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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-05-27

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 <>



  • [01] Talat said the issues on which agreement is achieved at the Cyprus talks are more than the issues of disagreement and argued that they can carry out the talks because of Turkeys support and the presence of the Turkish army
  • [02] A draft regulation on Cyprus has been approved by the OIC Foreign Ministers meeting
  • [03] Ercakica comments on the latest developments in Cyprus
  • [04] The self-styled foreign minister censures the Republic of Cyprus
  • [05] Alexander Downer met with Turkish Cypriot trade unions
  • [06] New television channel will start broadcasting in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus
  • [07] Bagis: If TRNC products can be sold in the EU market and direct flights and trade start, then we will open our ports to Greek Cypriots
  • [08] Egemen Bagis and David Miliband held a joint press conference after their meeting
  • [09] Bones found in BOTAS wells belong to animals

  • [10] Columnist in Todays Zaman: EU talks -- chilly but not frozen
  • [11] From the Turkish Press of 26 May 2009


    [01] Talat said the issues on which agreement is achieved at the Cyprus talks are more than the issues of disagreement and argued that they can carry out the talks because of Turkeys support and the presence of the Turkish army

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (27.05.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has said that the negotiations for reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem are going well in general and that the points on which agreement is reached are more than the points of disagreement.

    Mr Talat visited yesterday the premises of the United Media Group in the occupied part of Nicosia and participated in a program of Sim FM Radio and Kanal Sim. Referring to the negotiations, Mr Talat said, inter alia, the following:

    In general, the negotiations are going well. Even the fact that the negotiations are going on is a good sign. Apart from this, only during negotiations there are both convergences and disagreements. What I established is that the points on which there is agreement and understanding are more than the disagreements. I think that this is very important. .

    Mr Talat noted that it is true that disagreements exists on some fundamental issues, but he expressed the opinion that agreement will be reached on these issues as well when they are put onto the table for discussion. Arguing that there is disagreement because of some proposals, which have been submitted by the Greek Cypriot side, are outside the established parameters of the UN regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem, Mr Talat added, inter alia, the following:

    If I would give an example, the most serious disagreement on fundamental issues is related to the executive power in the governance and power sharing. During the negotiations on the Cyprus problem there was never in history a provision in the direction of the election of the Head of State of Cyprus with the votes of both peoples. The Greek Cypriot side has made such a proposal, that is, the leader will be Turkish Cypriot, but the Greeks will elect him. They submitted such a proposal to us. How could such thing happen? And they say that there is disagreement on fundamental issues. Of course there will be. This is not a disagreement; this is an attack against us. I did not describe it as such until today in order to avoid creating a hostile climate and entering into bitter polemics. However, this is the proposal. He will be elected with weighted ballot, they said. This is not in harmony with both the bi-zonality and the political equality. Moreover, we accepted the bi-zonality and the political equality together from the beginning. We, as Turkish side, have submitted our proposal in the form of a presidential council. We provided for a presidential council, which the Turkish and Greek members of the Senate will elect by voting together. We are flexible on this issue, provided that there is bi-zonality and political equality. In case this is the basis, we could discuss the presidential system as well, but it is inconceivable for the Turkish president to be elected by the Greeks. It is not possible for the Greeks even to have an influence of 10-20 percent. .

    Mr Talat said also that another disagreement is related to the representation of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the House of Representatives, for which the Greek Cypriot side suggested that the proportion between the Greeks and the Turks should be 4 to 1. Mr Talat noted that the Turkish side suggested a proportion of 3 to 1.

    Referring to his relations with the National Unity Party (UBP) government, Mr Talat said:

    There was no problem until today between us and the new government. I hope that there will be no problem from now on as well. My stance on the issue of the UBP appointing someone by my side is that I determine my own delegation. Therefore, it is out of the question for someone to appoint somebody to be by my side. This government cannot and should not act outside the national policy. Any government should not act outside this line. Could it not do it? It could, but chaos will be created. I have always been saying this. This is the national policy now. Why this is it and the government cannot change it? Because there are a lot of components due to the fact that the Cyprus problem is an international issue and we have a mechanism for determining a national policy. There is the president, who is the most powerful as community leader. He is at the international arena. There is the government of course. There is also Turkey. Therefore, we have to consider all these components. Why Turkey does not conform to us and it is one of the determinants? Because Turkey is the only country in the world which supports us. As I said, there is a great inequality and in fact if there was not Turkey we would be able to put forward no one of our positions at the negotiations. We would not be able to put forward both the political equality and the bi-zonality. We would not be able to put forward anything. We can conduct these talks in this manner because of Turkeys support and the equilibrium created by the Turkish army, which is present here. If you look the matter from the real politics aspect, this is the reason. Some people think that Turkey imposes us. No, we want Turkey to be by our side. If Turkey leaves us, the next day this issue will end, because we will remain powerless. Therefore, we have to keep Turkey by our side. There is something like this and therefore the government as well is complying with this line. .

    Referring to the opening of the Limnitis barricade, Mr Talat said that this issue shadowed the Cyprus problem. He noted that the representatives of the two leaders met the day before yesterday and discussed the issue. He argued that upon his initiative, a list of rules has been prepared and the Greek Cypriot side noted under which conditions it could accept the opening of the barricade. He alleged that there are not big differences between the two sides and that now they are evaluating what could be done. Mr Talat denied that he had stated that the opening of Limnitis barricade will benefit only the Greek Cypriots, as the Turkish Cypriot press reported last week.

    Referring to the Orams case, Mr Talat argued that many Turkish Cypriot media, including Yeni Duzen newspaper, are not evaluating the case correctly.

    He argued, inter alia, the following: For one thing, in this case and in the result of this case it was not the proprietorship regime in the northern part of Cyprus which has been judged. That is, no discussion was made on whether the proprietorship regime in the northern part of Cyprus is in harmony with the international law. It was judged whether a decision of a Greek Cypriot court, which is a court of an EU member state, could be implemented in another EU member state

    Moreover, the Turkish Cypriot leader complained that Kibris newspaper has been publishing news against him during the past few days and argued that there is an animosity against him. Referring to the issue of the illegal migrants, Mr Talat said that this problem could be solved with the cooperation between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots and added that they have submitted a proposal to the Greek Cypriot side saying that they are ready to accept back those migrants who cross over from the occupied areas to the government-controlled areas of the island. Mr Talat complained that Kibris newspaper will almost accuse of being involved in human trafficking.


    [02] A draft regulation on Cyprus has been approved by the OIC Foreign Ministers meeting

    Illegal Bayrak television (26.05.09) broadcast the following:

    The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) calls for an end to isolations on Turkish Cypriots. OIC Foreign Ministers have approved a draft regulation on Cyprus during their gathering in Damascus. The OIC regulation is welcomed by Turkish circles.

    The Organization of the Islamic Conference has approved a draft regulation on the Cyprus issue. OIC Foreign Ministers put the latest developments on the Cyprus issue on top of the agenda in their 36th gathering in the Syrian capital Damascus.

    OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu welcomed the approval as a very good decision taken on the Cyprus issue. He said the idea of establishing a peace force with Islamic countries was also high on the Damascus agenda and noted that works towards realizing this will continue.

    Also evaluating the OIC draft regulation on Cyprus, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the OIC decisions stand up for Turkeys rightful cause on Cyprus.

    Reports say that the draft regulation makes reference to the existence of a Turkish Cypriot state in Cyprus. It also makes a strong call for the rejection of international isolation imposed on Turkish Cypriots.

    Meanwhile, under the title Cyprus is absent, Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (27.05.09) reports that no reference is made to Cyprus in the declaration issued following the 36th meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) held in the Syrian capital Damascus.

    [03] Ercakica comments on the latest developments in Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (26.05.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica has reiterated that the place to solve the property dispute, a key aspect of the Cyprus Problem, or any other problem on the Cyprus issue, is the negotiating table. He described attempts to settle such problems outside the framework of the negotiations was dangerous.

    The Spokesmans words came during his weekly press briefing where he evaluated the latest developments on the Cyprus Problem. Speaking to reporters, the Presidential Spokesman reminded that the two leaders will meet this coming Thursday to continue discussions on the economy chapter. He said that the representatives of the two leaders Ozdil Nami and George Iakovou met today and will meet tomorrow to undertake technical matters related to the economy chapter.

    Commenting on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moons latest Cyprus report to the UN Security Council, Mr Ercakica said that the Turkish Cypriot side welcomed a call made in the report to speed up the process and to reach a settlement within a reasonable time frame as well as the reaffirmation that the process could not be open ended. He said the report, although incomplete and containing some inaccuracies, included objective assessments and was politically well balanced. Our views regarding the technical aspects of the report will be conveyed to the UN via a letter as usual, he added.

    Mr Ercakica also said that the Turkish Cypriot side was doing its part to speed up the process and was determined to continue doing so. Reminding that Turkeys Permanent Representative to the United Nations had issued a statement following discussions on the report, Mr Ercakica said that Ankara had once again, through its statement, underlined its strong desire to reach a solution to the Cyprus Problem. He said that the statement also laid out a list of requisites in order for the ongoing process between the two leaders to be successful. These include more frequent meetings between the two leaders, a timetable for the talks and a more active role from the UN, he added.

    Also touching upon reports in the Greek Cypriot press regarding the Orams Case, the Presidential Spokesman said that the aim of such reports, which were deliberately published by the Greek Cypriot Administration, was aimed at dragging the property issue out of the framework of the current talks. He said the reports proved that the Greek Cypriot Administration did not just see that the European Court of Justices (ECJ) judgment on the Orams Case as a legal text but sought to use the decision for political gains. Ercakica also said that the only place to settle issues related to the Cyprus Problem was the negotiating table.

    Responding to questions on the opening of a crossing point at Yesilirmak [occupied Limnitis], Mr Ercakica said that the debate on the issue had spiralled out of control to a stage where it almost threatened the talks. Expressing the view that the opening of a crossing point in the area will contribute to building confidence between the two sides in Cyprus, Mr Ercakica underlined the need for both sides to clarify their clear-cut positions on the issue. Within that framework, the President has launched an initiative on the issue, the spokesman added.

    [04] The self-styled foreign minister censures the Republic of Cyprus

    Under the title, The road they took is wrong, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (27.05.09) reports that the self-styled minister of foreign affairs of the occupation regime, Mr Huseyin Ozgurgun, stated that the Republic of Cyprus, which managed to become member of the EU, has no right to make statements or to issue threads towards neither the occupation regime nor as regards the issue of Turkeys membership conditions.

    Mr Ozgurgun went on and stated, inter alia, that it came as no surprise to him the fact that DISY MP Christos Pourgourides was accused as traitor after he signed a PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) motion calling for an investigation into possible human rights violations of the Turkish minority in the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kos. This event is a clear indicator of how extended is the animosity towards the Turks both by the Greek Cypriot side and Greece and must be evaluated well by the international community, he alleged.


    [05] Alexander Downer met with Turkish Cypriot trade unions

    Illegal Bayrak television (26.05.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    While President Mehmet Ali Talat continues to periodically brief civil society organizations on the Cyprus issue, UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer is also interested in listening to the views of the civil society organizations and trade unions on both sides. Within the framework of these contacts, The UN special envoy met with Turkish Cypriot trade unions today.

    The UN Special Adviser for Cyprus Alexander Downer held a series of meetings in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus today with representatives of Federation of Turkish Cypriot Labour Unions (Turk-Sen), Turkish Cypriot Public Sector Workers Union (Kamu-Sen) and Cyprus Turkish Teachers Union (KTOS) trade unions respectively to gather information and listen to their views on the ongoing negotiations process.

    Speaking during the visits, Mr. Downer explained that as the Secretary-Generals Special Advisor, he was having contacts with trade unions on both sides of the island. He said it was important that civil society on both sides of the divide were informed about the process and what they were doing. Drawing attention to the importance of the views of the civil society on the ongoing negotiations process, Downer also expressed the hope the two leaders will be successful at the end of the current process.

    Responding to questions as to what the possible new solution plan could be called, the UN Special Advisor said: I think the new plan should be named after the two leaders. The talks could not be conducted without them. It is neither Mr Ban nor myself who is carrying out the talks. This is not about us, it is about Cypriots, Talat and Christofias, he added.

    The President of Turk-Sen, Mr Arslan Bicakli, for his part reaffirmed his unions support to the current negotiations process and said they will continue to contribute to the efforts of finding a lasting and a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus Problem, one that was mutually acceptable for both sides.

    Also speaking, the President of Kamu-Sen, Mr Mehmet Ozkardas, expressed Turkish Cypriot peoples will for a solution but added that accepting a settlement that would transform the Turkish Cypriot people into minority and force them to abandon Turkeys guarantees would be out of the question.

    For his part, the President of the Cyprus Turkish Teachers Union, Mr Guven Varoglu, also expressed his unions support to the talks and vowed to do all they can to contribute to efforts aimed at reaching a settlement.

    [06] New television channel will start broadcasting in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (27.05.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met yesterday with the Chairman of the board of directors of Birinci Media Corporation, Mr Ertan Birinci.

    Mr Birinci invited Mr Talat and his wife to the ceremony that will be held on 31st of May at the illegal Near East University (YDU) on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Turkish Cypriot local television channel Kibris Genc TV.

    During the ceremony, a new local television channel will also inaugurate its broadcasting on the same evening. The new channel is TNC (Travel in North Cyprus). Mr Talat said that this new tourism channel can play an important role promoting north Cyprus history and natural beauties to the world. Mr Talat added that this new channel is extreme useful and an excellent step and for this reason they will support it.

    [07] Bagis: If TRNC products can be sold in the EU market and direct flights and trade start, then we will open our ports to Greek Cypriots

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (27.05.09) publishes an exclusive interview of Turkeys EU negotiator, Mr Egemen Bagis. The paper writes the following:

    Egemen Bagis, Minister of State and Chief Negotiator in the accession talks with the European Union, has said the government is firmly committed to successfully conclude Turkey's long-lasting pursuit of membership to the EU, starting first with changing the present Constitution with a civilian one despite all the ill-intentioned efforts of some groups in Turkey.

    Bagis, in an exclusive interview with Today's Zaman, stressed a couple of significant issues regarding Turkey's aim to be a member to the 27-member bloc, which, he said, started in 1959 with the Ankara agreement which envisioned the customs union between Turkey and the European Economic Community, the then name of the EU, and which also recognized that it will facilitate the accession of Turkey to the Community at a later date, as stated in it. The EU opened accession talks with Ankara in October 2005 but it could be said they have moved forward at a snail's pace considering the fact that only 10 out of 35 negotiation chapters have been opened so far.

    Bagis said those criticizing the government with the allegation that it is not fulfilling its duties vis--vis the EU accession process are not sincere in what they say because they don't practice what they preach to others. I wanted to ask them if they are effectuating their duties to have more negotiation chapters opened. Well, we need reforms to do this. Are you hindering or backing the reforms in this country? Is the EU a target within which you see your future, too, or is it a deception you favour with the hope that it fails? he declared, adding that the EU is not a task peculiar to him or the government alone. We have to improve our standards in every sector in the country. EU membership bears duties for everyone, expounded Bagis.

    Stressing, however, that society is supporting their efforts to acquire EU membership, Bagis said there is a countrywide excitement in Turkey among people regarding membership to the bloc. Honestly, today in Turkey, the EU has become a cause for common excitement for military officials, civilians, Alevis, Sunnis, Kurds, Turks, Caucasians, Armenians, Jews, Muslims and everyone. We know well that whenever Anatolia felt excitement about something, it always achieved that particular thing, Bagis said, also communicating his faith in this process.

    Elaborating on the content of the reforms, the chief negotiator said changing the Constitution stands at a key point in that regard. Both Europeans and us always say that it is not possible to be a member of the EU with this present Constitution because it was prepared after the September 12 [1980] coup. A military Constitution yields military democracy. But every time we try to initiate the process of changing it, the opposition starts to defend it, he underlined, also arguing that they even proposed to opposition parties to first table certain changes to the Constitution they favour but, he said, the government failed to receive an answer to this, too. Bagis expressed the government's determination to come to a wide consensus in Parliament, but, if necessary, they will not hesitate to leave the decision to the people about constitutional changes once they have discussed the circumstances regarding the issue within their party.

    Bagis further argued that EU accession will resolve many problems in the country because without those problems being resolved, an entry to the EU is impossible. According to the chief negotiator, Turkey will then see brilliant days. We know very well the days when governments were pretending to aim for the EU but also continuing to build walls around the country. Without showing the courage to solve the country's deep-seated problems and unlock those stalemates, expecting EU membership is just a waste of time. We, as the government, want to resolve all Turkey's problems in the daylight. Once we unlock those shackles, we will have released a great potential, he explained, adding that they are now dealing with problems that have accumulated for a long time and their aim is not to leave any of them for tomorrow.

    Denying all the allegations that the government has slowed down the reforms required for EU accession, Bagis concluded by saying: We are not weak nor are we tired. We are the strongest government in the history of the Turkish Republic. Despite all the cacophony going on, we are the movement that has the most open horizons because we lean to the authority granted to us by our public. Yes, we may be 20 even 50 years late but what is most important is that we are determined now [to make Turkey an EU member].

    Having criticized the uncompromising attitude of the opposition parties, he also touched upon the discouraging behaviour of some EU member states toward Turkish accession. Some in Europe, just like those willing Turkey to turn back to days where the country was being ruled by gangs, are doing everything they can to prevent Turkey's membership, he rebuked. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are the leading figures in the EU known for their staunch opposition to the idea of granting membership to Turkey once the negotiations have been completed.

    Reminded of the Cyprus issue, because of which the EU froze eight negotiation chapters and also concluded that no chapters will be closed until a resolution is found for it, Bagis said Turkey may open its ports to Greek Cypriot ships, but first the isolation imposed on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) should be removed as promised. He reprimanded the EU here for not applying pressure to the Greek side for a permanent solution to be found for the decades old problem on the island. If KKTC products can be sold in the EU market and direct flights and trade start, then we will open our ports to Greek Cypriots, he concluded.

    [08] Egemen Bagis and David Miliband held a joint press conference after their meeting

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (26.5.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish State Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis said Tuesday Turkey's EU process was not an easy one.

    Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband in Ankara, Bagis said that they have no doubt that Turkey would complete the EU process with patience, determination and efforts.

    Britain is a friend and an ally that supports Turkey's EU membership openly and clearly, Bagis said. Turkey's EU process is not an easy one. The EU process has not been an easy one for the members, including Britain. Yet we do not have any doubt that Turkey would complete the EU process with patience, Bagis said.

    David Miliband, in his part, said that this is his third visit to Turkey. I am pleased to be in Turkey, Miliband said. Stressing that Turkey and Britain work together in various international organizations, including the United Nations and NATO, Miliband said that Britain would work with Turkey in the EU. By working together, we want to see Turkey as a member of the EU, Miliband said. Europe would get (economically) richer by turning its attention outwards and not focusing inside, he said. As such, Turkey's EU membership would be beneficial and Turkey deserves EU membership, Miliband said. Miliband said Britain would continue to support Turkey's EU negotiations process. Turkey's EU membership is important for the interests of Britain and EU's future, Miliband said.

    David Miliband will meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on Wednesday.

    [09] Bones found in BOTAS wells belong to animals

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (27.05.09) reports the following:

    The Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute determined that the bone pieces discovered in the excavations in Sirnak's Silopi district two months ago belong to animals.

    This finding was communicated to the Silopi Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. The public prosecutors launched an investigation early this year into the fate of those who had disappeared in the Southeast of Turkey based on the allegations they were killed and their bodies were later thrown into the wells of the state-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS). The Silopi Criminal Court of Peace authorized the excavations, which were practiced under the supervision of Silopi Chief Public Prosecutor Atilla Ozturk and the head of Silopi Bar, Nusirevan Elci. The teams discovered 19 bone pieces in two different wells at the time. Upon the examinations concluded by Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute, it was determined that those pieces are not human bones but, rather, they belong to animals.


    [10] Columnist in Todays Zaman: EU talks -- chilly but not frozen

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (27.05.09) publishes the following commentary by its columnist Amanda Akcakoca:

    Over the weekend, the Austrian foreign minister's spokesman declared that Austria would never allow Turkey to join the EU. He went on to say the issue was irrelevant anyway because Turkey's EU talks were already frozen.

    While it may serve domestic purposes to describe the situation in this manner, given that Austria is one of the most xenophobic states in the EU and making such remarks almost automatically improves your popularity, at the same time this assessment is not correct. Without doubt, there is a serious problem surrounding the pace at which and the environment in which the negotiations are carried out, but they are not frozen. Rather, I would describe them as being chilly. The blame lies on both sides -- on the one hand, Turkey has carried out virtually no reforms for at least the last two years, while on the other hand, certain EU member states, Austria included, continue to undermine the process either by sending negative messages concerning the final outcome or by creating unnecessary obstacles that do not allow new negotiating chapters to be opened. Therefore a ping-pong blame game is under way -- Turkey blames the EU, the EU blames Turkey, not much happens and the vicious circle continues. As long as this state of affairs remains, those opposed to Turkey are the winners because Turkey is falling into their trap. But as I have said in previous columns, this behaviour is not going to change in the near future, and Turkey has to learn to live with it. At the end of the day, Turkey is the demander; it was Turkey that applied for membership and it was Turkey that committed itself to carrying out the necessary reforms to this end. Therefore, whatever else, it is primarily up to Turkey to move the reform process forward and to stop looking for scapegoats. If Turkey is really serious, it needs to get on with the job in hand. Stop talking about doing reforms and just do them.

    So what is happening? The government is keeping up the image that the EU project remains a priority, including maintaining regular visits by Turkey's chief negotiator, Egemen Bagis, to Brussels. He has been here several times since he was appointed in January, although what he actually does during his time here is still something of a mystery to me. I can only imagine that he keeps repeating what great efforts are being made back home to meet benchmarks in order to allow for the opening of new chapters while at the same time explaining what new reforms are in the pipeline. While clearly Bagis is not to blame for this lack of action, it must be rather frustrating for him as he visibly wants to get on with the job he is being paid for. The real responsibility lies with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who still seems to be hesitating -- to coin the phrase usually used for US-Russia relations -- to put his finger on the reset button and re-launch the reform process with vigour and enthusiasm.

    But to be fair, there is some movement in Ankara and at a recent meeting of the governments so-called EU Reform Monitoring Group on May 22, it was apparently decided that the reform process needed to be accelerated -- especially those related to the judiciary, anticorruption measures and personal data. Let's hope to see concrete results soon. Furthermore, Turkey needs to keep its eye on the clock. The European commission will soon begin preparing the 2009 Progress Report while at the same time the Turkish Parliament will go on summer recess. Another year cannot pass by with virtually no reforms taking place, and there is a limit to how long the EU will accept the launching of a Kurdish television channel and the appointment of Bagis as evidence of Turkey's commitment. This is not just about receiving a more positive report -- it is also about Cyprus. At the end of the year, the European commission will issue its opinion on progress made by Turkey towards normalizing relations with the Republic of Cyprus and in particular developments vis--vis extending its customs union. Unless there is a resolution to the Cyprus problem, Turkey is not going to do this and it seems highly unlikely a solution will be reached anytime soon with peace talks going at a snail's pace. Therefore, the commission will be looking for some candies to placate those who are holding Cyprus to Turkey's head like a gun. Firstly, Turkey being able to demonstrate that it is playing a constructive and positive role in the peace talks will be good. It seems the government is doing this. Prime Minister Erdogan gave a clear message to Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu that he should not create problems for Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. At the same time, it would be useful if Turkey could show it has carried out some of the reforms the EU has been asking for. Luckily, Turkey will also be in the fortunate position of having Sweden at the EU helm and Stockholm should be able to steer Ankara though these rocky waters and prevent further frostbite from setting in -- at least in the short term anyway!

    [11] From the Turkish Press of 26 May 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 26 May 2009:

    a) Mine Clearing in Southeast/Erdogan's Remarks on Minorities

    In his column in Milliyet, Melih Asik criticizes Prime Minister Erdogan for his plan to give an Israeli company a landmine clearance contract in connection with the mines along the Turkish-Syrian border. Arguing that Erdogan is trying to silence the opposition by making reference to Turkey's "fascist" pressures on its minorities in the past, Asik asks: "What is the reason for the government's insistence on Israel? Is this a way to apologize for the Davos incident as stated by MHP spokesman Oktay Vural? Was the Davos incident a scenario drawn up to hide the close relationship with Israel?" He concludes by urging the Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies to raise their voices against the prime minister's unacceptable initiative.

    In a column in Hurriyet, Cengiz Candar lauds Prime Minister Erdogan for his "historic" response to those who accused him of planning "to sell land to the Jews" by awarding an Israeli company with a landmine clearing contract. Recalling Erdogan's remarks that Turkey's ethnic minorities were removed from the country as a result of its "fascist" policies, Candar asserts that "no other Muslim prime minister has taken such a clear stand against anti-Semitism thus far." He takes Erdogan's statement as a good response to the "disgusting campaign carried out by the Israeli 'hawks' in Washington" and urges "reasonable" Jewish organizations in Turkey and Israel to "carefully note" his remarks.

    A report by Ugur Ergan of Hurriyet says that there is a "secret concern behind the controversy over the clearance of the landmines along the Turkish-Syrian border." According to the report, the General Staff is concerned because it is aware of the fact that the map showing the landmines in the area does not include the landmines planted by the PKK. UN sources are quoted as saying that Ankara is responsible for the clearance of all the mines, including those planted by the PKK, until 2014.

    In an article, entitled "How to obscure a turning point", Yeni Safak columnist Kursat Bumin lauds Prime Minister Erdogan for "unveiling Turkey's hidden history" by saying in response to criticisms of the government plan to give Israel a contract to clear landmines along the Turkish-Syrian border that people of different ethnicities been chased away from this country for years and that this situation reflects a Fascist mindset. Bumin goes on to slam the Turkish news media, "which has made a habit of subjecting all statements by the prime minister and other government officials to hermeneutic analysis," for remaining "deeply silent" in response to Erdogan's remarks. He also criticizes the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) for denying that anybody has been chased out of this country because of their ethnic identity.

    In an article, entitled "One minute, Mr Tayyip", Vakit columnist Serdar Arseven expresses regret at the way Prime Minister Erdogan, Chief of Staff General Ilker Basbug, and AKP Parliamentary Deputy Group Chairman Nurettin Canikli "see eye to eye with one another" on a plan to award a "terrorist Israeli arms company" a 49-year contract to demine an area "twice the size of Cyprus" along the Turkish-Syrian border and cultivate the land afterward. He also criticizes Erdogan for making an "irrelevant" comparison between economic xenophobia and anti-Zionism in responding to criticisms of the said plan.

    In an article, entitled "Mines, Kurdish question, and Turkey's problematic mindset", Today's Zaman columnist Lale Sariibrahimoglu poses "the right question" concerning the debate over the "controversial" bill on the clearance of mines along Turkey's border with Syria: "Why does the TSK not have the technology to do the demining work when its defence expenditures, at $20 to $25 billion per year, are so high?"

    Under the headline, "We will be like Palestine," Milli Gazete carries a front-page report which asserts that "rumours" that the contract to demine the Turkish-Syrian border will be awarded to an Israel company have created great public concern in the southeast.

    In an article, entitled "Population exchange, fascism, ignorance, and beyond, Milli Gazete columnist Hasan Unal criticizes Prime Minister Erdogan sharply for accusing past Turkish administrations of Fascism in carrying out population exchanges between Turkey and Greece and certain Balkan countries. Unal asserts that Erdogan's remarks on this issue reflect a failure to understand the process that led to the establishment of the Turkish Republic and the reasons behind the collapse of the Ottoman Empire aside from suggesting that the prime minister is pleading the case of "supposedly liberal groups" that habitually declare the Turks or the Turkish nation guilty or at fault in any debate.

    b) Initiative to meet Alevi demands

    A column by Milliyet's Taha Akyol asserts that Minister Faruk Celik has stepped up the AKP government's efforts to adopt a 7-stage plan to meet the demands of the Alevi community in Turkey. According to the plan, Akyol says, a meeting will be held with 35 Alevi organizations in Ankara on 3 June. Noting that the plan includes additional conferences to be held with academics, journalists, NGO representatives, and officials from the Religious Affairs Presidency, the columnist says that the purpose of those comprehensive meetings is to reach a "broad consensus" on the steps to be taken in connection with the Alevi issue. He adds: "I believe that the services related to the Alevi Islam should be provided by an institution other than the Religious Affairs Presidency. Alevi institutions making the appointments to Cem Houses [Alevis' prayer houses] will be a natural practice that will prevent possible conflicts between the Alevi and Sunni officials, at least in the initial stage."

    c) Human Rights Agency in Turkey

    In an article, entitled "Human Rights Agency", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak criticizes the Government for excluding universities, NGOs, and human rights organizations from an effort to establish a human rights agency. He warns that this project will be "stillborn" unless the AKP involves "organized society" in the initiative.


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