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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-12-04
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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. 230/09 04.12.09
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 A new procedure for reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem will reportedly start in JanuaryUnder the title New procedure, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (04.12.09) reports that in January President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat will be meeting in their residences in order to discuss the solution of the Cyprus problem. First they will meet for three consecutive days in the residence of President Christofias. These meetings will be held on 11, 12 and 13 of January. Then for another three consecutive days the discussion will continue in the residence of Mr Talat in the occupied areas of the island. The meetings will be starting at 10.00 o clock in the morning and last until dinner time.
The paper reports that in statements yesterday at his office after his meeting with President Christofias within the framework of the negotiations for reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem, the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat stated that a different method should be searched, because the Greek Cypriot side does not seem ready for serious negotiations until the EU Summit which will be held this month. He said that they discussed almost all the issues until today and it is time for taking steps which will narrow the differences.
Mr Talat noted that yesterday they discussed the issues of Aliens, Migration, Citizenship and Asylum and added that they also made an evaluation on the issues which they discussed until today.
Asked to comment on information published yesterday in a newspaper which said that the leaders will hold meetings in their residences, Mr Talat said that this information is correct and that they discussed the issue of meeting both in his and Mr Christofias residence. He noted that the aim is to hold longer discussions, to intensify the negotiating process and to discuss in a more fruitful manner on the issues by changing location. Mr Talat said they will meet three days in each ones residence, that the meetings will be held in January and last all day and that the dates have not yet been determined. He said he does not know whether the press will be accepted to these meetings.
Asked to comment on Turkeys Chief Negotiator with the EU, Egemen Bagis statement that Ankara is ready to discuss the idea of withdrawing all its troops from Cyprus if Greece and Britain withdraw their own troops, Mr Talat replied: This is Mr Bagis evaluation. It would not be right for me to evaluate what Mr Bagis has said. I could only say that the continuation of the guarantees of Turkey is important for the Turkish Cypriots.
Mr Talat described the illegal elections which will be held in April in the occupied areas of Cyprus as turning point and expressed the hope for a result to be achieved in the Cyprus talks until then.
 Ozgurgun confirms the information that a package of give and take was prepared during recent contacts in Ankara but expresses concern on some issues discussedTurkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (04.12.09) reports that the self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Huseyin Ozgurgun has said that he is concerned about some issues they discussed in Ankara during their recent contacts with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat. In statements to Ada Television, Mr Ozgurgun evaluated their contacts in Ankara and said: There are some issues discussed in Ankara about which we are concerned. There are some points discussed in Ankara that might lead us to the period before 1960. Therefore, we are following with concern [the developments] on this point on the one hand and we really have some objections to some other points. We have expressed our objections.
Mr Ozgurgun confirmed the information that a package of give and take was prepared during their contacts in Ankara and added that he did not want to say much on the text of this package. He went on and said, inter alia, the following: I do not want to say anything on the issue of the text. I do not know whether it is a package, but let me at least say that something might come up in front of us soon. ....
 Turkeys EU Chief Negotiator warns the EU over Cyprus and calls for Taiwan to be taken as example in direct trade with the illegal regimeTurkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (04.12.09) reports that responding to questions of Greek and Greek Cypriot members of the European Parliament at the EPs Foreign Relations Committee, Turkeys Chief Negotiator with the EU, Egemen Bagis has said that Ankara is ready to discuss the idea of withdrawing all its troops from Cyprus if Greece and Britain withdraw their own troops. He alleged: As of 2002 we have continuously been making gestures. We have promised to the UN that we will always be one step forward for the solution and we have exerted efforts in this direction, mainly on the Annan Plan. If Greece and Britain withdraw all their troops from the Island, we too could discuss this idea. When it comes to the withdrawal of your troops, it becomes your sovereign right and when it comes to our troops you want gestures. Let us make the gestures together.
Furthermore, Ankara Anatolia news agency (03.12.09) reported the following from Brussels:
Turkey's Chief Negotiator for the EU talks warned on Thursday that motivation of the Turkish people for EU membership would end in case EU imposes any new sanction on Turkey regarding Turkey's stance in not opening its ports to Greek Cypriot side.
Negotiator Egemen Bagis delivered a speech jointly hosted by the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON) and European Policy Center (EPC) in Brussels.
Asked if he was concerned as the Greek Cypriot side was exerting efforts to the EU to bring new sanctions on Turkey as the ports were not opened, Bagis said: Many sanctions have already been imposed on Turkey because of Cyprus. We can not deal with 8 chapter headings in negotiations because of a decision EU took in 2006. We can not close the remaining others. Those are extreme sanctions. Any new sanction of the EU on Cyprus will end will of the people for EU membership. Any initiative that will negate the efforts of the two leaders in the island would not serve to the interests of anybody. I don't have concerns for new sanctions because I rely on the common sense of the decision makers of Europe.
Bagis said Turkey would open its ports in case EU fulfills its commitments to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Although all the EU member countries committed to remove the blockade on TRNC and pledged for direct trade, only one member (Greek Cypriot side) can make direct trade and free circulation with TRNC. Greek Cypriot side does not want to share this privilege with anybody else, he said.
Bagis said trade with Taiwan could be taken as example in direct trade with TRNC. Although many countries do not recognize Taiwan, they make trade with this country. We expect our European allies to make the same with Northern Cyprus.Bagis said Turkey always supported a solution in Cyprus that was in line with the UN principles and that could be accepted by both communities in Cyprus. We can not explain to our voters how Cyprus question that was not a pre-condition to EU membership of Greek Cypriot side became a pre-condition to Turkey's full membership.
Bagis said: Issues like energy security, fight against terrorism, human and drug trafficking, solution of international problems through peaceful methods, spread of welfare, strengthening of democracy and human rights which the EU has to deal with are also the problems of Turkey. Turkey's full membership to the EU will facilitate solution of those problems and turn the EU into a global actor.Bagis said: Turkey in its region acts basing on the belief that 'the fire in your neighbor will spread to your house', underlining that Turkey acted as mediator or supported solution on many international problems like Israel-Syria, Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan-Pakistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina-Serbia, as well as Georgia-Russia and Iran.
Asked if Turkey felt uneasy over election of Herman Van Rompuy as first permanent president of the European Council as he strongly opposed to Turkey's membership in Belgium in 2004, Bagis said: We see that he was not affirmative to Turkey's membership years ago when his party was in opposition. However there is an expression in Turkey. 'Any head that is crowned becomes wiser. He has already stated that he would be loyal to previous decisions of the EU. He had a positive telephone conversation with Turkish prime minister after he took office.
 The Embargoed group asked from UEFA heavier punishment for APOELTurkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (04.12.09) reports that the London-based The Embargoed group has expressed its satisfaction with the fact that the Greek Cypriot APOEL football team was punished from UEFA with the fine of 40 thousand euro, because its supporters shouted racist slogans and opened some placards during their match with Chelsea for the Champions League. However, Embargoed protested because it considers the fine too low and asked for heavier punishment. The Embargoed asked from APOELs president, Fivos Erotocritou to apologize to the Turkish Cypriots. UEFA has sent a letter to the embargoed Group and informed it about the punishment of the Greek Cypriot club, noting that the sides have been informed about the situation.
 Sibel Tatar said the information that she visited the free areas of Cyprus for shopping between 25 and 30 November is not trueTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.12.09) reports that lawyer Mrs Sibel Tatar, chairwoman of the administrative council of Kanal T television and spouse of the self-styled minister of finance Ersin Tatar, has said that between 25 and 30 November she was abroad with her daughters and thus the information that she visited the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus for shopping is not true. Mrs Tatar organized a press conference yesterday in order to reply to the allegations that she went for shopping to the free areas of the island and argued that these slanders against her and her family had political objectives.
 Diplomats deny reports that Turkey was asked to send more troops to AfghanistanAnkara Anatolia news agency (03.12.09) reported the following from Brussels:
Turkey has not been asked to send more troops to Afghanistan, diplomats said after the meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke.
Davutoglu and Holbrooke met Thursday in Brussels where the two officials arrived for a NATO meeting. They discussed the recent political situation in Afghanistan following the oath-taking ceremony of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, diplomats said. Davutoglu told Holbrooke that Turkey attached great importance to proper implementation of political process in Afghanistan and to national consensus in the country, diplomats said. Davutoglu also expressed his opinion that Afghanistan needed an urgent economic action plan.
On his part, Holbrooke said the United States appreciated Turkey's contributions to Afghanistan. He did not make any request for more Turkish troops to Afghanistan, diplomats added.
Last month, Turkey has taken over the leadership of the Kabul Regional Command from France for a year. Turkey was already supporting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with around 800 non-combat troops, but the number of troops has gradually been increased to 1,700. Turkey will keep its additional troops during the rotating leadership.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 From the Turkish Press of 03 December 2009Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 03 December 2009:
a) Turkish Military contribution to Afghanistan:
According to a report by Aydin Hasan in Milliyet, James Jeffrey, the US ambassador to Ankara, has conveyed to Turkey the message that the United States wants Turkey to send additional troops to Afghanistan as soon as possible. A Foreign Ministry statement issued after Jeffrey's message implies that Turkey should not be asked to contribute fighting units, notes the report, adding that Prime Minister Erdogan is not expected to make a U-turn on the issue during his upcoming meeting with US President Obama.
Hurriyet correspondent Ugur Ergan, detailing Jeffrey's statement on US expectations from Turkey with regards to Afghanistan in a report, adds that it was received with amazement in the Foreign Ministry backstage. Commenting on the issue, "diplomatic circles" are reported to have said that the announcement of these expectations prior to the Erdogan-Obama meeting "is not in line with diplomatic conventions." Based on these same circles, the reporter goes on to cite Turkey's concrete expectations from Washington in the event US expectations are to be met in Afghanistan.
Viewing President Obama's Afghan strategy and Ambassador Jeffrey's statement asking for flexibility in the duties of Turkish troops in Afghanistan in an article in Sabah, Erdal Safak underlines: "This request is nothing other than a call to disaster, because it means that Muslims will shed Muslim blood." The writer urges the government to maintain its role as a peace builder and as a stability provider in Afghanistan.
Assessing President Obama's Afghan plan in an article in Vatan, Rusen Cakir states that Obama wants to rectify the mistake made by his predecessor Bush, adding: "Obama wants to complete the operation left unfinished by Bush and to clean Afghanistan from radical Islamic movements." The chances of Obama realizing his project is very low, argues Cakir, suggesting that if the Washington Administration succeeds in severing Taliban's ties with al-Qaida and includes the "moderate" Taliban elements into the Afghan administration then it might succeed. Referring to Washington's expectations from Turkey on the issue, Cakir predicts that serious bargaining will take place at the upcoming Erdogan-Obama meeting.
Neither the government nor the opposition is inclined to favor the dispatch of troops to Afghanistan to fight against terror and drug trafficking, says Murat Yetkin in an article in Radikal, adding that, however, Foreign Minister Davutoglu, who is participating in the NATO foreign ministers meeting being held in Brussels is expected to announce today that Turkey might be willing to dispatch more troops to Afghanistan to train the Afghan army, to conduct infrastructure activities, and to undertake security duties. The writes goes on to enumerate the mutual demands that will be made by the Turkish and US sides at the upcoming Erdogan-Obama meeting.
In an article in Taraf, Yasemin Congar points out that Turkey, which has the second largest army within NATO, contributes only 1.5 percent to the allied forces in Afghanistan, adding that this amount might be reduced to one percent in the coming months. Drawing attention to Washington's discontent on the issue as expressed in Ambassador Jeffrey's statement, Congar notes that Washington's expectations that Turkey might send troops to the Wardak and Jowzjan Provinces in Afghanistan have been refuted by a Turkish technocrat. The writer adds that Erdogan, at his meeting with Obama, might suggest increasing Turkey's contribution to the Provincial Reconstruction Team, PRT, in Afghanistan.
In an article entitled "Obama's war", Zaman columnist Fikret Ertan asserts that it does not appear to be likely that the United States will achieve the goals of the Afghanistan plan disclosed by President Obama in the next 18 months, adding that it is not realistic to expect the United States to accomplish within that time span goals like neutralizing the Taliban and Al-Qa'ida and increasing Afghan security forces' capabilities to the point where they can take over the job of maintaining order in the country, "tough challenges" that he claims Washington has not been able to overcome in the past eight years. Ertan argues that the fulfillment of these goals depends to a large extent on the course of developments in Pakistan. He also asserts that Obama's strategy appears to be aimed at disentangling the United States from Afghanistan rather than winning the war.
b) Diminishing role of Jewish lobby in Turkish-US relations:
Drawing attention to the fact that Prime Minister Erdogan has not scheduled a meeting with the Jewish Lobby during his visit to Washington in an article in Milliyet, Asli Aydintasbas, points out that a long standing tradition of scheduling a meeting with the Jewish Lobby each time a Turkish president or a prime minister makes an official visit to Washington has thus been broken. One should not be surprised at this development given the shaky relations between Turkey and Israel, maintains the writer, adding that the "unpleasant" atmosphere at the meeting held between Erdogan and the Jewish Lobby during the prime minister's visit to New York last September as well as the Gaza war can be viewed as reasons for this change in tradition. In the past a meeting with the Jewish Lobby was considered to be a "must" since that lobby acted as the Turkish Lobby in many issues, claims Aydintasbas, adding that with Turkey's increasing importance in the Middle East an alliance with Israel is no longer seen as a must. Furthermore, Turkey, with its rising self-confidence in its relations with Washington, feels that it can influence Washington directly, concludes the writer.
c) Swiss ban on minarets:
Questioning why such a big deal is being made of the Swiss minaret ban in an article in Vatan, Mutlu Tonbekici responds to those who have been accusing the Swiss of curtailing religious freedom by asking how many churches have been built in Turkey in recent times. The writer goes on to describe the dire condition of historic churches in the country, stating that many have been destroyed and some are even being used as stables. Expressing her pleasure with regards to those that have been converted to mosques from the viewpoint of architecture and the preservation of historic monuments, Tonbekici claims that even those have been altered for the worse. Showing Ankara's Kocatepe Mosque as an example of architectural failure, Tonbekici argues that there are many more such examples all over the country. In conclusion, she welcomes the Swiss decision to prevent the construction of such architectural monstrosities in the name of religious freedom.
Describing the minaret ban as the shame of the Swiss that is as tall as a minaret in an article in Cumhuriyet, Ali Sirmen argues that, however, we have no right to raise our voice to this intolerance since a recent poll conducted in Turkey shows that 62 percent of the population is against having a Jew as a neighbor and 52 percent against a Christian neighbor. Reminding his readers that Turks are no better than the Swiss when it comes to intolerance against other religions, Sirmen, addressing those within the Justice and Development Party, AKP, who believe that the principle of secularism can be eliminated if the people so choose, argues that just as fundamental rights and freedoms cannot be subjected to a referendum, neither can the concept of secularism. Sirmen further notes that Minister Bagis' call to world Muslims to draw their money from Swiss banks is naïve, adding that if Switzerland is a safe and advantageous place for wealthy Arabs to keep their money in, then that is what they will do despite the results of the referendum.
An unattributed editorial in Hurriyet Daily News reminds all that the Swiss have not banned the construction of mosques but the construction of minarets, adding that, although the decision is offensive, mosques can still continue to function. Focusing on arguments that Turkey has failed to open the Halki Seminary and that construction of new churches is fraught with obstacles, the editorial draws attention to the recent trend in Turkey to do more to protect and nurture the rights of all faiths.
In an article entitled "The new center of Islamophobia", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul interprets the result of the Swiss referendum on minarets as meaning that Switzerland has issued a threat to some five percent of its population. He asserts that the outcome of the Swiss vote reflects the general European outlook on Muslims and predicts that similar referenda will be held particularly in the Continent with detrimental implications for Muslim rights. He cites the results of the recent European Parliament elections as an indication of how nationalism is rising in Europe because of the economic crunch, adding that the crisis has started to create an "egotistic" Europe that is putting the emphasis on Christian values rather than on geopolitics. He also argues that if the EU maintains its current stance against Islam, Turkey and the Muslim world will have to reassess their position vis-à-vis Europe.
Finally, in an article entitled "The Swiss vote and the limits of multiculturalism in Europe", Today's Zaman columnist Ibrahim Kalin asserts that the result of the Swiss referendum on minarets is set to strengthen "racist elements within European politics," "have far-reaching repercussions for the future of Muslims in Europe," and "affect the fate of pluralism in Europe and the future relations between Muslims and Western societies."