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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-04-16

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. 71/09 16.04.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after meeting Hillary Clinton in the USA
  • [02] Turkeys Minister for EU Affairs: We cannot take a step back from our current position. Turkey is determined to this end
  • [03] Turkish dailies on the elections in the occupied areas; The number of Turkish settlers voters counts to 100 thousand
  • [04] The Tourism in Islam World seminar began in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [05] Babacan completed his contacts in Austria. He alleged that Turkey would make its own decision about EU membership process
  • [06] Gul Addresses Bahraini Parliament: Obamas messages in Turkey to the Muslim world created a positive atmosphere in the world
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [07] Fethullah Gulen community seen as target of the Turkish generals speech at the War Academies
  • [08] From the Turkish Press of 15 April 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after meeting Hillary Clinton in the USA

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (16.04.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met yesterday with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton at the US State Department. No statement was made after the meeting. While Mr Talat was meeting with Mrs Clinton, his spouse, Oya Talat met with the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Womens Issues at the US State Department Melanne Verveer.

    Mr Talat said that the meeting with Mrs Clinton was very good and that he asked for the support of the US to the solution process in Cyprus. In statements to the journalists after the meeting, Mr Talat stated: Our meeting was very good. We held the meeting at the invitation of Mrs Clinton. As you would understand, we explained to her how the Turkish Cypriots see the process. Mrs Clinton said many times that the US strongly support the process.

    Meanwhile, before the meeting, Mr Talat addressed a round table discussion at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Mr Talat reiterated his view that reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem before the so-called presidential elections in the occupied areas in 2010 is a must and added that their target is to achieve a solution until that date. He said that amazing progress has been achieved on the EU issues during the ongoing negotiations. We can overcome the differences as long as we remain committed to the UN parameters, argued Mr Talat alleging that the Turkish Cypriots proved their commitment to the solution in 2004. He said that the governance and power sharing is the main element of the Cyprus problem and added that the differences on this issue could be overcome as long as the sides remain committed to the UN parameters. He claimed that the property issue is one of the results of the Cyprus problem, not one of its reasons.

    Mr Talat referred with optimism to the economic issues. He said that some protective arrangements are needed until the Turkish Cypriot economy reaches the level of the Greek Cypriot economy and gave some examples of problems from everyday life. He alleged that there is an obsession in the Greek Cypriot side that the breakaway regime will be recognized with every step which will be made and added that obstacles exist even on issues regarding the EU acquis communautaire. Referring to the confidence-building measures, Mr Talat said that the technical committees reached an agreement on 22 issues, but these agreements cannot be materialized because of the Greek Cypriot obsessions.

    The paper also reports that the vice-president of the centre, Stephen Flanagan presented Mr Talat as president and referred to his curriculum vitae.

    Meanwhile, writing in his daily column in Kibris (16.04.09), Hasan Hasturer notes that the Clinton-Talat meeting lasted more than it was planned and the journalists evaluated this fact positively.

    Mr Hasturer writes that not only the bureaucrats, but Mrs Clinton herself knew the developments in Cyprus and added that one of Mrs Clintons few questions was how the US support could become more fruitful to the maximum level.

    Mr Hasturer reports, inter alia, the following: Talat did not want a date for the solution, but the following words he said last night are important: Our target is to reach a solution in a short period of time. A window of opportunity is open at the moment. However, the important thing is to evaluate the fact that the window of opportunity is open. The solution should be materialized when the window of opportunity is open. The internal and external developments might influence the process negatively.

    Mr Hasturer goes on adding that Mr Talat said he asked from Mrs Clinton the appointment of a US special representative for Cyprus and that she said that they will evaluate this demand. Mr Talat also said that they want the US and the UN to become more active in the Cyprus problem.

    According to Mr Hasturer, Mr Talat replied as follows to a question of a journalist regarding the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation army from the island: First let me say this: The existence of the Turkish army on the island is not the reason of the problem. And when there is a solution the Turkish army will withdraw. The Turkish army is not the reason of the conflict on the island, but the reason for the reduction of the tension. Mrs Clinton did not raise this issue during our meeting.

    In addition, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (16.04.09) refers to Mr Talats visit to the USA under the title Strong support to Talat from the USA and reports that the meeting lasted approximately one hour.

    Invoking diplomatic sources, the paper writes that Mr Talat asked for the involvement of the international community in the negotiating process in Cyprus. He also referred to the necessity for UN arbitration with the aim of building bridges on issues where disagreement exists. Mr Talat asked also for intensification of the negotiating process and the lifting of the isolation on the Turkish Cypriots.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Turkeys Minister for EU Affairs: We cannot take a step back from the current position. Turkey is determined to this end

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (15.04.09) reports the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Turkish State Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis arrived in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to attend a conference and hold a series of talks.

    Bagis said at the airport after his arrival: We attach great importance to the ongoing negotiation process between President Mehmet Ali Talat of the TRNC and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias. We consider the Cyprus issue our national cause. We cannot take a step back from the current position. Turkey is determined to this end. On the other hand, Turkey is also determined in its EU membership process. No one has the right to put Turkey's EU membership process into a deadlock because of the Cyprus issue, he said.

    Later, Bagis partook in a dinner hosted in his honor by TRNC Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Turgay Avci. Bagis will be received by the TRNC Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer on Thursday. He is also set to meet with Avci. He will visit the TRNC Prime Ministry EU Coordination Center. Then, he will attend a conference at the Eastern Mediterranean University on Turkey in EU Membership Process. Bagis is expected to return to Turkey later on Thursday.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (16.04.09) reports that the Turkish Minister of EU Affairs and Chief negotiator, Mr Egemen Bagis, in a written statement to illegal TAK prior his visit to the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, said that they will continue their cooperation with the new government which will be formed with the free will of the Turkish Cypriots after the elections.

    [03] Turkish dailies on the elections in the occupied areas; The number of Turkish settlers voters counts to 100 thousand

    Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (16.04.09), under the title 100 thousand voters ´From Turkey´, publishes an extensive reportage about the elections, which will be held in the occupied areas of Cyprus next Sunday. The paper reports, inter alia, that in the general elections, which are the 10th after 1974, only 61 thousand of the voters are Turkish Cypriots. The rest 100 thousand voters are Turkish settlers who came in the occupied areas after 1974. As the paper writes, looking it from this point of view, many Turkish Cypriots say that it is the migrants from Turkey that will determine the elections. The paper further adds, that 358 candidates from seven parties will run for 50 seats and that the ruling Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and the opposition National Unity Party (UBP) are ahead according to the public opinion polls.

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (16.04.09) publishes a report by its correspondent in occupied Lefkosia, Sefa Karahasan under the title, Election bribe quarrel in the TRNC. Sefa Karahasan reports, inter alia, that the vice chairman of the so-called Executive Board of Vakiflar Bankasi, Mr Ahmet Keskin, speaking in a press conference, accused the CTP of granting credits to five hundred people in exchange of votes, three days before the elections.

    (AK)

    [04] The Tourism in Islam World seminar began in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (15.04.09) reported the following from occupied Keryneia:

    The Turkish Cypriot state hosted on Wednesday a seminar on tourism in Islam world. The "Tourism in Islam World" seminar began in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) within the framework of a decision made at the 35th foreign ministers conference of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

    Representatives of 19 countries are participating in the seminar.

    TRNC can overcome every problem or difficulty with the support of the Islam world, TRNC Foreign Minister Turgay Avci said during the seminar. Avci defined TRNC as a conference center, original holiday and investment center, thanks to its history, culture, wild life and nature. We hope 2009 will bring a comprehensive settlement to the island, and a solution depends on the Greek Cypriot administration, Avci said. Avci also said that the international community should fulfill its promises to the TRNC, end isolation and motivate the Greek Cypriot administration for a settlement.

    Also, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu sent a message to the seminar. In his message, Ihsanoglu expressed his belief that the seminar would help lift embargoes on TRNC.

    The seminar will end on Thursday.

    [05] Babacan completed his contacts in Austria. He alleged that Turkey would make its own decision about EU membership process

    Ankara Anatolia (15.04.09) reports the following from Vienna:

    Turkeys Foreign Minister, Mr Ali Babacan, said that Turkey would make its own decision about EU membership process. Besides 27 member-states, Turkey will itself decide on full membership, Babacan told a press conference with his Michael Spindelegger, the Austrian minister for European and international affairs. Babacan is actually visiting the Austrian capital of Vienna.

    This will be a win-win process whatever the outcome of the negotiation process is, Babacan said. Babacan also said that the government was making reforms to raise the living standards of Turkish people, not to please the EU or the European Commission. The Turkish minister said that there were still reforms to be made, and Turkish people were approving and backing the reforms. Babacan said that Spindelegger also discussed fight against terrorism, and said international cooperation in countering terrorism was obligatory.

    Also, Spindelegger said that Turkish and Austrian foreign ministries would each designate a diplomat who would contribute to bilateral relations, Turkey-EU negotiation process, and United Nations Security Council non-permanent memberships of the two countries. The Austrian foreign minister said that EU states would make a decision about Turkey's membership at the end of the negotiation process, and it was not possible to say yes or no to Turkeys membership right now.

    Babacan then participated in a luncheon hosted in his honor by Spindelegger. The Turkish minister will later meet representatives of Turkish non-governmental organizations in Austria at the Turkish Embassy in Vienna, and be received by President Heinz Fischer.

    [06] Gul Addresses Bahraini Parliament: Obamas messages in Turkey to the Muslim world created a positive atmosphere in the world

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (15.04.09) reports the following from Manama:

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Wednesday that U.S. President Barack Obama's messages in Turkey to the Muslim world created a positive atmosphere in the world.

    In this respect, it is the right time for all the world, especially the Muslim world and Arab countries, to voice their arguments unitedly, Gul called on the Arab world in his address to Bahrain's national assembly. Gul has been the first foreign statesman to address the Bahraini parliament.

    Urging the Arab countries to act unitedly, Turkish president said that new U.S. foreign policy, changed after Obama administration, was valuable and that it was now right time to speak out loud for their arguments in the world. Gul also called on the Muslim world to remove divisions and difference of opinions as soon as possible.

    Expressing his sorrow over the Israeli attack in Palestine, Gul said the problem should be resolved in the shortest time in order to avoid such possible pains. Settlement of this issue depends on the unity and integrity of Palestinian people, Gul said, adding that the settlement should be a two-state solution.

    Repeating his call for unity among Muslim countries, specifically in Iraq, Gul also warned about division of Iraq. He said Turkey strongly underscored the importance of Iraq's unity and territorial integrity.

    Gul also said that Turkey, as a country in entry talks with the European Union, could express concerns and views of the Muslim world in the EU.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [07] Fethullah Gulen community seen as target of the Turkish generals speech at the War Academies

    Under the title "Why did Gen Ilker Basbug target the Gulen Community?, Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (15.04.09) publishes the following commentary by Emre Akoz:

    I listened to Chief of the General Staff Gen Ilker Basbug's remarks at the War Academies. His address contained many points that need to be underscored. One of these was no doubt the issue of "religious communities."

    Gen Basbug believes that religious communities that grow strong financially subsequently try to shape sociopolitical life and to spread their concept of a single way of life.

    Basbug mentioned only "communities," but it was clear from his emphasis and what could be read between the lines that he was referring to the Fethullah Gulen community.

    The uneasiness of the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] over the Gulen community is obviously not new. The expansion of the activities led by Fethullah Gulen (schools, foundations, dialog and tolerance calls, and so forth) and the growth of interest in these activities among liberal and democrat groups were brought to an end by a psychological operation against the community ten years ago. Specifically, even as the 28 February covert coup process unfolded, a fabricated cassette tape that was circulated in June 1999 turned public opinion against Gulen.

    Because of this operation, Gulen has not returned to Turkey from the United States, where he remains because of his health problems.

    Now let us ask: Why did Gen Basbug target the Gulen community? Is this situation solely an extension of the theme of secularism our military cannot resist broaching?This is not the only problem.

    Basbug devoted a large portion (55 minutes) of his two-hour speech to identity politics, the PKK, and the war against terrorism. He suggested the following steps for a solution:

    Stop the organization from gaining new recruits.

    Enact legislation to induce rebels on the mountains to leave the organization.

    Institute economic, social, and cultural measures.

    Ensure that international support and financial resources to the organization are cut off.

    Drive the organization out of northern Iraq.

    In other words, it is now evident that this problem will be solved with the road map President Obama has outlined. Specifically, Turkey will recognize Kurdistan, the PKK will disarm, and most demands related to [the recognition of the Kurdish] identity [in Turkey] will be met.

    This brings us back to the Gulen community.

    The community is a player in the solution of the Kurdish problem by virtue of its activities in not only the Southeast but also Kurdistan or northern Iraq.

    The TSK finds this disturbing. It does not want any players other than the official agencies of the state (especially a religious community) to be involved (or to steal roles) in the negotiation process.

    I can even engage in some speculation: Might the Gulen community have been discussed when an accord was reached with the Obama administration (for example, "we squeeze from here and you squeeze from there")?

    The Hodja Effendi [Fethullah Gulen], who is said to have "good access to information," said last week: "An outcry over reactionism, similar to what happened on 28 February [ 1997], may get under way with new actors."

    The Gulen community has been careful not to engage in any unlawful activities in order to avoid any repression. Will it now be kept away from the Kurdish question with new psychological operations? We will see.

    Note: Journalists who "annoy" officers with their news stories and articles, such as Ali Bayramoglu of Yeni Safak and Samil Tayyar of Star were invited to [Basbug's] talk, but even the most moderate writers from [pro-Gulen] Zaman were excluded. So, would I be going too far if I said that "the General Staff is trying to split the Islamist front"?

    [08] From the Turkish Press of 15 April 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 15 April:

    Gen Basbugs Speech at the War academies

    Commenting on Chief of the General Staff Ilker Basbug's speech at the War Academies, in which he warned against attempts to erode the prestige of the armed forces and vowed to confront congregations that try to exploit religion for political purposes, Oktay Eksi notes in his column in Hurriyet that a similar warning was issued in the same hall by the former army chief Yasar Buyukanit to no avail and time will show if Basbug's warnings will produce any result.

    After finding it meaningful that unlike Ismail Hakki Karadayi, Huseyin Kivrikoglu, and Yasar Buyukanit, former army chief Hilmi Ozkok did not attend the War Academy meeting and that Zaman journalists too were absent or were not invited to the meeting, Yalcin Dogan points out in his column in Hurriyet that Basbug, in a departure from the army's previous policy, did not use the word "reactionism," instead put the stress on danger posed by religious "congregations" which are gathering economic strength to eventually shape a backward socio-political lifestyle that would in turn lead to polarization between believers and nonbelievers. Noting that Basbug also stressed the need to adhere to laws and democracy in combating terrorism and sects, Yalcin Dogan says that in his speech Basbug adopted an academic approach reserving his opinions on current developments to his news conference next week. The columnist also recounts that during his brief conversations with generals before and after Basbug's speech the generals made no reference at all to the Ergenekon probe, adding that during the reception after the speech he was sitting with former MIT agent Mahir Kaynak at the same table and there Kaynak opined that the latest wave of Ergenekon detentions may actually be an attempt by Fethullah Gulen to get rid of PM Erdogan.

    Ahmet Hakan, in his column in Hurriyet, also notes the fact that Taraf, Zaman, and Vakit [and Milli Gazete] newspapers were not invited to the War Academies meeting, before going on to describe the aura each journalist tried to effuse at the meeting. He notes that when Basbug entered the hall to deliver his speech, all officers rose to their feet but most journalists stayed seated. Hakan notes that Basbug was pleased with the presence of journalist Nuray Mert, that Lale Sivgin from anti-AKP and nationalist ART television moved among soldiers as if she were a "military princess," that the Cumhuriyet columnists at last felt at home at the War Academies, Taha Akyol was pleased with Basbug's frequent reference to sociologist Max Weber, and that Hasan Cemal was also enjoying his reconciliation with the soldiers.

    In his column in Hurriyet, Yalcin Bayer draws the following conclusion from Basbug's speech: "Basbug made a good start. He was calm and used a soft language. He showed his adherence to democracy. He openly voiced the difficulties Turkey confronts. He substantiated his views that could be open to controversy. Clearly, the Turkish Armed Forces was standing its ground; its resolve was clear for all to see."

    Referring to Basbug's reiteration of the Turkish adage that the Turkish Army is the "Prophet's Hearth," Yavuz Donat says in his column in Sabah that the Turks do indeed regard the army as the "Prophet's Hearth" and judges as vicars of the Prophet, and that is why both the army and the judiciary should act with great responsibility towards the society. Declaring that Basbug behaved like a "statesman" and a wise "teacher" putting stress on democracy, human rights, and broad social inclusiveness, Donat says Turkey is "lucky to have such a personality" at the helm of the "Prophets' Hearth."

    Noting that Basbug used the term the "people of Turkey" instead of the "Turkish people," Mehmet Barlas, in his column in Sabah, sees this as a radical departure from 1970's when using such a term would have spelled disaster for its user, adding that had this concept been adopted by former Turkish leaders Turkey would have confronted no PKK problem.

    Taha Akyol praises Basbug's "intellectual overture" to the civilians. Akyol notes in his column in Milliyet that Basbug did not speak as if he were issuing a warning, rather he was suggesting that the civilian and military institutions should refrain from interfering in each other's sphere of activity by establishing a "common sense" relationship. Akyol also considers Basbug's use of the term the "people of Turkey" as meaningful, and notes that Basbug defended a broadly based secularism without speaking about reactionism. In short, Akyol adds, Basbug "spoke like a republican intellectual probing a social problem," and by doing so revealed a mental refreshment inside the army.

    Whereas, Hasan Cemal says in his column in Milliyet that there was nothing much new in Basbug's speech and he only gave vague clues about possible change of mentality in the army. Cemal says he was not convinced with Basbug's implication that as a sui generis democracy, the army in Turkey should not come under the full control of the government. Cemal also disagrees with Basbug's claim that the army in Turkey is not a hurdle to democracy, adding that intellectuals' demand for the army to occupy its proper niche in democracy cannot be considered a hostile act against the army. Cemal also believes Basbug's denial of past oppression of Kurds would also not help the solution of the Kurdish problem. Cemal adds that Basbug's remarks could only be considered as important if by those remarks Basbug simply intended to trigger a free debate of these issues.

    Abbas Guclu says in his column in Milliyet that Basbug was successful in explaining today's problems in terms of history, but on the negative side his speech was too long and the listeners lost interest in it after a while; he cited too many authorities, he was too academic, he was "like a vigilant teacher that allowed students not even a chance to breathe," and he scored a goal against himself by saying right at the beginning of the speech that he will express his opinions on current affairs in his news conference next week. Many journalists, who had come to hear his opinion on the Ergenekon probe, lost interest in his speech after that.

    Taraf newspaper reports Basbug's speech under the headline "Moderate tutelage," meaning that the army will maintain its tutelage over the civilians but in a moderate form. The report notes salient points from Basbug's speech, noting in particular Basbug's proposal that the army should enjoy greater "autonomy" from the government.

    Commenting on Basbug's speech in a column in Taraf, Ahmet Altan says Basbug's speech was full of contradictions, but what was most troubling was the live broadcast of the speech by many television stations, something that cannot be seen in any civilized country. Altan says the Turks' mentality is so distorted that an army chief talking to them like a "school principal" looks natural. Altan especially takes exception with the claims that Turkey's special conditions necessitates army involvement in politics and with Basbug's call for military "autonomy" during a war, saying that the timing and goals of a war could only be determined by a parliament, the army is autonomous only as regards battle tactics. Altan believes it was also not Basbug's job to talk about the unalterable provisions of the constitution.

    Also commenting on Basbug's speech in a column in Taraf, Yasemin Congar says Basbug talked about democracy but did not act democratically as in democracies generals do not address the nation, he did not represent the contemporary world because many of the ideas he expressed had nothing to do with modernity, and his citation of scholars does not make his speech any "scientific" as some claim; rather, he said many contradictory things, and it was also wrong of him to base his arguments on Samuel Huntington's "The Soldier and the State" as that book is no more compatible with modern principles of democracy.

    Commenting on Basbug's speech in a column in Radikal, Oral Calislar says that it was wrong for Basbug to say that Turks never tried to forcibly assimilate or oppress other ethnic groups, adding that the new thing in Basbug's statement was the indirect call on the government to issue some sort of amnesty for PKK members. Then, Calislar notes, this directly contradicts with recent detentions of DTP officials, as those detentions raise the question of whether the army and the government are cooperating to prevent Kurds from engaging in "ethnically-based" politics.

    In his column in Hurriyet Daily News, Yusuf Kanli says: "What General Basbug did yesterday was indeed a briefing on the 'manifesto' of the military from how the military perceived religion to secularism, Islamic brotherhoods in a secular democracy, democracy, relations between the civilian government and the military, separatist terrorism, national identity and 'cultural' secondary identity and some such top discussion subjects. Was such an effort by the top general of the country necessary? Well, what is wrong in the military explaining to the Turkish public what it thinks and where it is regarding some key concepts, some fundamental discussion topics in the Turkish society? But, at the same time, why in a democratic republic would the top general of the country gather some 1,000 'opinion leaders' of the country and deliver them a briefing on what the military thinks on certain important issues? As Basbug himself said, if the top commanders of the country were indeed top advisers of the government on security matters, why on earth did the top general not go to the prime minister or open up such a discussion at the National Security Council and brief the government rather than going public?"

    Under the headline, "People of Turkey initiative," Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report, which outlines Chief of Staff General Ilker Basbug's messages in his War Academy address in Istanbul yesterday. The report highlights Basbug's reference to Ataturk's remark describing the "Turkish nation" as "the people of Turkey who established the Turkish Republic."

    In an article entitled "General Staff revolution and a new road map", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul describes General Basbug's War Academy speech yesterday as a revolutionary address aimed at preparing domestic public opinion for the "global positions" Turkey has been defining for itself. He asserts that the address signalled a "mental transformation" on the part of the General Staff as well as an attempt to draw up a new domestic "road map" for Turkey which entails an "all-embracing," "flexible," and "unifying" approach that is intended to strengthen common cultural characteristics and thwart efforts to use differences for divisive purposes.

    In an article entitled "A correct start", Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru lauds General Basbug's War Academy address as one that suggested an awareness of the need for radical changes at home that could meet the demands of a new world order in the making, a transformation whereby military-civilian relations would be placed on a democratic basis, all public officials and institutions would be required to exercise their duties and powers within the framework defined by the Constitution, citizenship would be based on the concept of equality and not entail a denial of different identities, and everybody would be able to claim their cultural identity without fear of assimilation.

    Under the banner headline, "Right words, wrong actions," Vakit runs a front-page report, which asserts that General Basbug's "moderate" messages in his War Academy address announcing that the Turkish military respects religious faith and has never been anti-religion, are rendered "questionable" by the Turkish Armed Forces' "long-standing prohibitive practices" such as the exclusion of "veiled mothers" from swearing-in ceremonies of recruits and the expulsion of some officers and non-commissioned officers from the army "every year" on "supposed" charges of religious reactionism.

    In an article entitled "Basbug's explanation and Ergenekon's sources of funding", Vakit columnist Serdar Arseven calls on General Basbug to follow up on his words in his War Academy speech announcing that the military is not opposed to religion by "joining us for Friday prayers" and "apologizing" for paragraphs in the General Staff's 27 April memorandum in 2007 that "offended the pious." Arseven also urges the prosecutors conducting the Ergenekon probe to "scrutinize the period when the YOK [Higher Education Council] was run by pro-Ergenekon chairmen if you want to seek out a sizable portion of Ergenekon's sources of funding."

    In an article entitled "O, Basbug", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak criticizes General Basbug's War Academy address for the way it was characterized by a "conspicuous" absence of "any self-criticism" regarding the military's stance on civilian institutions. Taking issue with Basbug over his remarks citing the state of interpersonal relations between senior and subordinate officers in the army as a manifestation of the Turkish Armed Forces' commitment to democracy, Dilipak asks Basbug whether Turkish commanders show the loyalty they expect from lower-ranking officers to the political authority or Parliament. He also criticizes Basbug for "not uttering a single word" about "the hierarchy problem between the Ministry of Defence and the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK]" and "the practical results of Parliament's authority to oversee the TSK."

    In an article entitled "General, would you save me if I were stranded on a mountain?", Zaman columnist Abdulhamit Bilici asserts that General Basbug's War Academy speech yesterday was "as scholarly and composed as his Balikesir address [in October 2008 in which he responded to allegations concerning the PKK raid on the Aktutun outpost] was emotional." He praises Basbug for making a "courageous" public appearance at a time when the TSK has become the subject of extensive critical "questioning" over some of its past practices and the "coup plans" attributed to certain retired generals. He also notes the "revolutionary" quality of Basbug's reference to Ataturk's remarks on "the people of Turkey."

    In an article entitled "An academic general", Zaman columnist Mustafa Unal hails Basbug's reference to Ataturk's words citing "the people of Turkey" as the "founder" of the Turkish Republic as "the most exciting part of his address," signifying that what has so far been a political rhetoric on "citizenship of Turkey" or "being from Turkey" will from now on turn into a state policy.

    In a commentary entitled "From loyalty to the army to an army that answers to the nation", Zaman writer Mumtazer Turkone asserts that Basbug's War Academy address should be seen as evidence that Turkey is increasingly turning into a country underpinned by democracy and the rule of law. "If the leader of an army is putting his emphasis on democracy and the law at a time of domestic controversy over the prosecution of some retired and even serving members of the military, it means that Turkey is in safe hands." Turkone also praises Basbug's "'people of Turkey initiative' regarding the Kurdish issue" as a move that has "removed many obstacles to a solution at one fell swoop."

    In a "news analysis" entitled "Gen. Basbug's remarks underline serious secularism and religion divide", Today's Zaman writer Lale Sariibrahimoglu asserts that General Basbug's War Academy address yesterday "underlined once again the unsettled conflict over perceptions of secularism and religion that has long polarized society."

    Finally, in an article entitled "Basbug: Impressions, assessments", Bugun columnist Ahmet Tasgetiren argues that notwithstanding the "moderate" style that informed General Basbug's War Academy speech yesterday, the chief of staff did not adopt a "problem-solving" approach in defining his stance on secularism, democracy, and religion-society relationship. He claims that Basbug's characterization of religion as a phenomenon that defines a relationship between God and individual believers reflects the establishment's typical perception of religious faith, adding that his remarks announcing that he regards the cultural, economic and political strengthening of religious communities as a dangerous development appeared to reveal an "extremely problematic stance" where he treats Sunni groups as a potential threat while not perceiving Alevi activities as dangerous at all.


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