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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-12-28

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 244/09 24-28.12.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Reports that Talat will be invited to Spain by Zapatero
  • [02] Details on Dervis Eroglus contacts in Ankara. A common approach was agreed between Turkey and the breakaway regime
  • [03] Talat: The solution for the territory issue remained for the end
  • [04] An opinion poll showed Eroglu as the winner of the coming presidential election
  • [05] Ankara criticizes the Republic of Cyprus for trying to prevent Turkeys EU process at a time when Turkey refuses to comply with its obligations deriving from the Ankara Protocol
  • [06] Reactions to President Christofias statements on the illuminated flag of the breakaway regime in occupied Pentadaktylos
  • [07] The Turkish settler General Secretary of the DP asks for the citizenship of the regime to be given to all Turks settlers who live for a long time in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [08] The government lifts the limitations in seven decrees; Press describes the decision as effort to prevent Greek Cypriots from taking back their occupied properties in case a solution in Cyprus is reached
  • [09] Tatar reiterates the call to the Turkish Cypriots not to shop from the free areas of Cyprus; Turkish Cypriots complain of being terrorized by the regime on this issue
  • [10] Necati Munir Ertekun passed away
  • [11] Peace and Democracy Party establishes a new political group at the Turkish Parliament
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [12] From the Turkish Press of 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 December 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Reports that Talat will be invited to Spain by Zapatero

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.12.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkey's Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a telephone conversation with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday.

    During the conversation, Erdogan and Zapatero, who is expected to pay a visit to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) within this month, exchanged views on various matters.

    Zapatero also told Erdogan that he would invite Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat to Spain, officials said.

    Issues concerning the European Union (EU), the second Turkey-Spain Summit to take place in February and the G-20 meeting to be held in Mexico were also on the agenda of the phone talk, officials added.

    [02] Details on Dervis Eroglus contacts in Ankara. A common approach was agreed between Turkey and the breakaway regime

    Istanbul Hurriyet Daily News.com (25.12.09) reported the following:

    Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu was assured Friday that Turkey would continue to support a peace settlement on the island as he wrapped up talks in Ankara.

    Accompanied by Foreign Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun, Eroglu held a series of talks in Ankara as part of a two-day visit to the Turkish capital.

    During a breakfast hosted by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in honor of Eroglu on Friday, the two discussed recent developments related to the peace negotiations with Greek Cyprus [the Republic of Cyprus]. Eroglu briefed the diplomats on the Turkish Cypriots' need to reach a viable settlement on the divided island, according to official sources.

    It was confirmed that Turkey and Turkish Cypriots would intensify consultations in order to push for a settlement in 2010.

    It is absurd to discuss every issue while the Greek side is in no hurry to find a solution. It is wrong to include a guarantee in rights and properties, Eroglu said in a live interview on NTV, hinting at a division between his government and President Mehmet Ali Talat, who is holding talks with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.

    Eroglu signaled that the negotiations might end with no solution within two to three years by recalling that 2009 was once designated to be the year for a solution on Cyprus.

    We are far from reaching a compromise on Cyprus despite the goodwill of the Turkish Cypriots, Eroglu said.

    The talks held in Ankara were quite productive. It is optimal to increase such consultations as the peace negotiations intensify, Davutoglu said in a press conference.

    But Davutoglu urged Turkish Cypriots to act in solidarity. What we want is for them to keep their solidarity and put their weight on the negotiations, he said. Turkey will continue its positive contributions for a settlement on the island.

    President Abdullah Gul and Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug also met with Eroglu on Friday. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Eroglu late Thursday.

    On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (25.12.09) reported the following:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu's visit to Ankara with Foreign Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun strengthened his confidence. He flew to Ankara to hold official talks at noon yesterday. Eroglu met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Eroglu and Erdogan first discussed the Cyprus problem in detail and reached an agreement on their common approach. The presidential elections that will be held in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, KKTC, in April were also discussed during their meeting, which was attended by some of the Turkish ministers. It has been ascertained that Erdogan wished success to all the candidates who will contest the elections.

    The meeting at Prime Minister Erdogan's residence began at 1845 [1645 GMT] yesterday. Foreign Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and Minister of State Cemil Cicek, who is responsible for Turkey's Cyprus affairs, participated in the convocation. The meeting between Eroglu and Erdogan continued at the residence for one and a half hours. They maintained their talks when they had dinner. Eroglu later said, We had a very useful meeting.

    Prime Minister Eroglu will meet with a Turkish Foreign Ministry delegation at 0800 this morning. He will hold talks with Chief of the General Staff Gen Ilker Basbug at 1000. President Abdullah Gul will receive him at 1100.

    Moreover, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (26.12.09) reported the following:

    Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu met with President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the second day of a visit to Ankara to discuss reunification talks between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

    Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat has been having reunification talks with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias since last September. The UN has announced that the talks will intensify in January, apparently in an effort to achieve progress in reunification efforts before presidential elections in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) in April. Talat has said before that he would not run for re-election if there is no progress in peace talks. Eroglu, who is skeptical of the prospects of reunification, is expected to run in the polls. Eroglu told private NTV television yesterday that opinion polls showed he had good chance of winning the presidential election.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who met with Eroglu on Thursday, had invited Talat and Eroglu to visit Ankara together. But Talats office said earlier this week that the KKTC authorities discussed the matter with the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the two sides eventually agreed that it would be better if Eroglu went alone. Diplomatic sources told the Anatolia news agency that Talat, a frequent visitor to Ankara, had talks with Turkish leaders very recently. In talks between Davutoglu and Eroglu, the two sides discussed the Talat-Christofias talks, particularly the more complicated issues such as property, security guarantees and power-sharing.

    Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking after talks with visiting Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on Friday, dismissed comments that Talats absence was a sign of discord and noted that the talks with Turkish Cypriots would speed up in parallel to the intensification of the Cyprus reunification process.

    The needs of the KKTC were also discussed, said Anatolia, apparently referring to the financial assistance Turkey provides to Turkish Cyprus. The KKTC government, facing demands for better salaries from labor unions, wants Turkey to increase the amount of financial aid it contributes to the countrys coffers.

    Eroglu also had talks with Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug yesterday in Ankara.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (26.12.09) reports on statements made by the self-styled prime minister Dervis Eroglu after the one-hour meeting he held with the Chief of the General Staff General Ilker Basbug in the framework of his contacts in Ankara.

    Replying to questions after his meeting with Ilker Basbug, Mr. Eroglu expressed his satisfaction for the one-hour meeting he held with the Chief of the General Staff and stated, inter alia, that they are satisfied with Ankaras stance due to the fact that Turkey acts having in mind the realities in the TRNC, it continues to support the ongoing negotiation process and that they are determined to a solution which will be accepted by Turkish Cypriots.

    Referring to statements that in case he is elected to the presidency he will break the negotiations, Mr. Eroglu stated that these statements are not right and added that he will negotiate for a solution reminding the fact that they follow an active policy since 1976 and that there were a lot of negotiation processes during the periods he was in the position of the prime minister.

    Mr. Eroglu stated also that he does not approve of Mr. Talat to continue remaining at the negotiation table during the elections and added that Mr. Talat is necessary not to be pressed due to the elections.

    As regards his contacts in Ankara, Mr. Eroglu said that economic issues were not among the matters of discussions during his contacts and added that he discussed economic issues with State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek and with the officials of the Aid Delegation of Turkey in occupied Lefkosia. He then said that the 12nd and 13th salaries will be paid.

    (AK)

    [03] Talat: The solution for the territory issue remained for the end

    Under the above title Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (24.12.09) publishes an interview of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat to Sabahs editor-in-chief, Mehmet Barlas.

    Talat stated during the interview that they sum up to six chapters the Cyprus problem with the Greek Cypriot side and added that if a solution is found in the five chapters, the territory issue, which is the last chapter, will be taken up as well.

    Asked about the basic issues, on which they reached an agreement, Mr Talat stated that they reached an agreement in the framework of the 23rd of May and the 1st of July 2008. The framework of our agreement is the following: A bi-communal, bi-zonal federation based on political equality which will have a Turkish Cypriot constituent state and a Greek Cypriot constituent state and this will be on equal status. This partnership will have a single international identity and in principal there will be a single sovereignty and a single citizenship. However, the application of this will be discussed and taken up at the negotiations, he stated.

    Mr Talat stated that the territory issue is not the most difficult but the bitterest issue. He also stated that the issue of guarantees is another issue which was not been discussed, or it has been discussed a little, because there will be a multi-sided agreement and various actors will take place in the agreement which will be made on this issue. Mr Talat replying to a question stated that the issue of Turkeys guarantees is within this framework.

    Speaking further about the progress of the negotiations, Mr Talat stated that in the property issue no progress was made in the first round, while a minor step took place in the second round. In the three other issues, governance and power sharing, the economy and the relations with the EU, progress was made. These are important issues for the Cyprus problem, he stated.

    Asked if he expects the negotiation to progress, Mr Talat stated that there are difficulties but efforts are exerted so that a solution is reached and added that the difference between the current negotiations and previous efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem, is that this time the two sides are determined to find a solution.

    (CS)

    [04] An opinion poll showed Eroglu as the winner of the coming presidential election

    Todays Turkish Cypriot press (28.12.09) publishes an opinion poll, which was conducted by Redborder Research Company of TEMEDYA Reklam Agency using the method of face-to-face questions to more than 500 persons between 13-20 of December.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (28.12.09), in its front page under the title Eroglu and UBP ahead..., reports that according to the opinion poll Eroglu will win the presidential election from the first round by far with 60,80 % of votes.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (28.12.09), in its front page under the title Eroglu will win, reports that according to the results of the Redborder opinion poll the 60,80% of those who participated in the opinion poll said that Eroglu will win and the 51,6% said I will vote for Eroglu. As regards the reply given to the question asked in the framework of the opinion poll What will you vote if the agreement which will be submitted to referendum is similar to Annan plan?, the 28,60% said that they will vote Yes, the 51,20% said that they will vote No and the 20,20% did not reply. The 84,40% of the participants said that they do not believe that there will be a solution until April 2010 and only 12,80% said that they believe that there will be a solution.

    Under the title The first opinion poll in the TRNC: Talat 29%, Eroglu 51%, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (28.12.09) publishes a report by Omer Bilge, the papers correspondent in occupied Lefkosia, who writes that the race for the so-called presidential election to be held in the occupied areas of Cyprus in April, has started. The paper writes that according to the first opinion poll which was conducted for the elections, Mehmet Ali Talat receives 29% and Dervis Eroglu 51%. As regards the reply given to the question asked in the framework of the opinion poll Who is going to be elected president, while the percentage Talat receives is stable, the percentage Eroglu receives increases to 60.8%.

    (DPs/ CS)

    [05] Ankara criticizes the Republic of Cyprus for trying to prevent Turkeys EU process at a time when Turkey refuses to comply with its obligations deriving from the Ankara Protocol

    Illegal Bayrak television (24.12.09) broadcast the following:

    Turkish Minister of State and Chief Negotiator for talks with the European Union, Egemen Bagis, has criticized the Greek Cypriot Administration for trying to block Turkeys EU membership process.

    The Greek Cypriots are shooting the European Union and themselves in the foot, Mr. Bagis told a press conference in Istanbul yesterday. The Minister criticized the Greek Cypriot Administration for trying to prevent the opening of new chapters in its membership talks with the European Union.

    Turkeys EU train is moving on the rails, Mr. Bagis said, adding that the number of those who are aware of the importance of Turkey for the European Union is more than those who are not.

    He expressed the belief that the EU Enlargement Report and Turkeys Progress Report, which is expected to be approved next month, will show the support being provided to Ankaras EU membership. The Minister noted that EU membership is a strategic target for his country.

    [06] Reactions to President Christofias statements on the illuminated flag of the breakaway regime in occupied Pentadaktylos

    Illegal Bayrak television (25.12.09) broadcast the following:

    Reactions over the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias reference to the TRNC flag on the Besparmak [occupied Pentadaktylos mountain range] Mountains as hideous are growing.

    In a statement on a private TV channel, President Mehmet Ali Talat strongly criticized the Greek Cypriot Leader for his reference to the TRNC flag as hideous. This is an insult, said Talat who underlined the need for the Greek Cypriot leader to respect the TRNC flag which was sacred for the Turks of Cyprus.

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has also criticized the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias for his comments.

    This shows that Christofias still feels anger towards the Turks, so he cannot even put up with our flag, he said.

    The Premier stated that this proves how difficult it is to negotiate an agreement acceptable for the Cyprus Turkish people with a person, who cannot even put up with the TRNC flag and cannot accept the TRNC people as equals.

    Another reaction to Christofias statement came from Foreign Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun. The flag is the most honorable and valuable symbol of the Cyprus Turkish people. Its impossible to believe in the Greek Cypriot Administrations willingness for a just, comprehensive and sustainable settlement in Cyprus if it cannot even endure the flag, Ozgurgun said.

    The Minister also called on the Greek Cypriot leader to apologize to the Cyprus Turkish people for his words, which he said, have nothing to do with moral rules and political benevolence.

    Joining those criticizing the Greek Cypriot leader for his comments, the Leader of the Freedom and Reform Party Turgay Avci complained that Christofias has been showing enmity against the Turks at all platforms and under all conditions.

    The Cyprus Turkish people is determined not to lower their holy flag they defended at the cost of their lives as it is the symbol of their independence and freedom, he said.

    [07] The Turkish settler General Secretary of the DP asks for the citizenship of the regime to be given to all Turks settlers who live for a long time in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Volkan newspaper (25.12.09) reports that Ejder Aslanbaba, General Secretary of the Democratic Party (DP), has asked for the citizenship of the breakaway regime to be given to all Turks settlers who live in the occupied areas o Cyprus for many years.

    Mr Aslanbaba, who is a Turk settler himself, referred to the issue of the citizenship on 24 December at the meeting of the assembly. He said that the problems regarding the citizenship divide families and asked for the citizenship to be given as soon as possible to those who are not citizens of the regime in spite of the fact that they have been living in the occupied areas of Cyprus for a long time.

    Referring to some problems which the Turks settlers are facing, he noted that a 30-year old mentally retarded person, whose parents have acquired the citizenship, has not been made citizen because he is mentally retarded, in spite of the fact that he was born in Cyprus.

    Mr Aslanbaba alleged that people from Turkey who are married in the occupied areas of Cyprus are not allowed to return back in case they visit Turkey and gave as example a settler who lived in occupied Karpass peninsula for 28 years, went to Turkey and is not allowed to return to the occupied areas. Aslanbaba argued that according to the EU laws, a person, who lives under any circumstances in a country for ten years, has the right to be given the citizenship of that country.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] The government lifts the limitations in seven decrees; Press describes the decision as effort to prevent Greek Cypriots from taking back their occupied properties in case a solution in Cyprus is reached

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (25.12.09) reports that the self-styled council of ministers has announced that amendments will be made to seven decrees prepared by the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) government, which brought some restrictions to building constructions is certain places. According to the announcement, the restrictions will be lifted with the ratification of the amendments, but they will be valid until the preparations are completed.

    Hasan Islamoglu, undersecretary at the self-styled ministry of interior and local administrations, told the paper that especially the restrictions at the villages will be lifted and many places will be opened to settlement.

    The paper reports that the decision caused the negative reaction of some municipalities and other organizations, while the building contractors are satisfied with this development. The self-styled mayors of occupied Keryneia and Trikomo, Sumer Aygin and Halil Orun reacted to the fact that the municipalities have been left outside this effort. They argued that the views of the municipalities were not taken both during the implementation of the restrictions and in their lifting.

    The Republican Turkish Party (CTP), the New Cyprus Party (YKP), the United Cyprus Party (BKP) and the Green Peace Movement reacted against the decision of the government for lifting the restrictions.

    Halil Sayin, member of the executive committee of the YKP, noted that the crimes regarding the environment in the occupied part o Cyprus reached to very serious dimensions during the past ten years and pointed out that the sides which do not want a solution in Cyprus are exerting efforts for the property issue to come to a greater deadlock. With the policies implemented with this logic our future is being destroyed for the sake of the properties and profit, he said.

    The BKP issued a statement noting that with the lifting of the restrictions, irremediable losses will be caused. It also described as political bribery the lifting of the decrees in the occupied areas of Keryneia and Karpass before the forthcoming elections.

    Meanwhile, writing in her daily column in Turkish Cypriot Yeni Duzen newspaper (24.12.09) Tumay Tugyan reminds that the UBP has stated in his program before the elections of last April that it intended to lift the decrees. Under the title The sneaky Greek Cypriot tricks and the decrees, Mrs Tugyan notes that the same intention was included in the program o the UBP government after the elections.

    The columnist points out, inter alia, the following:

    The UBP was planning to lift these decrees which have been issued for certain areas with the aim of protecting the environment and brought ban to the development for these areas and to provide possibility for the building of houses and apartment blocks on the Greek Cypriot properties which accidentally were able to be saved from the constructions sector.

    Thus these properties would be prevented from being directly given to their former (real) owners in a property regime to be implemented in a possible solution because development was not made on them. That is, this was a clear calculation of how to save the Greek Cypriot properties from the Greek Cypriots.

    (I/Ts)

    [09] Tatar reiterates the call to the Turkish Cypriots not to shop from the free areas of Cyprus; Turkish Cypriots complain of being terrorized by the regime on this issue

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (25.12.09) reports that Ersin Tatar, self-styled minister of finance has reiterated his call to the Turkish Cypriots to shop from the occupied areas of Cyprus and not from the government controlled areas.

    In statements during a visit to the Agios Dometios barricade, Mr Tatar said the 13th salaries will be paid this week to the public servants, but he was unable to say when because they are waiting the money to come from Turkey. He noted that the payment of these salaries will bring more than 300 million Turkish liras to the market and that they will issue around 60 thousand paying checks.

    He argued that it is a precondition to strengthen their economy for reaching to a higher standard of living and added that shopping from the free areas of Cyprus, means that the taxes of this shopping are also paid there.

    He said: I call on the TRNC citizens. We are on the same ship. Let us support each other in order for this ship to go one and for the state to be strengthened. Let us spend the salaries, when we receive them for our own people, because the private sector has to make profits to earn its living.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (26.12.09) reports that Mr. Izzet Izcan, chairman of the Cyprus United Party (BKP) characterized in his written statement as unacceptable the statement made the other day by the self-styled minister of finance, Ersin Tatar that taxes will be imposed for those exceeding the determined amount for the shopping they make in the South, adding that a policy of terrorism is followed at the crossing points with the aim to prevent people from making shopping from South Cyprus.

    Mr. Izcan went on and said that Cyprus is one single country and that Cypriots have the right to move and make shopping in their country in any place they wish.

    Meanwhile, under the title What is the aim of the terror at the barricades, Mert Ozdag refers to the same issue in his daily column in Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (25.12.09). Referring to an incident perpetrated against him at Agios Dometios crossing point, when he was returning from shopping from the free areas of Cyprus, Mr Ozdag criticizes the behavior of the Turkish officers there. He notes, inter alia, the following: The aim of this stance of the ministry of finance is obvious: To create a climate that there are strict controls at the barricades before the 13th salary and to prevent the shopping from the south.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (28.12.09), in its front page under the title Christmas blessing, reports that during the past two days more than eleven thousand Greek Cypriots crossed to the occupied part of Lefkosia. Most of them did shopping and had meals in the local restaurants.

    (I/Ts.-AK-DPs)

    [10] Necati Munir Ertekun passed away

    Illegal Bayrak television (26.12.09) broadcast the following:

    A funeral was held today for Necati Munir Ertekun, the former Head of the Supreme Court and the former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense who passed away yesterday. Ertekun died at the Doctor Burhan Nalbantoglu State Hospital where he had been receiving treatment. He was 86.

    A special ceremony was held for Ertekun at the Republics Assembly before his burial at the main cemetery in [occupied] Lefkosia.

    The ceremony was attended by President Mehmet Ali Talat, the Speaker of the Republics Assembly Hasan Bozer, Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu, founding President Rauf Denktas, the Turkish Ambassador to [occupied] Lefkosia Sakir Fakili, the head of the Supreme Court Nevvar Nolan as well as other ministers, government officials and leaders of political parties.

    Speaking at the ceremony, the Speaker of the Republics Assembly Hasan Bozer said that Necati Munir Ertekun was an important figure in Cyprus Turkish history.

    Ertekun had served as the vice attorney General to the British Colonial Administration between 1953 -1960 and had later served as supreme judge in the 1960 Cyprus Republic. Later he served as the head of the Supreme Court of the Cyprus Turkish Federated State until his retirement in 1978.

    In addition to being a founding member of the TRNC Parliament in 1983, Ertekun served as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense until 1985.

    [11] Peace and Democracy Party establishes a new political group at the Turkish Parliament

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (24.12.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has established a new political group at the Turkish parliament and sent a petition about establishment of the group to the Parliament Speaker's Office.

    Meanwhile, number of BDP member deputies increased to 20 after Ufuk Uras, an independent deputy from Istanbul, joined the political party.

    The new political group is expected to hold its first meeting at the parliament on January 5, 2010.

    Current distribution of seats of political parties at the parliament following the establishment of BDP political group is as follows:

    Justice and Development (AK) Party: 338

    Republican People's Party (CHP): 97

    Nationalist Movement Party (MHP): 69

    Peace and Democracy Party (BDP): 20

    Independent: 10

    Democratic Left Party (DTP): 8

    Democrat Party: 1

    Turkey Party: 1

    Total: 544


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [12] From the Turkish Press of 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 December 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 December 2009:

    a) Foreign policy issues:

    No one looks at the developing Turkish-Syrian relations as a shift of axis in Turkish foreign policy, writes Sami Kohen in an article in Milliyet (25.12.09), adding that neither does the West have such a concern. Noting that the United States is in favor of Turkish-Syrian rapprochement, Kohen explains that claims of a shift of axis in Turkish politics are not based on Turkey's relations with the regional countries but rather on its stand adopted toward certain issues. Those who talk about a shift in axis actually refer to Turkey's distancing itself from the Western line on issues that the West considers to be important, maintains Kohen, adding that Ankara is now adopting an independent position in line with its own interests. Showing Turkey's position on the issue of Iran and the missile defense shield as examples, Kohen notes that Turkey does not look warmly to the US proposal on the shield project because it attaches importance to its relations with Iran and is against creating tension between the two countries.

    In an article entitled "Has Turkey seized the initiative or is it carrying out US demands?", Milli Gazete (25.12.09) columnist Huseyin Altinalan takes issue with Professor Sukru Sina Gurel, who served as Turkey's foreign minister in 2002, over his arguments linking the Erdogan government's Kurdish "overture" to the United States' planned withdrawal from Iraq and describing the ruling AKP's "anti-Israeli rhetoric" as part of a US-approved plan to establish closer ties between Turkey and Arab countries, as required by the consequences of the expected US pullout from Iraq. In disputing Gurel's argument, Altinalan poses such questions as whether the rapprochement between Turkey and Syria did not start following the death of former Syrian President Hafeez Al-Asad, whether Turkey's normalization of its relations with Iran and Syria would actually promote US policies, whether US interests would be served by the presence of warlike tension between Turkey and Syria or the evolution of Turkish-Syrian relations to the point where the two countries can plan joint military exercises, whether Washington would really endorse Turkey's signing of "historic anti-terrorism agreements" with Iran, etc.

    In an article in Hurriyet Daily News (26.12.09), Gila Benmayor views the inconsistencies in Turkey's energy strategy. Referring to the government announcement of a price increase in natural gas, Benmayor says she is confused since Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, (IEA), who presented the World Energy Outlook report in Istanbul, is reported to have said that there is an abundance of natural gas and that there will be a natural gas surplus by 2015. Commenting on the government's nuclear energy strategy, the writer quotes Zorlu Energy Group Chairman Murat Sungur Bursa who questions the country's energy system and its transition to nuclear energy.

    Interpreting Prime Minister Erdogan's remarks made during a Turkish-Syrian Business Council meeting to the effect that "the river is finding its natural bed" to explain Turkish foreign policy tendencies in an article in Milliyet (26.12.09), Semih Idiz maintains that it shows Turkey's "cultural distance" from Europe. Drawing attention to the increasing animosity toward the West in Turkey, Idiz claims that the Turkish society's Eastern character is becoming more pronounced, not to mention the rapprochement with fundamentalist and radical countries and groups such as Iran, Sudan, and HAMAS. In short, we do not reflect the image of a country that is being Europeanized, underlines Idiz, adding: "We are rising as a Middle Eastern country with a special identity. The prime minister and the foreign minister feel more at ease and at home when they are in Damascus than when they are in Brussels." The number of Europeans who believe that Turkey's membership in the EU will change Europe's common character is increasing, argues Idiz, adding that the remarks made by Erdogan in Damascus should not be cast aside as words directed only toward Syria, because the rivers are finding their natural beds not only in foreign policy but in many other fields as well. Noting that this is not necessarily a bad thing, Idiz concludes by saying that it would be beneficial for us to find out who we really are without further delay and to continue on our path.

    In his commentary in Hurriyet Daily News.com (27.12.09), Isik University academic Cem Birsay writes about "the Washington summit and Turkish-American relations." Explaining that "Erdogan's Washington visit are deemed to have a critical significance and have its reflections in the media," Birsay adds that "according to the comments made in general, the Turkish-American relations began to re-rail and a new partnership is about to emerge. However, whether or not this visit has reached its goals in reality, will be understood through which extent both countries will fulfill their mutual commitments." Birsay concludes by noting that "the success of Erdogan's Washington visit, the progress of Turkey-U.S. relations and the adoption of Turkey's fight against terror by the U.S. will be understood as a result of concrete steps to be taken. However, at this juncture, the Afghanistan issue has been settled, the fight against the PKK and terror has been linked with the democratic initiative and issues concerning Armenia have been suspended. The mediating role of Turkey will be determined by the nations in the region. Therefore, success of the recent diplomatic contact will be assessed through how far both countries will fulfill their commitments on the terrorism issue."

    In an article entitled "2010: A tough year for the AK Party, Turkey," in Sunday's Zaman (27.12.09) columnist Ihsan Yilmaz says that hopes for a complete transformation to democracy are slowly fading away, predicting that 2010 will be characterized by a fight between groups who are in favor of a military coup and others who oppose it. Warning that "the pro-coup coalition is extremely busy nowadays preparing plan after plan to topple the government," Yilmaz says: "AK Party government should seriously think about multiplying police intelligence and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) budgets and personnel to tackle the pro-coup coalition's plots. Reactivating the long-forgotten EU process -- despite the myopic French and Germans and their puppets -- may also help."

    b) Internal issues:

    Commenting on the alleged assassination attempt on Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in his article in Milliyet (23.12.09), Mehmet Tezkan underlines the incredibility of an assassination team composed of a major and a lt. colonel who get caught with a piece of paper with Arinc's address scribbled on it. Either the team is composed of nitwits, which does not make sense, or those who fabricated this report think the people are nitwits to believe that a hit team cannot even memorize an address, writes Tezkan.

    Also ridiculing reports about the detention of the two military officers regarding the alleged assassination attempt on Arinc in an article in Hurriyet (23.12.09), Yilmaz Ozdil writes that the capture of the two while one attempted to swallow the piece of paper in his possession with the address of Arinc is not credible in the least.

    Under the banner headline, "Assassination against the state," Yeni Safak (23.12.09) publishes a front-page report which asserts that it has been ascertained that top state dignitaries including Speaker of Parliament Mehmet Ali Sahin, President Abdullah Gul, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were in the crosshairs of the military suspects in the alleged plot to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.

    Under the banner headline, "Another military cover-up," Vakit (23.12.09) runs a front-page report which highlights "concerns" that the recent "grave" incident involving two military officers' "attempted assassination" of Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc will be covered up in the same way as the facts concerning the bombing of a bookstore in Semdinli in 2005 and the recently disclosed "coup plan" bearing the signature of a navy captain were suppressed.

    In an article entitled "Assassinating Arinc?" in Zaman (23.12.09) columnist Mustafa Unal calls on Chief of Staff General Basbug to issue a "satisfactory" statement in response to allegations that the two serving members of the TSK who were recently taken into custody near Bulent Arinc's house in Ankara were working on a plan to assassinate Arinc. Unal also asserts that the alleged assassination attempt might be linked to Arinc's remarks expressing relief following the disclosure of "coup plans" attributed to Former Gendarmerie Commander Sener Eruygur some time ago that Turkey "did not go to war while the military was commanded by these generals."

    In his article entitled "State," in Taraf (24.12.09) columnist Ahmet Altan focuses on the developments that took place after the capture of two military officers who are accused of planning to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in Ankara. "In a normal state," he says, the prime minister asks the chief of the General Staff to launch an immediate investigation into the allegations and later they inform the public on the results of the investigation. However, he laments, neither Prime Minister Erdogan nor General Staff Chief Basbug has taken action to exchange views on such a "serious accusation." Altan strongly criticizes Gen Basbug for issuing a statement to announce that the two military officers were "not guilty" and urges the General Staff to answer a number of questions related to the alleged assassination plot. He says: "I guess the recent incident will be the last straw. If certain military officers' preparation for the 'assassination' of cabinet members is proved, then all the high-ranking General Staff members, who issued a statement to protect those officers, should be removed from office. The recent incident will pave the way for the establishment of a new and normal state."

    A column by Cuneyt Ulsever in Hurriyet (24.12.09) argues that the Turkish Armed Forces, TSK, started to "lose prestige" after the "secret meeting" held by Prime Minister Erdogan and former Chief of the General Staff Buyukanit in May 2007 and the e-memorandum issued by the latter against the election of President Gul. The columnist says that certain journalists' ability to reach secret military information so easily and the General Staff's failure to give timely and satisfactory responses to speculative reports and claims lead the people to question the reliability of the TSK. The columnist admits the presence of circles that try to tarnish the image of the TSK to settle accounts with the military, but notes that it is still the General Staff's duty "not to lose the asymmetric physiological war" being waged against the army.

    In an article entitled "The meaning of what is going on" in Yeni Safak (24.12.09) columnist Fehmi Koru refers to the General Staff statement in response to allegations of a military plan to assassinate Bulent Arinc as a "belated" announcement that should not be expected to immediately stop the alleged plan to assassinate Arinc grabbing newspaper headlines. He also argues that the General Staff need not have any worries if the incident involving the two officers detained is an "isolated" event, adding that if this is the case, the higher command of the Turkish military is only expected to turn "rotten apples" inside the army in to the authorities.

    Under the headline, "Okkan was killed by a State team, says witness," Today's Zaman (24.12.09) publishes a front-page report which highlights former "General Staff translator" Yildirim Begler's assertion that former Diyarbakir police chief, who was "shot dead in what was believed to be an attack by a religious fundamentalist group," was "killed by a special military squad."

    Under the headline, "Suicide or murder?" Milli Gazete (24.12.09) carries a front-page report which calls for a probe into the "mysterious deaths" of some six naval officers, one gendarmerie officer, and one police officer in the past two years.

    Focusing on the alleged assassination attempt against Arinc in his article in Referans (25.12.09), Cengiz Candar interprets Arinc's remarks on the statement issued by the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, OCGS, as "rubbish." Maintaining that the OCSG statement is far from being satisfactory, Candar adds that the statement does not clarify the issue but renders it more confusing.

    In an article entitled "The deep meaning of what is happening", in Yeni Safak (25.12.09) columnist Ali Bayramoglu cites recent developments involving the referral of a Taraf writer and a Star columnist to court over accusations that they have violated the secrecy of a number of ongoing judicial investigations as being among indications that the Establishment including military and civilian elements has waged "war" on the ruling AKP as part of a "chaos plan" intended to discredit the Erdogan government and have it voted out of power in the next elections and replaced by a coalition government.

    Under the headline, "Corpse fields at Habur," Vakit (26.12.09) carries a front-page report which quotes Yildirim Begler, "who worked as a translator in the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] for years, as saying that there are some 200 corpses buried in four different areas in what is believed to be a minefield near the Habur Border crossing, belonging to people illegally killed by certain elements in the military and that he is ready to tell what he knows to the prosecutors conducting the Ergenekon investigation.

    Under the headline, "Military statement on Arinc an admission of legal violations," Today's Zaman (26.12.09) runs a front-page report which asserts that the General Staff statement saying that the two officers recently detained on suspicion of planning to kill Bulent Arinc were conducting a surveillance operation against a mole in the military who lives in the same neighborhood in Ankara as Arinc constitutes an admission of "a violation of the law" because "under a law that went into force on March 31, 2009, military officers cannot serve in city centers."

    In an article entitled "BDP may prove worse than DTP" in Today's Zaman (26.12.09) columnist Gurkan Zengin highlights a passage from an article by Yalcin Akdogan, "who may be considered one of the architects" of the Government's Kurdish initiative apart from being Prime Minister Erdogan's "chief advisor," calling on the Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, established in place of the defunct DTP to stop being a PKK "satellite" and "develop its own personality." Zengin asserts that "we should not invest much hope in the future of the [Kurdish] initiative" if those carrying out this project link its success to the possibility that the BDP might be persuaded to distance itself from the PKK.

    Under the headline, "Key to the mystery: Mobilization command," Bugun (26.12.09) runs a front-page report which asserts that the TSK's "Mobilization Readiness Inspection Council," formerly known as the Special Warfare Command, a unit to which the two military officers detained on suspicion of preparing to assassinate Bulent Arinc belong, has turned out to have kept close watch on politicians prior to all military takeovers that have taken place to date.

    According to a "last minute report" published on Bugun's website, some eight military officers working in this department were taken into custody early this morning as part of the investigation into the alleged plan to kill Arinc.

    In his commentary entitled "Abyss" in Milliyet (27.12.09), Melih Asik writes that Turkey is going through events unequalled in its history, adding: "Latest example: the searches conducted at the 'Tactical Mobilization Group' in the General Staff under the order of the Prosecutor's Office. The important thing here is not that the police forces entered a top security military unit, that for the first time, police searched a military unit which is directly affiliated to General Staff as part of the investigation into claims that a colonel and a major was going to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc. The important thing is that the government did not believe the statement issued by the General Staff. The important thing is the extent of distrust in the state summit. It seems that the prosecutors started to look for evidence once again after the pressure they were subjected to by the government. The major and colonel on duty in Cukurambar were not arrested. There is not enough evidence to even file charges against them. Despite all this, searches are being conducted in the premises. Let alone this, the premises are in the most sensitive units of the Turkish Armed Forces... The result is that the clash between the government and the forces who believe in the secular republic is taking a very dangerous turn. Mutual suspicion has reached a peak. This escalating distrust can drag us into a chaos, which cannot be resolved by peaceful means. The prime minister and his party are very wrong if they think that this is the way to strengthen the government. We are all in the same boat."

    "The tension reached the deepest point" writes Murat Yetkin in his commentary in Radikal (27.12.09). Referring to the meeting held by PM Erdogan with Generals Basbug and Kosaner at the Prime Minister's Office, Yetkin wonders whether it was Erdogan or the General Staff that initiated the meeting. "Regardless of who requested the meeting," continues Yetkin, "it is very significant that the meeting came after a civilian Prosecutor's Office and the police forces raided a military headquarters for the first time ever."

    Writing in Taraf (27.12.09), Murat Belge points out to the extent that "'Ankara is in turmoil' with the exacerbation of juntas within the army, adding that the army should be tidied up first." Belge continues by noting that "while there are efforts to discipline the army, the police forces displayed a strange behaviour with the 'handcuff' incident."

    In an article entitled "They proved to be serious," in Zaman (27.12.09) columnist Mustafa Unal says that the search conducted at the Special Forces Command and the detention of eight officers have belied an earlier statement issued by the General Staff which said that the two officers detained near Arinc's house were actually keeping another officer suspected of leaking information under surveillance. He says: "If the case was actually limited to 'watching a mole,' no search would have been conducted at a military site and no officer would have been detained. It is not necessary to have special information in order to reach that conclusion." He notes that there is still a shroud of mystery surrounding the case.

    Finally, a report entitled "Series of suspicious military suicides remain a mystery" in Sunday's Zaman (27.12.09) says that several members of the Turkish Armed Forces have died in suspicious suicides recently, but judicial bodies and the military have failed to fully clarify the circumstances surrounding those suicides.

    EG/


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