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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-03-26

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. 57/09 25-26.03.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] The 24th meeting between Christofias and Talat has ended. The two leaders will continue their discussions on April 2. Statements by Talat after the meeting
  • [02] Ercakica on the visit of Talat to USA. The visit is expected to be carried out in April
  • [03] Ercakica on Talats letter to the EP President Hans Gert Pottering: Seats allocated for Turkish Cypriots must be kept empty until a solution
  • [04] Turkey violated Geneva Conventions if Olgac's remarks true
  • [05] General Secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference: We will organize a tourism congress this year in the TRNC
  • [06] The Kibrisli Aksam paper started to be published in the occupied areas for the election period
  • [07] More on AKPs meddling in the elections of the occupied areas-ORP will distribute free gasoline to its supporters
  • [08] British Minister Caroline Flint will meet today with the Turkish Cypriot community in London
  • [09] Gul in Brussels to reaffirm Turkeys commitment to EU
  • [10] Gul denies referring to N. Iraq as Kurdistan during his visit to N. Iraq
  • [11] Council of Europe warns Turkey in conscientious objector case
  • [12] Toptan: Turkey attaches a special importance to parliamentary diplomacy
  • [13] Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary to visit Turkey
  • [14] Turkish colonel arrested over disappearances in southeast in Turkey
  • [15] Opinion poll gives AKP 48.8% in next Sundays elections
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [16] A Commentary by Emre Uslu & Onder Aytac on Davutoglus active policy. Davutoglu and AKP leaders still disappointed on EU stance on Cyprus
  • [17] From the Turkish Press of 24 and 25 March 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] The 24th meeting between Christofias and Talat has ended. The two leaders will continue their discussions on April 2. Statements by Talat after the meeting

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.03.09) reported the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders met for the 24th time in Lefkosia on Tuesday to continue negotiations in a bid to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and reunite the island.

    The meeting between President Mehmet Ali Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Greek Cypriot administration leader Demetris Christofias at the buffer zone in Lefkosia lasted for about 2.5 hours. Taye Brook Zerihoun, the special representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General in Cyprus, said that EU-related issues were high on agenda of the meeting.

    Zerihoun said that the leaders would come together again on April 2 to continue debating EU-related issues. Afterwards, the leaders will begin discussing the issue of economy, he said.

    Zerihoun also added that United Nations Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Cyprus Alexander Downer would come to the island on April 4 to meet with the leaders.

    Moreover, illegal Bayrak television (24.03.09) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat evaluating the meeting on his return to the occupied areas has said that a serious level of agreement has been reached between the two sides on EU matters but differing views have been present too.

    In general, discussions on EU matters are so far so good he stated.Mr Talat said the third chapter of talks on EU matters is expected to be closed by next week. The next chapter will be on Economy.

    Talat reminded of the busy work carried out by special aides and experts on EU matters, stating that they have been given the duty of allowing further rapprochment between the two sides.

    Meanwhile, also commenting on todays meeting, the Greek Cypriot Leader Christofias said the progress achieved on EU matters so far is a positive development.

    Unlike Mr Talat, Christofias stopped short of speaking about the closure of the EU chapter by next week.

    Although some EU-related issues might remain on the table by next week, we will nevertheless start discussing the new chapter on Economy, President Christofias was quoted as saying.

    [02] Ercakica on the visit of Talat to USA. The visit is expected to be carried out in April

    Illegal Bayrak television (25.03.09) broadcast the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talats visit to Washington has been postponed to a future date, it has been announced.

    Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica said that the Presidents meeting with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not go ahead as planned for the 30th March. He said that they expected to carry out the visit in April.

    Speaking to reporters this afternoon, the Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica said that they expected the visit to Washington take place next month.

    Ercakica who pointed out that the visit had been postponed because of the US Secretary of States busy schedule as well as preventative efforts of the Greek Cypriot side, said that contacts to secure an invitation from the US State Department were continuing.

    The Presidential Spokesman also said that the Turkish Cypriot Side was deeply disturbed by the negative developments that were the result of the Greek Cypriot Administrations efforts.

    On the same issue, Todays Zaman newspaper (26.03.09) reports the following:

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are expected to meet in mid-April in Washington, the Anatolia news agency reported.

    Clinton will participate in US President Barack Obama's trip to Europe early next month and reportedly meet with Greek Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister Markos Kyprianou on the sidelines of a European Union-US summit next week in Prague. Then, Talat is expected to go to Washington in mid-April upon an invitation by US officials to meet with Clinton.

    News reports said Talat had originally planned to visit Washington in late March and meet Clinton during his trip. In a rapid reaction to the meeting plans, 11 leaders of the US-based National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) sent letters to both Obama and US Vice President Joe Biden, greeknewsonline.com, an online Greek-American weekly newspaper, reported.

    The CEH leaders issued a strong warning, pointing out that certain officials in your administration are considering actions that are on the verge of extending the Bush administration's doctrine even further by establishing a Cyprus policy that contradicts both of your clearly articulated views on the issue, the newspaper reported.

    [03] Ercakica on Talats letter to the EP President Hans Gert Pottering: Seats allocated for Turkish Cypriots must be kept empty until a solution

    Illegal Bayrak television (25.03.09) broadcast the following:

    Presidential spokesman Hasan Ercakica announced that President Talat has sent a letter to the President of the European Parliament Hans Gert Pottering clarifying the Turkish Cypriot sides position on European Parliamentary election, which will be held in June.

    In his letter, President Mehmet Ali Talat pointed out that two of the six seats allocated for Cyprus belong to Turkish Cypriots, and if a regulation making it possible for them to be represented at the EP was not made, he preferred that the seats be kept empty until a solution on the island is found.

    President Talat also underlined the need for Turkish Cypriots to be given at least an observer status at the European Parliament for now.

    The President also criticized the Greek Cypriot Administration for calling on Turkish Cypriots who want to use their vote in European Parliamentary elections or become a candidate for the 6 available seats to register in South Cyprus.

    Noting that such steps were not assisting the Turkish Cypriots achieving direct representation in the European Parliament, the Presidential spokesman said such steps are not adding to the good atmosphere created between the two sides.

    Ercakica said, the letter also drew attention to the fact that within the United Nations parameters, it foresees that the two peoples on the island have a right to choose their own representatives in separate elections.

    Moreover, Mr Ercakica referred to recent interview given by the leader of the Greek Cypriot administration Demetris Christofias as disturbing.

    Referring to Christofiass statement that if a solution isnt found to the Cyprus problem, we plan to put the blame on Turkey, Ercakica called for the Greek Cypriot leader to give his full attention to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Noting that the Turkish Cypriot sides only aim is to find a just, permanent and comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, Ercakica said if a solution isnt found, it is not going to matter who was to blame as it will create such a huge problem in Cyprus and in the region.

    Thats why the sides should give their full attention towards finding a solution instead of creating new problems, he added.

    Referring to Christofiass meeting with the Pope at the Vatican on Friday, Mr Ercakica said the Turkish Cypriot side was aware of the Greek Orthodox Churches negative influence on the Cyprus issue and added that they have been struggling to overcome these problems as well.

    Upon being asked a question regarding the Greek Cypriot sides attempts for NATO membership through the European Union, Ercakica said that it was not possible before a settlement is reached on the Cyprus issue.

    He said the Greek Cypriot side is trying to get NATO membership so that it can use it as an advantage on the Cyprus issue, Turkey will never allow this to happen, he added.

    [04] Turkey violated Geneva Conventions if Olgac's remarks true

    Under the above title Todays Zaman newspaper (25.03.09) reported the following:

    EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday that if confirmed, the remarks of a Turkish actor who said he had killed 10 Greek Cypriots during Turkey's 1974 intervention in Cyprus would mean that Turkey had violated the Geneva Conventions.

    Atilla Olgac, an actor at the Istanbul State Theater (0DT), told a Turkish television program in January that while serving in the Turkish military during the 1974 intervention, he shot at least one prisoner -- a 19-year-old -- dead on orders from a superior. He also said he had killed nine others while serving in Cyprus. Although he later retracted his remarks, he became the target of strong public reaction.

    When asked by Georgios Georgiou, a Greek member of the European Parliament, whether there were any prospects for Turkey to be tried in a war crimes tribunal in The Hague in the wake of Olgac's remarks, Rehn said the European Commission was monitoring developments and that if Olgac's remarks turned out to be true, this would mean that Turkey had violated the Geneva Conventions.

    [05] General Secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference: We will organize a tourism congress this year in the TRNC

    Under the above title Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (26.03.09) reports that the General Secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, stated that they exerted many important efforts as regards the issue of the unjust treatment of the TRNC and added that especially in the last four years important help was safeguarded economically for the TRNC.

    Mr Ihsanoglu said that a tourism congress will be organized in the occupied areas this year and added that on the issue of the promotion of the TRNC they opened representations and promotion offices in many countries. He also said that politically they contributed to the efforts of the UN Secretary-General.

    (CS)

    [06] The Kibrisli Aksam paper started to be published in the occupied areas for the election period

    A new newspaper under the name Kibrisli Aksam-Secim 2009 Ozel (Election 2009-Special Edition) has started to be published in the occupied areas of Cyprus as of the 21st of March 2009. The paper is distributed for free together with Kibrisli newspaper. Journalist Dr Dogan Harman is the owner of the new paper.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (26.03.09) reports in its daily Afrikadan mektup (Letter from Afrika) column that the new paper is financed from the state financial resources by the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP). The paper also writes that ten thousand copies are distributed every day for free and writes that the paper, which is printed at the web-offset machine which was bought with a credit acquired by the journalist Dogan Harman from the Vakiflar Bank, supports the two parties.

    (CS)

    [07] More on AKPs meddling in the elections of the occupied areas-ORP will distribute free gasoline to its supporters

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (26.03.09) reports in its daily Afrikadan mektup (Letter from Afrika) column that the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) of Turgay Avci is distributing gasoline for free. The paper writes that 20 million-pound gasoline vouchers will be distributed to the persons who want to participate in the ORP meetings.

    However, more presents will be offered to the ORP by the ruling in Turkey Justice and Development Party (AKP). According to the paper, AKP is getting ready to help ORP in the forthcoming elections in the occupied areas and adds that after the 29th March local elections to be held in Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan will send election buses to Turgay Avci.

    In order to help Avci, who stated in the past that Ankara trust me the most, and influence the election campaign, the AKP will send as many as 100 MPs in the occupied areas.

    Afrika also writes that in order not to cause Ankaras reaction, the CTP and ORP are working together in harmony. The paper writes that the CTP criticizes the National Unity Party for having settlers in its list although it included only 7 settles from Turkey in its list of candidates and says nothing about the ORP which has 17 settlers as candidates.

    (CS)

    [08] British Minister Caroline Flint will meet today with the Turkish Cypriot community in London

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (25.03.09) reports that since she has been appointed as a Minister for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Caroline Flint has shown a great interest in the Cyprus problem. According to the paper, Ms Flint will meet tomorrow with the Turkish community in London. She has been invited by the Turkish Cypriot community centre of Haringey to deliver a speech. It is announced that they will discuss issues related to Turkey and Cyprus. The paper also reports that Ms Flint accepted a delegation of the Turkish Cypriot community at her office last week, where they discussed about Cyprus.

    After this meeting, a second meeting will follow. This time, British Minister Ms Flint will meet with different names from various segments of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    It is also announced that in the meeting at the community centre the British Ambassador in Ankara Nicholas Baird and the British High Commissioner in Cyprus Peter Millet will also participate.

    (DPs)

    [09] Gul in Brussels to reaffirm Turkeys commitment to EU

    Todays Zaman newspaper (26.03.09) reports the following:

    President Abdullah Gul flew to Brussels last night to deliver the keynote speech today as the guest of honor at the Presidents' Debate in the European Business Summit 2009.

    President Gul will also meet with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, who is widely expected to be nominated to remain at the helm of the commission for another five years, and Mirek Topolanek, the embattled Czech prime minister whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

    President Gul's visit comes at a time when pundits are calling 2009 a year to "make it or break it." Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal and the newly appointed chief negotiator for accession talks with the EU Egemen Bagis all visited Brussels in the beginning of 2009. Turkey is now well aware that 2009 is a sensitive year because of concerns over Cyprus. The launching of a 24-hour Kurdish channel, the restoration of citizenship for famous poet Nazim Hikmet, the appointment of chief negotiator Bagis and the creation of a gender equality commission in the Turkish Parliament have all been welcomed by Brussels. However, the EU is still expecting more far-reaching reforms after the local elections.

    Both the government and the opposition are trying to support the Turkish bid to the EU with their successive visits. Primer Minister Erdogan traveled to the capital of the EU two months ago and met with Javier Solana, high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, and Hans-Gert Pottering, president of the European Parliament, as well as Barroso. Baykal also talked with Barroso during his visit to Brussels in February, during which he met with European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn as well. Both visits were welcomed by Europeans as signs of Turkey's firm commitment to the EU accession process.

    Bagis, on the other hand, after being appointed chief negotiator in the EU accession talks, has paid several visits to the continent and has also started to contribute to the prospects of the Turkish accession into the EU by frequently being present there.

    Gul is going to address business groups at the European Business Summit 2009 organized by BUSINESSEUROPE, a Brussels-based European association considered to be the voice of employers. He will also meet with King of Belgium Albert II and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel de Gucht.

    Gul is accompanied by chief negotiator Bagis Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and Yasar Yakis, chairman of the EU Harmonization Committee in the Turkish Parliament.

    [10] Gul denies referring to N. Iraq as Kurdistan during his visit to N. Iraq

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.03.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Tuesday he had not used the word "Kurdistan" in reference to the regional administration in north of Iraq.Speaking to reporters at Ankara's Esenboga International Airport after a two-day visit to Iraq, Gul said that, at a time when fight against terror is conducted and difficult issues are faced, it is meaningless to go into unnecessary arguments.In response to comments made by a journalist that he used the term "Kurdistan" while referring to the regional administration in north of Iraq, President Gul said that "I have not used such an expression".

    Turkey is the country that gives most importance to the unity and (territorial) integrity of Iraq, Gul said.

    There is a local Kurdish administration in north of Iraq that has been established based on the constitution of Iraq. This is what we expressed. I have held a meeting with the prime minister of the local Kurdish administration. Such talks are very normal. Certain arguments are being made in reference to such talks. We are dealing with difficult matters. While dealing with such matters, we must all be very careful. At a time when we are making progress, especially against the terrorists, there is no meaning and sense in unnecessary arguments, Gul said.Every country has its own languages, terminology, laws and constitutions. These are their own business, Gul said.

    ´The Iraqis decide on their territorial integrity, political unity and their own style of administration. In north of Iraq, there is a local Kurdish region. We have ties with them also. We carry expectations that the terrorist organization in existence in north of Iraq must be eradicated from the region. We have a certain cooperation going on. Everyone must understand the situation, Gul said.

    Asked about how the local administration in north of Iraq will join in the mechanism formed with Iraq against the terrorist organization, Gul said that it is impossible to talk openly on this issue.

    Everyone involved must follow closely how the expectations go on. Those individuals involved in this matter continue to hold talks within the framework of the mechanism, Gul said.

    Gul said that, as a neighbor, Turkey extended full support to Iraq's reconstruction, noting that it stood at an equal distance to all groups in Iraq.

    Gul said one of the most important issues he discussed with Iraqi officials was the economic relations between the two countries, which complemented each other.He also said the two countries aimed at raising the current trade volume of 6 billion USD to 20 billion USD by 2011.

    [11] Council of Europe warns Turkey in conscientious objector case

    Under the above title Todays Zaman newspaper (26.03.09) reports the following:

    The Council of Europe has harshly criticized Turkey's lack of action to redress the continuing violations of the fundamental rights of Turkish citizen Osman Murat Ulke, who was the first conscientious objector in the country to openly declare his refusal to perform compulsory military service.

    Ulke still faces imprisonment for earlier convictions, which were actually the subject of a European Court of Human Rights ruling from Jan. 24, 2006. In the January 2006 ruling, the Strasbourg-based court found that Turkey had violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment and ruled that Turkey pay 11,000 euros in compensation to the complainant.

    The Council of Europe announced yesterday a second Interim Resolution, which was adopted last week, in Ulke's case.

    Despite the European Court's judgment, the applicant was summonsed in July 2007 to present himself in order to serve his outstanding sentence resulting from a previous conviction. He is at present in hiding and is wanted by security forces for execution of his sentence, the Council said in a written statement. The Committee of Ministers strongly regretted that, despite the Committee's first Interim Resolution, no concrete steps have been taken by the Turkish authorities to bring to a close the continuing effects of the violation. Therefore, the Committee strongly urged Turkey to take without further delay all necessary measures to put an end to the violation of the applicant's rights ... The committee will continue examining the implementation of the ruling at each human rights meeting until the necessary urgent measures are adopted, the statement said.

    [12] Toptan: Turkey attaches a special importance to parliamentary diplomacy

    Ankara Anatolia agency (25.03.09) reported the following from Tunisia:

    Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan said on Wednesday that parliamentary diplomacy paved the way for establishment of solid relations between the peoples.

    Turkey attaches a special importance to parliamentary diplomacy, Toptan said who is currently on a 3-day formal visit to Tunisia.

    Toptan, who met with Fouad Mebaza, the speaker of the Tunisian House of Representatives, said relations between Turkey and Tunisia improved gradually. Toptan said Turkey carried out important diplomatic activities on Iraq, Syria and Iran, noting that U.S. President Barack Obama would address to the world from the Turkish Parliament on April 6 during his formal visit to Turkey.

    Turkish flag was hoisted to the building of Tunisian House of Representatives during Toptan's visit. Diplomatic sources said hoisting flag of guest country was not their tradition, and noted that Tunisian party attached a special importance to the visit of Toptan.

    [13] Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary to visit Turkey

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Israel's Foreign Ministry's deputy undersecretary is expected to visit Turkey in the coming days, officials said on Wednesday.

    Deputy Undersecretary Yosi Gal of the Foreign Ministry of Israel would pay a visit to Turkey soon but the date of the visit was not clear at the moment, officials said.

    Turkish-Israeli relations and regional matters are expected to be discussed during Gal's visit to Turkey.

    [14] Turkish colonel arrested over disappearances in southeast in Turkey

    Istanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (25.03.09) reported the following:

    A Turkish court arrested Wednesday an army colonel on charges of involvement in alleged killings of supporters of the terror organization PKK between 1992 and 1994 in Turkey's southeast, news agencies reported.

    Col. Cemal Temizoz was formally charged after investigators into the 1990 disappearances excavated wells in the southeastern towns of Silopi and Cizre owned by the Turkish Oil Pipeline, which revealed clothing and bone fragments.

    The colonel became the third suspect to be charged this month as part of a probe into allegations that supporters of the PKK were killed and buried in death pits in the southeast in the 1990s. The colonel, who had been questioned since Monday, was the head of a paramilitary police force stationed in the Cizre, Sirnak province, in 1993-1996.

    Recent digs in the area turned up some 20 fragments of bone and pieces of tissue in what the media have dubbed death pits.

    The two other suspects awaiting trial are the former mayor of Cizre, Kamil Atak, and his son Temel, who were at the time acting as village guards. They allegedly organized the abduction and killing of PKK supporters, within the knowledge and under the protection of the colonel.

    The investigation was launched in February after media published accounts of the alleged murder of a PKK member who defected from the terror organization and became an informer for the security forces.

    [15] Opinion poll gives AKP 48.8% in next Sundays elections

    Todays Zaman newspaper (26.03.09) reports the following:

    Analysts believe the lack of a strong opposition in Turkey boosts the popularity of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the eyes of the public, an inference largely supported by the results of a recent opinion poll which suggests that the governing party will garner more votes in the upcoming municipal polls, slated for March 29, than it did in the parliamentary elections of 2007.

    A recent survey, conducted by the Ankara-based MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center, found that the AK Party is likely to sweep 48.8 percent of the vote in March 29 local elections, a figure higher than the share of votes the ruling party received in July 22, 2007 general elections. Political analysts said one of the main reasons behind the AK Party's increasing popularity is the lack of a strong opposition in the country.

    In such a situation, when the country deeply feels the negative impacts of an economic crisis, we need to ask ourselves why the opposition parties fail to considerably increase their share of votes. We need to analyze the flaws of the opposition to fully understand why the AK Party continues to be popular among the public. As is known, politics is conducted through severe competition. However, there is not a strong opposition in Turkey, stated Mumtazer Turkone, a professor of political science.

    The survey revealed that only 22.5 percent of respondents are likely to vote for the main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) in the local elections and 13.3 percent are likely to vote for opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The CHP garnered 20.9 percent of the vote in July 22 polls whereas the MHP received 14.3 percent.

    If the survey reflects the truth, then it hints that the economic crisis has not dampened the popularity of the AK Party. The public has not forgotten about the trouble during the presidential elections [in 2007], the overruling of constitutional amendments aimed at lifting the headscarf ban at universities by the Constitutional Court and the closure case filed against the AK Party. In addition, the lack of an alternative to the AK Party in politics serves to an increase of votes for this party, remarked Mehmet Altan, a political analyst and a Star daily columnist.

    The survey also drops hints that the ruling party is likely to receive more votes in the upcoming local elections than it did in March 28, 2004 local elections. The share of votes the AK Party garnered in the previous municipal elections was 41.6 percent. The CHP received 18.2 percent of votes and the MHP received 10.1 percent of votes in 2004.

    The Political Situation in Turkey survey, conducted by MetroPOLL on March 23, polled 4,280 people in several Turkish cities to find out which party they will favor in the March 29 local elections.

    Participants were asked the city council of which political party they would vote for in the approaching local elections. More than 41 percent of the respondents replied that they would select the city council of the AK Party, 17.6 percent said they would favor that of the CHP and 10.3 percent said they would favor that of the MHP. A total of 21.2 percent of the participants either said they were undecided, theyd cast a blank vote, theyd not cast a vote or declined to comment. These participants -- the 21.2 percent -- were then asked to which political party they feel themselves closest and their preferences were distributed proportionally among all political parties. The share of votes the AK Party may receive in local elections jumped to 51.9 percent whereas that of the CHP increased to 22.5 percent and of the MHP increased to 13.3 percent.

    Participants were later asked for which party they plan to vote in the March 29 local elections. Nearly 40 percent said the AK Party, 19.9 percent said the CHP and 10.8 said the MHP. More than 18 percent of the respondents either said they were undecided, theyd cast a blank vote, theyd not cast a vote or declined to comment. When their share of votes was distributed among all political parties, the votes of the AK Party jumped to 48.8. The CHP received 24.5 percent and the MHP received 13.5 percent.

    In response to a question about which existing political party leader they trusted most, 43 percent of respondents said they trusted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the most. Erdogan was followed by the CHPs Deniz Baykal with 10.2 percent and the MHPs Devlet Bahceli with 6.1 percent.

    Analysts believe a crushing victory of the AK Party in the approaching elections would mean that the public supports the policies pursed by the ruling party.

    ´Turkey will continue everything from the point it stopped the day after the elections, on March 30. Opinion polls do not envisage a decrease in AK Party popularity, thus the ruling party will continue focusing on a number of issues, including a change in the Constitution, resolution of the Kurdish problem and the trial of Ergenekon [a clandestine terrorist organization plotting to overthrow the government],´noted Turkone.

    Altan said the ongoing Ergenekon probe contributed to the AK Party popularity, adding the ruling party will continue efforts to solve the longstanding Kurdish problem if it gains a victory in the elections.

    The Ergenekon investigation started in July 2007 when a house full of weapons and munitions was found in the Umraniye district of Istanbul. The police investigation resulted in the discovery of a shady gang with links to state agencies, and possibly the military, that had attempted to create an atmosphere conducive to a military takeover against a number of governments, most recently against the AK Party government. Dozens of suspected Ergenekon members are currently standing trial.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [16] A Commentary by Emre Uslu & Onder Aytac on Davutoglus active policy. Davutoglu and AKP leaders still disappointed on EU stance on Cyprus

    Todays Zaman newspaper (26.03.09) under the title Superman Ahmets mindset publishes the following commentary by Emre Uslu and Onder Aytac:

    During his recent visit to Washington, Ambassador Ahmet Davutoglu earned a new title: "Superman Ahmet."

    Policy circles and academics in Washington call him Superman Ahmet to emphasize his performance for Turkey and the boundless energy that puts him at all the important events in and around Turkey. In fact, after his visit to Washington, Davutoglu flew directly to Baghdad to join President Abdullah Gul. During his public addresses in Washington, political observes had the chance to understand Superman Ahmet's mindset, which can be explained in the following three points.

    It seems that Davutoglu's philosophy of being active and constructive in every phase of life is essentially a good thing and can be applied to foreign policymaking as well. In fact, since Davutoglu has started playing an active role in foreign policymaking, Turkey has been playing an active role in regional issues - from the crisis in Lebanon and Gaza to the crisis in the Caucasus. It seems that Turkey wants to play a "constructive" role in solving problems in the region; however, when it comes to the question of whether Turkey is successful on that front, political observers have doubts. From Davutoglu's message in America, it has become clear why Turkey wants to see peace in the region. The main motivation for Turkish foreign policy on that front is to gain economic benefits from regional peace. It seems that Davutoglu and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leadership think that Turkey's economic infrastructure is the strongest in the region; therefore, peace in the region will benefit the Turkish economy.

    In addition to the economic aspect of such an active policy agenda, it seems that Davutoglu and the AK Party leaders are still very disappointed with the EU's decision to accept Cyprus into the EU. Leaders in Ankara think that Turkey has done everything it could but that the EU blocked eight chapters due to the crisis in Cyprus. Some people in foreign policy circles think that such an attitude shows that EU leaders are reluctant to accept Turkey into the union.

    With this perspective in mind, Turkish policymakers are trying to increase Turkey's strategic importance through active diplomacy in the Middle East and the Caucasus region, where energy resources are located. Through increasing Turkey's strategic importance, Davutoglu and his circles hope to create an argument that Turkey is an important country that the EU cannot keep out of the union. The argument seems to be a good and reasonable argument; however, Davutoglu and his colleagues do not realize that whenever Turkey's strategic importance increases in the eyes of the West, political actors in the West lessen their demands for democratization. Further, instead of having good relations with the civilian government, political actors in the West prefer to establish direct relations with the military. That means less democracy. If Superman Ahmet cannot find a way to balance his own foreign policy strategy to increase Turkey's importance instead of implementing democratization reforms, he could find himself on the same page as military generals who argue that the EU should pay attention to Turkey's "special condition." The "special condition" argument is a cousin of what Superman Ahmet is trying to sell in the West: Turkey is a strategically important country; therefore, the EU should consider Turkey's importance.

    [17] From the Turkish Press of 24 and 25 March 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 24 and 25 March 2009:

    President Obamas visit to Turkey

    In his article in Taraf newspaper (24.03.09) Cemil Ertem argues that with President Barack Obama's visit to Turkey the final solution framework for the Cyprus issue, the ties with the EU, and the Kurdish problem will be brought before Turkey, says Taraf and adds: "These three dynamics are linked to each other and they are so important that they will eventually determine Turkey's new role both in the G-20 and in NATO." In addition to Turkey, the developing countries in Asia are becoming/will become regional powers, argues Ertem and notes: "Within this context, following the meeting in April the G-20 will take a step toward becoming an institutional decision making organ. It will no longer operate under a hegemonic state. This is the beginning of the road toward a world state." Ertem underlines that in addition to being a visit that aims to connect the East's energy lines to the European markets via Turkey, Gul's visit to Iraq is also a visit for regional peace and Obama will complement this visit on 6-7 April.

    In an article entitled "Pre-Emptive gestures in Turkish-American-Armenian triangle", in Today's Zaman (24.03.09) columnist Kerim Balci describes US President Barack Obama's forthcoming visit to Turkey as a "pre-emptive gesture" intended to prevent the destructive effects on US-Turkish relations of a possible US recognition of the 1915 events involving Ottoman Armenians as genocide.

    In an article entitled "The Obama visit: Risks and opportunities", in Today's Zaman (24.03.09) columnist Suat Kiniklioglu describes "the Armenian resolution in the US Congress" and Obama's upcoming 24 April statement as the "only" issue likely to pose a "risk" to Turkish-US relations in the short term. He also claims that "regardless of what [Obama] and his administration feel about this issue, there is little doubt that [Ankara's] current normalization effort with Armenia will figure predominantly in everyone's mind" during Obama's visit to Turkey.

    In an article entitled "It is the same plan", in Milli Gazete (24.03.09) columnist Hasan Unal asserts that incoming information regarding the agenda of Obama's upcoming visit to Turkey, the Democratic Society Party's "increasingly brazen demands" from Ankara, and recent "signs from the ruling AKP and President Gul" all point to a "joint action plan" to secure Turkey's support and "even" protection for a "puppet" Kurdish state in northern Iraq, get the PKK to lay down arms in return for a general amnesty from which Abdullah Ocalan would benefit, and have Ankara pass a constitutional amendment package that would entail the transformation of Turkey from a nation state into a multi-national partnership state like the former Yugoslavia. According to Unal, the worst part of this project is that it poses the risk of setting the Arab world and Iran against Turkey.

    In an article entitled "We cannot wait forever," in Sabah (25.03.09) columnist Erdal Safak highlights comments made by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in response to questions put by a group of Turkish journalists during his visit to Iraq. Safak quotes the Turkish President as saying that he told Iraqi Kurdish leaders that there could be very close cooperation between Turkey and the Kurdistan regional government if PKK guerillas based in northern Iraq are disarmed. Gul says: "We will watch developments. But, it does not mean that we will keep watching forever." Gul noted that he did not discuss the possibility of declaring a general amnesty in Turkey during his visit to Iraq, adding that current laws in Turkey offer significant opportunities to PKK guerillas who agree to lay down their arms. Asked whether or not terrorism would be discussed during US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Turkey, Gul said: "Other countries may help and support us about that issue. But, it is our problem. We must be resolved and strong while our allies help us and they actually do that. We cannot transfer that responsibility to other countries. If we do, they could use it."

    EG/


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