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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-05-05

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. 81/09 05.05.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat assessed the ECJs judgment to Turkish Cypriot columnists. He warns that they might impose obstacles to Kandounass crossing to the north
  • [02] The Orams couple urge the Turkish Cypriots to file lawsuits against the Greek Cypriots
  • [03] The breakaway regime announced the new cabinet
  • [04] The UN Security Council will discuss the Cyprus problem this month
  • [05] Teams from the US and Turkey to participate in a football tournament of the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation
  • [06] Erdogan to visit Azerbaijan and Russia to discuss Caucasus peace
  • [07] In three months 110 people were tried for their thoughts in Turkey
  • [08] The state is sick, warns Buyukanit
  • [09] Turkeys Arameans send a letter to Gul demanding their rights in accordance with the Lausanne Treaty
  • [10] PKK leader: We have not been so close to a solution since 1993
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [11] From the Turkish Press of 05 May 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat assessed the ECJs judgment to Turkish Cypriot columnists. He warns that they might impose obstacles to Kandounass crossing to the north

    Under the title Talat: The European Court of Justice has blown up the negotiations, Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (05.05.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, met again yesterday with a group of newspaper columnists and assessed the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision in the Orams case. [Tr. Note: The Turkish Cypriot press of May 1st reported that last Thursday 30/04/09 Mr Talat had met also with columnists branded as patriotic and briefed them off the record on his assessment of the Orams case].

    Writes the paper: President Mehmet Ali Talat said that in spite of the fact that the decision of the European Court of Justice in the Orams case is assessed as legal, it does not take into consideration the Cyprus problem and that legal decisions will produce political results.

    Noting that legal decisions will influence the negotiating table negatively if the Cyprus problem is not taken into consideration, Talat said: Why should Christofias now sit on the negotiations table for a bi-regional solution? Since with the decision of the ECJ the Greek Cypriots may get to their properties. This decision renders Christofias as well in a difficult position towards his people.

    Now there is no reply to those who tell Christofias Do not discuss the property issue, Talat said.

    Reporting further on Mr Talats second briefing to the Turkish Cypriot columnists, Havadis writes: Reminding that with its decision of 1964 the [UN] Security Council expressed that the whole of the island is administered by the Republic of Cyprus, Talat pointed out that the legal decisions taken today are related to the political decisions taken in the year 1964.

    Under the subtitle Prohibition could be imposed on Kandounas. The paper goes on: President Mehmet Ali Talat said the decision of the ECJ is not about the handling of properties in the TRNC, but it was taken on a dispute between two individuals claiming property right.

    Drawing attention to the fact that the decision may produce new results, Mr Talat said that from now on the issue of filing charges against the users of Turkish Cypriot properties in the south could come on the agenda, the issue of usurping the properties in the south could also be raised at the negotiations table and this will wear away the significance of being at the negotiations table. Implying that lawyer Kandounas has gone far said that obstacles could be imposed on his crossing to the north.

    Concluding the paper writes: The ECJ took a technical decision but political results will come out of it. If England wanted to, it could have prevented the case from reaching to this dimension.

    Regarding the properties, we have a system acceptable internationally which is still in operation.

    And this includes the options of partial return, exchange and compensation.

    On the Orams case, Kibrisli newspaper (01.05.09) published a front page commentary in which the following is stressed:

    The individual rights and freedoms are not rejected but, putting forth that the issue will be solved with the Cyprus problem as a whole, a policy of pressure must be determined.

    (KV)

    [02] The Orams couple urge the Turkish Cypriots to file lawsuits against the Greek Cypriots

    Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (05.05.09) under the title in its world-news pages, Let the TRNC people file lawsuit against the Greek Cypriots, reports on statements made by the Orams couple to the The Daily Mail newspaper.

    In particular, the British couple is quoted to have said: It is now the time for the TRNC people to counterclaim their lands and houses in South Cyprus. If the Turks do not speak out for their rights, there is nothing we can do. We, also, will lose our houses without a reason.

    The newspaper notes that the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the Orams case, which is affecting around ten thousand Britons who acquired land in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, is one of the main issues in the British Press.

    (EA)

    [03] The breakaway regime announced the new cabinet.

    All Turkish Cypriot dailies today (05.05.09) report on their first pages the announcement of the new cabinet.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.05.09), under the title Surprise cabinet reports that the new government which was established under the leadership of the so-called Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu, was approved by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, yesterday. As the paper reports, the majority of the new cabinet of the self-styled Prime Minister, Dervis Eroglu, is composed of young parliamentary members.

    Replying to questions of journalists after his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader, the self-styled Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu said that Mr Talat is satisfied. Regarding the issue of the appointment of Huseyin Ozgurgun to the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, instead of Tahsin Ertugruloglu as it was leaked to the press, Mr. Eroglu said that it was just a matter of choice. He, then, added that Tahsin Erturguloglu was a Foreign Minister for a long period in the past, whereas Huseyin Ozgurgun has been a member of the parliament for long, but not a minister.

    Following are the names of the new cabinet:

    Prime Minister: Dervis Eroglu

    Foreign Minister: Huseyin Ozgurgun

    Minister of Interior and Local Administration: Ilkay Kamil

    Minister of Finance: Ersin Tatar

    Minister of National Education, Youth and Sport: Kemal Durust

    Minister of Health: Ahmet Kasif

    Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Nazim Cavusoglu

    Minister of Public Works and Transport: Hasan Tacoy

    Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture: Hamza Ersan Saner

    Minister of Labour and Social Security: Turkay Tokel

    Minister of Economy and Energy: Sunat Atun.

    (AK)

    [04] The UN Security Council will discuss the Cyprus problem this month

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.05.09) reports in its inside pages that the UN Security Council, the rotating presidency of which has passed from Mexico to Russia, will discuss the Cyprus problem this month. Speaking in a press conference in the UN, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Vitali Curkin gave information about the program of the UN Security Council for this month. In his statements, Curkin said, inter alia, that the UN Security Council will discuss on May 22 the issue of extending the mandate of the UN Peace Keeping Forces in Cyprus.

    (AK)

    [05] Teams from the US and Turkey to participate in a football tournament of the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.05.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation (KTFF) will hold a four-day tournament under the name Ataturks Cup on the occasion of the 19th of May, Day of Youth and Sports. The tournament will be held between 16 -19 of May and the teams that will participate will be under the age of 21. Orcun Kamali, responsible of foreign affairs of the KTFF, said that two teams from abroad will also participate in the tournament. He said that the first team is a university team from the United States of America and the second is a south mixed team of Turkeys amateur confederation.

    (DPs)

    [06] Erdogan to visit Azerbaijan and Russia to discuss Caucasus peace

    Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.com newspaper (05.05.09) reports the following from Ankara:

    Turkey's new Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meets in Ankara with Azerbaijans deputy foreign minister in the first official meeting since the former took office after the Cabinet reshuffle. It is to be followed by the prime minister's tour of Azerbaijan and Russia next week.

    While exerting efforts to thaw ties with Baku after Turkey s recent rapprochement with Armenia, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will embark on a tour of Azerbaijan and Russia next week in an attempt to speed up negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

    Erdogan will fly to Baku on May 13, for a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and then travel to Russia on May 16, for talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Sochi, diplomatic sources confirmed.

    Yesterday Turkey's new foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, met with Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov in Ankara, marking the first official talks since the former took office over the weekend in the wake of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKPs, major Cabinet reshuffle.

    This visit was not coincidental, said a senior Turkish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity with the Hurriyet Daily News. Ankara has long requested a meeting with the Azerbaijani side to discuss bilateral and regional issues, he added. The agreement of neighboring Turkey and Armenia on a framework to normalize their bilateral ties received cold shoulders from Baku, which opposes the opening of the Turkish border with Yerevan before a settlement to the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenian troops. We are in constant contact with the Azerbaijanis. There has never been a cut in the flow of information from Turkey to Azerbaijan, said Turkish diplomatic sources. But it is no secret that Baku is concerned over the recent developments to normalize ties with Armenia, with the Azerbaijani government signaling it might go even further to stop selling natural gas to Turkey in protest if the latter opens its border before substantial progress is made in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Energy was one of the issues discussed at the meeting with the visiting Azerbaijani official. Diplomatic sources declined to provide details, saying that energy is a sensitive area. Turkey is expected to participate in an energy summit in Prague next week, but it is not yet clear at what level it will be represented. Russia favors swift solution

    The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute will appear on the agenda of Erdogan-Aliyev and Erdogan-Putin meetings.

    The objective of all the parties concerned is to accelerate the negotiations for a solution, said a Russian diplomat, who requested anonymity. A solution to this problem is not an easy one but Russia is expending efforts to help reach a solution, he added.

    Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan during that country's conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. With France and the United States, Russia is one of the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, which is mandated to act as an intermediary to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

    On the same issue, Ankara Anatolia news agency (04.05.09) reported that Premier Erdogan will travel to Azerbaijani capital city of Baku on a working visit on May 12.

    Prime Minister Erdogan will pay an official visit to Poland on May 14.

    [07] In three months 110 people were tried for their thoughts in Turkey

    Istanbul BIANET news centre (04.05.09) reported the following:

    According to the quarterly Bia Media Monitoring Report, 26 people are on trial under Article 301.

    Those who lobby for freedom of expression in Turkey bemoaned the state of the country on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day.

    Security forces impose their understanding of national security on the judiciary, state and government practices and legal interpretations severly limit the freedom of press and expression.

    Following local elections on 29 March, tensions hav erisen. Attacks on members of several parties have been a result.

    The 40-page Bia Media Monitoring Report for the first quarter of 2009 lists seventy trials of 110 people, 60 of them journalists. They face imprisonment or the paying of compensation.

    A total of 295 people, 166 of them journalists, are mentioned in the report which categorises events as attacks and threats, detentions and arrests, press freedom and freedom of expression trials, corrections and seeking justice, European Court of Human Rights, reactions to censorship and Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) implementations.

    For the last year, access to the video sharing website Youtube has been blocked in Turkey because of content attacking Ataturk.

    Article 301

    The change in Article 301 makes the investigation and prosecution of a person dependent on the permission of the Ministry of Justice, thus allowing for political influence on the judiciary.

    In the first three months of 2009, 26 people, 11 of them journalists, were on trial under Article 301, after the Ministry had permitted their prosecution.

    In Eskisehir, western Turkey, ten activists were acquitted. Writer Temel Demirer, who lobbies for the abolition of Article 301, is still on trial. The trial against academics Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran and Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu was dropped as a ministerial favour.

    The files of Abdurrahman Dilipak, Mustafa Kemal Celik, Aytekin Dal, Mehmet Sadik Aksoy, Mehmet Resat Yigiz, Nedim Arslan, and Mustafa Seven were sent to the Ministry, while the files of Ahmet Sami Belek and Sahin Bayar were taken to the Constitutional Court.

    The other individuals on trial are Hakan Tastan, Turan Topal, Ersen Korkmaz and Necmettin Salaz.

    In last years first quarter, there were 42 people on trial under Article 301. Some of them have been acquitted, some have been convicted, and some cases were dropped when the Ministry of Justice refused permission.

    Terrorist propaganda

    A total of 16 people have been tried for spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation, 11 of them journalists. The prosecution demanded 45 years imprisonment for Kurdish politician Leyla Zana. Kurdish politician Aysel Tugluk was sentenced to 1.5 years imprisonment, while Bedri Adanir, responsible editor for the Ulkeye Bakis newspaper was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months imprisonment.

    Journalist Veysi Sarisozen and the owner of the Gunluk newspaper where he writes, Zeynel Cicekci, face a trial for their evaluation of the Kurdish question. Activist Hakan Tahmaz as well as Birgun editors Bulent Yilmaz and Ibrahim Cesmecioglu are also on trial, for an interview with PKK leaders.

    The trials of Gokcer Tahincioglu, Kemal Goktas, Ragip Zarakolu, Cevat Dusun, Leyla Zana, Osman Baydemir and Nejdet Atalay continue. Erkan Capraz of the Yuksekova News has been acquitted.

    A book written by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and entitled Culture and Art Revolution was confiscated when it was being printed by Aram Publications. The Kesan district governors offics (kaymakamlik) has filed a criminal complaint against Ustun Akmen, former president of Turkeys PEN, alleging an insult. The book Ape Musas Generals, published by the Bercem Publications owned by Irfan Karaca, has resulted in 1 year and 3 months imprisonment. Huseyin Gunduz, owner of Do Publications, has been sentenced to a 16,660 TL fine for publishing a book by Sertac Dogan entitled Sirnak is Burning 1992. The conviction was for terrorist propaganda.

    The weekly Ozgur Yorum newspaper was punished with a one-month ban as a punishment for all the articles written in the 14-20 March 2009 issue. The weekly Politika newspaper was handed a one-month ban for PKK propaganda in its 14-20 February 2009 issue. The Analiz newspaper was also stopped from publishing for a month as a punishment for articles written between 28 February and 6 March 2009, and the weekly Ayrinti newspaper was also handed a one-month ban for news items and articles published between 24 and 30 January.

    Hatred and hostility

    Of the five people who face sentences under Article 216 (inciting the public to hatred and hostility), DTP mayor Huseyin Kalkan was sentenced to 1.5 years imprisonment.

    Writer Nedim Gursel, whose novel Daughters of Allah was published by Dogan Publications, and publisher Erol Karaaslan, previously acquitted for the publication of the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins but now on trial again, face imprisonment for insulting religious values. The other people on trial under Article 216 are Oktay Candemir, Ercan Oksuz and Hursit Kasikkirmaz.

    Of the five people on trial for alienating the public from military service, conscientious objector Dogan Ozkan has been sentenced to two months imprisonment and a 440 TL fine. Mustafa Karayay has been acquitted, while Ragip Zarakolu, Cevat Dusun, Yasin Yetisgen and Birgul Ozbaris are still on trial.

    Murders of journalists still unsolved

    The instigators of the murders of journalists Abdi Ipekci, Ugur Mumcu, Ahmet Taner Kislali and Hrant Dink which were perpetrated in the last 30 years have still not been found. Despite having received warnings of a murder plan against Dink, only a few gendarmerie and police officers are being tried for simple crimes.

    Journalists who were targeted by security forces on Labour Day protests in 2007 and 2008 have learned that no officer was punished. Those who suffered injuries or material loss were awarded 1,000 TL compensation.

    Alleged links to armed groups

    Protests against arrests for alleged links to armed organisations such as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) and Ergenekon are increasing.

    The Ankara representative of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Mustafa Balbay, was arrested for alleged membership in the Ergenekon organsiation on 6 March. Nadiye Gurbuz, broadcasting coordinator of Izmir Democratic Radio, was arrested for alleged financial relations with the MLKP. It is still unclear whether the reason for their arrests was their journalistic activities.

    Four reporters of the Dicle News Agency (D0HA) are currently in prison, and Abdurrahman Gok has also been sent to prison for spreading terrorist propaganda. Accused of the same offence, Erdal Guler, responsible editor for the Revolutionary Democracy (Devrimci Demokrasi) magazine, has been sentenced to 1.5 years imprisonment.

    Threat of 61 years imprisonment

    A total of 24 people, 13 of them journalists and 2 caricaturists, face a total of 61 years imprisonment and 1 million 673 thousand 480 TL compensation and legal fines. Journalist Perihan Magden was sentenced to a 3,480 TL fine for criticizing the clip Dont make a plan which makes references to the suspected murderers of Hrant Dink.

    University student Berna Ozaslan, education trade unionists Hasan Ozaydin and Betul Ozturk and Mehmet Emre Battal from the Peoples Houses were sentenced to eleven months 20 days imprisonment each for shouting the slogan Lightbulb Tayyip (referring to PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the lightbulb emblem of his party) at two protests. O.B. is being sentenced at a childrens court in Bursa. Serafettin Gokdeniz, Sercan Bakir and Ekin Can Kinik of the Labour Youth are being sentenced for the slogan Born in Istanbul, become American, Tayyip Erdogan, son of murderer Bush, while Melih Kaskar, editor of the local Milas Onder newspaper, faces imprisonment for a humorous anecdote.

    Use of Kurdish language prosecuted

    The ban on Kurdish for media, politicians and prisoners has been intensified. Sah Ismail Ozocak, an independent candidate for the 1,000 Hopes platform in the 2007 general elections has been sentenced to a fine of 3,000 TL for spreading propaganda in Kurdish, a language he says he does not speak.

    DTP members Murat Polat, Ufuk Sunger, Huseyin Ozdenk, Nurcan Kasun, Zeki Yildirim and Ibrahim Halil Ates have been sentenced to five months each imprisonment for posters and flyers saying Bij Yek Gulan (Kurdish for Long live 1 May).

    Increase in ECHR-ordered payments

    In previous reports we were able to report that there was a reduction in compensation payments which the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) sentenced Turkey to paying. However, in the first three months of 2009, there has been an increase: The ECHR sentence Turkey to paying a total of 58,122 TL (28,411 Euros) in six cases brought by eight people (2 of them journalists) and the Ozgur Radio station. The amount in the same period last year was 36,150 TL (21,000 Euros).

    While the ECHR did not find a violation of the freedom of expression in the application of Bulent Falakaoglu and Fevzi Saygili from the Yeni Evrensel newspaper, it did so in the cases of Ibrahim Guclu, Sedat Imza, Ayhan Erdogan, Mehmet Cevher Ilhan, Serpil Ocak, Ayfer Cicek, Nuri Gunay and Murat Kaya.

    In the first three months of 2009, sentences handed down to Cevat Dusun of the Alternatif and Gelecek newspapers for terrorist propaganda, to politician Orhan Miroglu for speaking Kurdish during an election campaign and to Abdurrahman Dilipak, whose case started in a military court but was not concluded after five years, were all taken to the ECHR.

    Attacks and threats continue

    Compared to the same period last year, attacks on journalists doubled 15 journalists (Firat Akyol, Ibrahim Gunduz, Ozden Erkus, Ediz Alic, Rengin Gultekin, Kadir Puslu, Meral Ozdemir, Mahmut Bozarslan, Mehmet Emek, Diya Yarayan, Gamze Dondurmaci, Dogan Durak, Neset Oner, Sukru Oner, Orhan Kaplan) were attacked by various groups when reporting on the pre-election period or on protests. There were seven cases in the same period last year.

    Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said about two well-known TV journalists/ news presenters, Mehmet Ali Birand and Ugur Dundar, If Turkey does not become a difficult place for Mehmet Ali Birand and Ugur Dundar after the elections, then shame on me. He has been taken to court, as well as the threats that a MHP mayor in Mersin made towards Cemal Dolasmaz. Writer Latife Tekin was abused in Mugla, while former Susurluk Committee President Mehmet Elkatmis, who had given statements to the press, found a note in his office saying Shut up.

    [08] The state is sick, warns Buyukanit

    Under the above title, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.com newspaper (05.05.09) reports the following from Istanbul:

    Former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit says at a lecture in a university that the state is sick since the major intelligence and security institutions cannot trust each other. He says the Security General Directorate collected information about him, which is a problematic situation.

    The state is sick because of the distrust between administrations, such as the National Intelligence Organization, or M0T, the Security General Directorate and Turkish Armed Forces, said former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit. If there is distrust between the state institutions, then that state has problems, Buyukan1t said, as he gave a lecture titled Politician and Army at the private Beykent University. If I, as a soldier, do not trust the intelligence provided by the Security General Directorate, it is because the organization that brings me intelligence is also collecting information about me, he added.

    Mentioning that the Security General Directorate has collected information about him, Buyukanit said, The Justice Ministry does not trust the Interior Affairs Ministry; MIT and the Security General Directorate do not trust in each other. Then, this state is sick. The president, rather than the prime minister, is responsible for enabling institutions to work in harmony with each other, according to Buyukanit.

    He said soldiers should be far from politics. If you want to involve soldiers in politics then you should tie them to the Defense Ministry, said Buyukanit, adding that this was experienced during the Democrat Party-government era. "We saw generals who carried the coat of the defense minister.

    The General Staff is tied to the Prime Ministry according to the Turkish Constitution. Buyukanit said because the prime minister was also a civilian there was no difference between being tied to the Prime Ministry or tied to the Defense Ministry. Politicians change, but two ideas of soldiers do not change: first is the fact that in the Constitution the Turkish Republic is a secular, democratic, social law state. The second is the protection of the united and national entity of the Turkish Republic, he said. When politicians share those two ideas with the soldiers, not in words but in actions, then no problems occur, he said adding, that he recalled those two principles in 99 percent of his speeches when he was in the office. Protection of those principles is sustained by law. This is not about politics. Daily politics is not a soldiers job. Whenever politics enters the armed forces, in our far and recent history, it always ends in catastrophe, said Buyukanit, warning that soldiers should never become involved in those kinds of politics, otherwise the country becomes good for nothing.

    He also said the solider is against the abuse of religion for political purposes; however, some people represent soldiers as atheist. You are going to operations; is there anything else to seek comfort from? How can soldiers be against religion? he asked.

    [09] Turkeys Arameans send a letter to Gul demanding their rights in accordance with the Lausanne Treaty

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (05.05.09) reports the following:

    The Turabdin Solidarity Committee (Solidaritattsgruppe), an umbrella organization for the diaspora Arameans from Turkey, sent a letter to President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the situation of Arameans in Turkey and asked to be treated in accordance with the Lausanne Treaty and auspices of the state.

    In the letter, the Arameans also noted that the Prophet Jesus spoke in Aramaic and the state should give the permission and financial support for Aramaic language courses. The letter also underlined the concerns of the Arameans regarding the ongoing trial over the Mor Gabriel Monastery, which was constructed in A.D. 397.

    The row began when the Turkish government land officials redrew the boundaries around Mor Gabriel and the surrounding villages in 2008 in order to update the national land registry as part of a cadastre modernization project in compliance with EU instructions. The monks say the new boundaries have turned over large plots of land that the monastery has owned for centuries to the villages, and it designates the monastery's land as a public forest. Christian groups believe the officials want to ultimately stamp out the Aramean Orthodox monastery. Their allegations come as the EU has demanded that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government do more to promote religious freedom along with its liberal economic and political reforms.

    Meanwhile, three neighboring villages -- Candarli, Yayvantepe and Eglence -- have complained that the monks have engaged in "anti-Turkish activities" and alleged that they are illegally converting children to Christianity, that the Mor Gabriel Community Foundation settles wherever it chooses --without having the requisite permits -- and that it violates the Unity of Education Law. The villagers also have accused the monastery of taking the land the villagers need for cattle. The hearings in the dispute will be held this month.

    The letter reiterated the importance of the Mor Gabriel Monastery for Christian history and claimed that the cases against the monastery were directly linked with the basic rights and problems of the Christians in Turkey.

    Accordingly, these problems were raised because most of the Aramean villages in Turabdin [Aramaic name for a part of the Mardin and Sirnak] are facing similar problems and struggling against them. In short, the status and the minority rights of Arameans is the issue, the letter said.

    The Turabdin Solidarity Committee also claimed that the number of Arameans still living in the area is around 2,000, but their existence is in danger due to the growing hostility against them.

    The letter suggested that since the establishment of the republic, the Arameans were not recognized as a religious nor ethnic minority and were not able to enjoy the rights granted by the Lausanne Treaty, which was signed in 1923 and served as the founding agreement for the Turkish Republic. The treaty organizes the rights of the non-Muslim citizens of Turkey -- without indicating specific group names -- but, practically, these rights are applied only to the Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities of Turkey, according to a recent report of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV).

    The letter underlined that within this framework, the Arameans demand the recognition of their culturally rich existence and want the special auspices of the state. The letter also demands: the monasteries and churches that belong to the Arameans should be preserved by the state without taking them away from their owners, religious freedom, not only the permission to open religious schools, but financial support for them and permission to teach language courses.

    The letter claimed that if these demands were met, then the Arameans of Turkey will be able to plan their future freely and contribute to the development of Turkey.

    [10] PKK leader: We have not been so close to a solution since 1993

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (05.05.09) under its front-page title, Four hours on Qand1l , publishes an interview with Murat Karayilan, who leads the PKK terrorist organization , taken by the paper s columnist Hasan Cemal, in a village on Qandil Mountains. As the paper writes, Karayilan said that they have not been so close to a solution since 1993. He said: We are now at a very important threshold. When the weapons stop, dialogue can start and weapons can be laid down.

    (EA)


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [10] From the Turkish Press of 05 May 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 05 May 2009:

    a) Turkeys EU membership, the Orams case and Cyprus:

    In an article in Vatan, Yigit Bulut views the point that has been reached in the negotiations for Turkey's EU membership and asserts that despite the "unofficial words," the official documents show that the process of full membership and accession has ended for Turkey. In fact such a process had never existed, underlines Bulut and adds that even if the negotiations continue due to pressure, Turkey cannot become an EU member without recognizing the Greek Cypriots as the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey's 60-year adventure has been linked to the recognition of the "Greek Cypriots," emphasizes Bulut and draws attention to the possibility that the parliaments of the EU countries are authorized to reject Turkey's EU membership. The European project does not exist, underlines Bulut and argues that politicians, writers, and intellectuals who are aware of this fact are merely trying to deceive the people.

    Milliyet's Semih Idiz in an article refers to the European Court of Justice's decision regarding the Apostolides/Orams case and argues that this decision may lead to serious political and economic results in terms of the occupied areas of Cyprus. Citing Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, as saying that the decision will not serve any purpose other than creating tension among the two peoples, Idiz stresses that the Turkish Cypriot people find the decision very odd due to the fact that the EU acquis which cannot be used in favor of the Turkish Cypriots due to the fact that it has been suspended in northern Cyprus until the solution of the problem is being used against the Turkish Cypriots with this decision. The reports to the effect that a Greek judge has headed the panel of judges that has reached this decision has further increased the suspicions felt by the Turkish Cypriots, says Idiz and adds: "Given the Turkish Cypriots' preference in the last elections, the issue should concern not only the Turkish side, but everyone who wants a solution in Cyprus because it is not difficult to guess how the Turkish Cypriots who already believe that they have never been treated justly or equally by the EU will think from now on." Also referring to the economic damages of this decision in terms of the Turkish Cypriots, Idiz also emphasizes that the fact that the decision mentions that north Cyprus has been under Turkey's occupation since 1974 will not contribute to Turkey's EU perspective.

    In an article entitled "Europe, are you a bird or an ostrich?", Zaman's Brussels correspondent Selcuk Gultasli comments on the European Court of Justice ruling in the Orams case requiring a British family to tear down a mansion built on the property of a Greek Cypriot citizen in occupied Cyprus and pay damages to the latter. Gultasli slams the ruling as a self-contradictory verdict which means that the European Union does not refrain from making decisions on vital matters concerning Turkish Cypriots despite suspending the EU law in North Cyprus and not allowing the Turkish Cypriots to join the EU although they voted to accept the Annan Plan on Cyprus.

    b) Ahmet Davutoglu's appointment as foreign policy minister:

    Ahmet Davutoglu had been directing the Justice and Development Party, AKP, government's foreign policy from the very beginning and with the latest cabinet reshuffle he has also become in charge of Turkey's foreign policy, says Hurriyet's Zeynep Gurcanli in an article that describes the policy that will be pursued by Davutoglu as "the ring policy." The first ring consists of Turkish people living outside Turkey, while the second ring consists of peoples who are the relatives of the Turkish people such as the Bosnians, the Albanians, the Turkomans, explains Gurcanli and notes that the third ring consists of the "others" who live around Turkey such as the Armenians, the Serbians, and the Greeks. The policy that will be pursued is based on balancing these three rings, asserts Gurcanli and explains that to this end the Turks living abroad will be encouraged to become good and politically active citizens in the countries they live in, harmonious ties will be established with the second ring, and the ties with the third ring will be improved. Davutoglu believes that this will turn Turkey into a center country in terms of these three rings and it will enable it to establish "equal ties" with the other centers such as Russia, the EU or the United States, and even with China and India, stresses Gurcanli.

    Questioning whether the appointment of Ahmet Davutoglu will lead to radical changes in Turkey's foreign policy, Hurriyet columnist Ferai Tinc asks in an article whether Davutoglu is correct to assume that Turkey will become indispensable for the United States and the EU if it wins the trust of radical factors in the Middle East. We know that he is wrong because both Syria and Iran want direct ties with the United States and Europe, underlines Tinc and emphasizes that it will be wrong to exaggerate Turkey's mediation role in the Middle East. Tinc asserts that this assumption has adversely affected and will adversely affect Turkey's ties with Europe and the United States. Explaining that "When Davutoglu served as adviser Turkey looked at the world though the prism of the Middle East and Muslim brotherhood," Tinc says: "The political approach that attached importance to Azerbaijan and Central Asia following the disintegration of the Soviet Union has been abandoned. I hope that these balances will be reviewed in the days ahead."

    Taha Akyol, drawing attention to the fact that Muqtada Al-Sadr has chosen Turkey for announcing that his movement will lay down arms, emphasizes the role assumed by Turkey in this regard and underlines that this is the result of the diplomatic architecture of Davutoglu. The same architecture is being used in the ties with Iran, Syria, Palestine, Israel, and Egypt as well as with everyone in Lebanon, asserts Akyol in a commentary in Milliyet and says: "This does not tear Turkey away from the West. On the contrary, it increases Turkey's influence in Europe and the United States. According to Davutoglu Turkey is a center country and it should establish confidence-building ties with everyone around it. His Caucasus policy is also based on the same mentality." Disagreeing that the new cabinet will adopt the National View line, Akyol argues that unlike the SP which adopts the National View line, all the new ministers, including Arinc are in favor of Turkey's EU membership and its integration with the world economy.

    The presence of a powerful foreign minister will be good for the management of the crises and the processes, points out Kadri Gursel in a commentary in the same daily and notes that Davutoglu's intellectual style will balance Erdogan's "common" style. Davutoglu thinks and speaks with concepts, explains Gursel and adds: "Such persons are predictable. They do not change their stands all the time. The concepts they use describe their goals. And if the language of these concepts is properly analyzed and reported, this will be enlightening in terms of the public." Despite the fact that Davutoglu's appointment will positively affect the foreign policy administration, the main lines of the AKP's foreign policy will not change, asserts Gursel and says: "No one should expect Davutoglu to pay special interest to the EU. During Davutoglu's term the level of the cooperation with the Obama administration will become the main parameter of Turkey's ties with the West."

    The United States is familiar with Davutoglu's viewpoint that is usually summarized as neo-Ottomanism and that aims to turn Turkey into a more active and more constructive state that determines the agenda, explains Omer Taspinar in an article in Sabah. Arguing that the wrong policies pursued by the Bush administration had increased Turkey's importance in the region, Taspinar notes that Turkey had almost tried to fill the vacuum created by the United States especially in the Middle East peace process. Taspinar adds, however, that currently the Obama administration is ready to sit at the table with Syria and Iran and that under such circumstances Turkey's chances for mediation are very low. I believe that in the period ahead Turkey should make efforts for strengthening its ties with the West, suggests Taspinar and says: "The key point is the EU. We should stop issuing statements to the effect that 'the ball is on the other side.' We should never forget that if we do not want Europe, Europe will never want us. To this end there is need for a new vision in the Kurdish problem and the Cyprus issue. Furthermore the United States attaches importance into winning Azerbaijan again and normalizing the ties with Armenia. In short, a difficult period is ahead of Davutoglu."

    Stressing that he has not yet understood the goal of the cabinet reshuffle, Radikal's Tarhan Erdem in a commentary says: "There are three routes in front of Erdogan and the AKP: The route of change and reform, the route that points to the 2011 elections; and the route for returning from democratic conservatism to religious conservatism. We will understand which route the government has chosen after we see its policies regarding the economy, the Kurdish issue, polarization, Cyprus, and the ties with the EU. Despite the fact that it appears as the easiest route, the route to religious conservatism will lead to unpredictably serious cracks. If Erdogan and the AKP choose the route that points to the 2011 elections, we will return to 1969 or 1991 and we will reach the gates of an unstable period where the average term of a government did not exceed one year."

    In an article entitled "Cabinet reshuffle", Yeni Safak columnist Yasin Aktay asserts that the latest cabinet reshuffle could be expected to provide the ruling AKP with the "excitement" and "energy" it needs after starting to suffer from the debilitating effects of its prolonged stay in power. Aktay also comments on the appointments of Bulent Arinc, Professor Ahmet Davutoglu, and Ali Babacan respectively as deputy prime minister, foreign minister, and state minister in charge of economy in the new cabinet. He argues that Arinc's entry into the cabinet could be seen as a development signaling the AKP's return to its "ideological essence" and that the choice of a non-parliamentarian like Davutoglu for the post of foreign minister is a very important step dictated by considerations of "performance" rather than those of inter-party balances. He claims that Davutoglu's emphasis on dialog and communication could be expected to have a general favorable effect on the AKP's policies.

    In an article entitled Davutoglu: Turkey's new foreign policy chief, Today's Zaman columnist Ihsan Dagi finds "Professor Davutoglu's appearance on the stage ... timely. He brings a strong personality to tackle tough issues such as the Armenian rapprochement, the rebuilding of Turkish-US relations, and the brokering of peace in the Middle Eats, the Caucasus and Afghanistan."

    In an article entitled Ahmet Davutoglu becomes Foreign Minister, Milli Gazete columnist Abdullah Ozkan asserts that the public expects new Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to take account of Turkey's national interests in determining foreign policies, develop initiatives intended to enable Turkey to become a globally influential player, allow non-governmental organizations to contribute to the making of foreign policies, and make effective use of Turkey's geo-strategic position.

    EG/


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