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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-05-28

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] Eroglu wonders what does a bizonal, bicommunal solution based on political equality consists of exactly
  • [02] Ozgurgun argues that the explorations for oil and natural gas in the territorial waters of Cyprus might cause tension in the area and torpedo the Cyprus talks
  • [03] Cyprus main issue in Davutoglu-Miliband meeting
  • [04] Excerpt on Cyprus from an interview by the British Foreign Secretary with NTV
  • [05] The reactions continue in the Turkish side against ECJs verdict on Orams case
  • [06] The occupation regime can participate in the Islamic Solidarity Games with the status of the observer
  • [07] Yorgancioglu will run for the leadership of CTP
  • [08] Four Germans and two Turkish involved in money laundering in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [09] The new director of the illegal BRT has been announced
  • [10] Amnesty International releases its latest report
  • [11] Expenditures by the Turkish Defense Industry Support Fund increases

  • [12] Turkey intensifies lobbying for European force
  • [13] From the Turkish Press of 27 May 2009


    [01] Eroglu wonders what does a bizonal, bicommunal solution based on political equality consists of exactly

    Illegal Bayrak television (27.05.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has expressed the belief that he will not be in disharmony with President Mehmet Ali Talat. He also said his main aim is to make the government functioning successfully, not to become President.

    Speaking to the TAK news agency, the Prime Minister reiterated the determination over including a government representative at the negotiations committee of President Talat saying the government will propose a name for the representative at this weeks meeting. Mr Eroglu also said there is not a huge difference in practice between President Talats expressions and his partys demand concerning the Cyprus issue.

    Evaluating his governments attitude over the Immovable Property Commission, which was established when the National Unity Party (UBP) was the opposition the Prime Minister said they opposed the establishment of the Commission and applied to the Constitutional Court but the court had decided against this appeal. Therefore the Commission will continue to work in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and Local Administrations, he added.

    Referring to the negotiations process that is taking place, Mr Eroglu said although the issue of a bizonal federation is being discussed, the demands seem to be for a confederation. Whats important is when you are talking about a bizonal, bicommunal solution based on political equality, what do these consist of exactly, he asked. There really isnt much of a difference between my partys views and President Talats stance at the negotiating table, said Eroglu.

    Noting that a federation can only be established between two equal partners, the Prime Minister said there is a big difference in the national income between the two peoples on the island.

    Explaining that the existence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is strengthening the Turkish Cypriot Sides hand at the negotiations table, Mr Eroglu said there is no other choice than to keep the existence of the TRNC in case of a failure to reach a conclusion in peace talks.

    Furthermore, Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.05.09) reported the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The Turkish Cypriot prime minister said on Wednesday that his state had launched initiatives for a new financial protocol with Turkey.

    Premier Dervis Eroglu of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) announced that he had contacted the Turkish Embassy in Lefkosia to sign a new financial protocol with Turkey. I have launched initiatives to sign a new financial protocol with Turkey to eliminate the financial deficit and it can meet 100 million Turkish liras (TL) need in the first place, he told the Turkish Agency-Cyprus (TAK).

    Eroglu said that the TRNC Finance Ministry was still calculating revenues and expenditures, and the cabinet would make definite the exact amount of the protocol. Then we will present the file to Turkey, he said.

    Eroglu said that he might visit Turkey soon to discuss the protocol.

    [02] Ozgurgun argues that the explorations for oil and natural gas in the territorial waters of Cyprus might cause tension in the area and torpedo the Cyprus talks

    Under the title The oil explorations will torpedo the negotiations, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (28.05.09) reports that the self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Huseyin Ozgurgun has argued that the explorations for oil and natural gas in the territorial waters of Cyprus has the same potential to torpedo the Cyprus negotiations as the Orams case.

    In a written statement issued yesterday, Mr Ozgurgun criticized the statement made the day before yesterday by the US Ambassador to Nicosia, Frank Urbancic that an American company will carry out explorations for oil and natural gas in the southwest coasts of Cyprus.

    Mr Ozgurgun alleged that no country has the right to make agreements with the Republic of Cyprus in the name of the entire island and claimed that the Cyprus government represents only the Greek Cypriot people.

    He expressed the view that the works, which are expected to start in the future, ignore the fact that both sides should mutually benefit from the natural resources on the island and its surrounding area and added that a mistake is being committed.

    Mr Ozgurgun said that it is unacceptable for the US ambassador to present this development as a pleasing one and as a success and added that this caused anger within the Turkish Cypriots.

    The issue is also reported in todays Turkish dailies (28.05.09):

    Hurriyet newspaper carries a report by Omer Bilge, the papers correspondent in occupied Cyprus, entitled $400 billion crisis discussing the other days statements made by the US Ambassador in Cyprus, Frank Urbancic, that an American company is soon expected to start exploring the Cyprus coast for oil and natural gas.

    On the issue, the paper writes:

    An American petrol company which held secret meetings with the Greek Cypriot Administration will start exploring for oil in the international waters south of Cyprus despite Turkeys ultimatum. There is a great possibility the company, the name of which was not made known, to be a giant oil firm. Turkish officials say that Our naval force is there. Even if it is an American company, it is not possible for us to give our permission. The estimated value of the petrol in the debated area is $400 billion worth.

    Subtitle: There are Turkish warships in the area

    According to experts who emphasized that big financial resources and high technology are required for exploring oil and natural gas from a seabed at depths of 2000 meters, the American company, which has obtained the contract, could not be a small organization. The depth of the Mediterranean Sea in the places for which the Greek Cypriots invited tenders was 2,500 meters. Very few international companies posses this technology. These are the giant companies like Shell, ExxonMobil, Petrobass and the Russian Lucoil. High-level Turkish officials who follow closely the oil crisis have said: The Turkish navy is immediately sent away from the region even the ships which search for oil. Our warships periodically patrol. It is not possible to give our permission for oil well, even if they are Americans.

    Milliyet further, reports on the issue under the title The oil crisis in the island and writes that the illegal regime has strongly reacted to the permission given by the Greek Cypriots for oil exploration in the southeastern part of Cyprus. According to the papers correspondent in occupied Cyprus, Sefa Karahasan, the statements of the US Ambassador in Cyprus that an American company will start exploring for oil in South Cyprus has caused shock to the illegal regime.

    According to the paper, the self-styled foreign minister Huseyin Ozgurgun has condemned the US Ambassadors statement and said: The Turkish Cypriots will never accept their rights to be usurped and given as a present to the American companies. He alleged that the US stance torpedoes the negotiating table.

    Sefa Karahasan also writes that a high-level official speaking to Milliyet said the following: We were expecting support from the USA, but we have faced a fully reverse act. The USAs saying that we will explore for oil is very bad. Reminding the reaction of the Turkish side on the oil exploration by the Republic of Cyprus, the official added: I have no explanation to give for this step made by the United States, when a situation like this exists.

    Finally, Cumhuriyet reports on the issue under the title American company will explore for oil in Cyprus and publishes the other days statements made by the US Ambassador in Lefkosia, Frank Urbancic.


    [03] Cyprus main issue in Davutoglu-Miliband meeting

    Ankara Anatolia (27.05.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday the year 2009 was a great opportunity for a comprehensive solution in Cyprus.

    Speaking at a joint press conference with United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband in Ankara, Davutoglu said that no one, and especially the Greek Cypriot administration, should try to shape the ongoing negotiation process to their own interests.

    Answering a question on Cyprus, Davutoglu stressed that Miliband and his vision on Cyprus resemble each other. This vision hopes to bring peace, security and welfare to the sides in Cyprus as well as Eastern Mediterranean. This vision would also strengthen common solidarity between the friends of Turkey in the European Union (EU), Davutoglu said.

    In response to another question, Davutoglu said that any society that says "I have completed reforms and reached perfection" is actually a society that has not understood what reforms are. Stressing that Turkish-British relations were always "very special", Davutoglu said that Britain is the second biggest market for Turkish export goods. Britain continues to support Turkey's EU process and we have thanked them again today for such support, Davutoglu said. As two guarantor countries, we discussed the issue of Cyprus extensively today, Davutoglu noted.

    Turkey is making efforts so that a lasting, just, and comprehensive peace is reached in Cyprus, Davutoglu said.

    We discussed with Mr Miliband other issues such as the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan and agreed to continue mutual consultations, Davutoglu said.There is a new dimension in Turkish-British relations and that is the memberships of our two countries at the UN Security Council. We discussed today what we could do together in the UN Security Council, Davutoglu also said.

    In addition, Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.05.09) reported the following:

    The British foreign secretary reaffirmed on Wednesday his country's support for Turkey's European Union (EU) full and equal membership.

    David Miliband, the British secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, said that Britain was still supporting Turkey's EU full and equal membership bid. Turkey's EU membership was one of the most important priorities of Britain, and this membership would be for the best interests of Turkey, Britain and the EU, Miliband told a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

    Miliband is actually visiting Turkey. This is his third visit to Turkey, and second meeting with Davutoglu.

    The British secretary said that Turkey's EU full membership would have political, economic and cultural benefits, and particularly underlined importance of Turkey's EU full membership due to the current economic situation in the world and Europe's need to open abroad. Miliband said that Britain wanted to see Turkey's accession process to be revived, not slowed down, and defined the path before Turkey as a long and challenging one. The secretary also said that Turkey and the EU had to fulfil their responsibilities during the accession process.

    On Cyprus problem, Miliband said that Britain and Turkey were supporting a comprehensive settlement, and a compromise of the two nations in the island would be for their best interests. Miliband also said that the current status quo in Cyprus had to be changed, and Britain wanted solution of the problem as soon as possible. The secretary said that an intensified dialogue was required for a settlement in Cyprus, and underlined importance of 2009 within this framework.

    Speaking about developments in the Middle East, Miliband said that peace in the region had to be ensured and Britain was supporting every measure to be taken in the region. Miliband also said that the terrorism threatening Pakistan was important and should be handled in detail.

    The British secretary earlier met Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan. After the press conference, Miliband and his Turkish counterpart Davutoglu had a meeting with young diplomats at the Foreign Ministry building. Miliband is expected to meet Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan later on Wednesday.

    [04] Excerpt on Cyprus from an interview by the British Foreign Secretary with NTV

    NTVNMSNBC (27.05.09) broadcast an interview with David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, who responded to questions of the Turkish journalist Didem Tuncay. Following is an excerpt from the interview regarding Cyprus:

    Q: Cyprus is an important issue from the point of view of Turkeys EU accession process. In your view, could a comprehensive agreement be reached until the end of the year? Is there any step that Britain is planning to take as a guarantor power?

    A: I think that the Cyprus problem should definitely be solved. I know that Christofias and esteemed Talat are trying very much to solve this problem and I think that this is a good opportunity. If the negotiations are unsuccessful, one more generation will lose this opportunity. The role of Britain here is to support the negotiations, the discussions. Not to dictate any issue. Securing that these negotiations between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side are proceeding in a more positive manner, reaching an agreement is definitely vital and our role here is to support this.

    Q: The EU has decided to evaluate the issue of whether Turkey implements the Ankara Protocol at the end of 2009. Ankara is still rejecting to open unilaterally its sea and airports to the vessels and aircrafts under Greek Cypriot flag. If no solution could be reached to the Cyprus problem until the end of the year, how will Turkeys EU accession process be influenced?

    A: Turkey has vital obligations within the framework of the Ankara Protocol. This is clear. However, this constitutes only one part of a bigger package. All sides should exert efforts for advancing the process. In my view, it would be very important Turkey to present itself as a country which remains committed to its obligations.

    Q: The isolations of the Turkish Cypriots continue. During a visit in Turkey the former premier of Britain, Tony Blair has said: We should now get into action for putting an end to the isolation of northern Cyprus. This means lifting the embargoes from the point of view of trade and the air travelling. However, no development happened until now. What is the reason for this? Is Britain planning to take any step in the forthcoming period?

    A: Legal obstacles exist on this issue. There is the Chicago Convention which determines the rules of civilian aviation and there are other international agreements as well. We all want all the citizens of Cyprus to be able to benefit from the point of view of trade and travelling. There is a win-win situation here. The people should be able to travel without boundaries. And I think of course that it will be important for agreement to be reached in Cyprus to materialize all these. Britains stance is clear. We always support the sides.

    Q: How do you evaluate the decision of the European Court of Justice regarding the Orams case? Do you agree with the comments that it will influence negatively the negotiations on the island?

    A: The Orams case is actually a reminding, an incentive. We could see the Orams decision as a reminding that the discussions regarding the property issue on the island should be completed the soonest. The court procedure is going on.

    [05] The reactions continue in the Turkish side against ECJs verdict on Orams case

    Under the title Day of action, Turkish Cypriot Cyprus Today midweek newspaper (27.05.09) reports the following:

    A plan to close the border crossings in a show of strength against the controversial European Court of Justice ruling on the Orams case is being considered.

    The Kyreneia Council is also considering sealing off the EU office in Lefkosia.

    It would be a public show of anger at last months ECJ verdict, which backed Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides in his fight to oust Linda and David Orams from land in Lapta [occupied Lapithos] he claims is his.

    One of the group, Dr Shel Hulac, head of law at Girne American University, said he favoured a day of action similar to the Annan Plan days when 20,000 people flooded into Lefkosia in favour of the peace proposals.

    Speaking personally I would like to see a day nominated in the very near future when everyone in the TRNC would be urged to go to their nearest border crossing point and from bit demonstrations there to close them, if only for a short time.

    Scenes-of-crime-type tape could be plastered over the doors of the EU office to shut that down as well.

    I believe vigorous and very public action should be taken as soon as possible to highlight the unfairness of the ECJ ruling and why it should be rejected by the High Court and, if necessary, by the British government.

    The group, including the rectors of six TRNC universities, lawyers and local businessmen, was due to meet last night to discuss a way forward.

    It has spent more than a week trying to hammer out the best way of protesting against the ECJ judgment.

    There could also be a petition delivered to the Lefkosia offices of the EU, British High Commission, Turkish Embassy and Turkish Republic of North Cyprus Presidency, Dr Hulac told Cyprus Today.

    This would urge the High Court to quash the ECJ opinion because of a conflict, of interest of the president of the court who is Greek and married to a Greek Cypriot.

    As a result of this the court gave a ruling which went far beyond what it was asked for by the High Court, he added.

    The petition would also urge the High Court to notify other EU member state courts of its rejection of the ECJ ruling and state that it will not act on any Greek Cypriot claim.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (28.05.09) reports that a new platform under the name Platform for the Condemnation of the European Court of Justices (ECJ) Verdict was formed in the occupied areas of Cyprus. According to the paper the new Platform, which was formed by a group of citizens and some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), aims to act against the negative and vital threats for the Turkish Cypriots because of the verdict of ECJ on the Orams case.

    According to the paper, the aim of the Platform is to oppose to the dominant mentality of the Greek Cypriots and to protect the acquired rights of the Turkish Cypriots from those who want to take these rights away from them.

    In addition, Kibris also writes that the English Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (CTCC) is trying to get organized against the Orams verdict. Speaking yesterday at a press conference the CTCCs chairman, Durmus Ibrahim Durmus, stated that the Orams verdict interests closely the members who have investments in the occupied areas of Cyprus and the Turkish society in England. He stated that this verdict worries both the CTCCs member and the English investors and noted that under the current situation all the NGOs in England must get organized together regarding this issue. The CTCC also decided to inform all the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot organizations in the UK on the Orams case. As a result of the meeting we held with TRNC officials we will launched in the forthcoming days an initiative aiming at informing the nongovernmental organization in Britain on the issue of the steps which will be taken after the Orams decision, said Mr Durmus.


    [06] The occupation regime can participate in the Islamic Solidarity Games with the status of the observer

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (28.05.09) reports that the so-called minister of foreign affairs, Mr Huseyin Ozgurgun, in a press conference said that during his participation at the OICs meeting he had the opportunity to hold various contacts with representatives of the Islamic countries, during which he exerted efforts for the participation of the breakaway regime in the Islamic Solidarity Games that will be held in Iran. Mr Ozgurgun also said: Within the framework of the Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which was held in Damascus, Syria, between 23-25 of May, I had a meeting with the General Secretary of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF), Dr Mohammad Saleh Yusuf Gazdar. During the meeting I brought onto to the agenda the membership of the TRNCs national olympic committee to the ISSF and I reminded that during the meeting of the 13th ISSF Executive Committee which took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 6th of May, 2008 it was decided that our country is accepted as observer to the ISSF and that the issue was referred to the general assembly of the ISSF for approval.

    Mr Ozgurgun also said that they discussed the participation of the athletes coming from the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus in the 2nd Islamic Solidarity Games that will be held in Iran between 15-30 of October in 2009. Mr Gazdar said that the officials of the TRNC national olympic committee can follow the games with the status of the observer, but according to ISSF regulations, only the athletes from member countries of international federations can participate in the games. Mr Gazdar also noted that there is not a possibility for the athletes of the occupation regime to be included in the ranks, because the occupation regime is not a member of the international federations.

    According to the paper, Mr Gazdar said that as ISSF they do not see a political obstacle for the participation of the athletes from the occupied areas in the games, but at this stage it is not possible for the above-mentioned technical arrangements to be overcome.


    [07] Yorgancioglu will run for the leadership of CTP

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (28.05.09) reports that the so-called deputy of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), Mr Ozkan Yorgancioglu, will also contest as candidate for the position of leadership of CTP at the general assembly of the party to be held on 28th of June. The other candidate is the leader of CTP and former prime minister, Mr Ferdi Sabit Soyer.


    [08] Four Germans and two Turkish involved in money laundering in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Under the title German finger at the black money, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (28.05.09) reports that as a result of long and secret investigations carried out by the police an international network of money laundering via the occupied areas of Cyprus has been discovered. Four German citizens and two Turkish citizens have been arrested during the operation. The suspects were taken to the so-called district court of occupied Keryneia which ordered for their being kept under custody for three days.


    [09] The new director of the illegal BRT has been announced

    Illegal Bayrak television (27.05.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Ozer Kanli becomes the new Director of the Bayrak Radio and Television Corporation (BRTK).

    In todays weekly session, the Council of Ministers took up the issues of finance and appointments in addition to routine issues. Announcing todays decisions, the Spokesperson for the Council and Foreign Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun said Ozer Kanli has been appointed as the BRT Director as from the 29th of May.

    Huseyin Metin Beyoglu and Yilmaz Baskaya have also been appointed as members to the BRT Executive Board.

    Ozer Kanli had been a member of the BRT staff since 1985. He replaced Ahmet Okan who had served the Corporation since August 2007. Mr Okan was appointed to the post by the CTP-ORP coalition government.

    [10] Amnesty International releases its latest report

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (28.05.09) reports the following:

    In a damning report Amnesty International (AI) states that human rights conditions in Turkey have not improved recently; on the contrary they have deteriorated in many respects.

    In its latest report, released yesterday, AI notes that the impunity of officials and severe human rights abuses regarding the Kurdish issue have persisted, while calling the Ergenekon investigation a groundbreaking prosecution. Despite allegations by certain circles that human rights abuses have occurred during the Ergenekon investigation, AI seems to have not taken them seriously.

    The report, titled Amnesty International Report 2009: State of the World's Human Rights, which puts forward the organization's annual global assessment of human rights, covering human rights developments in 157 countries from January to December 2008, also criticizes the Constitutional Court's verdict on the headscarf issue.

    While referring to the death in custody of Engin Ceber, the report underlines that former Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Sahin, for the first time in Turkish history, apologized to the family of the victim on behalf of the state, acknowledging that Ceber's death could have been the result of torture.

    The following are highlights from the report:

    Headscarves: In February Parliament passed constitutional amendments aimed at withdrawing the ban on women wearing the Islamic headscarf at universities, but the Constitutional Court overturned the amendments in June on the grounds that they violated the secular principles of the state. However, the judgment did not adequately demonstrate the need for this limitation of freedom of religion and conscience based on the human rights of others.

    Ergenekon: In July an indictment was issued in a groundbreaking prosecution against an alleged ultranationalist network, Ergenekon, with links to state institutions. Eighty-six people, including senior retired army officers, were charged with various offenses relating to an alleged plot to violently overthrow the elected government through political assassinations and incitement of violence. The trial was continuing at the end of the year.

    Freedom of expression: Human rights defenders, writers, journalists and others were unjustly prosecuted under unfair laws and subjected to arbitrary decisions by judges and prosecutors. Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code was amended by Parliament in April but remained an unfair limitation to freedom of expression. Investigations under Article 301 continued, authorized by the justice minister as required by the amendments. Other articles and laws continued to be used to limit freedom of expression. Courts also acted disproportionately when shutting down Web sites on the basis of posted items.

    Torture: Reports of torture and other ill-treatment rose during 2008, especially outside official places of detention but also in police stations and prisons. People accused of ordinary as well as politically motivated offenses were vulnerable to ill-treatment. Counter-charges were often brought against individuals who said they had been ill-treated by law enforcement officials. In October, Engin Ceber died in the hospital after being detained at the Istinye Police Station and Metris Prison in Istanbul. An autopsy found that death was due to cerebral bleeding as a result of blunt trauma injuries consistent with those caused by blows to the head. Nineteen law enforcement officials were suspended from duty and an indictment was drawn up against 60 state officials, some facing charges of torture. In the first such statement of its kind, the justice minister apologized to Ceber's family and acknowledged that the death may have been due to torture.

    Impunity: Investigations into human rights violations by law enforcement officials remained flawed and prosecutions remained insufficient. Official human rights mechanisms were ineffective. The trial continued of people accused of involvement in the 2007 murder of Hrant Dink. In a separate prosecution, eight members of the gendarmerie were charged with negligence based on their alleged failure to act on information that could have prevented the murder. A report published in July by the parliamentary Human Rights Commission found that other state officials had been negligent in failing to prevent the murder. In November, the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of eight police officers for the death in custody of Alpaslan Yelden in Izmir in 1999. The court found there was insufficient evidence that the officers had participated in the torture.

    [11] Expenditures by the Turkish Defence Industry Support Fund increases

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (28.05.09) reports the following:

    Expenditures by the Turkish Defence Industry Support Fund (SSDF), an extra-budgetary defence resource, jumped by 39 percent to $1.6 billion last year as a result of the military's ATAK helicopter project, a report from the Undersecretariat for the Defence Industry (SSM) has shown.

    Of the SSDF expenditures in 2008, 85 percent went to the ATAK project. Tusas Aerospace Industries (TA0), Italy's AgustaWestland and local defence contractor Aselsan signed contracts valued at approximately $2.7 billion for the production of Italian A-129 attack helicopters in Turkey in June 2008. The export of the Turkish domestic defence sector increased by 37 percent in 2008 to $576 million over the previous year, the report indicated. In a written statement within the SSM report, Minister of Defence Vecdi Gonul said expenditures for research and development in the defence industry increased by a record 90 percent in 2008 over 2007, to $510 million. The SSM report said the government expects to meet half of Turkey's defence technology needs with domestic products by 2010.

    Turkey currently has the second largest army among the members of NATO.


    [12] Turkey intensifies lobbying for European force

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (28.05.09) publishes the following commentary by Lale Sariibrahimoglu:

    Turkey, a NATO member but not a member of the European Union, has nowadays intensified its lobbying activities to take part in the decision-making process of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) during the preparation stage of peacekeeping operations elsewhere in the world.

    The Greek part of Cyprus, an EU member recognized as the sole representative of the island despite the existence of a Turkish Cypriot community, has been using its veto card within the union to hinder any Turkish efforts to move closer to the EU, European defence affairs included.

    In return, Turkey has been blocking joint NATO-EU peacekeeping missions and rejects Greek Cypriot participation in peacekeeping missions since agreements that govern NATO-EU military cooperation at times of peacekeeping operations exclude Cyprus.

    Turkey's accession talks with the EU were also blocked when Ankara refused to conform with the Ankara Protocol, under which it has to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriots.

    In the meantime, Turkey's exclusion from the decision-making process of the EU during consultations for peacekeeping missions runs contrary to the Nice Treaty, which deals with the involvement of non-EU European allies within the ESDP and is officially known as the Nice Implementation Document (NID). It was adopted by the EU Council in October 2002. NID foresees, among other things, peacetime consultations on a permanent basis covering a full range of security issues.

    Concerning the modalities for the participation in EU-led operations, the principle of intensified consultations with non-EU allies such as Turkey before making an EU decision about the proper way of addressing a crisis was not implemented.

    Turkey was therefore not consulted prior to EUJUST THEMIS in Georgia and EUJUST LEX in Iraq. Despite our geographic proximity, the same lack of consultations repeated themselves in the case of EUPOL COPPS in the Middle East and EUBAM in Rafah, Turkish diplomats said.

    Now that Sweden will begin the term presidency of the EU for six months as of July, to be followed by Spain until July 2010, Turkey has accelerated lobbying efforts to gain its rights as foreseen in the Nice Treaty concerning its participation in the decision-making process prior to peacekeeping operations.

    Turkey believes that because Sweden and Spain appear to be warmer to the Turkish position on EU affairs in general, it may gain its right as envisaged in the Nice Treaty during their term presidency.

    To gain support for its position, Ankara on May 18 hosted a joint conference of the Brussels-based European Institute for Security Studies and the Middle East Technical University (ODTU) in which several active European military officers as well as civilians took part.

    After several years of negotiations, Turkey and NATO members, the majority of which are also EU members, signed a declaration in December 2002 on the ESDP that has enabled the use of NATO assets and capabilities by the EU as part of ESDP operations, known as the Berlin Plus arrangements.

    This became possible under the Ankara Agreement of 2001, which stipulates that Turkey will automatically participate in EU-led military operations if NATO assets and capabilities are used. At the time of the agreement, the Greek Cypriot administration was not a member of the EU; it joined in 2004.

    Under the Swedish and Spanish term presidency, Turkey may be able to get support to exercise the rights granted by the Nice Treaty. But, the ups and downs in relations with the EU as a whole will continue until Ankara concentrates again on its long-neglected democratic reforms.

    [13] From the Turkish Press of 27 May 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 27 May 2009:

    a) Miliband's Visit

    Assessing the visit to Ankara of David Miliband, the British secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, in an article in Radikal, Murat Yetkin says that one of the major goals of this visit is to raise the consciousness of the Turkish public that the speedy solution of the Cyprus issue will be in the interests of Turkey. Both the administration and the people believe that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have done their duty with regards to the Cyprus issue and that the Greek Cypriots are the source of the problem, maintains Yetkin, adding that, therefore, the place where Miliband has to exert efforts to raise consciousness for a solution should be the Greek Cypriot sector. Arguing that even if Turkey does the impossible on the Cyprus issue, it will not advance an iota on the EU path so long as Sarkozy and Merkel exist, Yetkin concludes that since the problem is not about the sensitivity of the public, there is no point in looking for a solution there.

    b) Turkish-Armenian Normalization Process

    Questioning whether the condition on the solution of the Karabakh problem has blocked the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia in an article in Milliyet, Sami Kohen sums up the views expressed by Turkish and Armenian participants in two conferences recently held on the issue in Istanbul, one organized by the FNF, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, and the other by SETA, the Political, Economic, and Social Research Foundation.

    Viewing the slogan of "one nation-two states" to refer to Turkey and Azerbaijan in an article in Referans, Cengiz Candar argues that it is not valid, adding that the "cultural closeness" and the "identity partnership" between the two countries do not justify such a slogan. Arguing that this slogan limits Turkey's chances of playing a role as the "regional power" in the Caucasus, Candar adds: "It cannot normalize its relations with Armenia; it cannot open its borders. It limits its influence over the entire region. Therefore, it cannot play an 'auspicious' role in the solution of the Karabakh problem given this approach and given the policies that this approach will inevitably generate." Explaining that this approach will cause Turkey to mortgage its Caucasus policy to Azerbaijan, Candar goes on to assess the role of the Minsk Group in the solution of the Karabakh problem.

    c) Erdogan's Remarks on Expulsion of Ethnic Minorities

    Viewing Prime Minister Erdogan's critical remarks on the expulsion of ethnic and religious minorities from Turkey in an article in Milliyet, Taha Akyol describes it as a "political mistake." Pointing out that the rights granted to minorities in line with the Lausanne Treaty will be discussed at the forthcoming meeting to be held between the Turkish and Greek Foreign Ministers, Akyol writes: "Turkey should exert pressure on Greece on the issue of the identity and foundation rights of the Western Thrace Turks by improving human rights in its own territory, for example by resolved the issues of the foundations and the religious seminaries. Turkey, in this way, should strengthen the Lausanne Treaty by abiding by its stipulations. It should exert pressure on Greece to abide by the provisions of the Treaty." The fact that the prime minister has officially made these remarks, which Greece will be using to apply pressure on Turkey, is inappropriate from a diplomatic point of view, concludes Akyol.

    Hasan Cemal in the same daily, on the other hand, welcomes the remarks of Erdogan regarding ethnic and religious cleansing, saying that irrespective of the motives that made the prime minister utter them, this self-criticism directed against our history should be welcomed. The republic's official concept of nationalism is behind all this suffering caused by "xenophobia" and "ethnic and religious cleansing" in the country, writes Cemal in his column, adding that the Kurds have also been the victims of this state policy. In conclusion, he expresses the hope that the prime minister's remarks will not remain only in words and will be transformed into deeds.

    Welcoming Erdogan's remarks in the second section of his article in Hurriyet Daily News, Mehmet Ali Birand says that, however, words are not sufficient. He calls on the prime minister not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to take a series of steps involving the theological seminary, Kurdish rights, and the prevention of negative discourse against Jews and Armenians.

    In most democracies minorities are in principle an "added value" to society, not a "security threat" as perceived in Turkey, writes Yusuf Kanli in an article in Hurriyet Daily News, adding that he has serious doubts about the sincerity of Erdogan's remarks. Kanli goes on to note that he has "difficulty as well in understanding why everyone is attacking the premier because he qualified the oppression of minorities as fascist practices."

    Assessing Erdogan's remarks on the expulsion of ethnic minorities in an article in Radikal, Oral Calislar says: We are faced with a serious development from the viewpoint of Turkey facing up to its past. Viewing the reaction of the opposition as a traditional one, Calislar says that as far as the opposition is concerned, Turkey has no historical problems that require facing up to. Perceiving self-criticism regarding our past as a "crime" is a ridiculous approach, writes Calislar, condemning the mentality that rejects any criticism of ones history, always lays the blame on others, and rewrites an imaginary history devoid of the realities. The prime minister's credibility is dependent on the steps he will be taking in line with his remarks, argues the writer, adding that if the Heybeliada religious seminary remains closed then the prime minister's self-criticism cannot be that meaningful. Describing Erdogan's comments as "courageous for a politician," Calislar calls on the opposition to exert efforts to enable these remarks to constitute the foundation of a significant change in Turkey's mentality on its journey toward democracy.

    In an article entitled "The Prime Minister's love for foreign languages: 'Fascistic'", Milli Gazete columnist Afet Ilgaz criticizes Prime Minister Erdogan for making references to what he described as "Fascist" practices by past Turkish governments against people of different ethnicities in this country in responding to criticisms of possible plans to contract out the job of demining the Turkish-Syrian border to an Israeli company. Ilgaz asks whether Erdogan might have been referring to the decision on the exchange of Turkish and Greek populations made "at the suggestion of the Norwegian delegation" during the talks in Lausanne in 1923. Censuring Erdogan's choice of words and underlining the necessity of the said decision, Ilgaz asks the prime minister "whether you ever fought a war of independence and signed a treaty like the one in Lausanne. Do you mean to start a debate now on those difficult times like the debate on the Armenian lies? ... Were your grandmothers and grandfathers not among the Turks expelled from the Balkans and the Caucasus during the [Ottoman-Russian] war over 1877-1878?"

    d) Minesweeping along Turkish-Syrian border

    In an article in Milliyet, Fikret Bila agrees with the objections of Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Baykal and Nationalist Action Party (MHP) leader Bahceli to the "package" that combines two different activities, the clearing of the mines in the territories along the Syrian border and the right to cultivate the cleared areas for a period of 44 years. Agreeing with the Chief of Staff proposal that NAMSA, the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency, be involved in the minesweeping activities, Bila urges the government to use this fertile land to be obtained after it is cleared of mines in projects that will benefit the regional people.

    Detecting the influence of foreign countries in the model the government has proposed to clear the region along the Syrian border from mines in an article in Milliyet, Metin Munir argues that the financial reason behind granting a 44-year-old permission to the companies that will be sweeping the mines to use the cleared areas is lame. Although the issue appears to be about a tender on minesweeping, companies dealing with mines will not be submitting tenders, writes Munir, adding that giant food and agricultural companies that will be subcontracting the minesweeping activities will be submitting tenders because the world is advancing toward a shortage of food.

    Criticizing the government bill granting the agricultural rights over the 178.5 million square meters of land along the Syrian border to be cleared of mines to the company that sweeps the area, Hurriyet columnist Oktay Eksi in an article maintains that there is a high probability that an Israeli firm will submit a tender. Arguing that the region, which he describes as "the bedroom of the country," will be offered to a foreign firm on a silver platter, Eksi wonders why National Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul, who agrees with the Chief of Staff view that the mission should be given to NAMSA, has signed that bill. In conclusion, Eksi argues that Gonul, as a minister who does not share the view prevalent in the cabinet, should have declared his opposition to this bill, should have announced that he does not want to share the political responsibility of such a policy, and should have resigned.

    Viewing the criticisms levelled against the government in connection with the mine bill on grounds that it violates "national Interests" in an article in Vatan, Okay Gonensin explains that based on the statements issued so far it is apparent that neither the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) nor a Turkish firm is capable of clearing the region of mines which means that a foreign firm is bound to be involved in this task. Gonensin continues: "Given this situation, what are our 'national interests'? Are they the clearing of region from mines as soon as possible, the opening the area to agriculture, and the creation of job opportunities or are they about waiting until a "hundred percent Turkish" firm emerges? The fact that this reaction is being shown 'because of the possibility that this foreign firm might be an Israeli one' constitutes another problem. Had rumours pointed toward a US, French, or German firm would there have been such uproar?" Addressing those who are concerned that hundreds of Israeli agents will collect intelligence in the region while pretending to clear the mines, Gonensin says that they should not be worried since Mosad and the intelligence agencies of other countries already have detailed information on that region of Turkey.

    Questioning how come the TSK, the second largest army within NATO, does not have the necessary equipment and personnel to clear the mines along the Syrian border in an article in Taraf, Lale Sariibrahimoglu maintains that the politicians are trying to deviate the issue by constantly harping on the Israeli aspect instead of asking why an army of this size and that such an enormous budget is incapable of undertaking this task. Arguing that the issues of "national interest" and "security," over which there is so much discussion in parliament, can be safeguarded only by asking the above-mentioned questions, Sariibrahimoglu declares that certain countries that express a wish to undertake this task and that possess such a technology do not even have mines in their own countries, adding that it is difficult to understand that a country such as Turkey that has over 2.5 million mines lacks the technology and personnel to destroy them.

    In an article entitled "Hope God does not smile on your project", Yeni Safak columnist Hakan Albayrak discloses the details of a phone conversation with "a friend from the [ruling] AKP" who provided him with information about the plan to give a foreign company a contract to clear an area along the Turkish-Syrian border of landmines. Explaining why he was "not convinced" by what he was told, Albayrak asserts that his source refrained from answering some of his questions about the project in a way which suggested that "the Government is not sufficiently open" about this subject but wants Parliament and the public all the same to give it a "blank check" to go ahead with an undertaking that involves "the risk of causing a critical region like the Turkish-Syrian border to become a happy hunting ground for Israeli secret agents."

    Vakit devotes a small part of its front page to a report entitled "Landmine debate intensifies," which highlights the "debate" caused by "allegations" that Israel is among the 14 bidders for a Turkish government contract for the clearance of landmines in a 52,000 acre area along the Turkish-Syrian border. The report quotes "experts on the subject" as saying that Syria used its own resources in demining its own border areas and that Turkey could do the same.

    In an article entitled "It would be a second Israel", Vakit columnist Serdar Arseven criticizes the Turkish military, "which cannot agree with the Government on any subject," for what he refers to as its willingness to reach a consensus with the AKP over awarding "Zionists" a contract to demine the Turkish-Syrian border and cultivate the region. Arseven also highlights responses by his readers to his article on the same subject yesterday suggesting the extent of "our people's displeasure" with the possibility that an Israeli corporation might win this contract.

    Under the headline, "Landmine clearance an easy job: Maps with the 7th army corps," Zaman runs a front-page report which quotes Retired Colonel Kemal Guner, "the commander of the battalion that first mined the border with Syria," as saying that the Turkish military could easily carry out the task of demining the Syrian border and that the landmine maps needed for this job are with the 7th Army Corps.


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