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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-10-21

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. 199/09 21.10.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat reiterates that the solution will be a new partnership to be established with the political equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots
  • [02] Ercakica says that the EU Progress report on Turkey has damaged the negotiations and called on the Republic of Cyprus to stop trying to corner Turkey
  • [03] Eroglu accuses the Greek Prime Minister of encouraging the government of the Republic of Cyprus towards intransigence
  • [04] More information on the content of the cassettes found at Aydinlk magazines headquarters in Turkey
  • [05] Self-styled minister attended the signing ceremony of two contracts for a project financed by the EU Commission in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [06] KAMU-SEN said it opposes to granting the citizenship illegally
  • [07] DP supports that twenty thousand young Turkish Cypriots living in Britain should be benefited from the change of the military service law
  • [08] Avci is meeting with AKP officials in Ankara. Talk of coalition between ORP and UBP
  • [09] Talat attended the opening ceremony of a five star hotel in the occupied part of Lefkosia
  • [10] I wont be silenced, says banned TV presenter
  • [11] Turkeys EU Chief Negotiator begins talks in Strasbourg
  • [12] EU to provide 653.7 million euro Financial Aid to Ankara in 2010
  • [13] Ankara moves toward privileged partnership with Moscow as a message to the EU
  • [14] Turkeys National Security Council conveys. South Caucasus and Iraq on the top of the agenda
  • [15] Erdogan postpones his visit to the US. Plans to travel to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan between 24-28 October
  • [16] New Ergenekon Party to be founded in Turkey by 29 October
  • [17] Turkey slips to bottom one-third for press freedom
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [18] From the Turkish Press of 20 October 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat reiterates that the solution will be a new partnership to be established with the political equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (21.10.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat has said that the Turkish Cypriots will not be patched up to the Republic of Cyprus. In statements yesterday during a meeting with the newly elected administrators of the occupied Famagusta Taxi Drivers Union headed by the chairman of the Union Mahmut Coskun, Mr Talat stated: We are working for the Turkish Cypriot people to participate in a new partnership by deciding with its own will.

    Mr Talat made this statement responding to Mr Coskun who asked him to enlighten them on how they should respond to their clients who claim that Mr Talat is trying to put the Turkish Cypriots into the Republic of Cyprus and that he is giving concessions at the negotiations.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader argued that what they call solution is a new partnership which will be established with the political equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots. This is very important, he said adding that it is out of the question for the Turkish Cypriots to be patched up to the Republic of Cyprus. He said some voices are heard in this direction in the Greek Cypriot side and described these as dream.

    Mr Talat alleged that the will of the Turkish Cypriots to participate in a partnership was reflected in the referendum of 24 April 2004 and claimed that alleging that the views expressed during the referendum have been changed with some elections and public opinion polls is illusion.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Ercakica says that the EU Progress report on Turkey has damaged the negotiations and called on the Republic of Cyprus to stop trying to corner Turkey

    Illegal Bayrak television (20.10.09) broadcast the following:

    The Presidential Spokesman has called on the Greek Cypriot Administration to focus on the ongoing negotiations instead of trying to assert pressure on Turkey.Hasan Ercakica said President Mehmet Ali Talat and the Greek Cypriot leader are expected to finalize discussions on the issue of executive when they meet tomorrow.

    Speaking at his weekly press conference, Mr Ercakica reminded that the two leaders will continue talks tomorrow and on Thursday as agreed earlier.

    Talat and Christofias are expected to finalize discussions on the issue of executive tomorrow before moving on to external relations on Thursday and later to the topic of property, a core issue in the Cyprus Problem.

    Evaluating the EU Commissions progress report on Turkey, Mr Ercakica said the call made in the report for Ankara to normalize its relations with the Greek Cypriot Administration was damaging the negotiations process.

    Touching upon Greek Prime Minister George Papandreous visit to south Cyprus, he said despite the Greek premiers positive contributions to improving Turco-Greek relations, the aim of his visit was to determine how to use their respective EU memberships to exert pressure on the Turkish side.

    Referring to statements made by Greek Cypriot leader Christofias during the visit, he criticized the Greek Cypriot leader for his words that if there was no solution, due to the stance of the Turkish side, they would embark an international campaign so that the world community would pinpoint the perpetrator and take measures, saying that the statement was contradicting with his calls for a Cypriot solution.

    Stating that there were important lessons both Greece and the Greek Cypriot side needed to derive from Turkeys progress report, Ercakica said the Greek Cypriots who were expecting the EU to impose punitive sanctions against Turkey ended by being disappointed.

    He said that the Greek Cypriot side should focus its energy towards reaching a settlement rather than trying to corner Turkey.

    [03] Eroglu accuses the Greek Prime Minister of encouraging the government of the Republic of Cyprus towards intransigence

    Illegal Bayrak television (20.10.09) broadcast the following:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has accused the new Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou of coming on top of the political leaders trying to impose Greek Cypriot sovereignty across Cyprus.

    Speaking during an event this morning, the TRNC Prime Minister called on Mr. Papandreou - who had been paying a visit to Greek Cypriot south Cyprus to come to terms with the fact that Turkish Cypriots have equal rights to those enjoyed by Greek Cypriots. If - what Mr. Papandreou wants - is peace on the island, he must understand this, he said.

    Mr. Eroglu said that the Greek Prime Minister, instead of taking a path aimed at encouraging the Greek Cypriot side and the Church towards intransigence, should, - for the sake of conciliation - concede that the Turkish Cypriot side has a just case.

    Although he may find it difficult to tell this to the Greek Cypriots openly, he may, at least, adopt a new approach that takes Turkish Cypriot sides equal status into consideration, he said.

    The TRNC Prime Minister reminded that - at the end of the day, Mr. Papandreou is a Greek Prime Minister - one of many, who have, in the past, encouraged and supported Greek Cypriot intransigence, and even helped a former Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Kyprianou to leave the negotiating table at the last moment as he was about to sign a settlement deal with the Turkish Cypriot side.

    [04] More information on the content of the cassettes found at Aydinlk magazines headquarters in Turkey

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (21.10.09) reports that conversations held by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogans advisor, Cuneyt Zapsu are included in the tapes found during the raid which was carried out the day before yesterday in the premises of Aydinlik magazine in Turkey after it revealed a band containing a conversation held after the referendum in April 2004 between the Turkish Prime Minister and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat. According to the paper, the person with whom Mr Zapsu was talking was Alvaro de Soto, UN Secretary-Generals former Envoy for Cyprus.

    Mr Talat was asked yesterday about the telephone conversation he allegedly held with Mr Erdogan and replied that he did not have to comment on an alleged conversation which has been acquired in an illegal manner.

    The paper reports also that during the research at the offices of Aydinlik magazine tapes containing Mr Erdogans conversations with businessmen were found. It is alleged that the conversations were held during the period 1999-2004. Citing sources, the paper writes that the period during which the telephone conversations were held coincides with the period when the arrested for the Ergenekon case lieutenant general Levent Ersoz, former Head of the Intelligence Command of the Gendarmerie, was on duty.

    [05] Self-styled minister attended the signing ceremony of two contracts for a project financed by the EU Commission in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (21.10.09) reports that the self-styled minister of agriculture and natural resources, Nazim Cavusoglu, officials from the EU Commission and the self-styled mayors of occupied Morfou and Famagusta attended yesterday the signing ceremony of two contracts the total sum of which is 22.1 million euro regarding a sewage treatment plant which will be built for the above-mentioned areas. Addressing the ceremony, Mr Cavusoglu wished the project to end in 2011 and not to become a victim of any procedure. In her statements, Alessandra Viezzer, EU Commissions Project Coordinator, said that the works will start with the signing of the contract and this will be a kind of indication that the Commission fulfils its promises towards the Turkish Cypriots. She said they will meet again after two years in order to see and celebrate the end of the project.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] KAMU-SEN said it opposes to granting the citizenship illegally

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (21.10.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot public servants trade union (KAMU SEN) has said that it opposes to the uncontrolled population and the uncontrolled workforce in the occupied areas of Cyprus because these have great influence on the fact that services such as education and health have come to a situation of not being able to satisfy the needs of the people living in the occupied part of Cyprus. In a statement issued by Mehmet Ozkardas, chairman of KAMU-SEN, the trade union notes that it has organized conferences and seminars on the issue of the unregistered workforce and it has courageously said to the officials of motherland Turkey that the uncontrolled population and workforce cause economic, cultural and social distortions. Mr Ozkardas said that they have been and still are against granting the citizenship illegally.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] DP supports that twenty thousand young Turkish Cypriots living in Britain should be benefited from the change of the military service law

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (21.10.09) reports that Ejder Aslanbaba, general secretary of the Democratic Party (DP), has said that the rights of the Turkish Cypriots living in Britain should be protected. According to a statement issued by the DP, Mr Aslanbaba met with Kemal Koprulu, the breakaway regimes representative in Britain and informed him on the situation in the occupied areas of the island while he was briefed on the problems of the Turkish Cypriots living in Britain.

    Mr Aslanbaba argued that the government does not give to the above-mentioned persons the value they deserve and asked for the revision o the military service law and its submission to the assembly. He alleged that securing that 20 thousand young persons are benefited from new rights is a must and argued that in this manner these young people will contribute to the tourism of the occupied areas and fulfil their longing. He said the DP supports that the right to vote and be elected in the occupied areas of Cyprus should be given to the Turkish Cypriots living in Britain.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] Avci is meeting with AKP officials in Ankara. Talk of coalition between ORP and UBP

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (21.10.09) reports that a delegation from the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) headed by its chairman Turgay Avci is visiting Ankara today in order to hold contacts with AK Party officials at the AKPs headquarters. The paper argues that the coalition between the ORP and the National Unity Party (UBP) will be on the agenda.

    (I/Ts.)

    [09] Talat attended the opening ceremony of a five star hotel in the occupied part of Lefkosia

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (21.10.09) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat attended last night the opening ceremony of the five star Merit Hotel in the occupied part of Lefkosia. Mr Talat thanked the administrators of Net Holding, owner of the hotel, and argued that Lefkosia needed the hotel. He stressed the importance of tourism for the economy of the breakaway regime and noted that investments in this sector will revive the economy.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] I wont be silenced, says banned TV presenter

    Under the above title Cyprus Today newspaper (21.10.09) published the following:

    A Close-to-the-bone presenter kicked off television for using foul, abusive and slang language says he will not be silenced.

    The Supreme Broadcasting Council (YYK) reported Saffet Soykal to Lefkosa District Court, which has banned him for five years from Channel Tempo for breaking broadcasting laws.

    He regularly baited Greek Cypriots with his programme News from Greek Cyprus.

    And in one incident he used a vulgar Cypriot slang expression to offer a green-bottomed candle (traditionally very rare and expensive) to the South side as a peace offering.

    The ban comes at a time when the YYK has been blasted for trying to outlaw Turkish Cypriot dialect vulgar or not from television and radio.

    Mr Soykal told Cyprus Today: This decision is very heavy and an injustice. But they wont be able to silence me. I got a five-year ban and I only used a natural word, a joke in Cypriot dialect.

    Mr Soykals ban stops him working for Channel Tempo but he can work for others.

    He said: I have been offered jobs on other television channels but I am considering taking action against the decision. There is no power in the world, not even this YYK, who could ban our dialect. I am strictly against this mentality, he said.

    Mr Soykal starred in the north Cyprus edition of the Turkish TV series We are in the kitchen and was criticised for using heavy Cypriot language.

    In another famous incident, the presenter had a quarrel with his programme editor when his mobile phone rang during a live broadcast.

    And fans of online video site YouTube will be familiar with Mr Soykals work; clips of his humorous news presentations make him the most watched Turkish Cypriot on the internet, with one attracting 300,000 hits.

    Ismet Kotak, chairman of the Cyprus Turkish Press Council (KTBK), said the YYKs decision was against the soul and the essence of the TRNC constitution.

    He said: We are going to apply to the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) for them to condemn the YYK.

    Ferhat Atik, general co-ordinator of the YYK, pointed out that the decision to ban Mr Soykal had been made by Lefkosa District Court.

    He said: In Mr Soykals case, he used bad language, slang language and was insulting in his programmes on April 5, 8 and 17 last year. He was also accused of having a harmful effect on childrens psychological, physical, and mental development because of his inappropriate language.

    Following the decision that Mr Soykal had breached the TRNCs broadcasting law, Channel Tempo, also known as Kanal T, was ordered to issue an on-air apology, which it has now done.

    [11] Turkeys EU Chief Negotiator begins talks in Strasbourg

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (20.10.09) reported the following from Strasbourg:

    Turkish State Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis met with the President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Jean-Paul Costa on Tuesday as part of his talks in Strasbourg.

    Bagis and Costa discussed Turkey's reforms made regarding human rights and democracy and applications filed with the ECHR from Turkey.

    Bagis and Costa also discussed a protocol that would ease the working mechanism of the court.

    Egemen Bagis later met with the Deputy Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Fiorello Provera, and EP Turkey Rapporteur Ria Oomen Rujiten.

    During these separate meetings, Bagis, Provera and Rujiten discussed Turkey's EU negotiations and the Progress Report published by the EU Commission last week.

    Bagis will continue to hold meetings in Strasbourg on Tuesday. He will come together with various European leaders, including President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland.

    [12] EU to provide 653.7 million euro Financial Aid to Ankara in 2010

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (20.10.09) reported the following from Brussels:

    The European Union decided to rise its financial support to Turkey to 653.7 million euro for 2010. The assistance was 566.4 million euro for 2009.

    The European Commission provides financial assistance to EU candidate countries and potential candidates under Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance.The Commission decided to allocate 781.9 million euro in 2011, 899.5 million euro in 2012 and 935.5 million euro in 2013 for Turkey.

    EU assistance to Turkey focuses on institutional structuring, cross-border cooperation, regional development, human resources and rural development.

    [13] Ankara moves toward privileged partnership with Moscow as a message to the EU

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (21.10.09) reports the following from Ankara:

    Turkey, which has already announced its intention to hold a joint cabinet meeting with Russia similar to those recently held with Iraq and Syria, hopes to hold such a meeting with its Black Sea neighbor in early December.

    We have proposed a similar step [to the joint cabinet meetings with Syria and Iraq] with Russia, but there is nothing being implemented at the moment, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week before departing for a visit to Iraq, during which he and the nine ministers accompanying him held a joint cabinet meeting with the Iraqi government. Erdogan and his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, co-chaired the meeting of the Turkish-Iraqi High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

    Earlier last week, a ministerial-level meeting of the Turkish-Syrian High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council was held in the Syrian city of Aleppo and the Turkish city of Gaziantep. At the time, Erdogan said an agreement to initiate a similar mechanism with Russia was signed when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Ankara in August, when Turkey and Russia signed about 20 agreements on cooperation in a number of areas, including, most notably, energy. We will put into force a similar mechanism with Russia.

    The timing of the meeting planned to be held with Russia has been found particularly interesting as it comes just before a December summit of the European Council. Observers suggest that the planned meeting with Russia is a message to European Union members who offer a privileged partnership to Turkey instead of full EU membership. Turkey will show how a privileged partnership is constituted through the meeting with Russia, the same observers argue. Turkey firmly rejects any option that falls short of full EU membership.

    The EU opened accession talks with Ankara -- an EU candidate since 1999 -- in October 2005, but they have been progressing slowly amid opposition from France and Germany. The unresolved Cyprus dispute and a slowdown of reforms in Turkey are other factors hampering the accession process.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are the most high-profile European politicians opposed to Turkey's accession. Sarkozy claims Turkey does not belong in Europe, while Merkel promotes privileged partnership, an option Ankara categorically rejects. In Berlin in May, Merkel and Sarkozy made a joint statement declaring that they shared a common position regarding Turkey's accession to the EU, in that it should be offered a privileged partnership, not full EU membership.

    The first step toward holding a joint cabinet meeting with Russia was taken on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responding positively to a proposal by his counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu. Moves to organize the joint meeting have been continuing since then. The meeting between Russia and Turkey is planned to be held at a ministerial level. Meetings with Iraq and Syria, on the other hand, are chaired by the prime ministers.

    [14] Turkeys National Security Council conveys. South Caucasus and Iraq on the top of the agenda

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (20.10.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Efforts to resolve disputes in southern Caucasus, especially the Upper Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, in the light of Turkey-Armenia protocols topped the agenda of the routine meeting of the National Security Council (MGK).

    The council convened under the chairmanship of President Abdullah Gul. Following the meeting which lasted for nearly eight hours, a statement was released which read, during the meeting, it was stressed that the fight against terrorism will continue with great determination on the basis of the decision made by the parliament on October 6, 2009 to eradicate the threat of terrorism form northern part of Iraq. Recent developments in Iraq, and results of Turkey-Iraq High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council Meeting in Baghdad on October 2009 were discussed.

    Developments in southern Caucasus were also high on agenda of the meeting. Efforts to resolve disputes in southern Caucasus, especially the Upper Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, were discussed in the light of protocols signed by Turkey and Armenia on October 10, 2009. Turkey will maintain its efforts to ensure regional peace, stability, cooperation and confidence. Developments in Afghanistan were also evaluated. Turkey will continue making contributions to Afghanistan's stability, the statement added.

    [15] Erdogan postpones his visit to the US. Plans to travel to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan between 24-28 October

    Istanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (20.10.09) reported the following:

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama sometime after the October 29 Republic Day holiday, officials said.

    Having received an invitation from President Obama, Erdogan earlier said he would likely go to Washington on October 29 after wrapping up his talks in Tehran. The timing raised questions as to whether Erdogan would deliver a message from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    The U.S. visit has, however, been postponed to a later date, Prime Ministry spokesman Kemal Ozturk told reporters in Ankara. Officials from both sides are in discussion to set another date in November or December at the latest. Erdogan is scheduled to tour Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran between October 24 and 28.

    Obama and Erdogan came together last month in Pittsburgh within the scope of the G-20 meetings.

    October 29 is the anniversary of the establishment of modern Turkey and is celebrated as a national holiday. The initially scheduled date was criticized because it would have kept the prime minister from being present at official celebrations.

    [16] New Ergenekon Party to be founded in Turkey by 29 October

    Istanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (20.10.09) reported the following:

    The Ergenekon Party, or ER Party, will be the next organization in Turkey's political scene if the group's application is accepted, an Izmir lawyer said Tuesday. The group aims to be an official political party by October 29, which is the anniversary of the day Turkey was declared a Republic.

    When asked why they chose the name, lawyer Tarcan Tuluk said, to show that it is wrong to name a law case and terror organization after such a great heroic myth of the Turks.

    Tuluk said the group was inspired by the structure of the Pirate Party in Sweden and that they will model their organization accordingly; instead of working in big buildings and huge offices, the party will operate primarily through the Internet and in small offices.

    The ER Party is the solider of Ataturk's spiritual legacy, Tuluk said.

    [17] Turkey slips to bottom one-third for press freedom

    Hurriyet Daily News.com (20.10.09) reported the following from Istanbul:

    Turkey is performing worse each year as far as freedom of the press is concerned, according to a report released by Reporters without Borders, or RSF. The Press Freedom Index 2009 report released on Tuesday shows that, in the past year, Turkey has slipped 20 places, from 102 to 122 among 175 countries.

    The worlds leading press watchdog, Reporters without Borders, or Reporters Sans Frontières, is a Paris-based international non-governmental organization that advocates the freedom of the press.

    The index shows that although Europe still holds the top 13 places in the list, with Denmark at the head, countries such as France, Slovakia, and Italy fell eight, 37 and five places respectively.

    Journalists in Iran and Israel have had a difficult year. Ranking 172nd, Iran comes just above what RSF called the infernal trio of Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. Israel no longer tops Middle Eastern countries. Listed 93rd, it has dropped 47 places and has been overtaken by Lebanon, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

    The index also shows the effect U.S. President Barack Obama has had as the United States rose 20 places in the year since he took office. It is now level with Britain in 20th place.

    Press freedom in Turkey loosing ground

    Although I have always been sceptical about rankings of all kinds, I believe that the RSFs worldwide index should be taken as an indicator of how press freedom in Turkey is rapidly losing ground, said Associate Professor Asli Tunc, vice dean of the school of communication at Bilgi University. She said, we were not proud of our previous rankings either, but our latest spot is simply embarrassing and it should be interpreted as a wake-up call for the political establishment.

    In Turkey, there are numerous articles in the press law, in the criminal code, and the law for combating terrorism that are unsuitable for the freedom of the press, said Hurriyet columnist Ferai Tinc in an interview with the Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Tinc is also the International Press Institutes, or IPI, Turkish national committee chairperson.

    Tinc said reporters were subject to harsh penalties for what they write, adding that, a jail sentence for reporters is not acceptable for democratic countries. No journalist can be sentenced to jail for what he or she writes. Furthermore, monetary fines [given to reporters to penalize them for what they write] are unreasonably high.

    Turkey was among the countries that suffered a big slump. Two candidates for EU membership also suffered dramatic falls. They were Croatia (78th), which fell 33 places, and Turkey (122nd), which fell 20 places, read the RSF report.

    Turkeys big fall was due to a surge in cases of censorship, especially censorship of media that represent minorities (above all the Kurds), and efforts by members of government bodies, the armed forces and the judicial system to maintain their control over coverage of matters of general interest, the report said.

    DMG case a major cause

    Tinc believes the Dogan tax fine case, which was also criticized in the recent European Union Progress Report, is an issue that drags Turkey down in terms of press freedom. The eradication campaign by the [Turkish] government against the Dogan Media Group [or DMG] for the past one year creates an environment that not only threatens the DMG but the whole of [the free Turkish] press, she said.

    Another one to believe the DMG tax fine case has been instrumental in Turkeys dramatic fall is Tunc. The colossal tax fine on DMG is a big blow to the free press and it is getting a lot of coverage in the foreign media also because of its connection with the German media group, Axel Springer, she said.

    Tunc added: In addition to the Prime Ministers call to boycott DMG newspapers and his escalated verbal attacks on the group, there has come an effective tool to mute the voice of opposition: the tax fine. So this must have been noted as a negative development on the index.

    Internet ban and closings

    Other events of the past year have also violated the principles of free press, Tinc said. Many television channels and newspapers have been given closure penalties in the past one year. YouTube is banned; an Internet ban is a practice that is applied only in countries with autocratic governments that have nothing to do with democracy, she said, adding that democratic steps should be taken in terms of press freedom.

    Tunc agrees with Tinc that the Internet bans, as well as the closing of newspapers have also constituted a breach of press freedom and has caused Turkeys slip. Turkey keeps blocking a large number of Web sites under law 5651 including YouTube, Daily motion and Google Groups. Also, in the midst of efforts of democratization, daily and weekly newspapers that defend Kurdish rights have been banned for one-month for allegedly promoting the cause of the PKK, Tunc said. So this mentality easily puts us in the same league with countries like Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh in terms of press freedom.

    The RSF compiles the index on the basis of questionnaires completed by hundreds of journalists and media experts around the world. The index reflects press freedom violations that took place between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [18] From the Turkish Press of 20 October 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 20 October 2009:

    a) Kurdish problem

    Takha Akyol, in a column in Istanbul Milliyet on 20 October, supports the return of a group of PKK members to Turkey, saying that the families in the country will have received their children when all the young people on the mountains return. However, he argues that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has not become an apostle of peace without a reason. He has become aware that nothing can be achieved through an armed struggle. Claiming that Ocalan now plans to present the return of the PKK members as a political victory and that he uses the DTP [Democratic Society Party] to achieve his objective, Akyol warns that all the sides will suffer if the party uses the PKK group to further its political aims. He notes: "Neither peace nor any overture can be realized if activities cause agitation among the great majority of the people in Turkey"

    In a column in the same newspaper, Melih Asik argues that the PKK members returned to Turkey because the government addressed Abdullah Ocalan. The government, he claims, has pinned its hope on Ocalan. Criticizing the optimistic approach the pro-government media organs maintain, he asks: "What about the PKK members in Turkey? Will they surrender en masse? Has a statement been made to the effect that they will do so in the near future?" Wondering whether it is right to rejoice when armed terrorists roam the mountains in the country, Asik argues that the outcome of an effort to solve the problem with weakness and a sense of guilt will be disappointing.

    Hasan Cemal argues in Istanbul Milliyet that the return of a group of PKK members to Turkey opened a new page in the country's history. However, he warns in a column that the influence of those who fear democracy and do not want peace and the solution of the PKK problem must not be underestimated. Cemal says that the search for peace is closely related to the Kurdish problem and the PKK in the entire area and argues: "In view of that, those who enthusiastically welcomed the PKK members at the Habur border gate, including the DTP, must be careful. Yes, a new page is opening in the country. We can go beyond the historic turning point. But, we have to be careful. An opportunity must not be given to those who fear peace and democracy."

    In a column, Derya Sazak believes that the symbolic return of 34 PKK members to Turkey is very meaningful and that significant steps might be taken to that effect if the sides continue to support the initiative. Stressing that the Kurdish overture unavoidably imposes legal and psychological pressure on the PKK to force it to lay down its arms, he warns that the Kurdish people can wage a struggle to achieve their demands without using arms and notes that the political wing of the movement, DTP, must wage a struggle in the parliament. Sazak says: "While the DTP shoulders that responsibility, the government and the opposition parties must fulfil their responsibilities to prevent an interruption in the process... A general amnesty will be on the agenda if the PKK lays down its arms."

    Namik Durukan reports on how a group of PKK members returned to Turkey through the Habur border gate on 19 October. In a report, he says that the spokesman of the group, M Serif Gencdag, denied the reports that they returned to surrender and quotes him as follows: "No one should misunderstand the situation. We do not want to benefit from the law on returning home and Article 221 of the Turkish Penal Code. We are not returning to go home or to surrender. On the contrary, we want to take a democratic step for the establishment of durable peace in Turkey. We decided to participate in the process with our free will."

    According to a report by Abdullah Karakus, the government is preparing to take radical steps within the framework of its "democratic overture" aimed at solving the Kurdish problem. Karakus says that many families are now expected to return to Turkey from the Makhmur Camp in Iraq. Some 12,000 people are believed to be living in the camp. He also says that Turkey and Syria maintain their talks on the situation of the PKK members who are Syrian citizens.

    Oktay Eksi argues in Istanbul Hurriyet that the return of a group of PKK members to Turkey is a sign that the PKK has reached the end of the road and that the overture, the contents of which are still unknown, has been put into effect. In a column, he says: The truth is that the United States might not want to leave the PKK behind as a headache for Iraq when it withdraws from that country. So, the United States, Turkey, and the Iraqi administration must have created the basis for the removal of the PKK. The scenarios do not harm Turkey. Stressing that the 9-point list of demands in the pockets of the PKK members who returned is not important, he argues that what they call for shows that they are still dreaming.

    In a column in the same newspaper, Yalcin Dogan believes that the presence of the undersecretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the Habur border gate when a group of PKK members returned to Turkey clearly shows the cooperation between the AKP [Justice and Development Party] and the DTP. He argues that the government cooperates with Abdullah Ocalan to realize the Kurdish overture and claims that he has been informed by the DTP members that the returning PKK militants will be released. Dogan expresses the conviction that the initial steps that are taken to realize the overture are actually the "initial stage of an amnesty" and asks: "What about the leading PKK cadres on the Qandil Mountain." He replies to the question as follows: "Norway has promised to grant them political asylum. That is the promise the EU has made in return for the overture."

    Ismet Berkan welcomes the return of a group of PKK members to Turkey in a column in Istanbul Radikal. However, he criticizes CHP [Republican People's Party] scepticism and opposition, recalling the calls the government made many times to urge the PKK to come down from the mountains. He notes: "They are coming down now. Why should we worry about that? The move might be a propaganda initiative by the organization. But, what can we do? Should we say 'do not return? Should we say remain on the mountains and continue to fire at us?'" Berkan argues that the number of the PKK members returning from the Qandil Mountain should be expected to increase if those who have already returned are allowed to join their families without being confronted with problems. He notes: "Do not forget that every finger that is pulled away from the trigger is a gain."

    Writing in the same newspaper, Murat Yetkin makes an assessment of the situation that has been created by the return of a group of PKK members to Turkey. In a column, he also views the importance of the talks Prime Minister Erdogan will have with CHP leader Deniz Baykal and notes: Erdogan might respond to Baykal's call for the presence of cameramen at the meeting by proposing that the meeting might be recorded. He says that Erdogan seems to have decided to proceed without knocking on the CHP door if Baykal disagrees.

    Yasemin Congar lauds the government's initiatives to solve the Kurdish problem and argues that that the administration must inform all the Turkish and Kurdish citizens that the armed PKK struggle is not the cause but the outcome of the Kurdish problem. In a 580-word column in Istanbul Taraf, she says that the Kurdish problem can now be solved through politics and notes: The government and the PKK must realize that durable peace depends on the laying down of arms and keeping political channels open.

    Okay Gonensin in Istanbul Vatan describes the return of a group of PKK members to Turkey as the first successful step in the effort that is made to solve the Kurdish problem. In a column, he draws attention to the importance of the DTP in the process that is aimed at persuading the PKK to come down from the mountains and notes: "The party must refrain from creating tension. It has to obstruct excessive expectations." Gonensin believes that the failure of the leaders to solve the Kurdish problem was due to lack of vision in the past and says: "The new development took place as a result of a long democratic struggle. So, everything must be based on democratic reasoning in the future.

    In an article entitled "Let us not make them regret they ever came", Yeni Safak columnist Hakan Albayrak criticizes references to the members of the "civilian" PKK group that came from the Makhmur camp in northern Iraq to Turkey yesterday as "terrorists." He claims that "we should not even describe active PKK members who say they want to come down from the mountains and turn themselves in as 'terrorists.' We should be more careful even what we say about the PKK members in the mountains during this peace process. Do we not want peace? Do we not want to turn a new page?"

    In an article entitled "The Baghdad-Damascus-Istanbul Axis and the End of Qandil", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul argues that the developments involving the surrender of some 34 PKK members to Turkey yesterday are the result of a process whereby Ankara has managed to reverse the intended consequences of the Broader Middle East Project so as to dissociate itself from its alliance with Israel and establish a "future-oriented partnership" with Iraq and Syria and start building trans-national alliances in the region in political, economic, and military fields.

    In an article entitled "PKK comes down from the mountain: A favour or a Necessity?", Vakit Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya slams the Democratic Society Party, DTP, and its co-chairman Ahmet Turk for "sabotaging" the Government's Kurdish "overture" by trying to "legitimize" PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan through statements urging the ruling AKP to establish dialog with Ocalan as part of the Kurdish initiative and claiming that the PKK is responding to a call by Ocalan in starting to hand over some of its militants to Turkish authorities. He also claims that the PKK is not doing a favour in beginning to turn its militants over to Turkish security authorities, "as Ahmet Turk is trying to represent what is happening," but responding to developments suggesting that it has lost the support of the United States, the northern Iraqi Kurdish administration and the central authority in Iraq and that it will come under fire from three sides if it chooses to maintain its armed struggle.

    In an article entitled "What coming down from the mountains means", Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanli describes the PKK's "farewell to arms" indicated by its handover of some of its members to Turkish authorities as a successful result of the "diplomatic siege" to which Turkey has been subjecting the terrorist group recently. He also asserts that the DTP's attempt to "turn the handover into a show" is understandable to a certain extent inasmuch as it reflects an awareness of the "traumatic" effect that the PKK's surrender will have on its militants.

    In an article entitled "The two Abdullahs' peace: Last chance to solve the Kurdish issue", Today's Zaman columnist Emre Uslu describes President Abdullah Gul's "green light" for PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's latest "peace group initiative" [referring to the surrender of a group of PKK members] as a move which "convinces us that the process [started by the handover of PKK members] is well coordinated between Ocalan and state institutions."

    EG/


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