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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-12-31

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. 247/09 31.12.09

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Ozugergin expressed the opinion that there is no difference between Eroglu and Talat
  • [02] Talat and Eroglu evaluate Turkish National Security Councils decision on the Cyprus problem
  • [03] Ozgurgun called on President Christofias to behave as a statesman
  • [04] Eroglu said that the negotiations will continue after the elections
  • [05] Eroglu said that he will decide with his party for the candidacy of the presidential elections
  • [06] Turkeys financial credit support to the illegal regime extended for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012
  • [07] Belgium to pay high attention to Turkeys EU candidacy during the second half of 2010 when Brussels will assume the EU presidency
  • [08] Erdogan assesses 2009 in his address to the nation
  • [09] Ahmet Turks granddaughter sentenced to nearly 10 years for attending protests at a university
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [10] Daily selects Ahmet Davutoglu as the man of the year 2009
  • [11] Daily evaluates the steps Turkey took in 2009 in its foreign policy with its Eastern neighbors
  • [12] From the Turkish Press of 30 December 2009

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Ozugergin expressed the opinion that there is no difference between Eroglu and Talat

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.12.09), in its front page and under the title There is no difference between Eroglu and Talat, reports on statements made yesterday by Burak Ozugergin, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman and writes in its subtitle that he made remarkable statements as regards the ongoing negotiation process on the Cyprus problem and the presidential elections of April.

    Speaking in a press conference yesterday, Mr Ozugergin referred to the Cyprus problem, Turkey-EU relations and the presidential elections. Mr Ozugergin stated, inter alia, that the Turkish Cypriot leader has exhibited a constructive and sincere stance from the launching of the negotiations until today and said the following: It is our duty to say the same thing for the prime minister of the TRNC, Dervis Eroglu. Mr Ozugergin reminded Eroglus statements that he supports the negotiations and expressed his opinion on which parameters he finds appropriate and that it is out of the question for this to create difficulties.

    Mr Ozugergin stressed also the need for Turkey to overcome the political difficulties it confronts in its EU bid and said that what they expect from the EU is to keep its commitments as regards Turkey.

    Replying to a question regarding the process in the Cyprus problem, Mr Ozugergin explained the approach of the Greek Cypriot Administration in the framework of Archimedes principle. According to Mr Ozugergin, Greek Cypriots stuck on Archimedes principle, he suspects that [the Greek Cypriots] see Turkeys EU negotiation process as a ground and the EU as leverage. Therefore, Greek Cypriots should get rid of the influence of the Archimedes principle the soonest, he added.

    He then stated that it is important for Turkey to make progress in its EU course and that this will be good for Cyprus as well. The spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry noted also that the proposal for a four-party meeting as regards the Cyprus process is on the table and that Greek Cypriots still do not see this positively.

    Mr Ozugergin referred also to the negotiation process in Cyprus and said the following: Our goal is not an open-ended timetable. A serious effort will be made during the next forthcoming months and a solution to be reached to the problem, finally.

    (AK)

    [02] Talat and Eroglu evaluate Turkish National Security Councils decision on the Cyprus problem

    Illegal Bayrak television (30.12.09) broadcast the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat has said that the decisions taken by the Turkish National Security Council on the Cyprus issue have shown the determination of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to bring a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    The President said that the Council reiterated its support to the ongoing negotiation process being carried out within the framework of the UN Secretary-Generals Good Offices Mission in Cyprus.

    President Talat evaluated the statement issued after the latest meeting of the National Security Council to BRT and TAK news agency.

    Stressing that the latest decisions taken by the Council has shown the commitment of Turkey and the TRNC to the solution process in Cyprus, President Talat pointed out that the Council has once again voiced its support to the ongoing negotiations being carried out within the framework of the good offices mission of the United Nations.

    Noting that the Council has called on the concerned sides to refrain from taking steps which could harm the process, Mr Talat said it pointed out that Turkey and the TRNC have the necessary political will for the solution of the Cyprus problem.We are showing political will and working for a solution. We are also refraining from taking steps that can harm the negotiation process, he added.

    On the same issue, illegal Bayrak television (30.12.09) broadcast the following: Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has said that decisions taken by the Turkish National Security Council is a reflection of Turkeys support to the Cyprus Turkish people on the Cyprus Issue.

    He said that no Turkish official has ever issued any statement in contradiction to the decisions of its National Security Council.

    Speaking to reporters before todays Council of Ministers meeting, the Prime Minister reminded that the Turkish National Security Council has repeatedly stated there are two separate peoples, two separate democracies, two separate religions and languages in Cyprus.

    He pointed out that the Turkish National Security Council clearly and openly supports a solution to the Cyprus Problem on the basis of two politically equal states. No Turkish official to this day has made any statements in contradiction to these decisions, he added.

    Reminding that he had met with the Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as well as other top state officials during his recent visit to Ankara, the Prime Minister said that he had conveyed his governments views and concerns on the Cyprus Problem during these contacts.

    Responding to questions, Eroglu also pointed out that his government was working for a sustainable solution to the Cyprus Problem.

    [03] Ozgurgun called on President Christofias to behave as a statesman

    Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan newspaper (31.12.09), in its front page under the title Ozgurgun: MGK warned Christofias, reports that the so-called minister of foreign affairs Huseyin Ozgurgun evaluated the latest statement of Turkeys National Security Council (MGK) after the meeting of the council of ministers. Mr Ozgurgun said that there is nothing surprising and added: The decision of MGK is positive and a proper decision.

    Mr Ozgurgun also said: Here MGK makes a warning and added that he also replies to the Christofias statements as minister. He noted that the intention of Mr Christofias is either the negotiation process to be stopped or the Turkish Cypriots to walk away from the negotiation table, but the Turkish Cypriot is on the table with good intention and the Turkish side is not the side which walks away from the table.

    Noting that the aim of the Turkish Cypriot side is the continuation of the negotiations but they will not reach anywhere with such kind of statements, Mr Ozgurgun, calling on Mr Christofias, asked him to behave as a right minded and statesman.

    (DPs)

    [04] Eroglu said that the negotiations will continue after the elections

    Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (31.12.09), in its front page under the title We enter 2010 without a problem, reports that the so-called prime minister Dervis Eroglu in statements before the meeting of the council of ministers, commented on the latest situation of the negotiations.

    Mr Eroglu said that for years now they struggle for a viable agreement in Cyprus. He said that the agreement can be achieved only with the continuation of the negotiations and after the elections they will be in search of this. Noting that the Cyprus talks will stop on the eve of the presidential election, Mr Eroglu said since there will be no agreement before, the negotiations will continue after the elections.

    (DPs)

    [05] Eroglu said that he will decide with his party for the candidacy of the presidential elections

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (31.12.09), in its front page under the banner headline Eroglu a presidential candidate in the new year, reports that Mr Eroglu, at Merit hotel in the occupied part of Lefkosia where he hosted a reception for the journalists last night, said that regarding the issue of the candidacy for the presidential elections he will decide with the competent organs of his party.

    Noting that the continuation of the negotiations in order to reach an agreement is a condition, Mr Eroglu said that whoever will be a president will continue the negotiations.

    (DPs)

    [06] Turkeys financial credit support to the illegal regime extended for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012

    Illegal Bayrak television (30.12.09) broadcast the following:

    The Economic and Financial Cooperation Protocol signed between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has been approved.

    The Protocol covers 2010, 2011 and 2012 and aims to allow the TRNC to make financial reforms as well as to gradually lower the budget deficit.

    Up to 2,5 million Turkish Liras worth credits will be provided to the TRNC for new projects, except those on water and electricity supply.

    The approval of the Protocol was published in Turkeys Official Gazette.Within the framework of the Protocol, the Turkish government will provide credit assistance to the TRNC for infrastructural investments and for the development of the real sector, while the TRNC will be making the necessary reforms.Ankara will provide credits to the TRNC for investments in various fields, especially in the tourism sector. It will also supply technical assistance to the Republic in the fields needed.

    [07] Belgium to pay high attention to Turkeys EU candidacy during the second half of 2010 when Brussels will assume the EU presidency

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.12.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said Wednesday the European Union (EU) negotiations process was an open ended one.

    Speaking at a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Leterme said that Turkey's EU negotiations process must be simplified and encouraged.

    Pointing out that his first trip overseas after having become the Prime Minister of Belgium was to Turkey, Leterme said that this was not a coincidence as Turkey was a crucial country.

    There is an important Turkish community in Belgium. We are pleased to witness that this community has integrated with the Belgian society, Leterme stressed.Belgium will assume the EU presidency in the second half of 2010 and we have discussed this topic. Belgium pays high attention to Turkey's candidacy and hopes that the negotiations are concluded successfully. We will focus on Turkey's negotiations in the second half of 2010, Leterme noted.

    We have exchanged opinions with Prime Minister Erdogan on security issues. We believe that Turkey can play an important regional role, Leterme said.Asked by a journalist about what their reaction would be if a terrorist killed a prominent Belgian businessman and escaped from law to Turkey and if the trial of the terrorist took a very long time, Leterme said that a prime minister could not comment on the decision of legal authorities.

    The legal process (in Belgium) continues for the individual you have implied with connections to terror. I want to stress the importance of talks between the ministers. We expect to find solutions to certain problems in meetings of the ministers in the first half of 2010, Leterme said.

    Reminded by a journalist about his earlier comments on offering Turkey a privileged partnership rather than full EU membership, Leterme said that the Belgian government believed the negotiations process should be given a chance.As the Belgian government, we support Turkey's EU full membership, Leterme added.

    [08] Erdogan assesses 2009 in his address to the nation

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.12.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the year 2009 had a special place in the last seven years since his Justice and Development (AK) Party came to power.

    In his televised address to nation, Erdogan said that Turkey had a long way to solve its chronic problems and to become a more peaceful and prosperous country over the past seven years during AK Party government.

    Erdogan said, in 2009, when giant economies of the world were rocked by the global financial crisis, it is obvious that Turkey achieved this way on a firm ground established in the last seven years.

    Of course we had some troubles during the crisis, Erdogan said. Nevertheless, Turkish economy has not suffered disastrous pictures that several giant economies faced.

    Erdogan said, however, Turkish government had revised economic targets, yet Turkey had not seen irreparable economic devastation in this period.

    Prime Minister Erdogan also expressed his expectations from the coming year.

    I see the year 2010 as a year in which Turkish people will completely weather the economic crisis, be free from impacts of it and have a rising vigor for growth, he said.

    Erdogan recalled that international organizations also made such estimations supportive of government projections for the next year.

    According to OECD projections, Turkey will be the second fastest growing country, after South Korea, among 30 countries in 2010. In 2011, Turkey is expected to be the fastest growing country, he said. I believe that Turkey, with its dynamism, will leave its mark in the world next year and it will also have its name rather frequently mentioned.

    Reminding that Turkey achieved an average 5.8 percent growth between 2002 and 2008, Erdogan said that Turkish economy, which was on the brink of a disaster in 2002, has become the 17th largest economy in the world from 26th place.Erdogan said major economic indicators proved all these progress.

    Erdogan said a realist policy must be pursued to further improve Turkey's economy with an eye for a sustainable growth rate.

    Erdogan said his government had achieved to reduce inflation rate down to single-digit values, adding that inflation for November 2009 was 5.5 percent which he underlined was lower than anticipated.

    However, there is a certain level of increase in the unemployment rate due to a global economic crisis as it raised to 13.4 percent in September 2009 from 11 percent in 2008. But it is pleasing to see that upward move has stopped over the last couple of months and even there is a slight recovery in employment figures, Erdogan said.

    Erdogan also estimated that Turkey's exports would gradually rise as a global economic recovery was expected to revive foreign demand.

    Turkish Prime Minister has called the European Union to show sincerity over Turkey's accession to the Union.

    Erdogan has said Turkey had been remaining sincere and resolute over its bid for European Union membership despite what he described as unfair treatment which we have often seen in Turkey's relations with the Union.

    We have showed our commitment and sincerity by opening the twelfth policy chapter on environment in the EU negotiations. And now we are expecting the same sincerity from EU members, Erdogan told a televised address to the nation on Wednesday.

    Erdogan said Turkey's foreign policy was not one-dimensional, adding that his country sought to improve relations with all countries in the world.

    Our prestige and influence in the world are continuing to grow with each passing day and our constructive policies to find solutions to global issues are receiving greater appreciation, he said.

    Erdogan also said he hoped that growing ties between Turkey and Syria would make a good model for the region which he said had been shaken by conflicts.

    [09] Ahmet Turks granddaughter sentenced to nearly 10 years for attending protests at a university

    Hurriyet Daily News.com (30.12.09) reported the following from Diyabakir:

    A local court has sentenced the granddaughter of Ahmet Turk, who was expelled from Parliament recently after his pro-Kurdish party was closed, to nearly 10 years in jail for attending protests at a university in Diyarbakir, Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday.

    Ruken Turk, a first-year mathematics student in the southeastern province did not attend the trial at a local court in Diyarbakir. Rehsan Bataray, lawyer of Turk, demanded the court to acquit Turk.

    The court, however, decided to sentence Turk to nine years and seven months in jail on charges of committing a crime on behalf of a terror organization without being a member of it, preventing education within the scope of organized terror activities, and making propaganda for a terror organization.

    In the previous trial, Ruken Turk denied the allegations. I was in sorrow due to losing my close friend Mahsum Karaoglan, who died during the clashes in the Birecik district of Sanliurfa on April 4. I did not prevent the right to receive an education and I did not make propaganda for any [terror] organization, she said.

    Turk was taken into custody as she attended a demonstration at the Dicle University protesting the killing of Mahsum Karaoglan. Karaoglan and Mustafa Dag were killed during police clashes on April 4 when a group of 500 people attempted to go to Omerli village in Sanliurfa, the birthplace of Abdullah Ocalan who is the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The march was intended to celebrate the Öcalans 60th birthday. As the police did not allow the crowd to enter the village, clashes arose causing the death Karaoglan and Dag as police opened fire on the crowd.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [10] Daily selects Ahmet Davutoglu as the man of the year 2009

    Under the title: Man of the year Turkey's foreign policy transformed as theoretician Ahmet Davutoglu takes the helm Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (31.12.09) publishes the following commentary:

    The editors of Today's Zaman have selected Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as this paper's man of the year for 2009, recognizing the central role he has played in perhaps the biggest transformation that Turkey's foreign policy has undergone since its foundation.

    The unassuming professor - appointed as foreign minister on May 1 after serving for six years as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's chief foreign policy adviser -- is rightly credited with re-establishing Turkey's role as a pivotal country in its region while expanding cooperation with the US to a more advanced level of model partnership and keeping relations with Europe on track despite growing opposition to Turkey in European countries. Widely recognized as the man behind Turkey's new proactive stance since 2003, Davutoglu quit his behind-the-scenes role in 2009 and became the active chief of Turkey's dynamic foreign policy. And over time, he proved the skeptics who feared that the great theoretician could fail to adjust to the fast-changing reality of global politics very wrong.

    Davutoglu, in fact, proved that he is not only an intellectual designer but also a successful doer. During the half-year that he has been in charge of the Foreign Ministry, Turkey signed agreements with Syria and Iraq to build strategic cooperation, took a landmark step to normalize relations with Armenia after decades of hostility and moved forward, albeit slowly, in accession negotiations with the European Union.

    Davutoglu owes his title not only to his performance as foreign minister but also to the great deal of controversy surrounding his name in Turkey as well as in several other corners of the world. His desire to reinstate Turkeys influence in a vast area covering the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East has won him a reputation as neo-Ottoman, a term Davutoglu emphatically rejects, and led to criticism that he wants to pull Turkey away from its traditional Western orbit to place the country in an Eastern axis.

    But for Davutoglu, efforts to build closer ties with Turkeys Muslim neighbors in the Middle East do not mean Turkey is giving up on its decades-old drive to be an integral part of Western institutions, most notably the European Union. He was once quoted as saying that Turkey can be European in Europe and Eastern in the East because we are both.

    The foreign minister, in fact, is convinced that Turkeys growing clout in the Middle East will help its bid to become a member of the EU, rather than complicating it as critics at home and abroad argue. The EU, under a leadership with long-term vision, will see that a Turkey with influence in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans is a great asset in advancing the old continents interests in the areas of security, energy and economy. His vision seems to have reached receptive ears in the Obama administration, which has found in Turkey a partner to promote US foreign policy goals in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Caucasus. Its growing influence brought Turkey an elevated standing in international organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

    Under Davutoglu, Turkeys policy toward its Eastern neighbors seems to have gone beyond the well-known zero problems with neighbors approach and turned into maximum cooperation and regional integration -- similar to what formed the basis of the EU in the post-World War II era. His efforts to reinvigorate ties with the countrys Middle Eastern neighbors that had remained dormant for decades amid mutual suspicions has removed skepticism toward Turkey as a Western agent and has won Ankara huge sympathy as a regional leader. Ankara is now a respected promoter of peace in the eyes of Syrians, the Lebanese, Iraqis and even Iranians.

    When confronted by charges of a shift in axis, Turkish leaders assert that Turkey is part of no axis other than its own. The multi-dimensional foreign policy was reflected in the field of energy as well: Turkey signed deals with both the EU and Russia to allow rival pipelines to cross its territory, boosting its aspirations to become a hub for regional energy routes.

    Since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) first came to power in 2002, Davutoglu has clearly shown that he is after a redefinition of Turkeys role in its region and around the world. His so-far-successful term at the helm of the Foreign Ministry, a combination of theory and effective implementation, indicates he is not just a foreign minister, but a statesman who is most likely to have a legacy throughout the years to come.

    [11] Daily evaluates the steps Turkey took in 2009 in its foreign policy with its Eastern neighbors

    Under the title Turkish diplomacy in 2009: Turkeys steps toward integration with Eastern neighbors trigger debates Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (31.12.09) publishes the following commentary:

    Citizens of Turkey who grew up in the final decades of the 20th century, in particular during the 1970s and 80s, were indoctrinated with the cliché that Turkey was surrounded by enemies on all sides, while surrounded by sea on three sides.

    The cliché had a mission in line with Cold War rhetoric; Turkeys geographic uniqueness highlighted the geo-strategic significance of this country and made its citizens feel proud of their country, while the presence of enemies on all fronts helped maintain a mood of alarm within the country. The so-called balance of power and weakness helped the status quo endure in regard to both domestic and foreign affairs.

    If 2008 can be called the year when Turkey actively implemented its zero problems with neighbors policy, 2009 can be labeled the year during which Turkey actively moved to have maximum cooperation with certain neighbors -- namely Iran, Iraq and Syria. The dazzling speed of the progress in relations with these countries, supported by concrete steps of bilateral cooperation, has led to a confusion of minds as to whether Turkey is turning its back on its decades-old Western alliance and moving toward a new alliance in the East.

    Most of those assumptions were really a result of confusion, yet some of those comments appeared to be malevolent, since their arguments had a tone of putting Ankara in its place in a blunt attempt to dictate to Ankara that it continue playing a solely regional and so-called bridge role between the East and the West.

    In the meantime, Ankara has tirelessly stated that it has long abandoned the limiting paradigms which defined its role according to the Cold War mentality and that rather than changing its direction, it has simply been expanding its relations.

    Subtitle: Changing nature of fronts

    Here are some of the facts concerning the course of affairs in Turkeys relationship with some of its neighbors in the Middle East in the year 2009.

    In mid-October, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Baghdad, where Turkey and Iraq took a giant step forward to boost ties, signing more than 40 agreements ranging from issues such as fighting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorism to energy cooperation and water sharing. Erdogan and his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, presided over the first joint cabinet meeting of the two governments under the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

    On December 23, as he co-chaired with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a top level meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council between the two countries in Damascus, Erdogan vowed to build a model partnership with Syria, while he also underlined that Turkey would not give up on its determination to improve ties with neighboring countries such as Syria just because this move is considered by some to be a shift from the West to the East.

    During the meeting, the two countries signed 51 cooperation agreements in a wide range of areas including water, energy, health, culture, security, trade, electricity, oil and natural gas.

    Remarkably, on the very same day, al-Assad revealed that Turkey was involved in efforts to resolve problems between Syria and Lebanon. He said Turkey had a role in the recent rapprochement between Damascus and Beirut and added that a few people know about this. He did not elaborate.

    On October 28, during a visit to Tehran, Erdogan defended Irans nuclear program as peaceful, and Turkish officials announced a deal to explore for natural gas in Irans South Pars basin, which has added to Western concerns that Turkey might be forsaking its alliance with the West to pursue a leadership role in its neighborhood.

    One has to admit that of all of those relationships, the one between Ankara and Tehran is less than rosy, with the latter constantly delivering ambiguous responses to questions on Turkeys possible role in the dispute surrounding this countrys controversial nuclear program.

    Still, Turkey has not given up on its intense efforts to persuade Iran to act more cooperatively with the West, while also urging the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- the P5+1 -- to develop a modified approach toward Iran if they really want to engage in a healthy dialogue.

    Turkey joined the 15-nation UN Security Council as a non-permanent member in January and will have the seat until the end of 2010. Ankaras efforts are in a way dedicated to maintaining a moral stance in order to be able to justify its decision, whether it is eventually yes or no, when there is a vote at the UN Security Council on imposing sanctions on Iran.

    Subtitle: Mesopotamia and optimism

    Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was Erdogans chief foreign policy adviser from 2002 until he was appointed to his current post in May and is seen as the architect of Turkeys foreign policy, which is getting rid of its Cold War chains.

    During an August visit to Baghdad, the goal of which was to prepare for the first meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council with Iraq, Davutoglu, a professor of political science and international relations, said: We want the Mesopotamian region to once again become one of the most productive and prosperous regions in the world in all fields. We offer limitless cooperation for turning our region once more into the rising star of the world.

    Davutoglus explanation of his own optimism, which is best seen in his reference to the ancient civilization in the Middle East, is actually quite clear. In remarks delivered following an official visit to Tehran in the first half of September, Davutoglu said his policy understanding was based on deliberate optimism.

    Im an optimist. It is not possible to take action without being optimistic. I believe in what I do until the end; otherwise, I cannot persuade anybody, he said at the time.

    Earlier this week, Erdogan, delivering a speech at a ceremony where he was granted an award dedicated to the memory of the late President Turgut Ozal for his contributions to global peace, reflected the same optimism. Erdogan said Turkey has been eliminating fears that amount to paranoia about being surrounded by enemies. Turkey is no longer a country surrounded by the sea on three sides and by enemies on all sides, Erdogan asserted.

    [12] From the Turkish Press of 30 December 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 30 December 2009:

    a) Domestic affairs:

    Commenting on recent police operations against some members of the Turkish Armed Forces in an article entitled "What is indeed happening?" Hurriyet Daily News columnist Yusuf Kanli says that "what some are defending as steps aimed at consolidation of the rule of law and as moves fully compatible with the 'accountability' of everyone in democracies, are being perceived by some others as part of a concerted effort aimed at tarnishing the public image of the institutions that resist surrendering ambitions of political Islam. He notes: "Now, if the claims of the ruling party and its allegiant media are indeed correct and there was in the military a crime gang that was planning to assassinate Arinc, some other government members, or commanding admirals of the Navy; if there are claims that arms and bombs discovered here and there over the past year all belong to that crime gang in the military; or if there was indeed a coup in the making, there is obviously a very grave situation. But, if all these claims are just planted products of an 'asymmetric psychological warfare' the situation is even graver, is it not?"

    In an article entitled "The TSK's [Turkish Armed Forces] withdrawal," Radikal columnist Akif Beki interprets a statement issued by the General Staff which said that the search conducted in connection with the investigation conformed to laws as a sign that the military is withdrawing from politics. He comments: "Its admission was unprecedented. The TSK confirmed its adherence to law and democracy by its statement and stance."

    In an article entitled "Anxiety caused by silence," Radikal columnist Mehmet Ali Kislali speculates that the search conducted at the Regional Mobilization Department may be intended to find evidence revealing an alleged secret organization by using allegations of plot to assassinate Arinc as a pretext. He comments: "Thus, a new adventure looms on the horizon after another adventure called Ergenekon which has a legal aspect peculiar to it without any indication about when it will end. It seems that the other front is acting carefully in order to prevent the AKP from taking advantage of this complicated political struggle by pretending that it has been victimized as it did in the past."

    In an article entitled "Handcuffed democracy," Cumhuriyet columnist Hikmet Cetinkaya emphasizes that intelligence wars in Ankara should be brought to an end and harmony should be ensured between different establishments within the government. He says: "If there is an organized group deep in the Government and some people have pinned their hopes on a military coup, it would be an extremely wrong attitude. If some other people are spreading allegations about coups and assassinations in order to be elected in the general election scheduled for 2011, it would be an equally dangerous plan."

    In an article entitled "The military and domestic politics," Sabah columnist Hasan Bulent Kahraman says that the military may no longer play an influential role in domestic politics in Turkey if Turkey assumes a more active role in her region with US backing. He adds: "It is impossible for the military to increase its influence over domestic politics at a time when the United States which supported almost all military coups in the past is now clearly standing in the way of similar attempts."

    In an article entitled "Gul's decision to convene a summit is sagacious," Milliyet columnist Fikret Bila says that a high-level meeting to be chaired by President Abdullah Gul and attended by the heads of the legislature, executive, and the judiciary as well as the chief justices of the civil and military high courts on 5 January is expected to eliminate distrust and misunderstandings between different establishments within the government.

    A "news analysis" entitled "Work load increases for mobilization units prior to coups" asserts that because of a radical change that took place in the Turkish military's concept and definition of "enemy" during the term of office of former Chief of Staff Yasar Buyukanit, even political parties or movements that rise to power in a democratic election in Turkey could become "the target of unconventional warfare activities."

    b) Turkey's foreign policy:

    Analyzing diplomatic moves made by the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, in 2009, in his article entitled "It is more active and different," Milliyet columnist Sami Kohen says that Turkey is making efforts to strengthen political and economic ties with countries which share common goals without neglecting her relations with the United States and the EU. He comments: "In other words, Turkish diplomacy took care to maintain its alliance with the West while attempting to add new dimensions to its foreign relations. But, new moves and tendencies in Turkey's foreign relations gave rise to doubts about a possible 'shift of axis.' In fact, it is true that important changes took place in foreign policy and an adjustment of axis was made in 2009. But, this is a foreign policy which is more independent and active and, thus, different than those pursued in previous years."

    In an article entitled "Switzerland spoiled Turkey's EU dream," Hurriyet Daily News columnist Mehmet Ali Birand says that a recent referendum which endorsed a ban on construction of minarets for mosques has led to heated debates about whether Europe will be able to live with Islam and reflected Europe's general opposition to Islam. He comments: "If there is no progress in the negotiations between Turkey and the EU, if an important part of topics are on hold, if other members of the EU do not oppose Sarkozy and Merkel's constant recommendation of a 'Privileged Partnership' instead of full membership, the underlying reason is not Cyprus, it is the EU's view of Turkey from a religious point of view. We might say the Swiss referendum has spoiled Turkey's dream of the EU and revealed a different reality."

    In a commentary entitled "The nuclear menace looming over Turkey's neighborhood", Mehmet Kalyoncu explains why Iran is "hardly likely to pose a direct nuclear security threat to Turkey ..." He also asserts that Iran's nuclear program "does threaten Turkey's diplomatic influence across the Middle East," adding that "at the end of the day, Turkey may have to consider acquiring its own nuclear weapons capability as a Plan B in order to counterbalance the new nuclear realities in its neighborhood."

    c) Lack of freedom of the press:

    In an article entitled "We are moving backward in freedom of the press," Hurriyet columnist Sedat Ergin emphasizes that a growing number of journalists are facing possible charges and trials due some articles in the Turkish Penal Code and the Press Code which provide for prison sentences and fines if a journalist is found guilty of revealing secret facts about an ongoing investigation. Pointing out that both laws were amended in 2005 as part of the Government's political reforms connected with the process of accession to the EU, Ergin says: "There was no provision to that effect in the Turkish Penal Code which was copied from Italy's penal code under Mussolini and was in force when the AKP came to power. Thus, journalists were not facing the threat of being jailed like the sword of Damocles when they wrote a story about the content of any investigation before 2005. This contradiction witnessed during the process of accession to the EU is alarming in all respects."

    In an article entitled "Reminding Tayyip Erdogan of Pinarhisar," Milliyet columnist Hasan Cemal points out that Star columnist Samil Tayyar has been given a 20-month suspended prison sentence while Mehmet Baransu, a Taraf reporter, facing serious charges on the grounds that they have revealed secret facts about the Ergenekon case. Praising Tayyar and Baransu for courageously revealing facts about the shady organization and its alleged plot to overthrow the Government, Cemal comments: "Some mistakes may be made because journalists are always in a rush. But, it should be borne in mind that obstacles to democracy and law cannot be removed without stirring up a hornet's nest and taking certain risks in this country because what we are actually witnessing is a struggle for democracy."

    EG/


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