian leader has actually conveyed a message to the government to the effect that "those who strategically side with the Palestinians should explain to HAMAS that there is a difference between a party and a government." Yetkin also questions whether the Erdogan government will be able to convince HAMAS to hold democratic elections and to recognize all the international agreements.

    The fact that Israeli president Shimon Peres has called Prime Minister Erdogan immediately after the incident in Davos shows that Turkey is very important for Israel, argues Ceyda Karan in an article in Radikal, adding: "It is obvious that the fact that the prime minister scolded the Israeli president before the eyes of the entire world has led Israeli policy makers to review their calculations, rather than downgrading Turkey. This is because Erdogan's stand has shown Israel that it has taken Turkey too lightly until now." Noting that with the Obama administration a new equation will be established in the region and that with Davos Turkey has taken its place in this equation, Karan points out that if Netanyahu wins the elections and establishes a rightist government in Israel, he will exert utmost efforts for preventing a dialogue between Iran and the United States. Questioning whether Obama will choose to safeguard Israel with Bush's methods or whether he will use other methods, Karan notes: "It is obvious that in this picture only Turkey will call on the sides to act with common sense. Even if the United States is to assign this role, this will be a role that Turkey will play by using its conscience."

    Yeni Safak publishes an interview entitled "Israel was Founded with the Help of Terrorism" with Sedat Laciner, Chairman of the International Strategic Research Organization," who responds to such questions as what sort of a "change" Prime Minister Erdogan's Davos walkout has started, why the West remains silent on Israel's attacks on the Palestinian people, whether those expecting a coup in Turkey are looking for US and Israeli support in the wake of the Davos incident, whether Israel's strategic desire after Davos is to see a Turkey without the AKP, whether Israel could undertake a "dirty operation" against Erdogan, etc.

    In an article entitled "Rogue State", Vakit columnist Mustafa Ozcan expresses concurrence with Professor Avi Shlaim over his designation of Israel as a "rogue state" based on the following criteria for deciding what constitutes a rogue state: 1. Continuous violation of international law. 2. Possession of weapons of mass destruction. 3. The use of terrorism against civilians for political purposes.

    In an article entitled "It is a good thing AKP deputies came to Washington", Zaman's Washington correspondent Ali H. Aslan outlines the "reproachful" messages about Prime Minister Erdogan's Davos walkout that were conveyed to two AKP deputies, Suat Kiniklioglu and Cuneyt Yuksel, when they visited Washington following the World Economic Forum Meeting at Davos. Aslan claims that while the "anti-Israeli" climate in Turkey created by the Gaza strikes could play into the hands of the Armenian lobby in the United States, the latest wave of anger at Israel in Turkey might intimidate the Obama administration, causing it to take more seriously Ankara's warnings of how it would respond to the United States if it were to recognize the Armenian claims of genocide.

    In an article entitled "Obama's choice: Turkish option or the Israeli option", Today's Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay looks at "the question that Obama faces in the Middle East ... Will it pursue the Turkish option, based on diplomacy and engagement with all relevant players, or the Israeli option, based on militarism and the Bushite principle of 'you are either with us or against?'"

    In an article entitled "Is this not support for Israel rather than for peace?", Milli Gazete columnist Abdulkadir Ozkan asserts that Turkey's efforts to make peace between the Palestinian people and Israel are geared only toward fulfilling Israeli demands as illustrated, he claims, by how Ankara is working for the release of an Israeli serviceman held "captive" by Hamas and trying to have Hamas unite with the PA Authority in line with Israeli demands that Hamas be dissolved.

    b) Local Elections

    The High Election Council (YSK) has awakened and has said that the distribution of food products and household appliances in a manner that can influence the vote is a crime, says Yusuf Kanli in an article in Hurriyet Daily News, adding: "It is so nice to see that the council has awakened and has said 'stop' to this vote buying campaign financed from our tax money.

    In a commentary in Hurriyet, Fatih Cekirge refers to the reports to the effect that the opinion polls show that Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu leads in Istanbul and questions whether the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will lose in Istanbul, where it has been in power for the past 15 years. Kilicdaroglu shows that he is the only person who has a chance in Istanbul, says Cekirge, adding: "The AKP front will therefore take special steps in Istanbul in the days ahead."

    Citing CHP's Deniz Baykal as saying that there is no evidence proving that CHP Deputy Secretary General Mehmet Sevigen requested $600,000 from Emin Atmaca for candidacy in the local elections, Sukru Kucuksahin, in an article in the same newspaper also quotes the CHP leader as saying that he cannot take any legal action unless those who claim that they have the tape of the conversation between Sevigen and Atmaca bring it to him. Kucuksahin also predicts that in the days ahead both Kilicdaroglu and Baykal will take up Erdogan's son's partnership in Atasay jewellery shop at the Ataturk Airport.

    Despite the fact that the steps taken by the CHP in the religious field are still clumsy, I am very happy with the fact that the CHP is exploiting religion for politics, says Ahmet Hakan in an article in Hurriyet, adding: "As of now the equation of 'the seculars are ours and the pious are theirs' will not work in this country. The argument that those who cover their heads will automatically vote for the AKP will no longer be relevant in the next elections, even if it is still relevant in the upcoming elections. The unjust competition will end. The country will normalize. The democratic standards will rise."

    According to a report by Ferit Demir in Milliyet, despite the YSK's announcement saying that the distribution of products prior to the elections will be considered bribery, AKP officials continue to distribute food products and electrical appliances in Tunceli. The report cites Huseyin Gunes, governor of Cumhuriyet neighbourhood, as saying that they do not see this as election bribe.

    The upcoming local elections will constitute a turning point not only in terms of its results, but also in terms of the picture that will emerge following these results, says Mehmet Barlas in an article in Sabah. Underlining that the election campaigns launched by the parties resemble the campaigns for general elections, Barlas stresses that the election results will have an impact on that fate of the Baykal administration in the CHP. If the AKP increases its votes in the southeast, the Democratic Society Party will have to adopt a more moderate stand, emphasizes Barlas.

    According to an unattributed report in Vatan, an opinion poll conducted in 33 provinces by the A&G headed by Adil Gur showed that the majority of the public views the AKP's Alevi overture and the CHP's chador overture as "election investment."

    Under the headline, "CHP mentality is sterile," Vakit publishes a front-page report which highlights Prime Minister Erdogan's following remarks in his address to a rally in Kocaeli yesterday: "The CHP's watchword is slander rather than public service. This party has a dirty and sterile mentality."

    c) Corruption in AKP/Prime Minister Erdogan's Son's Partnership in Atasay Jewellery

    Noting that newspapers such as Sabah, Yeni Safak, Vakit, Zaman, and Star that support the prime minister and his government have not featured any reports on the allegations about the prime minister's son's secret partnership in Atasay Jewellery, Mehmet Y Yilmaz in a commentary in Hurriyet says: "In other words, those who have listened to the prime minister and who have read only pro-AKP newspapers have not received information on this incident. However given that the number of those who have complied with the prime minister's instructions in this regard is very low the public was eventually informed on this partnership. You can be certain that following this incident the prime minister will once again appear in the street and he will ask the public to avoid reading the newspapers that feature these reports."

    The prime minister's son and daughter-in-law should either have avoided affairs that do not look good or they should have acted in a transparent manner says Taha Akyol in an article in Milliyet, adding: "There is no doubt that commerce is everyone's right and it is a respectable activity, but it is necessary to place certain principles between politics which is expressed as having power and the field of commerce where free competition should prevail. The AKP has serious deficiencies and weaknesses where this issue is concerned." Criticizing the AKP for not announcing or implementing "the rules of ethical behaviour," Akyol explains that the people view the AKP as a corrupt party because it drags its feet regarding the immunities and the principles of ethical behaviour and because it engages in favouritism. This is the AKP's soft belly and Kilicdaroglu keeps on punching it, regardless of whether he is right or wrong, notes Akyol.

    As we see how the children of all those who are at the top of the state and politics engage in commerce and how they become wealthy in their twenties, we understand how far away we are moving from the concept of political ethics, says Okay Gonensin in an article in Vatan, adding that despite the fact that the AKP had promised to keep "clean" prior to coming to power, it is clear that its members do not see any ethical or moral reasons for not using their power for making money. These long-lasting efforts that aim to transform influence into money may not be considered crime from the legal standpoint, but this imam-religious community system will continue to work as long as those who are charged with the duty to establishing order at home and abroad do not announce that this sort of behaviour is disgraceful, underlines Gonensin.

    Under the headline, "Give the people buying power not alms," Milli Gazete carries a front-page report which highlights Felicity Party (SP) leader Numan Kurtulmus' criticisms of the AKP's distribution of "election bribes" to the people in the form of coal and white goods.

    d) Armenian Issue

    According to a report by Sefa Kaplan in Hurriyet, Armenian intellectual Prof Armen Gakavian who lives in Australia has withdrawn the statement that he had prepared with the aim of apologizing for the murders committed by Armenian gangs and ASALA. The statement was reportedly withdrawn upon the reaction displayed by the Armenians diaspora. Prof Gakavian is being accused of "betraying the Armenian cause." Issuing a statement in response to Gakavian's statement the Australia National Armenian Committee announced that the Prof Gakavian's statement does not reflect the views of the Australian Armenians and the efforts for the recognition of the Armenian genocide will continue.

    e) Dink Murder

    According to a report by Nedim Sener in Milliyet, the Intelligence Desk of the Security Directorate had placed three charts before the prime minister 10 days after the killing of Armenian journalist. Noting that these charts clarified many questions regarding the Dink murder and the Ergenekon case, the report says: "If the reports to the effect that these charts were prepared by the intelligence Desk of the Security Directorate are confirmed, this will show that a large part of the ultra-nationalist groups in Turkey are under the surveillance of the police. The fact that the names of famous gang leaders such as Sedat Peker, the names of certain associations that are sensitive about secularity, and the names of certain media institutions appear on the same chart is very interesting."

    EG/


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