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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-03-03

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. 41/09 28.02-3.03.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Statements by Cemil Cicek: No one can deny the presence of two peoples, two separate democracies, and two separate states in Cyprus
  • [02] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Talat: Education helps the voice of TRNC be heard globally, despite the isolations
  • [03] Statements by Talat: Investments will contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem
  • [04] The occupied areas among the important wiretapping locations of Ergenekon
  • [05] A public opinion poll shows UBP as first party in the forthcoming elections
  • [06] Turkey to provide support to the illegal regime to harmonize with the EU on Customs issues
  • [07] Turkey-US bilateral ties and Middle East among the issues of discussion during Clintons visit to Ankara
  • [08] Turkey invokes progress in dialogue with Armenia to prevent genocide bill
  • [09] Turkish Parliamentary delegation due to USA
  • [10] Turkish State Minister attends meeting of EU Ambassadors in Ankara
  • [11] Davutoglu on Turkish ties with Africa
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [12] Is Turkey vital for US exit strategy from Iraq?
  • [13] From the Turkish Press of 27, 28 February and 1, 2 March 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Statements by Cemil Cicek: No one can deny the presence of two peoples, two separate democracies, and two separate states in Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.02.09) reported the following from occupied Famagusta:

    Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Cemil Cicek, said Friday no one can deny the reality of two peoples, two democracies and two states in Cyprus. Cemil Cicek arrived in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Friday to attend a graduation ceremony at the Eastern Mediterranean University (DAU). Speaking at the ceremony, Cicek said that the DAU has a special meaning for him as his son graduated from this university 12 years ago.

    The DAU has provided important services for the educational and cultural lives of both the TRNC and Turkey in the past three decades. The DAU helped educate thousands of young individuals and everyone appreciates its successes. Universities are one of the most important life vessels of the TRNC, Cicek said. Touching on the Cyprus problem, Cicek said that the two peoples in Cyprus must cooperate based on respect for the laws of each other. The continuing negotiations must be based on this principle of respecting each other's laws. No one can deny the presence of two peoples, two separate democracies and two separate states in Cyprus. If a peace is to be established, it has to be established within such perimeters.

    No one should expect the Turkish Cypriots to give up self-governance. Turkey and the TRNC have worked for years and continue to work for a permanent solution in Cyprus, Cicek stressed.

    We are strongly against all efforts to relate Turkey's EU membership to the topic of the Cyprus issue. The TRNC symbolizes the will of Turkish Cypriots for a free life, Cicek noted.

    TRNC's struggle in history is a matter of pride for all of us, Cicek said.

    The TRNC has proven itself as a source of human rights, rule of law, democracy that contributes to regional peace and stability, Cicek said.

    As Turkey, we try to assist Turkish Cypriots in all fields, Cicek said. This is a state policy of Turkey, Cicek underlined.

    We will continue to extend all assistance for the peace and welfare of the Turkish Cypriots, Cicek said.

    The solution, peace, stability and tranquility in Cyprus would be possible with the TRNC's getting stronger economically and socially, Cicek also said.

    [02] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Talat: Education helps the voice of TRNC be heard globally, despite the isolations

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.02.09) reported the following from occupied Famagusta:

    The President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Mehmet Ali Talat, said Friday education helps the voice of TRNC be heard globally, despite the isolations.

    President Talat attended a graduation ceremony held at the Eastern Mediterranean University (DAU), TRNC's first established university, on Friday. 968 students received their diplomas from the DAU.

    Among the dignitaries attending the graduation ceremony were President Talat, TRNC's first President Rauf Denktas, Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek, Turkey's Ambassador in Lefkosa Sakir Fakili, several ministers and deputies.

    Speaking at the graduation ceremony, President Talat said that he is pleased with where the DAU stands today.

    DAU happens to be an institution that has received global recognition and helps the existence of Turkish Cypriots known internationally, Talat said.

    Education helps the voice of Turkish Cypriots be heard globally, Talat said.

    DAU is an institution at the forefront as a body that helps Turkish Cypriots's voice be heard in the world, Talat said.

    The Cyprus problem is one that the Turkish Cypriots have been trying to solve for the past 45 years, Talat said.

    There is a negotiation process going on that is meaningful and result oriented and the goal of the Turkish Cypriots is to solve this problem, Talat stressed.

    The Turkish Cypriots will need a well educated youth in order to live and compete in the European Union (EU), Talat said.

    Our greatest need is well educated and trained human power and to walk towards the future with such power. You are the ones who will carry us further, Talat also said.

    [03] Statements by Talat: Investments will contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem

    Illegal Bayrak television (02.03.09) broadcast the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat has said that every single investment into the economy would contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    President Talat was speaking while presenting the award for `Entrepreneur of the Year` to Businessman Unal Caginer.

    The title was bestowed on him by the North Cyprus Association of Young Entrepreneurs for his successful initiatives in 2008.

    In an address at the ceremony, President Talat stated that he has been closely following the initiatives taken by Mr Caginer since the 1970s and said `the title was bestowed on Unal Caginer by the people long ago because of his contributions to the country`.

    The President said big investments were very important at the point the Cyprus problem and the negotiation process reached.

    `We will sit at the negotiation table with the strength these valuable investments gave to us and put forward our thesis` he said, adding that a strong economy would strengthen the hand of the Turkish Cypriot Side at the table.

    During the ceremony, a plate was also given to Nevzat Özkunt- who served as Chairman of the North Cyprus Association of Young Entrepreneurs in 2001 for his contributions to the Association. The plate was presented to Mr Ozkunt by Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer.

    [04] The occupied areas among the important wiretapping locations of Ergenekon

    Todays Zaman newspaper (03.03.09) reports the following:

    A clandestine terrorist organization charged with attempting to trigger a military coup established two centers in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and the Turkish capital to wiretap individuals, the Sabah daily reported yesterday.

    According to the report, documents seized in a police raid at the home of Mustafa Ozbek, the jailed chairman of workers union Turk Metal, revealed that the terrorist organization established two main centers in the KKTC and Ankara to wiretap conversations, including those of politicians and businessmen. Ozbek was arrested in late January as part of the ongoing investigation into Ergenekon, a crime network, accused of multiple assassinations and attacks designed to trigger an eventual military takeover as they worked through their links to the state, including the military, the judiciary and the media.

    According to Sabah the equipment used for wiretapping purposes was purchased from Israel and funded by Ozbek. The devices were largely used in the KKTC and Ankara but were sent to other cities as needed. Among those wiretapped were individuals working at the headquarters of the main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) and CHP Istanbul deputy and Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Turk-Is) Chairman Bayram Meral.

    Two covert listening devices were discovered at CHP headquarters in early January, arousing suspicion within the main opposition party as its officials questioned whether the bugs could have been planted by party members themselves.

    Documents seized in Ozbeks home included correspondence between the union leader and a man tasked with purchasing the wiretapping equipment. In the correspondence the buyer informs Ozbek on the improving wiretapping technologies and advises him to purchase more wiretapping devices. ´We cannot give up on wiretapping the conversations of [Bayram] Meral. We need to spare one of the devices to wiretap that dirty guy. Therefore, we need at least four other devices,´reads one of the letters sent to Ozbek.

    [05] A public opinion poll shows UBP as first party in the forthcoming elections

    Under the title UBP is ahead with a clear difference, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (03.03.09) publishes in its first page a public opinion poll conducted by KADEM research center.

    The results of the poll are as follows:

    To the question which party will you vote for, the polled persons replied:

    Party Votes %National Unity Party (UBP)31.5Republican Turkish Party (CTP)20.6Democratic Party (DP)9.8 Social Democracy Party (TDP)5.2Freedom and Reform Party (ORP)3.7Politics for the People Movement (HIS)0.5 Nationalist Justice Party (MAP)0.4United Cyprus Party (BKP)0.4Peoples Party (HP)0.3New Party (YP)0.3Mixed13.8Undecided 13.4

    The percentages of the parties and the self-styled seats at the assembly are distributed as follows after taking into account the number of the mixed and undecided persons:

    Party Votes %SeatsNational Unity Party (UBP)43.321Republican Turkish Party (CTP)28.316Democratic Party (DP)13.57 Social Democracy Party (TDP)7.25Freedom and Reform Party (ORP)5.11Politics for the People Movement (HIS)0.70 Nationalist Justice Party (MAP)0.60United Cyprus Party (BKP)0.60Peoples Party (HP)0.40New Party (YP)0.40

    The opinion poll was conducted in the five districts of the occupation regime with a sample of 1387 persons between 22 February 2009 and 01 of March 2009.

    (CS)

    [06] Turkey to provide support to the illegal regime to harmonize with the EU on Customs issues

    Under the title The TRNC Customs Office to be established by Turkey, Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (28.02.09) reports on statements made by the self-styled prime minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer on the Customs issue during a meeting held with Mehmet Emin Zararsiz, head of Turkeys Customs Undersecretariat delegation which is in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus for contacts.

    Ferdi Sabit Soyer said that within the framework of the works made for harmonization with the EU, the process which regards the administrative, regulatory and automation aspect of the customs issue is necessary to be speeded up. Stressing that the Turkish Cypriot side continues its efforts for harmonization with the EU on twelve Chapters, Mr. Soyer stated that the chapter on Customs has been delayed to open due to the ongoing obstacles posed by the Republic of Cyprus and added that the differences on the customs issue will be bridged with the support of Turkey.

    On his part, Mr. Zararsiz said that the Republic of Turkey, as in every issue, is ready to provide technical and material support to the occupation regime on the issue of customs too and added that they are working for the re-organization of the TRNC Customs Office.

    Concluding, Mr. Soyer said that the knowledge and the experience of Turkeys Customs Undersecretariat will be a significant support for the pseudo-state.

    (ML)

    [07] Turkey-US bilateral ties and Middle East among the issues of discussion during Clintons visit to Ankara

    Istanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (28.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Longtime allies Turkey and the United States will review their bilateral relations when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Ankara next weekend, the Anatolia news agency reported Friday.

    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan invited Clinton to Turkey during a phone call on Tuesday, the agency said. Babacan and Clinton will come together at two different international meetings next week, a donors' conference in Egypt for the reconstruction of Gaza and the NATO foreign ministers' summit in Brussels on Mar. 5, before their one-on-one talks in Ankara, which will probably be held Mar. 7. Clinton will also meet with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Though the U.S. has not yet officially asked Turkey to send more combat troops to Afghanistan, the issue will no doubt be on Clinton's agenda. The Turkish military has around 800 soldiers in the capital city of Kabul, as part of a NATO force, and is not very keen to send more. Babacan recently underlined Turkey's contribution to Afghanistan in the fields of health and education, implying that it had no intention to send more troops, at least for the time being.

    Iraq will be another top issue, especially regarding whether Turkey will let Washington use its territories and bases to pull out troops and equipment. Turkish diplomats have stated: In the case of an official request, Turkey will not close its borders and bases to Washington, but all procedures should be negotiated and agreed on.

    The Middle East, especially the Israel-Palestine conflict, will also be on the agenda. After a meeting late Thursday, Turkey's National Security Council, or MGK, released a written statement saying: Turkey will continue to contribute to the efforts to find lasting settlement and stability in the Middle East.

    As for Turkey's priorities, Babacan and other Turkish officials are expected to press Clinton over the possibility of recognition of the Armenian claims of genocide by the Congress. Turkish authorities have made their message to Washington, saying: Such moves would not only hurt bilateral ties, but also the process of rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia.

    [08] Turkey invokes progress in dialogue with Armenia to prevent genocide bill

    Under the title: Turkey, Armenia closer than ever to peace, says Foreign Minister Babacan Todays Zaman (03.03.09) publishes the following:

    Estranged neighbors Turkey and Armenia are getting closer to normalize their ties, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said, warning that any US move to recognize Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks could harm the process.

    ´We are not using a threatening rhetoric. We are not saying 'if you pass this resolution, we will do this and that.' Honestly, we are telling them [the Americans] about the current situation in the Southern Caucasus,´ Babacan told Today's Zaman on Sunday evening, en route to Egypt, where he attends an international donors conference on Gaza.

    ´A resolution between Turkey and Armenia has never been that close. Where we stand now is the closest point ever to a settlement with Armenia since 1915. I'm not saying we've reached a solution, but we are getting close to it.´

    Asked what he meant by a solution," he explained: "Full normalization." Babacan also said that a team of five officials will be individually visiting the United States throughout the next 3-4 weeks for talks with American officials. The issue will also be discussed when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Ankara on March 7.

    Turkey severed its diplomatic ties with Armenia in 1993, closing their mutual border in protest of the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory following a war over Nagorno-Karabakh. For Turkey, normalization of relations is conditional on a settlement over Nagorno-Karabakh, a southwestern territory of Azerbaijan. Other demands are equally as complicated: Ankara wants Yerevan to formally recognize its current border with Turkey and revise its policy on "genocide" while terminating its support for Armenian diaspora efforts to gain international recognition for their genocide claims.

    Following nearly two decades of hostilities, Turkey took a drastic step towards peace with Armenia when President Abdullah Gül visited Yerevan in September to watch a World Cup qualifying game between the two countries' national soccer teams. Since then diplomats have been holding secret talks on ways to normalize relations. On a different track, Turkish, Azerbaijani and Armenian officials are also holding talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, which appears to be an integral element of any Turkish-Armenian peace effort.

    However, analysts warn that the rapprochement with Armenia could be damaged if Armenian-American groups successfully press for a Congress resolution that recognizes the genocide claims. US President Barack Obama is also due to release an official statement to commemorate the killings of Armenians in eastern Anatolia during the First World War, and Armenian groups expect him to use the word "genocide" in his message because of the strong pledges he made to Armenian-American community during his recent election campaign.

    ´The US should not interfere with the process that underway in Armenia,´ said Babacan, reiterating that Turkey's strategic ties with the United States will be harmed if Washington moves towards supporting the Armenian claims. "We have a historic opportunity now. The current work being done in the southern Caucasus is not something that you can find every day.´

    Mechanism to distribute aid

    The foreign minister also called for a procedure to enable the coordination and distribution of the aid pledged yesterday at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference for Palestine. The conference brought together senior representatives from 80 countries and international organizations and was expected to raise more than $3 billion to help the Palestinian economy and rebuild the Gaza Strip, devastated from an Israeli operation in January. The issue of how to distribute the aid remains problematic, as most of the donors stipulate that they don't want the money to go to Hamas, the radical group that is currently controlling Gaza.

    Babacan said the Palestinian administration, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, or the rival Hamas cannot deal with the aid distribution alone. "For this task we need a program that has the consent of everybody concerned and includes representatives from the Palestinians, as well as international organizations," he said.

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, attending the donors' conference at the Red Sea resort in the town of Sharm el-Sheikh, said in her address that stringent safeguards were in place to ensure that no US funds went to Hamas.

    Asked whether the exclusion of Hamas would create a problem in delivering the aid to Gazans, Babacan said the Palestinian rival factions should reach a consensus and form a transitional government that will responsible for distributing the aid. Turkey has already pledged $150 million in aid to help rebuild Gaza. Yesterday, Babacan announced an additional $50 million. In his address at the conference, Babacan called for an end to the fragmentation among Palestinians and the lifting of the Israel's blockade of Gaza.

    Contrary to the Israeli and Western policies geared toward isolating Hamas, Turkey believes that radical group should be included in any Middle Eastern peace effort. ´We are not saying that we support everything Hamas does. We are simply saying that any effort that does not include all Palestinian groups will fail to resolve the Palestinian problem,´ he said.

    US special envoy for the Middle East George Mitchell, who visited Turkey last week, was advised in Ankara that Washington should consider all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with balance if it wants to be a fair and effective mediator, Babacan said.

    Talks with Abbas

    On the sidelines of the donors' conference, Babacan had talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, discussing the situation in Gaza and Egyptian-led efforts to broker peace between Hamas and Israel. Babacan told Abbas that Turkey supported Egypt's efforts in resolving the differences between Palestinian factions and emphasized that Arab countries must work together in order to resolve the Palestinian issue, according to Burak Özügergin, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

    [09] Turkish Parliamentary delegation due to USA

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    A Turkish parliamentary delegation, headed by chairperson of the Turkish Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Murat Mercan, will hold a series of talks in USA next week.

    The delegation, which will travel to USA on March 2, will hold talks with Howard Berman, chairperson of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Gary Ackerman, chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

    Turkish parliamentarians will also meet with members of the U.S. Congress Working Group on Turkey over a luncheon and attend a series of meetings to be held by various think tanks.

    [10] Turkish State Minister attends meeting of EU Ambassadors in Ankara

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish State Minister and Deputy Premier Nazim Ekren said on Friday that the European Union (EU) had a "dominant" position for Turkey among all international economic indicators.

    Czech ambassador in Ankara Eva Filipi hosted a luncheon for the ambassadors of EU-member countries posted in the Turkish capital.

    Speaking at the gathering as an honorary guest, Minister Ekren briefed the participants on the developments regarding Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) and the project on the establishment of Istanbul Finance Centre (IFM). During his speech, Ekren also said that the legal arrangements aiming to improve the structure of Economic Coordination Board were approved by the Turkish parliament last week.

    Such a board will improve the efficiency of economic relations as it was also stated in EU's progress report, he said.

    Expressing EU's importance for Turkey as an international economic indicator, Ekren said, this can be seen both in foreign trade activities and direct investments. Therefore, we will cooperate with EU not only to cope with the global financial crisis, but also in numerous areas in the upcoming process.

    [11] Davutoglu on Turkish ties with Africa

    Istanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (28.02.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkey's decision to increase relations with Africa strengthens rather than contradicts its European vision, a top government adviser says. According to Ahmet Davutoglu, 'The road to Paris passes through Africa'

    The prime minister's top adviser has reiterated Turkey's recent overture toward Africa does not mean the country is distancing itself from Europe. The road to Paris passes through Africa, Ahmet Davutoglu said at a press briefing here yesterday.

    The briefing came after Turkish President Abdullah Gul's recent visit to Kenya and Tanzania, sparking criticism in the press about Turkey's foreign-policy orientations. Davutoglu, one of the top officials shaping foreign policy, said Turkey's increased presence in Africa would only facilitate connections with Europe. Referring to France's leader, who is known to oppose Turkish entry into the European Union, he added: The road to Paris passes through the old French colonies. President Sarkozy should see a Turkish Embassy in every African country he visits.

    Africa is on the verge of a new era and Turkey needs to grasp the new realities on the ground, Davutoglu said: A country that undermines Africa can not have an international standing, he said, adding that Africa's vast natural resources and need for infrastructure provided ample economic opportunities for the Turkish business world as well.

    Ambassador Unal Cevikoz said a strategy paper would be prepared and distributed to all relevant state institutions through the prime minister's office, which would set main targets for relations with Africa and talk about future steps to be taken to improve Turkey's relations with the continent. A task force has been established with the coordination of the Foreign Ministry to determine the areas of economic cooperation, especially with sub-Saharan Africa, added Cevikoz, who is also the deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry. He said the legal infrastructure should be strengthened by signing agreements that encourage investment and prevent double taxation.

    Turkey has been criticized for its relations with Sudan, especially for twice hosting its controversial president, Omar al-Bashir, who has been accused of conducting genocide in Darfur. Davutoglu said it was impossible to accept the current policies in Darfur and that Turkey has raised the issue with al-Bashir. Some Western countries think Sudan is too big for Africa and holds too many people. But we are for the territorial integrity of Sudan, he said. "We also pursue a strategy to stop the human tragedy and internal warfare.

    Saying that no country was suspending its relations with Sudan, he added: If we want to be part of the solution, we need to have actors who maintain their influence.

    Following Syrian assaults on Lebanon, Turkey was asked to suspend its relations with Syria. Had we done that, we would have been unable to conduct our mediation efforts between Syria and Israel. Turkish diplomats conducted indirect talks between the two countries, which were suspended following Israel's offensive in Gaza.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [12] Is Turkey vital for US exit strategy from Iraq?

    Todays Zaman newspaper (03.03.09) reports the following:

    Turkey is an important ally for the US, mainly due to its geographic location at the strategic junction of the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Due to this location, Turkey, a NATO ally, plays an important role in serving US national interests in this volatile region.

    In the words of a Western diplomat, if Turkey were not located in this critical geography, it would not have had any importance for the US.

    This is a realistic analysis that also dictates the relationship among the nations. That also explains why Turkish-US relations soured significantly when Parliament rejected a motion on March 1, 2003 -- soon before the US invasion of Iraq -- that would have opened Turkish soil to use by this NATO ally.

    Despite rejecting the motion allowing US soldiers to enter Iraq via Turkey, which would have eased the US invasion by providing it a second front, Ankara later allowed the US and other coalition forces to use Incirlik Air Base in the south as a cargo hub for non-lethal goods as well as for strategic airlifts to Afghanistan. The nearby port of Iskenderun has also become vital for US forces; the port is used to meet a number of needs, from stockpiling arms to procuring other goods required for a warring nation.

    But the Turkish motion led to irreparable damage among the two allies, rightly or wrongly, since it marked a serious loss of confidence in particular on the part of Washington towards both Ankara's political leadership as well as towards the Turkish military, with which it has enjoyed privileged relations for decades.

    The US's supply of real-time intelligence to Turkey since November 2007, which has enabled the Turkish military to accurately pinpoint the bases of outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists in northern Iraq, preventing serious collateral damage, helped restore the damage inflicted on the bilateral relations.

    Now that US President Barack Obama has made his final decision and announced on Feb. 27 that the US would withdraw most of its military forces from Iraq by mid-2010, the routes the US will use to evacuate its forces from the country are on the agenda.

    There are approximately 142,000 US troops in Iraq, according to the US Defense Department.

    A residual force of between 35,000 and 50,000 US troops will remain in Iraq into 2011 with the primary mission of training, equipping and advising Iraqi security forces; conducting targeted counterterrorism missions; and protecting US civilian and military efforts. The only thing that could alter the withdrawal timetable would be a new outbreak of insurgent violence.

    As US exit routes have begun to be discussed, the Turkish side has denied reports that Turkey and the US have started informal talks about using Turkish soil for US troop withdrawal. Despite these denials, using Turkish territory, among other routes, for US troop withdrawal will be on the agenda sooner or later.

    The Turkish attitude toward facilitating US withdrawal or making it more difficult will be another test of confidence for the bilateral relations, particularly at a time when Turkey needs President Obama to avoid uttering the word "genocide" during his April 24 commemoration speech in reference to the World War I events involving Armenians under Ottoman Turkish rule.

    This Turkish concern may soften Turkish policy toward facilitating the exit of US troops from Iraq via Turkey.

    Most US troop withdrawal is expected to take place via Kuwait and Jordan, i.e., through the Persian Gulf. Turkey stands as a supplementary, but also easier route, for pulling out US troops, depending on the location of US forces within Iraq.

    Recalling Turkey's initial foot-dragging attitude in allowing the use of 0ncirlik by both the US and other coalition forces back in 2003, Ankara-based Western diplomats are not very optimistic this time, stressing the difficulty of doing business with Ankara.

    Some Western diplomats also believe Turkey is not too vital in the US's troop withdrawal strategy.

    But the Turkish attitude toward easing the US exit strategy or making it more difficult will test whether the two allies can trust each other.

    [13] From the Turkish Press of 27, 28 February and 1, 2 March 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 27, 28 February and 1, 2 March 2009:

    Relations With the United States

    Writing in Milliyet (27.02.09) Melih Asik, writes that according to reports, the US President will not mention the word genocide in connection with Armenia on 24 April in exchange for Turkey's help on the issue of Afghanistan. In other words, Asik claims, the United States wants Turkey to send troops to Afghanistan, but, he asserts, Turkey has nothing to do with the war in Afghanistan. It was the United States that occupied Afghanistan in the wake of the "twin towers plot" using the excuse of the war on terrorism, that continues to kill thousands of innocent Afghanis, and that has caused the war to spill into Pakistan. Asik maintains that "there is no one left who does not know that the United States is fighting in Afghanistan for oil, and not against terror." Asik concludes: "We do not have a single soldier to send to Afghanistan for the sake of the United States' oil interests. Can you [Prime Minister Erdogan] say this when the United States will ask you for troops? This is where we will see if you can play the high and mighty, and not in Davos..."

    Also referring to Turkey's relations with the United States in an article in the same newspaper, Sami Kohen explains that it appears that the new US Administration attaches importance to Turkey's position and wants to work together with Ankara on many of the region's problems. According to Kohen, the United States is interested in Ankara's cooperation with regard to the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, the increase of the allied troops deployed in Afghanistan, and France's participation in NATO's military wing. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's remarks on the subject of Iraq indicate a "yes" in principle, while his statement regarding Afghanistan imply a "no." As for NATO, Kohen states, the issue should be clarified by means of an understanding based on "give-and-take." Kohen argues in conclusion that Babacan's remarks show that Turkey wants to "continue cooperation and partnership with the United States (and with its allies in general), but it will not hesitate to put forth its own sensitivities and expectations."

    Also in Milliyet (27.02.09) columnist, Hasan Cemal, focuses on the latest "expectations" created by the new US Administration with regard to peace and stability in the Middle East. In his column, Cemal argues that President Obama would not want the PKK to cause trouble in the region, because this would lead to instability in Turkey and problems with the Kurds in north Iraq. Cemal says: "The PKK's armed existence in north Iraq and Qandil poisons not only Turkish-US relations, but also the relations between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish administration." Therefore, both Obama and north Iraq's Barzani and Talabani are "disturbed" by the PKK, and "it is possible for the United States, Turkey, and the Iraqi Kurdish administration to converge over a joint policy against the PKK in the coming period." According to Cemal, the aim would be to get the PKK to lay down its arms. In this connection, Cemal cautions the PKK to carefully "read" Obama's intentions vis-a-vis the Middle East, and asserts that Ankara, in its turn, should display the necessary determination "to sever the Kurdish political movement's ties to weapons and violence." Cemal queries: "Will Prime Minister Erdogan be able to take some of the steps needed to this end in the fields of democracy and law after the elections?"

    In an article entitled "From Neo-cons to Neo-liberals", in Milli Gazete (27.02.09) columnist Mustafa Ozcan asserts that the neo-conservatives at the helm of US foreign policy have been replaced by a neo-liberal group in the new US administration led by Barack Obama. He claims that neo-cons and neo-liberals "come from the same womb" and that the difference between them is not any bigger than the difference between Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netenyahu in Israel or between main opposition Republican People's Party, CHP, leader Deniz Baykal and the late leader of the Democratic Left Party, DSP, Bulent Ecevit.

    A report in Todays Zaman (28.02.09) entitled "April 24 Not Deadline for Armenia Rapprochement," which asserts that "Armenian-American efforts" to get Washington to recognize the Armenian genocide claims are "likely to be among the topics of discussion when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Ankara next week." The report also quotes "Turkish policymakers" as saying that "they will not trade a rapprochement with Armenia for US silence on the genocide issue."

    Referring to the meeting held between Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchechr Mottaki in Tehran, in Hurriyet (01.03.09) Fatih Cekirge says: "In my opinion, the Yildirim-Mottaki meeting that lasted more than one hour was not an ordinary meeting. Maybe this visit is the first step of Iran's efforts to open to the West and of the new process that will develop with the United States. Do you want to know why? US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will arrive in Turkey on 7 March. On 10 March President Abdullah Gul will visit Tehran." Cekirge adds that "the 'warmth' created by the new US Administration increases the hope that the strong wings that used to blow from Tehran to the West in the past will now turn into a 'spring breeze'."

    Viewing the latest diplomatic traffic among the United States, Turkey, and Iran in an article in Hurriyet Daily News.com (02.03.09), Fatih Cekirge observes that Iran is ready to normalize its ties with the United States. The columnist foresees a role for Turkey in this process, but a role that is less proactive than that of a mediator.

    EG/


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