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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-06-29

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. 119/09 27-29.06.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat and Christofias agreed on the opening of Limnitis crossing point. Statements by Talat after the meeting.
  • [02] Talat paid a visit to Limnitis crossing point. He expressed the hope that the opening of Limnitis will contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem
  • [03] Turkey assesses the opening of Limnitis crossing point as positive development
  • [04] Erdogan stated from Brussels that 2009 might be the year for the solution of the Cyprus problem
  • [05] Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Estate Agents: When we sold real property to the foreigners we were giving them security of telling them Turkey is here, the Turkish army is here
  • [06] Eroglu calls on the people of occupied Morfou to set red lines and make investments and constructions in the region
  • [07] Statements by the so called ombudsman of the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus
  • [08] Cakici: The solution will be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus
  • [09] Ferdi Sabit Soyer was re-elected in the leadership of CTP
  • [10] Eroglu to visit Istanbul today
  • [11] Illegal GAU to open a new campus in the UK
  • [12] A former General testified on the assassination of Colonel Vural Berkay in the occupied areas during 1997
  • [13] The Cyprus problem among the matters of discussion on Davutoglus talks in Corfu
  • [14] Gul continues his contacts in China
  • [15] New legislation in Turkey foresees the trial of military members by civilian courts instead of military courts
  • [16] The Ruling AKP prepared a reform package
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [17] On Ilker Basbugs press conference

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat and Christofias agreed on the opening of Limnitis crossing point. Statements by Talat after the meeting.

    Illegal Bayrak television (27.06.09) broadcast the following:

    TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat and the Leader of the Greek Cypriot Administration Demetris Christofias have agreed on the opening of the Yesilirmak [occupied Limnitis] check-point for mutual crossings.

    The decision was announced by the UN Secretary - Generals Special Representative for Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun at the end of yesterdays meeting between the two leaders.

    Reading out a joint statement Mr Zerihoun said that the two leaders in Cyprus have decided to proceed with the opening of the Yesilirmak Gate for crossings, under the existing rules set for other crossing points. The role of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force-UNFICYP is underscored in the agreement.

    The two sides have not mentioned a certain date for the opening of the Yesilirmak gate yet, as some time will be needed for the completion on the works on infrastructure.

    According to the agreement, people willing to cross to the Erenkoy area will do so with the escort of the UNFICYP. Visits to Erenkoy [occupied Kokkina] will be made by minibuses on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

    The transfer of reasonable quantities of food, water and other supplies of non-military nature to Erenkoy will be made available under UNFICYPs escort. As for humanitarian issues, ambulances are given access to reach hospitals in both sides. Turkish Cypriot-registered fire engines and water tanks will be open to call in case of a fire at Erenkoy.

    The statement also said that there will be reciprocal arrangements from time to time for specific events through all crossing points.

    Informing the press on his return to the Presidential Palace yesterday about the agreement reached on the Yesilirmak crossing point, President Mehmet Ali Talat said the agreement reached had pleased both sides. I hope that this decision will benefit the people in the area, he added.

    Referring to the negotiations process, President Talat said the opening of the crossing point had renewed his hopes of the future.

    Noting that he was very pleased now that the Yesilirmak issue had been solved and it would cease to cast a shadow on the negotiations process, President Talat said now the issue has closed and both sides are pleased with this agreement.

    Explaining that he would be meeting with the leader of the Greek Cypriot Administration Demetris Christofias on Thursday the 2nd of July to continue discussions on territorial issues, President Talat said today the parties continued their discussions on this subject.

    Reiterating that a map did not exist currently at the talks, President Talat said only principals had been put forward and they hoped to have concluded their discussions on this issue within 1 to 2 weeks time and move on to other pressing issues.

    Answering reporters questions regarding the Yesilirmak crossing point, President Talat said it could take 3 to 5 months or even more for the gate to be opened as the roads in the area needed to be fixed.

    Noting that there were also financials concerns regarding the crossing point, the President reminded that the European Union would be giving financial support.

    The crossing into Erenkoy will be opened simultaneously and on important days, crossings will be permitted by land. Within this framework on the 8th of August crossings into Erenkoy will be made using the road in the area, noted President Talat.

    [02] Talat paid a visit to Limnitis crossing point. He expressed the hope that the opening of Limnitis will contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem

    Illegal Bayrak television (28.06.09) broadcast the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat visited the Yesilirmak [occupied Limnitis] village yesterday to inform the citizens about the opening of the crossing point there.

    The President told Yesilirmak residents that with the decision to proceed with the opening of the Yesilirmak Gate, this has led to the removal of the isolation over the Erenkoy [occupied Kokkina] region.

    He said rules set for existing crossing points will apply to the Yesilirmak point too.President informed that visits to Erenkoy will be made by minibuses on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and the transfer of reasonable quantities of food, water and other supplies of non-military nature will be allowed. Pointing to the need for some works on the infrastructure for the opening of the crossing point, Talat said some time is needed for the completion of these works. He noted that reciprocal arrangements might be made for one-day crossings for ceremonies and rituals to be held in Erenkoy and Guzelyurt [occupied Morfou].

    President Talat said no harm will come from the opening of the Yesilirmak gate and people of the TRNC will gain trust to Greek Cypriots in time. Trust will be built through measures to be taken for securing the implementation of a possible political agreement in Cyprus, the President said.

    Talat expressed the hope that the Yesilirmak opening will help strengthen bi-communal relations and contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem. Also referring to the opening of another crossing point at Pirgo region, Mr. Talat said he approved the demand for the opening of a gate there.

    [03] Turkey assesses the opening of Limnitis crossing point as positive development

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (28.06.09) reports that the Turkish ministry of Foreign Affairs has assessed the opening of the crossing point in occupied Limnitis area as positive development.

    Responding to a question, Mr Burak Ozugergin, spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, noted that the opening of Limnitis crossing point has been included in the Confidence Building Measures proposals which the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat submitted to the UN Secretary-General during their meeting on 16 October 2008.

    Mr Ozugergin said that the opening of Ledra Street crossing point in Lefkosia, which was also included in Mr Talats proposals, was materialized on 3 April 2008. He noted that they assess as positive development the fact that this time the leaders agreed on the opening of the Limnitis crossing point.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Erdogan stated from Brussels that 2009 might be the year for the solution of the Cyprus problem

    Illegal Bayrak television (27.06.09) broadcast the following:

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the year 2009 could be the year a solution is found to the Cyprus problem. Speaking at the Crans Montana Forum that is taking place in Brussels Mr. Erdogan touched upon the Cyprus issue. He called on European official to restrict the Greek Cypriot side from trying to prevent a solution being found to the Cyprus problem.

    Referring to Turkeys EU membership process, Mr. Erodogan said that Turkey had fulfilled Maastricht criteria. Turkey truly believes in the reforms that it has endorsed said Mr. Erdogan. He said Turkey was not entering the EU to be a burden on its shoulders but to take some burden off and added that he believed the EU would be gaining a lot with Turkeys accession into the union.

    The Turkish Prime Minister is the guest of honor at the 20th yearly session of the Crans Montana Forum. He will be presented with the PRIX DE LA FONDATION 2009 by H.R.H. Princess Astrid of Belgium and Mr. Jacques Barrot Vice President of the European Commission during the Forum.

    [05] Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Estate Agents: When we sold real property to the foreigners we were giving them security of telling them Turkey is here, the Turkish army is here

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (29.06.09) publishes a report by Sefa Karahasan, the papers correspondent in occupied Lefkosia, regarding the sales of real property in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus. The paper under the title The sales of real property in TRNC were stopped with the Orams decision, reports that the decision of the European Court of Justice on the 28th of April regarding the Orams case dealt a blow to the real property sector.

    The paper reports:

    Fifteen thousand houses are unsold in the occupied areas. The representatives of the sector made a call on Turkey to back the title deeds they sell to the foreigners. A great number of the real property is built plots which belonged to the Greek Cypriots before 1974. The foreigners want a guarantee for the TRNC title deed which is given to them when they buy real property.

    Mr Hasan Sungur, Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Estate Agents Association, speaking to Milliyet paper, said that the situation, which is negative in the occupied areas after the Orams case, can be broken with a message from Turkey and the occupation regime that they are backing the title deeds. Mr Sungur said: We dont say to Prime Minister Erdogan to give a message. A statement of an official from Turkey or even a statement from the embassy in Lefkosia is enough for us. Mr Sungur asked from the occupation regime to support the title deeds.

    Noting that for the real property sales Turkey and the Turkish army are a huge influence, Mr Sungur said: When we sold real property to the foreigners we were giving them security by telling them Turkey is here, the Turkish army is here. However, during the last period a feeling was created among the foreigners that Turkey doesnt support the TRNC. This is very bad. We attach great importance to Turkey and to the existence of the Turkish Armed Forces. Mr Sungur concluded by saying that the prices of the real property with Turkish Cypriot title deeds have increased and on the other hand they cannot find buyers for the real property which belongs to the Greek Cypriots.

    The paper also reports that Mr Soner Yetkili, the Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Building Contractors' Union, said that the sales to British has come to a stop with the Orams case and added: We should create alternatives other than the EU countries. We should turn our advertising campaign towards the Middle East countries.

    (DPs)

    [06] Eroglu calls on the people of occupied Morfou to set red lines and make investments and constructions in the region

    Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (29.06.09) reports on statements made by the self styled Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu during the opening of the 32nd Orange Festival in occupied Morfou. Expressing his belief that it is necessary for the people of Morfou to set their red lines as the Republic of Cyprus has done, Mr. Eroglu stated that an increase in the investments and constructions in occupied Morfou, will reveal the support the Turkish Cypriots are providing to occupied Morfou and the region. Every passing day Morfou will become better. Every passing day the people of the country will develop [Morfou] with new investments, Dervis Eroglu said.

    (ML)

    [07] Statements by the so called ombudsman of the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (29.06.09) publishes an interview given to the paper by Feridun Onsav, the so called ombudsman in occupied Cyprus. Upon a question on the foreign relations the so called ombudsmans office enjoys at international level and whether there has been a request for holding a meeting with the ombudsman in the South, Mr. Onsav, inter alia, said: We are a member of the International Ombudsman Institute and the European Ombudsman Institute. In the past, we have participated in a congress of the International Ombudsman Institute that took place in Stockholm. We intend to participate in a congress of the European Ombudsman Institute which will take place in Italy in October. Until today, the ombudsmans deputy in the South was participating in the international meetings. They have participated in the last meeting in Sweden, too. We met there. We had a luncheon together and discussed.

    (ML)

    [08] Cakici: The solution will be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus

    Under the above title Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (27.06.09) reports that Mehmet Cakici, the chairman of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP), stated that insisting on the virgin birth creates difficulties as regards the solution of the Cyprus problem and that the new state which will be created will be the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus. However, in the structure of this state elements from the TRNC institution will exist as well.

    Mr Cakici also said that in a sense a federal solution based on bi-zonallity, political equality and the two communities will be the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus but the content will be different. And this coincides with the form of the solution which the TDP referred to for years.

    The chairman of the TDP called on those who made statements like we will never give land back to stop preventing the Turkish Cypriots from seeing the realities.

    (CS)

    [09] Ferdi Sabit Soyer was re-elected in the leadership of CTP

    Under the front page title Soyer once again, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (29.06.09) reports on yesterdays 22nd General Congress of the Republican Turkish Party United Forces (CTP-BG) during which Ferdi Sabit Soyer was re-elected in the leadership of CTP. According to the paper, 755 out of 1.100 delegates attended the congress and Ferdi Sabit Soyer, who ran against Ozkan Yorgancioglu gained 500 votes. Ozkan Yorgancioglu gained 241 votes. Fourteen votes were invalid.

    In his statements, Mr. Soyer said that his party will continue to play a leading role in favour of peace and federation, and he took a stance against a confederal solution adding that his party supports the negotiations process. Ferdi Sabit Soyer also said that this is the last time he runs as a candidate for CTP leadership.

    (ML)

    [10] Eroglu to visit Istanbul today

    Illegal Bayrak television (28.06.09) broadcast the following:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu leaves for Istanbul tomorrow. The Premier will hold contacts in the Turkish city as guest of the Marmara Group Strategic and Social Research Foundation. Dervis Eroglu will deliver a speech at a conference organized by the Foundation during which he will touch upon the latest developments on the Cyprus issue. He is expected to return to the TRNC next Wednesday.

    [11] Illegal GAU to open a new campus in the UK

    Illegal Bayrak television (27.08.09) broadcast the following:

    Girne American University (GAU) opens a new campus at Canterbury in Britain.

    The campus which is to begin education in October 2009 was promoted at a press conference today.

    The Deputy Chairman of the GAU Board of Directors Asim Vehbi said the university has campuses in several countries within the framework of cooperation between the university and the Universal Education Groups but he added that the Canterbury campus will be an independent university.

    Also speaking, at the press conference, the Chairman of the GAU Board of Directors Serhat Akpinar said they are aiming to take part in the European Higher Education Area which is tried to be structured with the Bologna process.

    [12] A former General testified on the assassination of Colonel Vural Berkay in the occupied areas during 1997

    Todays Zaman newspaper (29.06.09) reports the following:

    A former general responded to prosecutors' questions about the suspicious death of a colonel in 1997 during an army drill in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) as part of the ongoing investigation into the alleged attempt of a clandestine group called Ergenekon to take over the government by force.

    Retired Gen. Cevik Bir, who is said to be the architect of the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention, which resulted in the resignation of a coalition government led by an Islamist party at the time, testified on Thursday to Ergenekon prosecutors. Bir was questioned as a suspect, the prosecution said.

    Bir was questioned about the death of Col. Vural Berkay, who was shot dead by a bullet, which flew by then-Land Forces Gen. Huseyin Kivrikoglu during the Toros-2 military exercise in the KKTC in 1997.

    The prosecution was relying on information from an army intelligence officer who claimed that the real target was Land Forces Commander Gen. Kivrikoglu, whose death would have possibly meant Gen. Bir's promotion as the force's commander, as Bir was the most likely candidate for this post according to army tradition. Bir denied any truth to the allegations during the investigation. This could have, some claimed, even eventually elevated Bir to the post of the chief of general staff.

    The mystery surrounding the death of Berkay during the Toros-2 drill by a long-range rifle belonging to the Special Forces Command, which was overseen by Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Bir, has never been fully illuminated. Those claiming that the colonel's death was the result of an assassination attempt on Kivrikoglu have also put forth that Gen. Engin Alan, who was the commander of the Special Forces Command at the time, was Bir's man. No comprehensive investigation was carried out into the colonel's death, until the case was taken up again with the investigation into Ergenekon launched in June 2007.

    [13] The Cyprus problem among the matters of discussion on Davutoglus talks in Corfu

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (28.06.09) reported the following from Corfu:

    The informal meeting of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers ended with the launch of the Corfu Process which aims at tackling European security challenges with concrete steps to restore confidence and preparing the ground for the ministers' next meeting in Athens in December.

    Following the meeting where Turkey was represented by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, OSCE Chairperson Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said, we just completed a fascinating, wide-ranging and frank discussion on the future of European security.

    The meeting ended with agreement on 'Corfu Process' - steps to take the dialogue on European security forward, said the OSCE Chairperson.

    Turkish Foreign Minister held meetings with foreign ministers and other officials attending the meeting. Davutoglu who met the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana later got together with Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov.

    Davutoglu also met with British Foreign Minister Dave Miliband, Swedish Foreign minister Carl Bildt, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.

    Turkey's EU process, Cyprus issue, the situation in Iran and developments in the Caucasus were discussed during these meetings.

    [14] Gul continues his contacts in China

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.06.09) reported the following from Xian:

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul who is visiting China said Saturday that Turkey, with its democratic and secular structure, pursued a foreign policy safeguarding security and stability in its region.

    Gul who was awarded with an honorary doctorate by the Xian Northwest University delivered a speech during the award ceremony.

    President Gul said both Turkey and China were determined to eradicate terrorism, avoid economic protectionism and supported resolution of international conflicts through diplomacy rather than use of force. He added that the two countries would continue the cooperation in these areas in platforms like the G-20 and the UN Security Council.

    Gul said Turkey went through a political, economic, social transformation in the recent years, adding that Turkey, with its democratic and secular structure, pursued a foreign policy safeguarding security and stability in its region.

    Turkey's position to normalize its relations with its neighbors started to bear fruits. He said Turkey's volume of trade with its neighbors started to grow, and its relations with them became multidimensional, he said.

    Gul said Turkey's first priority was to join the European Union while its second priority was to contribute to establishment of a wide area of peace and prosperity, all the way from Balkan's to the Middle East and Central Asia.

    In this respect, Turkey is exerting efforts to improve its relations with countries in its region. It is helping third countries resolve the issues among themselves. It is taking initiatives in issues regarding relations between Afghanistan-Pakistan, Israel-Syria, Azarbaijan-Armenia, Israel-Palestine, Israel-Pakistan, Iraq and Iran. Turkey's election to the UN Security Council is a sign of the international community's confidence in Turkey, said Gul.

    [15] New legislation in Turkey foresees the trial of military members by civilian courts instead of military courts

    Todays Zaman newspaper (29.06.09) reports the following:

    New legislation passed last week as part of European Union harmonization efforts to ensure military personnel are tried in civilian courts in peacetime rather than in military courts was backed by opposition parties, chairman of the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group Bekir Bozdag has said, after statements from both the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP).

    The legislation, passed on Friday, requires civilian courts to try members of the armed forces accused of crimes including threats to national security, constitutional violations, organizing armed groups and attempts to topple the government.

    On Saturday however, statements from the CHP and the MHP said they had not been notified about the full content of the legislative change. Bozdag said the legislation was adopted together at a meeting of the Justice Commission with the deputy heads of the parliamentary groups of the CHP and the MHP, Hakki Suha Okay and Mehmet Sandir.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan displayed anger in a speech on Sunday on the CHP's attitude regarding the new legislation. The CHP has claimed that the AK Party deceived' it in passing the new law. What is your duty? Every party member raised their hands in a yes' vote. Where were you? Weren't you there? Now they are saying, We have been deceived', he said.

    He said the CHP was being inconsistent, first proposing to work together against coup plotters and then speaking against a law targeting coups d'etat.

    Justice Minister Sadullah Ergun said the military's General Staff had also contributed to the draft. We have lost many cases at the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] because of this. This is the kind of practice that exists in every democratic country, he said.

    Parliamentary Justice Commission member Yahya Akman noted that the bill had been prepared as part of EU harmonization efforts.

    The legislation comes amid renewed tensions between the powerful military and the government after a newspaper published a document earlier this month that allegedly outlined an army plot to undermine the ruling AK Party, which traces its roots to an outlawed Islamist movement.

    Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug said on Friday the document was a smear campaign against the armed forces. A military prosecutor ruled last week there was insufficient evidence for an investigation, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that civilian prosecutors will now take over the probe.

    Ending the military's influence in politics is a key step the EU expects Turkey to take to advance its membership bid.

    The change to the penal code also says that civilians cannot be tried in military courts unless the country is in a state of martial law or at war.

    It was not clear if the changes to the penal code would affect the trial of military officers who have been charged in the so-called Ergenekon case investigating an alleged right-wing network that sought to topple the government.

    Erdogan and the military have repeatedly faced off during the government's six-year rule over the AK Party's efforts to ease restrictions on religion in Turkey. The country's generals are the self-proclaimed guardians of Turkish secularism and have forced four governments from power since 1960.

    [16] The Ruling AKP prepared a reform package

    Todays Zaman newspaper (29.06.09) reports the following:

    The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has prepared a 15-article reform package, which includes the trial of coup generals, following a recent call by Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal to confront the Sept. 12, 1980 coup planners and to abolish an article in the Constitution preventing their trial, AK Party sources told Today's Zaman.

    CHP leader Baykal last week proposed that Parliament remove all obstacles that stand in the way of the generals who led the Sept. 12 coup being brought to justice. Although Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Baykal of insincerity in his call to settle accounts with the perpetrators of the Sept. 12 coup, the AK Party is getting ready to propose a package of amendments to the Constitution, including Article 15, which exempts coup leaders from being tried, to Parliament in August.

    After Erdogan's critical remarks about Baykal's call, CHP parliamentary group deputy chairmen paid a visit to their AK Party counterparts to convince the government that the CHP was sincere in its call about the trial of Sept. 12 coup perpetrators, prompting the government to respond to the CHP's move with a constitutional reform package.

    AK Party parliamentary group deputy chairman Bekir Bozdag said all traces of the Sept. 12 coup should be eliminated from the Constitution. His party will present the mini reform package to Parliament in August; it covers articles making party closures more difficult and granting individuals the right to file cases at the Constitutional Court.

    Indicating that Parliament, which would normally be on vacation in August, may gather for an extraordinary meeting that month to elect its new speaker, Bozdag said his party would propose the mini reform package to Parliament at this gathering, asking political parties to examine its proposal by Oct. 1, the day Parliament resumes work after the summer recess.

    The generals staging the Sept. 12 coup banned any legal action against them by adding an article to the Constitution -- temporary Article 15. Currently, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) support the annulment of this article, backing an important part of the mini reform package prepared by the AK Party. On the other side, the CHP claims that the government lacks the authority to change the Constitution and is threatening to take the constitutional amendments to the Constitutional Court if the AK Party takes such a step.

    Kuzu: We are ready

    Head of Parliament's Constitutional Commission Burhan Kuzu of the AK Party said that although the trial of the Sept. 12 coup perpetrators is difficult due to a number of political and legal factors, his party was ready to take the necessary steps to this end.

    It should first be determined whether there is a statute of limitations. It is easy to abolish temporary Article 15 of the Constitution, but the trial of around 2,000 people who either perpetrated the coup or helped the perpetrators could lead to big problems. But even so, we are ready to do what is necessary. First of all, temporary Article 15 of the Constitution, which is anti-democratic, should be abolished. We can start with that and think about the rest later, Kuzu told Today's Zaman.

    15-article reform package ready

    Imparting some information about the content of the reform package, Kuzu said one of the striking articles in the package will be the overall change of the party closure system. He said Turkey will begin to implement the Venice Criteria in party closure cases after the adoption of this package; parties will be closed down only if they are engaged in acts of terror and violence and individual punishments will be given to party members who commit offenses.

    Kuzu said the second article in the package will be about the tenure of Parliament and the president. Following a referendum on Oct. 21, 2007, the tenure of Parliament was lowered from five to four years and a popular vote was established to elect the president. Kuzu said the package foresees a four-year term for Parliament and a five-year term for President Abdullah Gul.

    In response to criticism of the 10 percent election threshold, which requires political parties to receive at least 10 percent of the nationwide vote to be represented in Parliament, Kuzu said the package will introduce a new system which will make it possible for political parties that receive more the 1 percent of the vote to enter Parliament. A hundred out of the 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament will be distributed among parties according to their vote percentages.

    The establishment of a Political Ethics Commission and the enactment of a Political Ethics Law are among the important amendments in the reform package, Kuzu noted.

    The reform package, which foresees granting individuals the right to file cases at the Constitutional Court, also brings changes to the structure of the court. The package proposes increasing the number of members of the court from 11 to 18.

    The package also foresees the enactment of an Ombudsman Law, for which the European Union has been pressing Turkey for a long time, and the right to strike will be expanded to include civil servants.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [17] On Ilker Basbugs press conference

    Todays Zaman newspaper (29.06.09) under the title Basbug not convincing publishes a commentary by Fatma Disli. Following is the commentary:

    Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug, who held a news conference last Friday, fell short of answering many questions regarding a military plot to defame the government and the Gulen movement.

    Calling the document a piece of paper, he said the plot, which has been occupying Turkey's agenda for two weeks, was aimed at discrediting the image of the military. Basbug received widespread criticism for his comments on the document before a civilian investigation into it has been completed, with many saying that his statements produced more questions than answers regarding the suspected plot.

    Zaman's Mustafa Unal says Basbug failed to answer many questions regarding the suspected plot during the news conference on Friday saying that his statements led to the emergence of even more questions regarding the issue. Basbug termed the document a piece of paper, but there is a consensus in society about the need to take this document seriously, and it is not an issue that can be closed by saying that the General Staff was not able to find any evidence regarding the authenticity of the document, says Unal. The findings reached by the Military Prosecutor's Office may have satisfied Basbug, but they were not convincing for the public. The military prosecutor did not feel the need to investigate why Col. Dursun Cicek [who signed the document] changed his signature when testifying to the prosecutors. Should Basbug have said our prosecutors could not make any progress in the investigation of the document because it was a photocopy, then civilian prosecutors should investigate and find the original, says Unal. Indicating that no institution is free of criticism in a democracy, Unal says the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is an essential part of this country, but cannot act like a political party and allow some of its officers to make plans for a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government.

    Radikal's Oral Calislar interprets Basbug's latest statements as an indication of the TSK's desire to be at the center of politics and unwillingness to withdraw from that position. He says the language Basbug used to defend the status of military courts in the wake of criticism about their lack of neutrality and his interpretation of these courts shows his desire to cling to the past. Many criticisms could be made about Basbug's statements, but I do not think it is beneficial to create polemics over each and every allegation against him. What I can say about the general picture emerging is that the traditional power bloc in Turkey has difficulty retaining its position in the wake of democratization demands and the pressure of a changing Turkey, comments Calislar.

    Star's Mehmet Metiner criticizes Basbug for referring to the document as a piece of paper without waiting for the conclusion of the civilian investigation, interpreting his move as an attempt to influence an ongoing judicial case. This piece of paper' description is bound to draw more criticism and bring about more polemics. Were not the military memorandums pieces of paper? I wish Basbug had not adopted such a meddlesome attitude, says Metiner.

    EG/


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