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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-02-25

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. 38/09 25.02.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] The self-styled presidential spokesman evaluates the latest developments in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [02] The murderer of Solomos Solomou describes how the events evolved the day the incident took place
  • [03] Rauf Denktas gave an interview to local TV channel KIBRIS TV
  • [04] Turkeys MUSIAD holds contacts in occupied Cyprus
  • [05] Turkish Spokesman views ties with Israel, US and Armenia
  • [06] Turkish Industry and Trade Minister calls EU member countries to act in line with ECJs decision on visa regulations
  • [07] Turkish Foreign Minister held a phone conversation with the US Secretary of State
  • [08] US Ambassador to Turkey comments on James Jeffreys trip to Ankara
  • [09] Turkey and Russia to participate in Eastern Partnership Projects
  • [10] DTP Chairmans speech in Kurdish language in the Turkish Parliament raises reactions
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [11] Columnist views the geopolitical developments in the Black Sea
  • [12] From the Turkish Press of 24 February 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] The self-styled presidential spokesman evaluates the latest developments in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (24.02.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The Cyprus negotiations process is moving forward.

    Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica has said that discussions between the two leaders on the property issue were expected to be completed tomorrow or next week. He said that the two leaders will be moving onto the next issue, the European Union or the economy. Ercakica told reporters that any remaining differences on the issues discussed will continue to be taken by the leaders special aides.

    Speaking to reporters at his weekly press briefing today, the Presidential Spokesperson Hasan Ercakica evaluated the latest stage reached in the Cyprus negotiations process as well as other domestic and foreign related issues. Pointing out that talks on the property issue was expected to be completed tomorrow or next week by the latest, Ercakica said moving on to the next issue so quickly did not mean that an agreement had been reached on the property issue. There will be no limitations on the issue of property he said, adding that the senior aides of the two leaders will continue to take up issues where disagreements remain.

    Ercakica said that the Turkish Cypriot Sides aim was to reach a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus Problem by 2009. Ercakica said that the next issue to be taken up by the two leaders will either be Economy or European Union.

    Referring to the upcoming EU parliamentary elections, the Presidential Spokesman reminded that 2 of the 6 seats in the European Parliament reserved for Cyprus belonged to Turkish Cypriots.

    Ercakica called on the Greek Cypriot Side to keep those two seats empty until a comprehensive settlement is reached. He also added that any attempt by Greek Cypriot political parties to name Turkish Cypriot candidates would only be serve to usurp Turkish Cypriot rights within the European Parliament.

    Pointing out that a solar energy project to be funded within the framework of the financial Assistance Regulation was being prevented by Greek Cypriots by citing the property issue as an excuse, Ercakica said that the Turkish Cypriot Side has not even received a third of the assistance envisaged by the financial regulation because of Greek Cypriot obstacles.

    Also touching upon the problem of asylum seekers as well as illegal immigration, Ercakica reminded that the UNHCR had issued a warning that problem of illegal immigrants was expected to grow due to the global economic crisis. Stating that it was wrong to send back asylum seekers to the country of their origin, the Presidential Spokesman said that they tried to do their best to harbour and shelter Iraqi and Palestinian refugees or asylum seekers in the TRNC and that there was no government policy to send back such immigrants. Ercakica also pointed out that the TRNC was fighting human smuggling without any international help or intelligence.

    [02] The murderer of Solomos Solomou describes how the events evolved the day the incident took place

    Under the title Shoot the dog, Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (25.02.09) publishes in its first page an interview by Kenan Akin who is on Interpols red list of wanted persons for the murder of the Greek Cypriot youth Solomos Solomou.

    Following is the excerpt where Mr Kenan Akin described how events evolved that day under the subtitle: Shoot that dog:

    Akin spoke to Havadis about the events of the 11th August 1996. Reminding that some former commanders who today have become peace apostles, that day they said Shoot that dog; take him down and they fired, he said: Today they have become peace apostles and I am a murderer. There is no such thing, he stated. Akin went on and stated the following: If it was today, I would not have been there. It was an unpleasant event in the history of Cyprus. I neither hit nor fired. In the atmosphere of that day many persons wanted to fight for the flag. I took my gun to fire as well, but the incident took place so quickly I was not able to fire. If they want they can make a ballistic research.

    Subtitle: That day firing should not have taken place

    Saying that that shooting the young man who climbed on the mast that day was wrong, Akin expressed his judgment on the incident of 11 August 1996. Saying that Interpol is not searching only for him but other names are also included in the list, Akin noted: The person who gave the command for firing knows very well and who hit him. Akin who left without replying to the questions of who fired and who gave the order, just said the following: One Turkish Cypriot officer who was on duty in Turkey has been in the island then because of the incidents. He was the one who gave the order. After the order of shoot that dog I involuntary, grabbed my gun. However I did not fire. He who then shouted shoot that dog today has become a peace apostle.

    [03] Rauf Denktas gave an interview to local TV channel KIBRIS TV

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (25.02.09), in its front page under the title The crossing-points should not be closed, reports that the former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas, was the guest of the television program Last situation Son durum by Resat Akar on the local TV channel KIBRIS TV.

    Replying to a question what his stance would be in case the new solution plan is like the Annan Plan, Mr Denktas said: A solution similar to the Annan plan cannot gain anything to the Turkish Cypriots. The correct solution is the one that will embrace and keep alive the TRNC. Mr Denktas also added that in case the Turkish Cypriots are determined on this issue, Turkey is obliged to support them.

    Noting that he does not support the strategy that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat is following regarding the Cyprus problem, Mr Denktas said: The agreement that Talat will get from the path he is following cannot be lasting.

    While Mr Denktas was explaining his views regarding the elections for the European Parliament in June he criticized the call by South Cyprus to the Turkish Cypriots to participate in these elections. He explained that such a step will be a huge ignorance.

    Mr Denktas also explained that even if there is a government change in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, the crossing-points should not be closed down. Noting that the so-called police and customs personnel are continuing to do their controls and duties without any problem, Mr Denktas said: The Turkish Cypriots cross over for a visit, to see those who live in the South Cyprus and they can return again to their land. There is no drawback in this. Upon being reminded that approximately one hundred thousand Turkish Cypriots own the identity card of the Republic of Cyprus, Denktas said that this does not mean that they take the Greek Cypriot identity and these people consider it as a right.

    (DPs)

    [04] Turkeys MUSIAD holds contacts in occupied Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (24.02.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    A delegation from the Independent Industrialists and Businessmens Association of Turkey, MUSIAD is continuing its contacts in the TRNC.

    The delegation headed by Hudayi Cakir was received by President Mehmet Ali Talat today. Mr Cakir presented a handmade vase to the President during the visit. The delegation was accompanied by Ozan Ceyhun- a former European MP.

    Later, the MUSIAD delegation visited deputy-Prime Minister Foreign Minister Turgay Avci. Mr Cakir told Mr Avci that the Association has been discussions ways to minimize the effects of global economic crisis on the Turkish economy with political parties, bureaucrats and academicians. Pointing out that the effects of the crisis have also been seen in the TRNC, he expressed the belief that the difficulties being faced would be eliminated thanks to cooperation between the two countries.

    For his part, Mr Avci said that the TRNC has been developing with the support being provided by Turkey but added that there were efficiencies in production and exports. Expressing the view that more small scale industries should be established in the TRNC, he said `from this aspect, your visit is very important`.

    Yesterday, the delegation visited Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer who told the Turkish businessmen that a self-sufficient economy is the main objective of the Turkish Cypriot People. Global economic crisis and the current situation of economy in the TRNC were the major topics of the meeting between Mr Soyer and the MUSIAD delegation.

    Welcoming the delegation, the Premier said the creation of an economy that will be able to stand on its own feet is a major goal for the Turkish Cypriots. He pointed to the importance of developing further initiatives to be jointly taken with the Turkish world of business- which he said will create new opportunities for opening to other countries such as Germany. `And all such joint investments will definitely help the economic development and will also make contributions to efforts aiming to provide a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of political equality`, Mr Soyer noted.

    Providing information about the economic development that has taken place within the last 4 years, Soyer made emphasis on the fact that the development has occurred under hard conditions caused by the international isolation. He said catching up with Maltas economic development, which is an EU member and has the same population with the TRNC, is among the primary goals in economy.

    [05] Turkish Spokesman views ties with Israel, US and Armenia

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkey shared the view of Israel in regard to improvement of relations, the spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

    Burak Ozugergin, spokesman of the ministry, held a press conference in Ankara and said that Turkish authorities were evaluating the response of Israel to the note of Turkey regarding the Israeli Commander of Ground Forces Avi Mizrahi's remarks.Israeli Ambassador in Ankara Gabby Levy conveyed the response to Turkish authorities on Monday and the importance of continuation of Turkish-Israeli relations was underlined in the response, Ozugergin told reporters.

    Israel's response of note was sent to the Turkish Prime Ministry and General Staff, he said. The note of response said that Mizrahi's remarks did not reflect the official position of Israeli government or Israeli General Staff, diplomats from the ministry said on Monday.

    On February 14 Turkey had presented a note to Israel after remarks made by Mizrahi. The statements of Avi Mizrahi are ungrounded and unacceptable, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had said. The Israeli Ground Forces Commander Mizrahi had made remarks accusing Turkey of the incidents of 1915.

    Moreover, Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following:

    The US administration has not asked Turkish government to use any military bases in Turkey or deploy more Turkish troops to Afghanistan, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

    We have not received any demands for transfer of US military units to Afghanistan or troops withdrawing from Iraq, spokesman Burak Ozugergin told a press briefing.

    The United States has no military bases in Turkey, Ozugergin reminded. He said the Incirlik military base, which is located in southern Turkey, was being used by US army due to alliance relations and several military agreements. However, he said, but it does not change the fact that Incirlik is a Turkish base.

    Last week, US President Barack Obama approved adding some 17,000 troops in Afghanistan, a move to increase the number of US troops in this country 50 percent.Upon a question if Obama administration asked Turkish government to deploy more troops to Afghanistan, Ozugergin said Turkey has not received such demands either.

    Turkey has some 750 troops in Afghanistan serving in NATO forces.

    On the issue of Frances return to the military wing of NATO, Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following on statements of Mr Ozugergin: Turkey has been waiting for France's making an official request and clearing the process before revealing its attitude about France's plans to rejoin the military wing of NATO.

    Burak Ozugergin, spokesman for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a weekly press briefing on Tuesday, France has not made an official request to NATO yet. On the other hand, the Alliance could not complete its own contacts and works about France's likely rejoining the military wing. We can make an assessment only after seeing results of their works.

    Turkey is one of the most powerful members of NATO since the very beginning. It is quite natural that Turkey expects to have the ability to influence decisions about developments concerning the future of the Alliance, he said.

    France exited from the military wing of NATO in 1966. Since then, France has been a member of the Alliance, but not part of its military high command. Former French President Jacques Chirac sought to rejoin NATO's military command in 1997 but the United States rejected the conditions demanded by France.

    In addition, Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following:

    Burak Ozugergin, spokesman for Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called on the third countries to support the process aiming at normalizing the relations between Turkey and Armenia.

    Speaking at a weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Ozugergin said, we have been carrying out a series of talks with Armenia in order to normalize our relations. We think that it is not proper to send messages to each other through the press during this process.

    We have always objected attempts to distort a certain period in our history. We cannot accept use of such distortions as a tool of bargaining. We will continue telling the truth, he said.

    Ozugergin called on the third countries to support the process between Turkey and Armenia since any intervention could have a negative impact on talks. We wish to maintain our cooperation and consultation mechanisms with the new administration of the United States in all areas concerning our joint foreign policy. We got the impression that the US administration also intends to cooperate with us, he added.

    [06] Turkish Industry and Trade Minister calls EU member countries to act in line with ECJs decision on visa regulations

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following from Lyon:

    Turkish Industry and Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan called on the European Union (EU) member states to act in line with a recent decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that eased visa regulations for Turkish businessmen.Minister Caglayan delivered a lecture on "the economic integration between Turkey and the EU" at the EMLYON Business School on Tuesday. Caglayan's lecture was listened by dozens of students receiving courses in English and French at the EMLYON Business School. Minister Caglayan talked about the economic developments in Turkey and Turkey's relations with the EU.

    Criticizing visa requirement of the EU from Turkish businessmen, Caglayan expressed happiness over a recent decision of the ECJ that lifts visa requirements of the EU from Turkish businessmen. ECJ's decision, once again, displayed the rule of law. The visa issue is actually a violation of human rights of Turkish businessmen, Caglayan said. 60 percent of all Turkish exports go to the EU. 75 percent of Turkey's imports come from the EU. It is not just for Turkish businessmen to apply for EU visas while EU businessmen enter Turkey freely, without receiving visas, Caglayan said.

    Turkey does not expect special treatment from the EU in its membership negotiations. We expect an equal and fair attitude from the EU during the negotiations, Caglayan said. We expect the EU to abide by its commitments. Turkey's goal is full membership in the EU. We expect the game to be played by the rules. You cannot change the rules of the game while the game is going on, Caglayan stressed.

    "EU membership is Turkey's unchangeable strategic goal. It is impossible for Turkey to accept any other alternative other than full membership. We look at the EU negotiations as Turkey's 'modernization project'. The Turkish people extend full support for this project," Caglayan said. We want to make Turkey a base for goods and services in Europe and Eurasia, Caglayan noted.

    Touching on the global financial crisis, Caglayan said that Turkey would not be affected much by the crisis. There is no bank in Turkey that has been hit by the global crisis, Caglayan said.

    Chairman of the Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency, Alparslan Korkmaz, and Dean of the EMLYON Business School, Tugrul Atamer, also delivered lectures at the EMLYON Business School on Tuesday. Minister Caglayan is expected to return to Turkey on Wednesday.

    [07] Turkish Foreign Minister held a phone conversation with the US Secretary of State

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan spoke Tuesday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Expressing willingness to cooperate with each other, Babacan and Clinton discussed foreign policy issues and spoke about their countries' position regarding the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia, Balkans and energy issues.

    U.S Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell's upcoming visit to Turkey was also discussed during Babacan and Clinton's phone conversation. Mitchell is set to visit Turkey on Wednesday.

    Both Babacan and Clinton are expected to attend the conference on Middle East, which will be held in March in Sharm el Sheikh city of Egypt.

    [08] US Ambassador to Turkey comments on James Jeffreys trip to Ankara

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    US Ambassador in Ankara, James Jeffrey said Tuesday that the US both acknowledged and supported Turkey's recent key role in the Middle East.

    Jeffrey told reporters in Ankara that George Mitchell, US Special Envoy to the Middle East, would pay a two-day visit to Turkey.

    We haven't made an official announcement yet but Mitchell will be visiting Turkey for the next two days. This is because Turkey has been playing a key role especially in the Middle East. A constructive role in Iraq and a leading role in Syria, Israel and Lebanon. We support this and want to provide coordination, said Jeffrey.

    When asked to comment on Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent call on the US to redefine terrorism, Jeffrey said the US was in close cooperation with Turkey against terrorist organisation PKK. He said the US viewed all groups that deliberately attacked civilians as terrorists, regardless of their motives.

    [09] Turkey and Russia to participate in Eastern Partnership Projects

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following from Brussels:

    Member states of the European Union (EU) agreed on Tuesday that Turkey and Russia shall participate in the "Eastern Partnership" initiative on a project basis.Speaking after a meeting of EU's foreign ministers in the Belgian capital of Brussels, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that the partnership's comprising of 6 permanent member states (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus) did not mean that Turkey and Russia would be left outside. Kouchner said that EU agreed to call on these two countries to participate in several projects to be carried out within the framework of the partnership. The Eastern Partnership is a project which was formally proposed to be initiated by the European Union (EU). It was presented by the foreign minister of Poland with assistance from Sweden at the EU's General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on May 26, 2008.

    It is meant to complement the Northern Dimension and the Union for the Mediterranean by providing an institutionalised forum for discussing visa agreements, free trade deals and strategic partnership agreements with the EU's eastern neighbours, while avoiding the controversial topic of accession to the European Union. Its geographical scope is to consist of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Belarus will also participate at a technical level.

    [10] DTP Chairmans speech in Kurdish language in the Turkish Parliament raises reactions

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Parliament Speaker's Office said, according to the irrevocable Article 3 of the Turkish Constitution, Turkish is the official language of the Turkish state. No one can propose to amend those irrevocable provisions of the Constitution. Since the parliament is a constitutional institution, all MPs are obliged to use the official language of Turkish in their all kinds of legislative actions.

    Releasing a statement after Ahmet Turk, chairman of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), made a part of his speech in Kurdish language at his party's group meeting in the parliament, the Parliament Speaker's Office said, legislative actions at the parliament do not consist only of general assembly works. They also include consultative board meetings, works of commissions and political parties' group meetings. Use of any language except for Turkish means an open violation of the Constitution.

    Article 81 of the Political Parties Law also bans use of any other language by political parties during congresses, outdoor or indoor meetings, rallies and propaganda. Accordingly, it is evident that use of any other language apart from Turkish at a political party group meeting is legally impossible. Therefore, state-owned TRT channel cut off the speech not to allow any action against the Constitution and the laws, the statement added.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [11] Columnist views the geopolitical developments in the Black Sea

    Istanbul Yeni Safak newspaper (24.02.09) publishes a column by Ibrahim Karagul under the title The Geopolitical Earthquake: Who will collapse, and who will rise?:

    We are speaking of a sea that links Europe to Central Asia and Eurasia, to the Middle East, to South Asia, and to the Caucasus. We are speaking of the United States' seeking to influence three continents from the Black Sea. We are speaking of a sea that the great powers have, throughout history, sought to dominate. We are speaking of the centre of Eurasia, which the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Greeks, the Hittites, the Byzantines, Czarist Russia, the Ottomans, Napoleon, and Germany all tried to dominate. It is said that even the Trojan Wars were fought into order to control the Straits and the Black Sea.

    Now the United States wants, by means of this sea, both to constrain Russia and to settle into the Caucasus and Central Asia, and also to reach the region's rich resources. Europe wants, via this sea, to gain a position in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Let us recall the Ottoman-Russian wars, the Straits Question, and Europe's interventions in these wars, all because of this sea. That history is moving up into the present day.

    Whatever has taken place in the Middle East today, the same thing will happen in the Black Sea, the Caucasus, and Central Asia tomorrow. Whatever the significance of the Crimean War was, today's controversies regarding the Black Sea are just the same. Let us not perceive the affair as being restricted only to the United States' seeking a military base. One end of the Black Sea reaches into the Mediterranean, one end toward the Gulf of Basra, and one toward the Caspian. Russia, Turkey, the United States, the EU, Iran, and the other countries of the region are determining positions in accord with the struggle for domination around this sea. The United States and NATO are entering into the region via Bulgaria and Romania. Washington is settling into the Black Sea via Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and Georgia.

    We have to assess this period carefully. The global economic crisis is not just an "economic crisis." Its consequences will be more political, and geopolitical, than economic. The central powers of the world, led by the United States, are going to test their strength. Not only will a good many powers lose their central role, but a number of countries will return to their days of empire. The invasions, conflicts, and ethnic disputes that we see around us are small indications of this great fracturing, changing of places, and reconstitution of the balance of forces. The crisis is going to lead to changes that go far beyond what has happened to date, and within a few years will cause ebbs and flows to a degree we cannot predict.

    The Mexican geopolitical expert Jose Alonso Trabanco says that the geopolitical collapse that the crisis will cause is closer and more serious than people think, that it will give rise to great impacts on the international system and the balance of forces, and that it will end even America's unilateral global leadership and weaken it to a significant degree. According to him, a good many countries will be obliged to redefine their positions. The hegemonic power of the dollar will end. And the hegemonic power of the United States, which is based on the dollar and on military strength, will also be set back. Furthermore, the crisis will narrow NATO's operational capabilities to a significant degree. In fact, the members of NATO, far from giving shape to the world, will fall into panic at saving their own allies within the alliance. A good many of the members of the EU will fall backwards. Greece, Poland, and even Italy and France will experience serious problems. According to some, Great Britain will turn into an economic wreck. Accordingly, the economic crisis is proceeding toward the most dangerous point possible. And this is the point at which it will shatter the international balance of power.

    The geopolitical collapse that could be experience by being triggered by the crisis will not be a process in which countries will simply withdraw in desperation, resigning themselves to their fate. The reformulation of the balance of forces could also show itself in great conflicts. Thus if the stress building up over the Black Sea should break out in this timeframe, we could witness the shocks we are currently experiencing in the Middle East from the Crimea to the Caucasus, and from the Caspian to South Asia. It is for this reason that I am trying to draw attention to the Black Sea.

    Consequently, I think that history could, in this period, once again give to Turkey the role of expanding out from the territory of Anatolia. The intense interest in Turkey, such as has occurred in the Middle East and in Africa recently, is perhaps a harbinger of this expansion. Without paying heed to far-fetched scenarios, and by carefully reading this transition period, we need perspectives that will open the way to Turkey. We need people who are able to think big, who are able to speak strong words, and who are able to take sure steps. If America, from that far away, is able to think about controlling three continents from the Black Sea, then why should Turkey not consider it?

    [12] From the Turkish Press of 24 February 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 24 February 2009:

    a) Erdogans walkout from Davos

    In an article entitled "Conscience and Heart", Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru comments on questions posed by certain Western and domestic circles as to whether Prime Minister Erdogan's Davos walkout and his election campaign messages regarding the West signify that Turkey is ending its alliance with the West and shifting its interest to the East. Koru claims that the ruling AKP is becoming increasingly sceptical about relations with Western countries before he goes on to advise "well-meaning Westerners who are trying to understand what is going on in Turkey" to engage in some soul-searching regarding what he describes as their pro-Israeli stance on the Mideast dispute and their "lack of conscience" vis--vis the injustices to which Muslims are subjected.

    In an article entitled "Turkey's historic mission", Vakit columnist Huseyin Yazicioglu lauds Prime Minister Erdogan's criticisms of Israel at the recent World Economic Forum at Davos as a taboo-breaking move that amounted to saying "the King is naked." He also claims that there is a correspondence between Turkey's latest regional and international policies and the United States' "search for a reliable ally that could seize the initiative in the Middle East and provide solutions" and US, Israeli, and Arab expectations for Turkey to counterbalance the increasing influence of Iran.

    b) Erdogan's Fight With Dogan Media Group

    In a column in Hurriyet, Mehmet Ali Birand says Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan resorts to the tactic of gaining popular support by portraying himself as a victimized but rebellious opposition leader, never as the head of the government accountable for his performances, and is now using the same tactic in its fight with the Dogan media group. Birand notes: "Like an opposition leader he blames the CHP. He criticizes briskly whenever he gets the opportunity. He slams them down. Nowadays he selected a new target: Dogan Yayin Holding (Dogan Media Group). With an attitude of a rebellious leader who experienced injustice he complains about papers that criticize him and journalists who act in the natural course of their occupation. He does this so naturally that people who don't know what's going on get the impression of a 'Poor AKP leader who cannot free himself from injustice and thus rebels. Also 40 percent of his supporters are comprised of the press that he calls 'party media' and support the AKP unconditionally. Besides, I have never seen an administration before that could with this tactic increase its votes.

    Moreover, our society seems to like it. Rallies exult and the rebelling leader is applauded. The prime minister by drawing a portrait of an innocent, ill-treated leader presents a successful campaign. Now you could say, 'Isn't it true that the opposition and the media ill-treat the AKP?' This would be my answer: The opposition's duty is to criticize the administration and voice wrongdoings. Everywhere in the world this game is played this way. Their reason for being is to oppose and criticize. The media is read or watched because of its opposition. Those who caress the administration won't have readers or people watching them."

    Commenting on a 21 February article by Fehmi Koru that the problem with the Dogan media group is not its owner Aydin Dogan but the entrenched columnists who by opposing any change and progress are putting their own boss in a difficult situation, Melih Asik says in the first part of his column in Milliyet that Koru's message is very clear: AKP has no problem with Aydin Dogan but with anti-AKP columnists, and therefore Aydin Dogan can save his business empire by silencing or sacking these columnists or forcing them to adopt a pro-AKP position.

    Noting that in recent times there has been a major change in media ownership in Turkey and the government is threatening independent journalism, Sedat Ergin wonders in his column in Milliyet if a democracy with a single pro-government media would be compatible with EU's Copenhagen criteria. He believe the time has come for the EU officials to turn a serious attention to this problem, given that since EU's November warning about the pressure on Turkish press the situation has only worsened. EU's stance on this matter will also serve as a test of whether the prospect of an EU membership would serve a sufficient guarantee for press freedom in Turkey.

    Yalcin Dogan warns in his column in Hurriyet that Erdogan's unfair and lawless treatment of Dogan group will scare off foreign investors and the resulting economic downturn will harm the AKP itself.

    Commenting on PM Erdogan's apparent indifference to the economic crisis, Osman Ulagay speculates in his column in Milliyet that by attacking the Dogan Holding, Erdogan is probably trying to deepen the economic crisis so that he can later on use the state's powers to salvage only pro-government firms and banks and in the process effectuate a change in capital ownership.

    Under the headline, "Villacity project fails to get approved," Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report which asserts that businessman Aydin Dogan has been unable to obtain approval for a project to build a luxury villa complex and a golf course on land around the Omerli Dam in Istanbul, causing him to lose over $1 billion in failed investments.

    c) Konda, TUSES Surveys

    Summarizing the results of journalist Tarhan Erdem's Konda poll "Who are we? Lifestyle 2008" in a column for Hurriyet, Cuneyt Ulsever says "the study is full of surprising findings for not only academics, intellectuals, journalists and politicians but also for industrialists, bankers, trade unions and merchants. I suggest top-level managers of private sector companies discuss the results among themselves. I extend my heart-felt appreciation to Erdem and his team."

    After noting that The Guardian newspaper saw the poll revealing Turks as xenophobic people, Cengiz Candar admits in his column in Hurriyet that the poll results are not very pleasant as they show that the "Ergenekon monster" has a considerable grip on the society, adding that Turkey's road to a paradigm shift and modernity will be long and arduous therefore. But, Candar objects to those foreign commentators, like David Phillips of Boston Globe, who try to gauge Turkey's modernity and Westernism in terms of its ties with Israel. Candar says Israel is more dependent on Turkey's goodwill than vice versa, adding that it is wrong and unfair to argue that Turkey's damaged relations with Israel is causing Turkey's estrangement from the West. It is Turkey's future ties with the United States, not with Israel, that would determine Turkey's stance on the West. The real danger facing Turkey, therefore, is not its dented ties with Israel or imagined estrangement from the West, but the "Ergenekon and neo-nationalism" disease infecting the whole society.

    Commenting on TUSES [Turkish Social Economic and Political Research Foundation] survey on young people's approach on politics, Gila Benmayor says in her column in Hurriyet that though the survey is still not fully processed, it already shows the young people lack confidence in body politics, which they see as corrupt. The survey also shows that youth with higher education prefer the CHP while young women prefer the AKP. Most young people describe themselves as secular, but only 26 percent say they are not religious. Some 97 percent see a "foreign finger" in everything that happens in Turkey and consider the "ideal state" to be the one that protects national interests.

    EG/


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