Following the resignation of the coalition government formed by the Republican Turkish Party-United Forces and the Freedom and Reform Party, President Mehmet Ali Talat is going to meet the leaders of political parties who gained seats in the Parliament.
Mr Talat will hear the views of political parties over the formation of the new government. An MP chosen by the President will be tasked with forming the new government. Talat will hold his first meeting tomorrow with the Leader of the National Unity Party-UBP Dervis Eroglu, who declared victory at Sundays early general election.
In his weekly press briefing, the Presidential Spokesperson Hasan Ercakica said the President will finish up with his separate meetings with political party leaders by this Friday the latest.
Mr Ercakica pointed to the democratic and mature nature of the general election which can rarely be observed even in Western democracies, and expressed the hope that particular attention will be paid to have a similar situation while continuing with the search for a comprehensive political settlement in Cyprus.Ercakica said the UBP Leader Eroglus supporting statements to President Talat over his role at the negotiations process and relations with Turkey have been determinative.
Mr Eroglus request for the appointment of a representative to join the President at peace talks is being evaluated within this framework.
The President holds the power of determination while forming the negotiations team. Relations between the President and the newly formed government will gain clarity through the works of the government` Ercakica added.
Noting that the new governmental staff will reflect the political views of the rulership, he however said that the President has his own authority to choose his own staff.
The Presidential Spokesperson stated that President Talat will be in close cooperation with the government, especially with the Foreign Ministry, but he will not be influencing the political willpower while appointing the new cabinet.Hasan Ercakica also touched upon the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildts upcoming visit to Cyprus. He said Bildt will arrive in South Cyprus upon an invitation from the Greek Cypriot Foreign Ministry but he earlier had the opportunity to hold a meeting with President Talat in Paris. Media reports say Mr Bildt will attend an opening event to take place in the UN-controlled buffer zone which will also be attended by President Talat.
As for the Cyprus negotiations process, Ercakica reminded that the two leaders started a new chapter on Economy at yesterdays round which will predominantly be taken up by special representatives and expert teams.
Ercakica added that Special Representatives Ozdil Nami and George Iacovou held a meeting today and this will be followed by other meetings scheduled to take place tomorrow and on Friday.
Finally, the Spokesperson criticized the Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis who arrived in South Cyprus for contacts today. Mr Karamanlis has made statements that accused Turkey of being responsible for the Cyprus problem. Ercakica stressed the need for the Greek government to be more realistic and fair-minded in order to maintain the positive role it plays on the Cyprus issue and Turkeys EU accession.
He also added that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not want a government that will be against the Cyprus settlement. Mr Cakici said that it would be very difficult for UBP to form a single-party government for practical reasons.
A delegation from the Turkish Grand National Assemblys Foreign Relations Committee, which held a series of contacts in Berlin, has stressed that a solution to the Cyprus Problem will not be possible before the removal of isolations imposed on North Cyprus.
As part of its contacts, the delegation met with the German Minister of State Gunter Gloser.
Speaking at a press conference in Berlin yesterday, the President of the Turkish Parliaments Foreign Relations Committee Murat Mercan said that the Cyprus Problem had been high on the agenda of their meeting with the German Minister of State Gunter Gloser.
Pointing out that the German Minister had expressed his countrys expectation for Ankara to take steps on the Cyprus Problem before Turkeys EU progress report was released later this year Mercan said that he had told Gloser said that the granting of membership to the Greek Cypriot Administration before a settlement on the island had been reached was a mistake from the very beginning.I told Gloser that the Greek Cypriot Administrations membership, a country with an ongoing dispute, contradicted with the blocs norms and that the Turkish Cypriot Side continued to be subjected to great injustices despite having voted in favor of a solution in the 2004 referendum he said.
The President of the Foreign Relations Committee said that they had also voiced the need for the international community to remove the isolations on North Cyprus in order for Turkey to open its ports to Greek Cypriot traffic.
Turkeys position on this issue is clear. We, as members of the delegation openly and clearly emphasized that a solution to the Cyprus Problem is not possible without the lifting of isolations imposed on the Turkish Cypriot Side he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia was an encouraging one. Clinton delivered a speech at a session held in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The steps that have been taken by leaders of Turkey and Armenia in the recent period were encouraging, she said.
Clinton said she believed that other steps which would be taken by the two countries to normalize relations and open border crossings would create a better climate and U.S. President Barack Obama fully supported these efforts.
In regard to the Cyprus issue, Clinton said that the United States backed a bi-communal, bi-zonal and federal solution in Cyprus.
Replying to a question on Turkey's EU accession process, Clinton said that U.S. President Barack Obama paid a formal visit to Turkey recently, addressed the Turkish parliament and reiterated his support to Turkey's EU adhesion process. Clinton said that during her talks with the EU and the European Commission authorities in Brussels, she also underlined the support by the United States to the process.
The United States strongly backed Turkey's EU accession process, she added.
The paper writes that Mr Tuzmen received an open check from the Libyan minister in the field of trade, industry and the services provided by the building contractors. In his statements Mr Tuzmen said his meetings were very positive and stressed the importance of the free trade agreement with Libya. He noted that Turkey should take more share in trade during the six years when an investment of $180 billion will be made in Libya and added that the details will be clarified until September and they will sign the agreement during the visit of the Turkish Prime Minister to Libya.
Turkey and Armenia have agreed on a comprehensive framework for the normalization of their bilateral relations in a mutually satisfactory manner, Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
A statement by the Foreign Ministry said, Turkey and Armenia together with Switzerland as mediator, have been working intensively with a view to normalizing their bilateral relations and developing them in a spirit of a good-neighborliness, and mutual respect, and thus to promoting peace, security and stability in the whole region.
The two parties have achieved tangible progress and mutual understanding in this process and they have agreed on a comprehensive framework for the normalization of their bilateral relations in a mutually satisfactory manner. In this context, a road-map has been identified, it said.
This agreed basis provides a positive prospect for the on-going process, the statement added.
President Abdullah Gul has been invited to a summit of European Union leaders and the key energy-supplying countries of the Caucasus to discuss the troubled Nabucco pipeline project, which is planned to transport natural gas from the Caspian Basin to Europe.
The EU's Czech presidency has extended the invitation to Gul for the May 8 summit between the so-called EU Troika, which comprises the current and next presidents of the EU as well as top EU officials in charge of foreign policy, and five countries, namely Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Georgia, in addition to Turkey. The summit's focus will be the fate of the Nabucco project.
The planned pipeline, which will run from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, is part of European efforts to reduce its dependence on Russia for energy and has the backing of the United States. Russia proposes the rival South Stream pipeline, which would run under the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria and then into Austria.
Construction of the 3,300-kilometer pipeline is scheduled to start in 2011, and the first deliveries are expected in 2014. The project is expected to cost around 7.9 billion euros. Despite political support from Turkey and the EU, the two sides still need to resolve some practical disagreements.
The suppliers of natural gas are expected to be Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and, in the long term, Kazakhstan. Iran has also proposed to become a supplier but has been rejected by the US.
Turkish officials said Ankara has not yet decided whether Gul will go to the summit. The high-level gathering comes only a day after a meeting of the EU and six former Soviet republics, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Turkey is holding talks on the normalization of relations with Armenia amid protests from Azerbaijan, part of whose territory has been under Armenian occupation since a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991.
As energy discussions speed up in the EU, Gul is also expected to attend a high-profile energy summit in Bulgaria's capital of Sofia on April 24-25. The summit will bring together leaders of some 28 countries and representatives from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and focus on critical issues such as how to shape Europe's new energy policy and seek international energy agreements that will offer lasting energy security.
Turkey's bid to join the EU is facing resistance from the skeptical European public and leadership of countries such as France and Germany, which claim Turkey does not culturally belong to Europe. But proponents of Turkish membership underline Turkey's importance as a key energy partner for the EU and urge the 27-nation bloc not to leave Ankara out if it wants to ensure energy security.
Gul is expected to call for more efforts to implement the Nabucco project, sources said. The summit's participants include Azerbaijan, Egypt, Qatar, Italy, Russia, the United States, Ukraine, Turkmenistan and Germany.
Turkish State Minister & Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said that they need to change people's opinion first in order to change politicians' views about Turkey's full membership to the EU.
Bagis, who is currently in France, told reporters, as a result of efforts carried out by diplomats and politicians, number of those who are opposed to Turkey's EU membership in France decreased considerably. A recent public survey revealed that rate of French people who object to Turkey's becoming a full member of the EU reduced to 50 percent from 66 percent in the last four years.
Turkey will be a part of solution for the EU especially in efforts to find solutions to the problems concerning economy, environment, energy and security instead of being a source of problem. Everyone should realize the potential of Turkey as a G-20 country, a member of the UN Security Council, co-president of the Alliance of Civilizations and the sixth biggest economy in Europe, he said.
Later, Bagis left Paris for Switzerland.
Earlier in the day, Bagis met with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Bruno Le Maire, Secretary of State in charge of European Affairs, and Pierre Lequillerand, Chair of the French Parliament's EU Committee.
A spokesman with the Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that Turkey recalled its ambassador to Canada.
´It is true that our ambassador to Canada has been called back to Ankara for consultations,´Burak Ozugergin told the Anadolu Agency.
News reports on Wednesday said Ambassador Rafet Akgunay was recalled after a number of government ministers in Canada attended an event, reportedly organized to ´commemorate the events of 1915´."
In brief, whatever his personal preferences for a solution might be, with the two key statements which came from Turkey Eroglus margin for being an obstacle from the point of view of the negotiations have become as narrow as possible, notes Mr Idiz and adds the following:
Another reality which blocks the way of Eroglu, who needs big financial aid from Turkey where the AKP is in power, is the fact that most probably the AKP will remain in power until 2011. Eroglu cannot ignore the possibility of AKP wining the next election, even if it lost ground at the local elections. In other words, Eroglu, who could possibly be elected to the presidency in 2010, is not in a trustworthy position to make an account such as I will wait, they will lose anyway and I will play my cards then.
On the other hand the possibility of having results from an attempt to follow a policy over the opposition in Turkey and the nationalist NGOs, like Rauf Denktas did, is very weak. Moreover, he knows that in case he does this, he will bring his relations with the AKP government to a breaking point.
Very well, why Ankara meddled with Eroglu right away? Considering on the one hand the fact that the reconciliation process with Armenia turned into a mess with the meddling of Azerbaijan, and, on the other hand, the Rasmussen fiasco in NATO, the AKP government, if the climate of economic uncertainty is also taken into consideration, does not want further erosion in its relations with the West.
As a matter of fact, it is certain that the return to the Denktas line in the Cyprus talks will activate the lobbies against Turkey in the West and make the job of the AKP more difficult. That is why it does not want to lose the relative gains of the Annan Plan process, which secured diplomatic trump cards to Turkey, even though it did not bring much to the Turkish Cypriots.
In this situation, the option left for Dervis Eroglu is to secure a smooth administration in the TRNC by working in harmony with Ankara and find a solution to the long lasting economic and social problems. In fact, the election victory of the UBP is not based only on the disappointment which the Turkish Cypriots feel towards the EU.
Even if this is an important factor, we are hearing from our Turkish Cypriot friends themselves that the economic and social problems and the fact that the CTP administration failed from this point of view played an important role in this victory.
On the other hand, the fact that any solution to be reached in Cyprus will be submitted to referendum should not be forgotten. What will the situation be then, how will the Turkish Cypriots, who said yes to the Annan Plan but did not take anything in return for this, approach the solution to be reached? At the moment we should register all these in the record of the things that are not known.
However, from the point of view of real politics, the continuation of the current negotiations without interruption is necessary for Turkey today. We estimate that esteemed Eroglu understood this.
Referring to the illegal election results in occupied Cyprus in his article in Hurriyet Daily News.com, Yusuf Kanli disagrees with the general assessment, which is reportedly shared by the Greek Cypriots, the Europeans and the United States, that the victory of the National Unity Party, UBP, is a setback to settlement efforts. Pointing out that the UBP might seek to form a coalition with the Communal Democracy Party, which is strongly committed to a federal settlement, in order to have a strong administration, Kanli concludes: "Thus, the UBP victory is not a handicap to the peacemaking process, but a contribution."
In Cumhuriyet, Mumtaz Soysal also views the comments made after the illegal elections in occupied Cyprus in an article. Soysal points out that the "majority of people end their discussions by linking the defeat of the Republican Turkish Party and the victory of the UBP with economic problems, unemployment, etc. even though a few of them accept the role played by the lack of a solution to the current problems and by failures." Nobody questions the reasons behind the lack of a solution, Soysal writes, and argues that, regardless of the kind of solution favored -- a federative,confederative, or two separate states -- the basic condition is the recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus by the Greek Cypriot administration. Soysal concludes that it is impossible to conduct successful negotiations between two sides, when one side is unrecognized while the other side is recognized worldwide and an EU member.
In an article entitled "Northern Cyprus: What now?" Today's Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar ponders the meaning and possible implications of the results of the general elections in North Cyprus. He argues that Turkish President Talat "has reasons to be seriously concerned" given how Dervis Eroglu, the leader of the victorious National Unity Party, is opposed to a "federal solution based on political equality" and insists on a "confederal" arrangement. Baydar also sees the election results as a "severe warning" to both the EU and Greek Cypriot leader Christofias.
Finally in an article entitled "National sentiments strengthen in Cyprus", Milli Gazete columnist Afet Ilgaz hails the victory of "nationalists" in North Cyprus as a development indicating that the Turkish Cypriots have started to wake up to the "threats" posed by the Annan Plan to which former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas has been calling attention in the past five years.