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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-11-03
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 207/09 03.11.09
[A] NEWS ITEMSPresident Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Talat discuss about the property issue during the ongoing negotiations
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMSPresident Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Talat discuss about the property issue during the ongoing negotiations
Illegal Bayrak television (02.11.09) broadcast the following:
The two leaders in Cyprus are continuing their talks with the aim of settling the Cyprus problem. President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat and the Greek Cypriot Leader Demetris Christofias met again this afternoon for further discussions on the thorny issue of property. The United Nations Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer was also present at the meeting.
Last week, senior aides of the two leaders discussed the criteria for property issue and today, the leaders themselves were set to hold detailed talks on the topic, which is seen as the biggest obstacle in the way of a solution. The two leaders will hold another meeting on Friday but the agenda of that meeting has not yet been set. Last week, Talat and Christofias discussed the competences of the federal executive.
 Statements by Talat after the meeting; His schedule regarding his visit to BrusselsTurkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (03.11.09) reports on the statements made yesterday by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Speaking during his return at the presidential palace after the meeting he held with President Demetris Christofias in the framework of the negotiation talks, Mr Talat said, inter alia, that they continue discussions with the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias on the property issue and added that they were scheduled to meet again on Friday at the same time. He also said that they discussed general issues as they always do.
Asked to reply to the question whether they came closer during the meeting as regards the criteria on the property issue, Mr Talat replied that it was not possible to say this at the moment. However, he said they went through and they will continue reviewing the work done so far.
Regarding the issue of the Lisbon Treaty to come into force in the EU, Mr Talat said the following: We insisted from the beginning on one thing. Above all, we do not deny the property right of the people, we recognize it, however, we said that after the establishment of the new property regime, the arrangement on the property issue should be based on certain criteria and the disputes will be settled through exchange, compensation or restitution. For this reason, we do not have anything to gain or lose from the Lisbon Treaty from this point of view. Besides, we do not deny the property right. With the establishment of the Immovable Property Compensation Commission we met the needs of the Greek Cypriots for a just solution and made also regulations. For this reason, you know well that the possible introduction of the Lisbon Treaty in the way that it will solve this kind of property problems like in all other countries of the world, is only an image being created. Besides this, I think that there is no issue of creating one more precedent.
As regards his todays trip to Brussels, Mr Talat said that that he will participate in a conference at the Centre for European Policy Studies, adding that he will also hold contacts with groups at the European Parliament and several other meetings which were not determined yet. He said also that it is possible to meet with Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement. The Turkish Cypriot leader said also that during his trip to Brussels it was scheduled to meet with the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, however, he said their meeting will not take place due to Mr Barrosos change of flight hours to New York and India.
 The illegal ambassador of Turkey to occupied Lefkosia stated that Turleys aim is a referendum to be conducted in spring 2010Under the title, The aim is a referendum to be conducted in spring 2010, Yeni Duzen newspaper (03.11.09) reports that the illegal ambassador of Turkey to occupied Lefkosia, Sakir Fakili, visited yesterday the headquarters of the United Media Group in which Yeni Duzen newspaper, Sim Radio and Kanal Sim are housed. Mr Sakir Fakili made statements about the latest developments of the Cyprus problem and the demonstrations held recently in front of the building of the illegal Turkish embassy in occupied Lefkosia.
Mr Fakili stated that Turkey supports the solution process in Cyprus: Our expectations are that the negotiations will be speeded up and a solution will be reached by the end of December, he stated, adding that this is the aim of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat. Mr Fakili also said that the visit of Mr Talat to Ankara was very useful and added: I hope that in the spring of 2010 the two sides will reach an agreement and a comprehensive solution will be put to a referendum. The support of Turkey is for the process to be speeded up, he stated.
Mr Fakili also expressed his support towards Mr Talat, stating, inter alia, that the Turkish Cypriot leader looks after the best interests of the Turkish Cypriots at the negotiations.
He stated that since he became ambassador, four demonstrations took place in front of the Turkish embassy, and that protests were very civilized. Reacting to the fact that he was named governor (Vali), he stated that he is not a governor but an ambassador and added that Turkey is not like the IMF because it does not give credits but offers assistance. We offer any kind of help to our brothers here, he stated.
 On Erdal Guvens book on Talat by the Turkish Cypriot papersMany Turkish Cypriot newspapers report today (03.11.09) about a recently released book titled Adam, Talatin Kibrisi (My Island, Talats Cyprus). The book consists of interviews between Talat and the Radikal dailys newsroom director Erdal Guven, and focuses on the details of Talats personal life from his childhood to his marriage and his political career.
Under the title I cried when the TRNC was established, Afrika publishes the part of the book in which Talat refers to the establishment of the occupation regime on 15th November 1983: Discussions were going on with great intensity. The Republican Turkish Party (CTP) frequently published declarations that a separate state is partition, saying no to the division of the island and a separate state. On the night of November 14, the CTP Party Council convened. Before the councils meeting, Rauf Denktas said: We will declare the establishment of the TRNC tomorrow. Any party that goes against this will be shut down. We discussed this until 5 in the morning. In the end we held the voting. The decision that came up with 14 to 13 votes, was to support the decision to back the declaration. I, naturally, voted No given the circumstances of the day. Whats more, I did all I could so there wouldnt be a yes vote in the end. I cried when I got home that night, for the first time in my life. I cried because I couldnt believe how the CTP could do this. What got to me most was the inconsistency we showed. We should have voted no. Then we would have paid whatever consequences there might have been.
Talat went on and said the following:
Declaring the KKTCs establishment was the most wrong thing to do. It was obvious in the international atmosphere of the day that it would backfire against the Turkish side. Because there was the Cyprus Turkish Federal State. The Turkish side, with nationalistic enthusiasm, took a decision that caused it to cut the limb it was standing on. This placed the Cypriot Turks in a difficult position, plus Turkey had to face harsh pressure in the world. It was an uncalculated move, it was not rational.
He also said, Coming to our day, the Cypriot Turks want a settlement; they want the EU; thats why they have chosen me. Lets imagine now that the TRNC is recognized by the entire world. You cant have a division as in the old times. What you can have is a federation. A federation that is not established by the signatures of two communities, but by two states. This wouldnt change the outcome. Wouldnt we be much more comfortable setting up that federation? We would be. The ultimate result will not be any different from the one we are targeting. We will still have a federal Cyprus.
Mr Talat went on and added that if there was not for the Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), he could not have become president. If the AKP had not changed Turkeys policy, neither would I have sat in this chair, nor would the Annan Plan be submitted to voting, leave aside to be accepted. Think that in the year 2000 I participated in the election and I received 10%. Five years later I gathered the 56% of the votes, he stated.
GUNES reports on the same issue under the title Shame! What kind of president is this? and writes that Talat says in Erdal Guvens book that when the occupation regime was established, he was so sad he cried for the first time in his life.
VOLKAN also refers to the issue in its first page noting that Talat stated that he was against the establishment of the TRNC.
HALKIN SESI reports on the same issue under the title Talat: When the CTP said yes to the TRNC I cried.
 Boutros Ghali paid a visit to Rauf DenktasIllegal Byarak television (02.11.09) broadcast the following:
Boutros Ghali, a former Secretary-General of the United Nations has paid a visit to the founding President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Rauf Denktas as part of a private visit to Cyprus. Boutros Gali was involved in the Cyprus negotiations process in the 1990s and introduced the well-known Ghali Set of Ideas.
At the end of their meeting which focused on the Cyprus solution process, Boutros Ghali expressed the view that the solution of the Cyprus problem is essential and expressed the hope to see a unified Cyprus in a near future. He said Cyprus has a very significant role to play as a mediator in efforts to bring reconciliation to the whole Mediterranean region.
For his part, founding TRNC President Denktas recalled the old days and said `it wasnt Ghalis fault to fall under disagreement with the Turkish side at the time, as he had to obey the UN Security Councils resolutions which recognized the Greek Cypriot Side as the sole government of Cyprus`. Mr Denktas explained that a hope for a settlement might arise if the UN Security Council changes its wrong diagnosis on the Cyprus issue and tells the Greek Cypriots that the Turks of Cyprus have rights too.
 Turkeys AKP official to occupied Cyprus; He stressed the need of a timetable for the negotiationsIllegal Bayrak television (02.11.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:
Turkeys ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Chairman for External Affairs Suat Kiniklioglu is having contacts in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Mr Kiniklioglu who is in the TRNC as guest of the Association for Democracy and Reconciliation started his contacts in the Republic with a visit to Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu. The AKP deputy was also received by President Mehmet Ali Talat.
Speaking during the visit, the Prime Minister said efforts were being made to bring a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem under the roof of the TRNC State and that the Turks of Cyprus had no concerns about their future thanks to Turkey, which he said, became a powerful country in the region and the world. We will see whether an agreement will be reached. I hope the Greek Cypriot Side will see the realities and accept the fact that on this land, we are entitled to equal rights as much as they are. Until now, they have failed to accept this, he said.
For his part, Mr Kiniklioglu underlined the need to set a timetable for the talks continuing between the two sides. Reminding that the Greek Cypriot Side proved their unwillingness to settle the Cyprus problem during the 2004 referendum on the island, he said we see the talks as a last opportunity. Turkey and the Turks of Cyprus are doing their best for a settlement. If the talks fail, the isolation cannot be maintained. He said we want the Cyprus question which became a regional problem to be solved. If not, all should know that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will continue to live and the Cyprus Turks will continue their way with the support of Turkey.
 D-8 countries discussed political and economic cooperation; Next meeting to be held in IstanbulAnkara Anatolia news agency (02.11.09) reported the following from Kuala Lumpur:
The 12th meeting of the D-8 Council of Foreign Ministers has ended in Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur on Monday. Speaking to reporters following the end of the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that they discussed ways to make the D-8 stronger economically and politically. A comprehensive meeting of the D-8 will take place in Istanbul within three months, Davutoglu said.
There will be a joint attempt of the D-8 against the international economic-political crisis. A consultation mechanism will be established within the D-8 that will help in preparation for international platforms. Turkey will lead this perspective, Davutoglu said.
In response to a question, Davutoglu said that political issues did not come up at the Kuala Lumpur meeting.
D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an arrangement for development cooperation among the following countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. The establishment of D-8 was announced officially through the Istanbul Declaration of Summit of Heads of State/Government on June 15, 1997. The objectives of D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation are to improve member states' position in the global economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, enhance participation in decision-making at international level, and improve standards of living.
 Turkish State Minister: Turkey is eager to boost trade and cooperation with South African RepublicAnkara Anatolia news agency (02.11.09) reported the following from Johannesburg:
Turkish State Minister Zafer Caglayan said on Monday that Turkey was eager to boost trade and cooperation with South African Republic. Turkey wants to sign free trade agreement with the South African Republic soon, Caglayan said while addressing opening of Turkey-South Africa Business Forum meeting. Referring to the rise in South Africa's share in Turkey's total exports, Caglayan said, this rise shows Turkey's determination to make business with Africa.
Caglayan said Turkey was the 6th biggest economy of Europe and the 17th biggest economy of the world, indicating that industry goods formed 90 percent of exports. Turkey's exports to South Africa are 1.2 billion USD. However, we should diversify our exports. Global crisis has a negative impact on exports and world trade. Boosting trade is the only way to get rid of the crisis. Turkey is eager to work together with South African Republic for joint ventures in other African countries. Turkish exporters face unfair competition when compared with the EU companies, as free trade agreement is not signed. Let us sign free trade agreement, our bilateral trade and investments will rise, Caglayan said.
South African Republic's Deputy Minister of Economic Development Gwen Mahlangu Nkabinde said important steps have been taken since 2004 in his country to boost economy, deal with poverty, privatization and restoring of democracy. Indicating that there were important implementations in his country to encourage investors, the South African minister invited Turkish businessmen to make investments.
Moreover, Ankara Anatolia news agency (02.11.09) reported the following from Johannesburg:
Turkish state minister for foreign trade has said his ministry would pursue a more effective policy to increase Turkey's exports by putting together specific expert teams for countries. We will be implementing more vigorous and efficient policies next year with the help of our specific teams we set up for each and every country we do trade with, Zafer Caglayan told reporters on Monday during a visit to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Caglayan said Turkey's foreign trade office sought ways to work like a foreign trade company as the office's representatives abroad worked like marketing agent of that company. The Turkish minister said the Turkish foreign trade office had 115 representatives abroad, but the number is far from sufficient.
 Population in Turkish prisons doubled in nine yearsTurkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (03.11.09) reports the following:
The population of Turkeys prisons has more than doubled since 2000, when a law was passed releasing more than 20,000 inmates from the Turkish prison system.
When the law --which came to be known as the Rahsan Pardon, after Rahsan Ecevit, the wife of the late Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit-- went into effect, the number of incarcerated people in Turkey fell to around 50,000. But Turkish prisons quickly filled up once again. The number of inmates in Turkey has increased more than 100 percent since then, reaching 111,000, and experts are concerned that this figure will continue to grow to frightening proportions. In addition, statistics show a high correlation between a lack of education and incarceration, with more than 80 percent of Turkish inmates only having received an elementary school education.
According to data from the Justice Ministry Prisons and Correctional Facilities Directorate, while at the end of 2000 there were 49,512 inmates in Turkish prisons, the latest figures for 2009 show that there are now 111,964 people in prison.
Subtitle: Education critical
While more than 83 percent of inmates have no more than an elementary school education, only 3 percent of inmates have graduated with a bachelors degree or higher. Most of the prison population is male --there are 107,857 men in Turkish prisons and 4,107 women. In recent years, the growing number of incarcerated minors has attracted attention. According to recent data, there are 1,478 minors in jail, and most inmates are between 21 and 39 years of age.
While todays inmates are in jail for a variety of reasons, there has been an explosion in the number of people sent to jail on felony convictions. In 2000 the number of such prisoners was 40,097, but by the end of 2008, that number had more than doubled to reach 82,704. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of those jailed on terrorism charges decreased significantly, but in the past three years, this number has begun to creep back up, albeit slowly. Another offense that has led to increased imprisonment has been crimes for profit, for which 5,092 people were incarcerated by the end of 2008.
Ege University department of sociology applied sociology branch head Professor Ercan Tatlidil says the ever-increasing inmate numbers should be a cause for concern and should also be taken as an important indicator of unemployment and social, cultural and moral deterioration. He says the effects of globalization on communication pathways has led to a form of bombardment of different cultural ideas on people, leading to heinous crimes such as violent murders committed by minors.
Unemployment and the degradation of cultural values are increasing crime rates. An example is citizens left unemployed as new occupations emerge, leaving them outside the system. Those left outside the system attempt to establish their own system. Theyre distanced from their values and even values that are thousands of years old are forgotten, Tatlidil said.
 The death toll from H1N1 virus in Turkey increases to eightAnkara Anatolia news agency (02.11.09) reported the following from Ankara:
A 13-year old girl with swine flu died in north-western province of Istanbul on Monday. With the young girl's death, the death toll from swine flu in Turkey jumped to eight. Eight other Turkish patients with serious health condition caused by swine flu are receiving treatment in intensive care units throughout Turkey, the Turkish Ministry of Health said on Monday.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Columnist in Todays Zaman assesses Erdogans visit to the U.S.Under the title Erdogan to visit US on anniversary of Pearl Harbour Todays Zaman (03.11.09) publishes the following by Lale Kemal:
I do not know whether it is a coincidence, but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to visit the US to have talks with US President Barack Obama on December 7, the day the US will commemorate the 68th anniversary of Japans devastating attack on Pearl Harbour which targeted American naval forces and killed nearly 2,400 Americans in addition to sinking 12 naval vessels. Anniversaries are important, and a link can be established with some other events.
While Pearl Harbour drew the US into World War II, Erdogans visit to the US on that day may mark a period that will ease US concerns over the Middle East due to Turkeys outreach to neighbours, mostly in its near abroad, as part of a zero problems policy. But if this policy is sabotaged by ultranationalist Turks through various means such as blocking the countrys Kurdish initiative, which stands as a key in implementing successful foreign policy goals, this will help neither Turkey nor the US.
It is also a possibility in a country like Turkey for a bomb to explode near Syria, derailing ongoing good relations with this country.
In addition, Turkey has opposition parties that can at any time politically sabotage the Kurdish reform process that entered a stalemate after the return of outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members from mountains was halted for the time being in reaction to public outrage to cheerful demonstrations that took place in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast.
Under the Obama administration, the US has been seeking dialogue with foes such as Iran while addressing strained relations with Russia. The US has also been working hard to restart peace talks between Palestinians and Israel.
US Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey on October 23 told a group of Turkish journalists in Ankara that Washington has been following closely Turkeys zero problems policy with its neighbours as well as its efforts to normalize relations with Armenia in the northeast, indicating that these policies will be taken up during Erdogans visit to his country.
However, Jeffrey indicated during the same meeting with the press that strained Turkish-Israeli ties did not help intense US efforts to convince the new government under Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel to pursue peace.
We are telling Israel that it has to take risks for peace with Muslims; i.e., Palestinians. We are telling Israel, If you take a positive step, you will see Muslims will also take positive steps in response. In order to convince Israel of this, we need to cite a positive example. Thus a bad example due to strained relations between Israel and Turkey [a Muslim nation] makes difficult US efforts to find peace among the parties. The US can convince Israel to take positive steps towards Muslims if Turkish-Israeli relations are warmer, Jeffrey noted.
Turkish-Israeli relations have been badly strained following Turkeys recent exclusion of Israel from the Anatolian Eagle NATO exercises. The snub came at the last minute in reaction to Israels Gaza assault early this year. Better relations between Turkey and Israel will also strengthen Obamas hand against Netanyahu.
Erdogans visit will take place at a time when there has been increased concern over whether Turkey is moving towards the East or distancing itself from the West.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogans renewed remarks over Iran --namely, that this country has the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and that the world in general and the Middle East region in particular should be relieved of nuclear arms [this was an indirect reference to Israel, which possesses nuclear capability]-- has irked some Western capitals raising question marks over NATO member Turkeys stance on Tehran, in particular, and its foreign policy choices, in general.
Both Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul denied that there has been a change in Turkish orientation due to its policy of developing relations to its east. Despite setbacks in membership talks, Turkey has been a candidate member country for full EU membership.
For veteran Turkish diplomats, current Turkish policies are the continuation of the principles of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Ataturk is reported as having said, Peace at home, peace in the world. But this is the first time Turkey has been making faster and concrete steps in reaching that goal.
A nonaggression pact, called the Saadabad Pact, between Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq was signed in 1937 and the Central Treaty Organization (also referred to as CENTO, or as the Baghdad Pact) adopted in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom before it was dissolved in 1979, can be cited as examples of Turkish endeavours for good relations with its neighbours.
Erdogans visit to the US will take place against this background; namely, fears of a change in Turkish orientation in foreign policy and its zero problems policy with neighbours.
In my opinion, if the Turkish policy of reaching out to neighbours while furthering Kurdish reforms works smoothly, this will be Erdogans Christmas gift to Obama at a time when the US president has been seeking an effective partner in the Middle East.
 Columnist in Hurriyet Daily News argues that with the October gestures the new map of Turkeys strategic friends resembles the map of Ottoman TurkeyUnder the title Davutoglu doctrine elicits new responses Hurriyet Daily News (02.11.09) publishes the following by Ariana Ferentinou:
The Turkish prime ministers emotional speech to the nation last Friday about the achievements of his government during October at home and abroad must have impressed his followers.
At home there was that impressive move for peace with the Kurds. But the triumphant entry of the PKK fighters through the Habur Gate showed that a solution to the Kurdish issue needs a more careful consideration of the political, domestic and diplomatic balances in order for such a project to succeed.
But October was an impressive month, mainly in terms of the number of diplomatic overtures extended by Turkish foreign policy in the area. Syria, Armenia, Russia, Iraq, Macedonia [FYROM], Bosnia, Iran they were all included in the long list of the old or new friends of Turkey with whom Ankara has tied its relations with protocols, memoranda and agreements. This marks an impressive new map of Turkeys strategic friends, which has started showing a startling resemblance to the map of Ottoman Turkey a couple of hundred years ago.
The appointment of Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu as the Foreign Minister of Turkey seemed to be a turning point in the way Ankara has been conducting its foreign policy. He is a theoretician of a Neo-Ottoman, zero-problem approach, which so far has put many irons in the fire. Turkey is turning to its imperial past, behaving like a powerful regional power and an honest broker for festering regional conflicts, a kind of benevolent ruler equipped with old wisdom and new ideas to be applied to a troublesome neighbourhood.
To what extent this powerful new diplomatic show by Ankara has the backing of the new Obama government will be determined in a few weeks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogans visit to the US and his meeting with president Obama. It will be particularly interesting to see whether the latest role of Ankara as a close friend of Tehran is included in the neo-Ottomanist diplomatic strategy of Dr. Davutoglu after all, Turkey and Iran claim to have the longest peaceful relations in a turbulent region with a border that remains unchanged since 1639 or whether it serves some new Western strategy in the region.
But October was also the month which raised most eyebrows in Greece and Cyprus about the new diplomatic vision in Ankara. When this vision appeared to include Bosnia, Macedonia [FYROM] and Albania old provinces of the Ottoman Empire then Davutoglu became a cause for many headaches among Greek strategists. In particular, his recent lecture in Sarajevo, where he said that Turkey wants a new Balkans based on the political values, economic interdependence, cooperation and cultural harmony experienced in the region under the Ottomans, acted as a wakeup call for many in Greece who had designed their diplomatic moves based on the assumption that the EU card would be enough to straighten up Turkey.
The visit of Mehmet Ali Talat to Ankara last week and the insistence of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to involve the EU in the Cyprus negotiation process something that the Greek Cypriots do not want as they are playing all their cards in Brussels shows that the new diplomatic doctrine under Davutoglu may not necessarily include an obsessive dedication to the national target of full membership. It may even imply that Ankara could settle for less as long as it retains its close connections with the EU and its strong role in the region, including the Balkans.
Last week, Mehmet Ali Talat said that a solution in Cyprus may be easier now that George Papandreou is in charge of the new government in Athens. Lets see what he really meant.
 From the Turkish Press of 02 November 2009Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 02 November 2009:
Foreign Policy issues
Referring to the ongoing debate in the West on whether Turkey is changing its foreign policy axis in a commentary in Milliyet, Kadri Gursel suggests that we view this debate from our own perspective, rather than that of the West or the Middle East. The dilemma, he says, is "whether Turkey will emerge from this difficult process having fully instituted its democratic balances, established its internal peace, found its place, and having consequently strengthened itself; or will be hurled from one pole into another." Gursel argues that until now the AKP conducted the relations with the West in line with the concept of "merchant politics," which he says is based on a seemingly arbitrary "custom cooperation" model. For example, Gursel explains, normalization with Armenia is accompanied by criticism against Israel, signature with the EU on the Nabucco pipeline is followed by handshakes with Russia for the South Stream project, and a Kurdish overture based on the US strategy in Iraq is tied to expectations of US reticence in the face of domestic moves to shut down the opposing media. Gursel maintains that the current pragmatic model of interacting with the West is based on give and take, particularly on security issues such as Iraq, the Caucasus, and Afghanistan; and "now this model has begun to fail because of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's support for Iran's nuclear program," because the issue of a "nuclear Iran" is too big to fit into any give-and-take calculations. According to Gursel, this is what gave rise to the Western debate on Turkey's "axis," which he argues is "a security axis rather than a democracy and freedom axis." He concludes: "Once again, Turkey is faced with the reality of staying in the Western axis despite the West, but this time for the future of its democracy and its freedoms."
In his article in Hurriyet, Fatih Cekirge alludes to the many facets of Turkey as perceived in the West. Pointing out that Turkey's Islamic character is currently being highlighted in the West, Cekirge suggests that the debate on Turkey's possible detachment from the West is an orchestrated campaign. He advises everyone to concentrate on the points outlined in EU Progress Report which applauds Turkey for its recent foreign policy accomplishments with regard to Iraq, Syria, Iran's nuclear program, the Middle East peace process, and Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. The facet presented in the EU report is Turkey's real face, Cekirge maintains.
Writing in a column in Hurriyet, Erdal Saglam dampens the high hopes regarding the recent natural gas exploration and sale agreement signed with Iran. Recalling that a similar attempt in the past ended in disappointment, Saglam remarks that the current agreement was signed "in a more difficult process and under more difficult conditions." This time, Saglam says, Turkey will not just produce the existing gas, it will actually have to explore for it first, which "will certainly increase the duration and cost of the process." He states that, at best, this will require an investment of $6 billion, adding that this problem is compounded by the fact that many international oil companies will vie for the same gas fields. In the long run, Saglam says, it may be advantageous for Turkey to produce its own gas and supply the Nabucco pipeline with gas from Iran, but "this is easier said than done." Moreover, he adds, the Turkish Petroleum Corporation should be rendered more efficient and modern if it is to live up to such ambitious energy projects.
Omer Taspinar pens an article datelined Washington in Sabah on the concerns in the West triggered by what he terms the "Turkish-Iranian honeymoon." If the diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran fail to yield results, Taspinar argues, "Ankara will be in a difficult position because of the serious political and economic relations it established with Tehran." This is more disturbing for the United States and the EU than the crisis in Turkish-Israeli relations, as the West, too, harbours suspicions regarding Israel, Taspinar remarks. He asserts that especially if Russia takes a position in the same camp as the West, Turkey may find itself isolated in Western forums and in the United Nations. Taspinar warns that Turkey needs to watch the stance to be adopted by Moscow, which is likely to position itself next to the United States given the "realistic foreign policy" pursued by President Obama vis-a-vis Russia in order to obtain the latter's support for possible sanctions against Iran. Taspinar says that if Turkey finds itself siding with China against Russia and the other members of the UN Security Council with regard to sanctions on Iran, the debate of "change of axis" will have found a sound foundation. Taspinar also cautions the AKP to be very careful in the steps it will take with regard to Iran, declaring: "It is time to fine-tune the balances in the relations with Iran."
An editorial in Hurriyet Daily News.com also views the complex relations between Turkey and Iran, declaring: "We applaud efforts to strengthen and deepen Iranian-Turkish relations. But we are a bit perplexed about just what the basic policy is behind an emerging "pact" between Iran and Turkey." The editorial questions: "Is this a game of chance like backgammon? A game of strategy like chess? Or a game of overstretch, like 'Twister?'"
Milliyet columnist Semih Idiz bemoans the foreign policy stance of the Republican People's Party (CHP) despite what he terms "the experienced diplomats occupying the top positions in the party." In his article, Idiz asserts that the high-level officials of the CHP "believe that the AKP [Justice and Development Party] is moving Turkey away from the West." The question that comes to mind, Idiz argues, is what has the CHP done in this regard for the past seven years. He argues that the EU perspective that will anchor Turkey to the West is a matter of "spirit," while the CHP, which is described as "anti-West" by European conservative and social democratic parties alike, has not "internalized this spirit." The "negative stance pursued by the CHP in general, be it with regard to the amendment of Article 301, the Cyprus issue, or peaceful initiatives such as the Armenian and Kurdish overtures, causes it to be perceived as the instrument of detachment from Western values," Idiz states. He says that as a party claiming to attach importance to our alliance with the West, the CHP should have insisted on the implementation of the EU reforms.
In an article entitled "Integration without love would be insipid", Yeni Safak columnist Hakan Albayrak hails Prime Minister Erdogan's proposal that Turkey and Iran use their own currencies rather than the dollar or the euro in conducting trade with one another and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's remarks in Arbil announcing that "the times when mountains used to separate us from one another are over" as an indication that Turkey is on track for "full integration" with "Tehran and Arbil" after already starting a process of rapprochement with Damascus and Baghdad. Albayrak also argues that regional integration initiatives that do not place emphasis on the theme of "brotherhood" are bound to be imperfect and details a set of measures to remove the "psychological barriers" between the "Turkish, Kurdish, and Arab peoples."
In an article entitled "Is our train moving away from the West?", Zaman's Washington correspondent Ali H. Aslan slams what he describes as pro-Israeli and anti-Islamic think tanks in Washington for claiming that Turkey is shifting its focus from the West toward the East under the ruling AKP. He argues that none of the "tactical" differences between Turkey and the United States and Israel's approach toward Iran could be represented as a strategic change of axis, adding that it is highly unfair that such accusations should be levelled at a government that took one of the greatest steps toward Westernization by starting full membership negotiations with the EU.
In an article entitled "Where is Turkey headed to?", Zaman columnist Mehmet Yilmaz cites the "assumption" that Europe or the Western culture continues to be "the centre of the world" as the basis of recent claims that Turkey's foreign policies under the ruling AKP signal a change of orientation from the West to the East. In taking issue with the way Turkey's recent efforts to increase cooperation with some of its neighbours are being represented as a "shift of axis," Yilmaz asks "whether there are any axis left to speak of at a time when the entire world is being reshaped and the phenomenon of globalization is reactivating local cultural basins" and "what could be more natural than Turkey establishing ties with its close neighbours when even US President Obama is talking about the concept of multidimensional relations." He also argues that Turkey's recent foreign policy overtures entail the development of relations not only with Islamic states but also with African and far-eastern countries.
Under the headline, "Turkey extends peace initiative to N. Iraq," Today's Zaman carries a front-page report which says that Ankara and Baghdad are "building a partnership in areas ranging from economy and transportation to security at a breathtaking pace. And Kurdish-run northern Iraq, once the No. 1 target of Turkish accusations of harbouring terrorists, is a major part of this historic rapprochement."
In a news analysis entitled "Towards a new era in ties with Northern Iraq", Today's Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bulent Kenes comments on the process of "rapprochement" between Turkey and northern Iraq signalled by the results of a visit to Arbil by a Turkish delegation led by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan.
In an article entitled "Turkish diplomacy: Lessons for the US?", Today's Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay discusses Prime Minister Erdogan's remarks on Iran's nuclear program in a statement issued to The Guardian. He asserts that while "fully agree[ing] with [Erdogan] that a military strike against Iranian nuclear installations would be crazy, I strongly disapprove [of what Erdogan said] if ... [he] means that since some states do have nuclear weapons, all others are also entitled to acquire them."
In an article entitled "They are always trying to exact an apology", Milli Gazete columnist Huseyin Altinalan criticizes what he describes as the deliberate misrepresentation of Turkey's "friendly" gestures toward Iran as a "shift of axis" whereby Turkey is turning its back on the West. He asserts that critics of Ankara's latest moves in relations with Tehran are evaluating Turkey's foreign policy decisions only from the viewpoint of whether they are in line with US and Israeli aims and interests.