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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-04-02

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. 61/09 01-02.04.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat is meeting with the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and the UN Secretary-General
  • [02] Babacan argued that the two community leaders should recourse to arbitration in case they could not agree on the issues which they discuss
  • [03] Rehn said that Turkey could make progress in its EU negotiations process if it backed UN efforts to reunite Cyprus
  • [04] Guls statements to Euronews channel regarding Cyprus
  • [05] Sua Saracoglu alleged that if Turkey opens its ports to Cyprus before reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem a great blow will be dealt to the Turkish Cypriot economy and to the possibility for a solution
  • [06] The President of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce will visit the occupied areas of the island between 13 and 30 April
  • [07] YAGA will lease 68 donums of land in the area of occupied Kazivera village
  • [08] MPs from the AKP will visit the occupied areas of Cyprus next week
  • [09] Avci met with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Cemil Cicek
  • [10] Soyer said the proposal for turning the occupied areas of Cyprus into a free trade zone is conflicting with the target of joining the EU
  • [11] More immigrants arrived in the occupied Karpass area from Turkey
  • [12] A new TV channel will start broadcasting in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [13] A three-party summit took place in Turkey with the participation of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A common action plan has been announced
  • [14] Turkey and Romania signed MoU on the Operation Black Sea Harmony
  • [15] Turkeys economy grew 1.1 percent in 2008
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [16] From the Turkish Press of 31 March 2009 and 1 April 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat is meeting with the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and the UN Secretary-General

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat is departing for Sweden today in order to hold a meeting at 16.00 hours with the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt. Tomorrow Mr Talat will visit France where he is expected to meet in Paris with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon at 14.00 hours. Mr Talat will also meet with the former prime minister of France, Michel Rocard. Furthermore, he will brief French media on the Cyprus problem.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Ozdil Nami, Mr Talats representative, told the illegal TAK news agency that the meeting between the two community leaders planned for tomorrow within the framework of the Cyprus talks is postponed for next week due to Mr Talats visit to Sweden and France. He noted that the postponed meeting is expected to take place next Friday.

    Writing in her daily column in Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (02.04.09) Tumay Tugyan reports that the meeting of Mr Talat with Mr Bildt is at least equally important with the meeting with Mr Ban Ki-moon. She notes that the meeting is important because Sweden will undertake the EU term-presidency in June and because of the European elections, which will be held in the same month. She says that it would be a noteworthy step for the Turkish Cypriots to be given the status of the observer in the European Parliament.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Babacan argued that the two community leaders should recourse to arbitration in case they could not agree on the issues which they discuss

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Babacan has said that the window of opportunity offered by the negotiations between the two leaders in Cyprus should not be missed. In statements during a lunch he gave in Brussels to the members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee between Turkey and the EU, Mr Babacan noted that Turkey has been committed to support any comprehensive solution agreed by the two sides within the framework of the negotiations and approved by the two communities.

    Mr Babacan argued that in case the two community leaders could not agree on the issues, which they discuss, they should recourse to arbitration instead of negotiating forever. He said that the arbitration during the Annan Plan, which was accepted by the Turkish side and rejected by the Greek side, has been approved by the then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Rehn said that Turkey could make progress in its EU negotiations process if it backed UN efforts to reunite Cyprus

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (02.04.09) reports the following:

    Turkey needs to step up the reforms linked to its European Union membership aspirations now that its local elections have been held, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has stated. The local elections have consumed a lot of energy, as elections tend to do. Now that people have cast their votes, it is time for Turkey to focus again on reforms, Rehn told a meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee held in Brussels on Tuesday.

    It is important to underline that the main fuel of the accession process remains the reforms in Turkey. The pace of negotiations depends on the pace and intensity of the reforms in your country, he underlined, while mentioning in particular the need to adopt new laws on the protection of workers. These reforms that enhance fundamental freedoms, reinforce the rule of law and anchor democratic secularism are first and foremost in the interest of the Turkish people, he said.

    Turkeys electorate has urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to stick strongly to its innovative and reformist identity via its choice in Sundays local elections, and that is the core message for the AK Party, a senior ruling party official said following the elections. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw his ruling partys share of the municipal vote reduced for the first time in its seven-year rule to 39 percent, from 47 percent in the 2007 parliamentary elections.

    The election results will have a positive impact on Turkeys ongoing EU membership process, Nihat Ergun, deputy chairman of the AK Partys parliamentary group, told Todays Zaman on Monday.

    Following the elections, we are entering a period of some three years without elections and our prime minister has called on opposition parties for greater cooperation to make the necessary reforms, Egemen Bagis, Turkey's chief negotiator with the EU, said at the meeting in Brussels.

    We must use this period ... to get things moving better, Bagis said.

    Rehn also said Turkey could make progress in its negotiations to join the EU if it backed UN efforts to reunite the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where Ankara backs the northern part.

    The commissioner, meanwhile, criticized Turkey on Tuesday for the way it treats the press, citing a recent conflict between the Turkish government and a major media conglomerate.

    Dogan Yayin Holding, owned by Aydin Dogan, had to put up 45 percent of its television station Kanal D and 92 percent of Star TV along with commercial real estate in Istanbuls Beyoglu district as collateral, worth nearly TL 915 million, for a TL 826 million fine levied against it by the Finance Ministry for tax evasion last month, though this offer of collateral was rejected. The tax evasion charges have been criticized by some in the EU as being unfair, although the government vehemently denies having played a role in the issuing of the fine.

    Unfortunately, certain recent developments bring me back to this topic again; I am thinking this time of the freedom of the press, in particular the recent procedure launched against the Dogan press group, Rehn said.

    He said his executive European Commission, which recommends how much progress can be made in Turkey's EU entry talks, would monitor the case carefully because freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any open society.

    [04] Guls statements to Euronews channel regarding Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (31.03.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul has reiterated Turkeys continued support to a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, which he said is well-recognized and acknowledged by the international community.

    The Turkish President was speaking on Euronews, which is preparing to broadcast news bulletins in Turkish later this year.

    Speaking during the interview, Mr Gul stressed that a settlement will be found to the Cyprus Problem by the two sides on the island, within the framework of established UN parameters. The existence of two separate entities in Cyprus was already proved during the referenda on the Annan Plan in 2004, Mr Gul said.

    Turkish President Gul also reminded of the fact that the UN sponsored settlement plan had been approved by Turkish Cypriots, and rejected by Greek Cypriots. If this peace plan had been accepted, at the time of the referendum of 2004 if the Greek Cypriots had not rejected the peace plan, today Turkish forces stationed on the island would have withdrawn. Everyone knows that, including the European Union. We are not against a solution, he added.

    Referring to Turkeys EU accession process, he once again expressed the view that the Cyprus issue should not be included as an obstacle in the way towards Turkeys membership.

    Responding to a question on Turkeys recognition of the Greek Cypriot Administration as an EU member, Mr Gul said, although it is not a commonly known fact, Turkey does not request visas from Greek Cypriots.

    Responding to another question regarding the demographic structure of the island, the Turkish President said that there were no illegal immigrants coming from Turkey in Cyprus.

    [05] Sua Saracoglu alleged that if Turkey opens its ports to Cyprus before reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem a great blow will be dealt to the Turkish Cypriot economy and to the possibility for a solution

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Sua Saracoglu, chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, has stated that if Turkey opens its ports to Cyprus before reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem and before the Turkish Cypriot economy is included in the Customs Union, a great blow will be dealt to the Turkish Cypriot economy and to the possibility for a solution.

    Therefore we shall carry out any kind of struggle against this possibility, said Mr Saracoglu who met yesterday with Gerd Andres, member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the German Federal Parliament, and responsible of the Social Democrat Partys (SPD) policies for Turkey and Cyprus.

    Mr Saracoglu alleged that the occupied northern part of Cyprus cannot use its economic potential because of the embargoes and it is facing unfair competition from the economy of the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey.

    In his statements, Mr Anders said they follow very closely the developments regarding the Cyprus problem and added that they visited the island in order to find out the latest developments. He said they support the efforts of the Turkish Cypriots for a solution.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] The President of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce will visit the occupied areas of the island between 13 and 30 April

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the self-styled ministry of economy and tourism signed yesterday an agreement with Maestro DMC Tur Company for bringing 1200 tourists from Italy to the occupied areas of Cyprus. According to the protocol, eight chartered flights will be organized between 16 June and 14 July from Italy to the occupied areas of Cyprus. In each flight, approximately 150 tourists will be carried to the occupied areas. The flights will be organized twice a week.

    Bora Ozgen, director of Maestro DMC Tur, said that if nothing goes wrong, about 1500 persons will visit the occupied areas of Cyprus from the cities of Bergamo and Berscia. He noted that the chairman of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and a delegation of representatives from various sectors will visit the occupied areas between 13 and 30 April and hold meetings. The aim of these meetings, he added, will be to search for ways of economic cooperation between the occupied areas of Cyprus and northern Italy.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] YAGA will lease 68 donums of land in the area of occupied Kazivera village

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the so-called Investment Development Agency (YAGA) of the self-styled prime ministry, has stated that it is accepting applications from investors who are interested in investing in the tourism sector on a land of 68 donums (a land measure of 1000 square meters) near the occupied village of Kazivera.

    Applications will be accepted until 5 June and the land will be leased for 49 years.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] MPs from the AKP will visit the occupied areas of Cyprus next week

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (02.04.09) reports that a delegation of MPs from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are expected to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus next week. According to the paper, the Turkish MPs will hold various contacts during which the Cyprus problem will be the main issue on the agenda.

    (I/Ts.)

    [09] Avci met with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Cemil Cicek

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Turgay Avci, self-styled minister of foreign affairs, attended the funeral of Mushin Yazicioglu, leader of the Turkish Grand Unity Party (BBP), in Ankara. During his visit to Turkey, Mr Avci met with Cemil Cicek, Turkish State Minister responsible for Cyprus, and the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. No statement was issued before or after the meetings.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] Soyer said the proposal for turning the occupied areas of Cyprus into a free trade zone is conflicting with the target of joining the EU

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Ferdi Sabit Soyer, self-styled prime minister and leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), has argued that the proposal made by the National Unity Party (UBP) for turning the occupied areas of Cyprus into a free trade zone is conflicting with the target of joining the EU. Addressing a meeting of his party the night before yesterday in occupied Lefkosia, Mr Soyer said: A great enthusiasm exists in everybody everywhere in the country. The target of the Turkish Cypriot people for unifying with the world exists in the basis of this enthusiasm. Taking their place as equal people by the side of the EU and the world also exists. .

    (I/Ts.)

    [11] More immigrants arrived in the occupied Karpass area from Turkey

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.09) reports that a group of 18 Palestinian and Iraqi illegal immigrants were found yesterday morning in the occupied part of Cyprus. According to the paper, the immigrants have been brought to the occupied areas of Cyprus from Turkey and were abandoned in the Karpass peninsula. Nine of the immigrants are children, four men and five women.

    (I/Ts.)

    [12] A new TV channel will start broadcasting in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (02.04.09) reports that a new television channel, Kibrisli TV, will soon start broadcasting from channel 47 (UHF band). The paper notes that Akdeniz TV is also broadcasting from the same frequency. Due to the fact that Kibrisli TV was not able to find a frequency, it decided to share the broadcasting time on channel 47 with Akdeniz TV. Therefore, Kibrisli TV and Akdeniz TV will be broadcasting from 12 hours each from the same frequency.

    (I/Ts.)

    [13] A three-party summit took place in Turkey with the participation of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A common action plan has been announced

    Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (02.04.09) in its inside pages reports that a three-party summit with the participation of Afghanistan and Pakistan took place at the Presidential Palace in Turkey. According to the paper, Afghanistan and Pakistan leaders, participate in the summit hosted by the Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara, just before President Obama´s visit to Turkey, and writes that for the first time they created a common action plan in the fields of politics, intelligence and military. The President of Afghanistan, Mr. Hamid Karzai and the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zerdari underlined that a positive atmosphere became visible in the area with the election of Mr. Obama, and asked for a summit to take place in Turkey in order to discuss the regional problems.

    In his statements, President Abdullah Gul said: In the summit today, we underlined the importance we attach to the cooperation and coordination between our military and intelligence organizations on security issues at a regional level.

    Moreover, Karzai and Zerdari, asked from President Abdullah Gul to host a summit, which Afghanistans neighbours will also participate. In the summit, which is tentatively scheduled to be held this year, together with Karzai and Zerdari, the leaders of Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan will be invited also. The Ankara Action Plan which was accepted at the summit provides for:

    1. The presidents of the three countries will meet once a year.

    2. The ministers of Foreign Affairs, the armed forces and the intelligence services of the three countries will meet once a year.

    3. The three countries will establish a Joint Working Committee.

    4. The countries will increase their economic cooperation.

    (A.K.)

    [14] Turkey and Romania signed MoU on the Operation Black Sea Harmony

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (31.03.09) reported the following from Istanbul:

    A memorandum of understanding on Romania's participation in the Operation Black Sea Harmony was signed in Istanbul on Tuesday.

    Speaking at the signing ceremony, head of Turkish Naval Forces Gen. Metin Atac said that Romanian Naval Forces' participation in the operation indicated the importance Turkey and Romania attached to global peace and security.

    Noting that Black Sea was an important energy corridor, Atac said approximately 300 ships travelled in the Black Sea region everyday and nearly half of them used the straits in Turkey.

    Atac said that there were currently several risks in the Black Sea region and such risks could potentially turn into threats if they were not taken under control.

    Pointing to the importance of Operation Black Sea Harmony, Atac said that the efficiency of the operation would definitely increase with Romania's contribution.

    Delivering a speech at the ceremony, the head of Romanian Naval Forces Gen. Dorin Danila said his country was ready to fulfil its responsibilities for the improvement of security in the region.

    Danila also said that the cooperation launched between Turkey and Romania within the framework of Operation Black Sea Harmony would contribute to the improvement of the two countries' regional rights and benefits.

    [15] Turkeys economy grew 1.1 percent in 2008

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (31.03.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkeys economy grew 1.1 percent in 2008.

    Turkish Board of Statistics (TUIK) stated on Tuesday that the economy shrank 6.2 percent in the last quarter of 2008.

    Turkeys gross domestic product (GSYH) in current prices increased 5.7 percent to 232.1 billion Turkish liras in the last quarter of 2008 when compared with the same period of 2007. GSYH in fixed-prices dropped 6.2 percent to 24.4 billion Turkish liras in the last quarter of 2008.

    GSYH per capita was 13,367 Turkish liras (10,436 USD) in current prices in 2008. Growth target for 2008 was set as four percent.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [16] From the Turkish Press of 31 March and 1 April 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries selected items from the Turkish press on 31 March and 1 April:

    a) Local Elections:

    In his article entitled "Military influence on elections," Milliyet columnist Fikret Bila (01.04.09) asserts that contrary to the strategy pursued prior to the general elections in 2007, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) preferred to remain silent during the local election process. He says: "Chief of the General Staff Gen Ilker Basbug has established an intense dialogue with the media since he took over. The topics of the dialogue were limited to security and fight against terrorism. He tried to avoid intervening in political matters." According to Bila, the outcome of the local elections showed that the people are capable of establishing political balances by using the dynamics of democracy and that there is no need for external interference. He concludes by noting that "the silence of the TSK shows that it learned a lesson from the 22 July elections."

    An unattributed editorial in Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.09) welcomes the steps taken by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on certain issues concerning the EU, the Kurdish and Alevi communities, Armenia, and the Caucasus and urges the government to avoid backpedalling on those policies. Recalling the AKP's election slogan "think big," it says: "The post-electoral contemplation in which the AKP is now engaged should not yield to the temptation to, 'think small.' On the Kurdish issue as with others, we support the AKP's effort to 'think big.'"

    An article by Burak Bekdil of Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.09) says: "The will of the nation tells us that 61 percent of Turks are discontented with Recep Tayyip Erdogan's governance. Is that good news for the main opposition? Well, not exactly. The will of the nation also tells us that 77 percent of the Turks do not think the Republican People's Party (CHP) could be a reasonable alternative."

    Writing in Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.09), Cuneyt Ulsever says in his article that the Felicity Party (SP) increased its votes from 812,000 in the general elections in 2007 to 2 million in 29 March local polls. Noting that the SP has gained momentum with the election of Numan Kurtulmus as party leader, he argues that the party has "become a new ray of hope for the said conservatives." The columnist says: "If the economy professor Kurtulmus criticizes the economic situation as the way the former President Suleyman Demirel did in a common language of the ordinary and chases after corruption claims in the way the CHP's Kemal Kilicdaroglu did, he will be able to seriously knock around the AKP. I will curiously follow the Saadet and its leader in the new term."

    In his column entitled "Three regional parties," Hurriyet columnist Mehmet Yilmaz (01.04.09) asserts that the election results showed that the Democratic Society Party, (DTP), is not the only regional party in Turkey. Recalling that the CHP and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) also managed to win the elections only in specific regions, he urges the two parties to develop "projects that will help them become a hope for the people living in eastern and south-eastern Turkey." He goes on to note that "to ignore the problem in those regions and to support the policies that proved to be useless do not mean that the problem is solved." Meanwhile, he holds Erdogan responsible for the decline in the AKP votes, saying that the prime minister has turned the election rallies into a "battle field," underestimated the impact of the economic crisis, and ignored the claims of corruption. Finally, commenting on the messages Baykal conveyed after the elections, Yilmaz says that the opposition CHP will be unable to overcome its popularity problem unless it opens the "democracy channels" in the party and changes its administration, including the leader.

    An article by Ahmet Altan of Taraf (01.04.09) focuses on Deputy PM Cemil Cicek's statement to Hurriyet on 31 March. Commenting on the DTP's election victory in Igdir, Cicek said: "They [DTP] reached the Armenian border. The AKP won the election only in Mardin in that region." Altan slams Cicek for treating the citizens of Kurdish origin as an "enemy" and creating a rift between the Turks and the Kurds in Turkey. He ironically says that no need for Ergenekon, military coups, or Constitutional Court's party closure cases, adding, politicians like Cemil Cicek will be enough to dissolve the AKP. He laments that instead of thinking about the reason behind the loss of support in the Southeast, the deputy PM acts like a general talking about an enemy.

    In an article entitled "voters get bored and the elected make mistakes" Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru (01.04.09) criticizes the way the results of the local elections are being described as a "major defeat" for the ruling AKP by certain commentators. He asserts that the election results have proven voter loyalty to be strongest among AKP supporters and that if any other political party were in power, popular support for it would have plummeted in Sunday's elections, triggering calls for an early election. Koru also discusses the reasons for the decrease in the AKP's votes before he proceeds to emphasize the "need" for the AKP leadership to come to terms with the fact that all ruling parties are certain to be voted out of power one day.

    In an article entitled "Will the people's message go home?", Vakit columnist Serdar Demirel (01.04.09) argues that the results of the 29 March elections indicate a shift of support from the AKP to the Felicity Party (SP) adding that the "synergy" that the SP has achieved under its new leader, Numan Kurtulmus, could enable this party to increasingly become a challenge to the AKP. He proceeds to claim that this situation should lead the AKP to reconsider its political identity because the sort of "hollow democratic conservatism" espoused by the AKP has started to prove weak against what the SP stands for. He also warns that while political parties like the AKP which lack a clear worldview could capitalize on their leaders' charisma to command public support for some time, they can collapse very fast once they are deprived of circumstantial advantages.

    In an article entitled "AKP: A losing winner", Zaman columnist Ali Bulac (01.04.09) analyzes the results of the local elections from the viewpoint of what they indicate about the "paralysis" of the AKP's capacity to embrace the entire country by using a style and language that appeals to all sections of society, an ability that Bulac claims the AKP displayed in 2007. He claims that the AKP has long since dissociated itself from value-based politics, preferring to denounce identity politics in such a way as to provoke the formation of "identity ghettoes" instead of gathering different identities under a single umbrella.

    In an article entitled "A modest contribution to chaos", Milli Gazete columnist Ibrahim Tenekeci (01.04.09) links the decline in popular support for the ruling AKP to "inconsistencies" in the behaviour and public statements of the AKP leadership exemplified variously by Prime Minister Erdogan's criticism of former CHP leader Ismet Inonu's practices during the so-called single-party era in Turkish politics and his tendency to "condone" references to the AKP by some supporters as "the only party" in Turkey; his objections to provinces like Diyarbakir, Eskisehir, and Izmir being described as the strongholds of certain parties on the grounds that "you cannot take votes for granted in a democracy" and his endorsement of AKP propaganda in the election run-up which took the form of warnings that "every vote not cast for the AKP will work to the CHP's advantage;" and his complaints about pro-Opposition news media during his election campaign which conflicted with his choice of pro-AKP correspondents as journalists to pose questions at his first news conference following the elections.

    In an article entitled "What happened to the AKP?", Yeni Safak columnist Ali Bayramoglu (31.03.09) argues that while the economic crisis is a factor that could help explain the "damage" that the ruling AKP sustained on 29 March, the real cause of the decline in this party's popularity should be sought in what has been its tendency since 2007 to deemphasize reforms and follow a "pro-system, pro-state, and even occasionally authoritarian" line. He also cites the AKP's "sterile emphasis on public services," its "complete rejection of identity policies and the notion of identity," its adoption of a "militaristic" line after the PKK's raid on an outpost in Daglica in August 2007, and its criticism of the campaign of apology for the events of 1915 as being among the causes behind the "erosion" of this party's public image.

    In an article entitled "Reading the election results in another way", Vakit columnist Yavuz Bahadiroglu (31.03.09) draws the following conclusions from the results of the local elections on 29 March: 1. "Only some five percent of our people consist of PKK sympathizers." 2. The Government cannot win over the people of the southeast through increased public services and "Kurdish initiatives" including a Kurdish-language television. The people of the southeast expect political initiatives. 3. The Government has not reaped any benefits from its row with part of the news media. 4. "The economic crisis has not missed Turkey narrowly," as Prime Minister Erdogan has maintained. 5. The "ostentatious" behaviour of the AKP leadership excluding Prime Minister Erdogan has estranged part of the people.

    In a "news analysis" entitled "AKP takes steps to draw its road map", Zaman writer Erdal Sen (31.03.09) asserts that a cabinet reshuffle is in the offing following the decrease in the ruling AKP's share of the vote in the local elections, adding that a mood of "nothing will be as before" has been created within the AKP in response to the election results. Sen goes on to argue that the AKP's "aggressive" line against the CHP and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) has backfired by causing voters supportive of opposition parties to form a "front" against the AKP amid "ideological fears" about the AKP's policies.

    In an article entitled "Time for reforms", Today's Zaman columnist Lale Sariibrahimoglu (31.03.09) argues that while representing a decline in the AKP's popularity, the election results nevertheless mean that voters have provided the AKP with "a mandate to make a fresh start, refocus on constitutional reforms that have long been neglected, and focus on economic recovery."

    b) President Obamas visit to Turkey:

    In his article, Sabah columnist Erdal Safak (01.04.09) says that President Obama's request to meet the representatives of the political parties in the parliament is an "important development" for the DTP prior to the announcement of the Constitutional Court's decision on the closure case against the party. Safak also says: "Obama's gesture will definitely strengthen the hands of [DTP leader Ahmet] Turk and his colleagues in the debate concerning the legitimacy of the DTP." Obama's gesture will also help the DTP take a strong position at the Kurdish conference to be held in Arbil in early May.

    In an article in Radikal, Murat Yetkin (01.04.09) asserts that President Obama is not interested in the Alliance of Civilizations meeting to be held in Istanbul by Turkish and Spanish leaders. Contrary to the Bush Administration, Obama does not see Turkey from the perspective of "moderate Islam," he says. Recalling US Ambassador Jeffrey's former remarks, Yetkin says that the US president is visiting Turkey just because he sees it as an "important country."

    In an article entitled "CSIS issues bizarre report: Increased General Staff influence in Turkey would not end Turkish-US Alliance", Zaman's Washington correspondent Ali H. Aslan (01.04.09) comments on a CSIS report on Turkey disclosed ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to Ankara. He claims that the report, entitled "Turkey's Evolving Dynamics: Strategic Choices for US-Turkey Relations," is characterized on the whole by a "constructive, reasonable, and realistic approach" while including "confusing" sections where it is maintained that an increase in the political influence of the Turkish military would not mean the end of the Turkish-US alliance "because more limited cooperation on common interests could probably be sustained."

    Viewing Obama's visit to Europe and Turkey in an article in Sabah (31.03.09), Erdal Safak says: "At the Strasbourg-Kehl summit, NATO's identity and mission will be discussed, but more important than that, a decision will be reached on the reinforcement troops to be sent to Afghanistan, which Obama refers to as 'my war.' That issue is not only important but also quite problematic for Turkey. During Obama's visit to Ankara, Turkish-US relations will be redefined, and during his visit to Istanbul, new aspects will be added to Turkey's mission as a bridge country in the Alliance of Civilizations."

    In an article in Taraf (31.03.09), Temel Iskit looks at the foreign policy issues on Turkey's agenda. On the upcoming visit by the US President, Iskit writes the following: "Obama is coming. There is no need to emphasize the importance of this visit. Many issues will be discussed during the visit under the general headline of 'reviving the strategic alliance.' What kind of a momentum will the visit give to our policies? How will the United States' cooperation be manifested in the solution of the Kurdish problem and the neutralization of the PKK? Will the US support for our EU membership have a meaning? Will the United States actively get involved in the search for a solution in Cyprus? Will it be able to do anything to lift the isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus? In return, to what extent will US expectations from Turkey be met in the former's withdrawal from Iraq, and in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan? What will Obama's demands from Turkey be in connection with the Middle East?"

    In an article in Cumhuriyet, columnist Ozgen Acar views the upcoming NATO summit and says the following three questions are important for Turkey: Will James Stavridis who is of Greek origin be nominated Supreme Allied Commander? Will the delegates veto the appointment of Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen -- "who encourages terrorism and is anti-Islam" -- as NATO secretary general? Will Turkey accept France's return to NATO after France prevented Turkey's EU membership?

    c) Turkey's Reaction to Rasmussen's NATO Bid:

    A commentary by Sami Kohen of Milliyet (01.04.09) asserts that Turkey has not yet clarified his position on Danish Prime Minister Ander Fogh Rasmussen's bid to replace Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as secretary general of NATO in July. Outlining the reasons behind Turkey's possible "veto" of Rasmussen's NATO bid, Kohen says: "It is common knowledge that Turkey is not very fond of the 56-year-old Danish leader. That is mainly because of Rasmussen's failure to make a 'gesture of apology' following the 'cartoon crisis' that created indignation in Turkey and the Muslim world when it occurred in Denmark four years ago. Another reason is Denmark's failure to give a satisfactory response to Turkey's initiatives to close down Roj TV for years. The last reason is Denmark's objection to Turkey's accession to the EU." However, the columnist says, regardless of Prime Minister Erdogan's negative stand on the matter, President Gul signalled in Brussels that Turkey is not against Rasmussen's candidacy. Stressing that the "conflicting" messages conveyed by the Turkish leaders confused the NATO circles, Kohen says that Turkey is expected to clarify its position before the NATO summit to be held on 3-4 April.

    YH/


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