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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-02-12

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. 29/10 12.02.10

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Erdogan complained to the ambassadors of the EU member states to Ankara about the recent decision of the EP on Turkey
  • [02] Official reaction by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on the EP report
  • [03] Reactions by Turkish Cypriot politicians against the recent decision of the EP on Turkey
  • [04] Talat says he is committed to the TRNC
  • [05] Talat evaluates the latest developments regarding Cyprus
  • [06] Talat met with BKPs and YKPs general secretaries
  • [07] Nami says the dates of the meetings between President Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat within the framework of the Cyprus talks will be clarified next week
  • [08] The Swedish ambassador to Lefkosia says that confederation is outside of the UN parameters for a solution in Cyprus
  • [09] A new nationalist organization has been established in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [10] The fighters do not want a third candidate in the illegal elections
  • [11] The State Minister of Azerbaijan pays an illegal visit to occupied Cyprus as a guest of the illegal YDU and calls on cooperation in the field of education
  • [12] Turkish Immigrants Solidarity and Assistance Association alleges that the UN SGs visit to Cyprus is a sign that the world will soon recognize the illegal regime established in occupied Cyprus
  • [13] Erdogan met with EU countries ambassadors to Turkey
  • [14] Gul wraps up his visit to India; Turkey to support India on its bid to the non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council
  • [15] Kurdish newspaper editor jailed for PKK propaganda
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [16] From the Turkish Press of 11 February 2010

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Erdogan complained to the ambassadors of the EU member states to Ankara about the recent decision of the EP on Turkey

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.02.10) reports that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met yesterday with the ambassadors of the EU member states to Ankara during a lunch at the Prime Ministers residence. He complained about the recent decision of the European Parliament (EP) regarding Turkey, describing as an injustice the fact that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are still considered responsible for the non-solution in Cyprus, in spite of the positive steps the Turkish side took during the past few years. Mr Erdogan alleged the following:

    We always say it and we will say it now as well. What happened in the referendum? While the yes votes for the Annan Plan were 65 % in Northern Cyprus, the no votes in South Cyprus were 75%. How come Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are still portrayed as guilty? Is this European Parliament blind, for Gods sake? If we do not say this, then what else should we say? Let them open up their eyes a little bit. Let them open their ears to the truth, to the reality. And let their tongue speak the truth, the realities.

    Mr Erdogan claimed that Turkey as motherland and guarantor power continues to support the finding of a lasting and just solution as soon as possible through the Cyprus talks. He alleged that they continue to be one step ahead on this issue acting on a win-win principle.

    Mr Erdogan referred to the proposals submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side on 4 January 2010 regarding the chapter on Governance and Power Sharing and alleged that these proposals offered a real chance for a breakthrough and that the Turkish Cypriot side showed a great flexibility in this direction.

    We as Turkey encouraged them to submit this package, said Mr Erdogan and added: Undoubtedly, the value of this opening should be made known and this opportunity in the direction of the solution should be evaluated. Thus, the chapter of Governance and Power Sharing could be closed, progress could be achieved in other areas by giving acceleration to the talks and the finding on a solution in the negotiating process, which continues for almost two years, could be possible.

    Mr Erdogan referred to the visit of the UN Secretary-General to Cyprus and his reference to the importance that the UN attaches to the success of the negotiations for reaching a comprehensive solution on the island. He reminded that last year at the General Assembly of the UN, he told Mr Ban Ki-moon that his personal involvement in the negotiations would be useful and alleged the following:

    This happened with a delay of 4.5 months. And here I would like to draw your attention to the fact that until today the Greek Cypriot side insistently preserves its stance which delays the agreement. It is clear that the negotiations cannot continue forever. The Turkish Cypriot side is the victim of the status quo on the island and has proved its will for the solution. And this should not be allowed any more. The forthcoming period is of vital importance from the point of view of the fate of the process. We believe that the EU member states have a special responsibility on the issue of encouraging the Greek Cypriot side to show the necessary will on the road to solution.

    Finally, Mr Erdogan referred to Turkeys relations with Greece and said that he will soon visit Athens.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Official reaction by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on the EP report

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry (11.02.10) issued the following press release regarding the European Parliament report on Turkey:

    The report drafted by Ms. Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on Turkey, which includes findings as regards the progress made by Turkey in the accession process in 2009, was approved on 10 February 2010 at the EPs plenary session.

    Assessments of the EU institutions regarding candidate countries, while drawing attention to the shortcomings expected to be overcome, should be drafted with an objective approach, conducive to furthering the process and encouraging the candidate country.

    Although the official text has yet to be published, the report cites the process initiated with a view to expanding the space of rights and freedoms in our country, our active initiatives in foreign policy as well as our contributions to regional security.

    However, the report essentially takes a one-sided stance, which may only affect negatively the accession process and includes points that do not correspond to the realities. These are not acceptable to us. While the expectations from Turkey are listed, it is interesting that the EUs non-fulfilled commitments towards Turkey are not mentioned in the report.

    The ongoing comprehensive negotiations in Cyprus and the constructive and solution-oriented efforts of the Turkish Cypriot side are almost ignored. The realities regarding those who are responsible for the instigation of the Cyprus question are disregarded. This attitude, far from having any sense of fairness, to say the least, has caused great disappointment. The function of the EP should be neither to act as the spokesperson of the Greek Cypriot side nor to meet all their unfounded allegations and demands.

    We regret to see that in its first test in relation to Turkey during its new legislature, the EP is taken hostage by domestic political concerns. The documents and reports that are published by the EP will have a meaning for Turkey only if they are constructive and unbiased.

    Despite these negative and obstructing efforts, with its acquis Turkey will continue to march towards EU membership with determination.

    [03] Reactions by Turkish Cypriot politicians against the recent decision of the EP on Turkey

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.02.10) reports that Turkish Cypriot politicians and the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted against the report adopted by the European Parliament (EP) on Turkey and especially against the part regarding Cyprus.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said the following on the issue: They should leave us alone in the negotiations. They should leave them to the UN. The UN is responsible for the negotiations. They should leave them to the sides. These things are of no use. In any case, there is no chance for them to be implemented.

    Moreover, referring to the issue, Huseyin Ozgurgun, self-styled minister of foreign affairs of the breakaway regime, alleged that the fact that third parties take decisions on the Cyprus problem in favour of the Greek Cypriots, during a period when the negotiations continue, is a strategic mistake. He alleged that believing that the Cyprus problem could be solved only with the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus, or by demanding such a thing, is tantamount to not knowing any historic reality regarding the Cyprus problem. He claimed that the Cyprus problem could be solved only when the EU fulfils the promises it has given to the Turkish Cypriots and adopts a just, constructive and impartial approach to the problem.

    Furthermore, Ferdi Sabit Soyer, leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), alleged that the demands in the report regarding Cyprus are not helpful for the solution of the Cyprus problem. In a written statement issued yesterday, Mr Soyer argued that the report is similar to previous decisions which have not been helpful for the solution in Cyprus and described the report as a plot with the aim of dealing a blow to Turkeys EU accession course.

    Moreover, Bengu Sonya, foreign relations secretary of the Democratic Party (DP), alleged that the decision ignores the way in which the status quo in Cyprus has come to surface and described it as distorting history in Cyprus. He claimed that it is obvious that the decision will not have any contribution to the solution on the island.

    Meanwhile, referring to the same issue, Turgay Avci, leader of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) said that the decision has created great disappointment among the Turkish Cypriots and called on the EP to stop hiding its head in the sand.

    Moreover, the self-styled honorary counsellor of the breakaway regime in Germany, Kandemir Ozdemir, alleged that the decision was taken in the direction of the interests of the EP and it is a proof that the parliament implements double standards to satisfy the Greek Cypriot lobby. It is an effort for the whole of the TRNC to be offered as present to the Greek Cypriots, he alleged in statements during a press conference in Dusseldorf together with Isa Ilyasoglu, chairman of the Turkish Initiative Associations.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (12.02.10) points out that both the UBP and the CTP reacted in the same strong way against the decision of the EP regarding Turkey and reports that both Talat and Eroglu condemned this decision. Instead of demanding the opening of Varosha, which stays closed for 36 years, under the control of the UN, we condemn those who took this decision, notes the paper pointing out that the government and the opposition in the occupied areas of the island were united against the decision of the EP which calls on Turkey to withdraw its troops from Cyprus and open the occupied closed city of Varosha. The paper publishes its views in the Letter from Afrika column under the title The supporters of the status quo have one voice again.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Talat says he is committed to the TRNC

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (12.02.10) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, has said he is committed to the TRNC, breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus. During a visit to occupied Rizokarpasso village, Mr Talat was asked whether he is committed to the TRNC. He replied the following: No one can ask this question to the president. How could you ask the president of the TRNC if he is committed, if he believes in the TRNC? After my election, I took an oath.

    Asked to comment on the allegations that he is making concessions in the negotiations, Mr Talat said: The government is being dissolved in the Greek Cypriot side because it has given concessions in the negotiations. Here we are being criticized because we made concessions. We did all these issues together we Turkey. Let us assume that I gave concessions. What kind of concessions Turkey gave?

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Talat evaluates the latest developments regarding Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (11.02.10) broadcast the following in occupied Lefkosia:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat has said that the Cyprus negotiations process will resume but that the schedule for the meetings has yet to be determined. He said that the delay in the talks was due to the crisis in government in the Greek Cypriot side. On the European Parliaments resolution concerning Turkeys 2009 progress report, the President underlined the need to settle the Cyprus problem in order to solve the problems faced.

    Speaking to reporters today, President Mehmet Ali Talat said that contacts were being held with UN officials with the aim of determining the dates for the resumption of the talks. He expressed the view that there could be a delay in the talks due to the government crisis his Greek Cypriot counterpart was experiencing. The President pointed out that this was a domestic issue and that there was not much to say on this issue.

    Touching upon the Orams case, Talat said that they were continuing to assess the situation following the British Court of Appeals ruling. Pointing out that there was a human rights dimension to the issue, Talat said that the Orams couple had therefore taken their case to the European Court of Human Rights. Neither demolishing the home in Lapta [occupied Lapithos] nor implementing the Greek Cypriot Courts verdict is an option under the current circumstances. We shall hold another meeting to evaluate the situation, he added.

    On the European Parliaments resolution concerning Turkeys 2009 progress report, the President said that he had held a long meeting with the Dutch Christian Democrat MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten who had prepared the report and had conveyed to her the threat the report could have on the talks. He said that issues such as the withdrawal of Turkish troops or the return of Maras [closed Varosha area] could only be settled at the negotiations table.

    [06] Talat met with BKPs and YKPs general secretaries

    Illegal Bayrak television (11.02.10) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat, who is seeking the support of political parties in the upcoming elections, today visited the United Cyprus Party (BKP) and the New Cyprus Party (YKP). The President has yet to officially announce whether or not he will be contesting the Presidential elections set for the 18th of April.

    The President first visited the United Cyprus Party. Speaking at end of the two-hour meeting, the President said that he had evaluated the latest stage reached in the talks with the BKPs General Secretary Izzet Izcan. Drawing attention to the fact that the United Cyprus Party was a party which supported a solution in Cyprus, the President expressed the hope that the elections will be held in a peaceful atmosphere.

    On his part, General Secretary Izzet Izcan said that a solution was the most important thing for their party. Reaching a solution is to the benefit of the Turks of Cyprus he added. Stating that they will be taking sides during the upcoming elections, which, he added, will be held at a critical stage in the Cyprus negotiations process, Izcan said that they will be evaluating President Talats request within the authorized organs of the party before taking a final decision.

    The President then visited the New Cyprus Party where he met with the partys General Secretary Murat Kanatli and Foreign Relations Secretary Alpay Durduran. Within the framework of his visits, President Talat had visited the Social Democracy Party (TDP), the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) and the Democrat Party (DP) earlier in the week.

    [07] Nami says the dates of the meetings between President Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat within the framework of the Cyprus talks will be clarified next week

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.02.10) reports that Ozdil Nami, representative of the Turkish Cypriot leader, has said that the dates of the meetings between President Christofias and Mr Mehmet Ali Talat within the framework of the Cyprus negotiations will be clarified next week. In statements to the illegal TAK news agency, Mr Nami said that the Greek Cypriot side suggested that four meetings could take place until the elections to be held in April in the occupied areas of the island. He added that the Turkish side thinks that four meetings are not enough and proposed that eight meetings should be held.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] The Swedish ambassador to Lefkosia says that confederation is outside of the UN parameters for a solution in Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (12.02.10) publishes an exclusive interview with the Ambassador of Sweden to Cyprus, Ingemar Lindahl. The Swedish Ambassador commented on the Cyprus talks, the visit of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the island and the readiness of the communities for peace.

    Mr Lindahl, inter alia, said: Defending confederation means going outside of the UN parameters. Defending confederation means the termination of the negotiations. If the one side brings this to the negotiating table, it means that it wants a solution outside the UN parameters.

    Commenting on Mr Bans visit, Mr Lindahl said: After UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moons visit, some confusion occurred in the south. We expect this confusion to cease. A change in the government might also take place.

    On the property issue, Mr Lindahl, inter alia, said: The property chapter may concern many people. However, the chapter on governance and power sharing is more important because it concerns many generations.

    (DPs)

    [09] A new nationalist organization has been established in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.02.10) reports that a new organization under the name Nationalist Action Platform has been established in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The president of the Platform, Ufuk Ucay, told Kibris that they are not interested in the internal politics and that their target is to influence the presidency of the regime on foreign policy issues. Our aim is to create a pressure group regarding the Cyprus problem, Mr Ucay said. The paper writes that the surname of Mr Ucay is taken after the three crescents which are on the logo of the Nationalist Action Movement (MHP) in Turkey. Mr Ucay noted that they will follow a nationalistic stance which sometimes may be hard and sharp in the minds of some people. Those who carry out the negotiations should know that we oppose to giving away even one single stone from the land of the country, he alleged. He said they will support Dervis Eroglu in the elections in April.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] The fighters do not want a third candidate in the illegal elections

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (12.02.10) reports that Hasan Keskin, chairman of the so-called fighter commanders association, has called on the Democratic Party, the Freedom and Reform Party, the Social Democracy Party and the National Justice Party not to determine a third candidate and to support either Dervis Eroglu or Mehmet Ali Talat in the presidential elections. In a written statement issued yesterday, Mr Keskin criticized Turkish Cypriot leader Talat because of his stance in the ongoing negotiations and added that they leave the people to decide how independent Mr Talat is. He also referred to the employees who have been fired by the National Unity Party (UBP) and said that the statement by Mr Eroglu that some of these persons will be hired again is positive, but asked for a formula to be found for all of those who have been fired to be re-hired.

    (I/Ts.)

    [11] The State Minister of Azerbaijan pays an illegal visit to occupied Cyprus as a guest of the illegal YDU and calls on cooperation in the field of education

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (12.02.10) reports that the Azeri State Minister, Nazim Ibrahimov, met yesterday in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus with the so-called founder-rector of the illegal Near East University (YDU), Dr Suat Gunsel. Mr Ibrahimov is paying an illegal visit to occupied Cyprus following an invitation by YDU. According to a statement issued by the YDU Press and Public Relations Office, Mr Ibrahimov expressed his pleasure for visiting the occupied areas, praised YDUs facilities and noted that the establishment of cooperation between YDU and Azerbaijan in the field of education is Azerbaijans greatest wish.

    On his part, Suat Gunsel said that students from 45 different countries, including Azerbaijan, receive education at the YDU and added that the YDU is also a full member of the European University Association, the UNESCO-based International Association of Universities and the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World.

    (ML)

    [12] Turkish Immigrants Solidarity and Assistance Association alleges that the UN SGs visit to Cyprus is a sign that the world will soon recognize the illegal regime established in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (12.02.10) reports that the chairman of the Turkish Immigrants Solidarity and Assistance Association (Turk-Goc-Der), Enver Dincoglu, has expressed the belief that the world will take steps for the recognition of the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus. Speaking during a press conference organized by the association, Mr Dincoglu explained the views of his association on the developments regarding the Cyprus problem and the economy and added that the recent visit paid to Cyprus by the UN Secretary- General, Ban Ki-moon, is a sign that the world will soon take steps for the recognition of the illegal regime by forcing the Greek Cypriot side to accept the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people.

    (ML)

    [13] Erdogan met with EU countries ambassadors to Turkey

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.02.10) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday discussions in Europe regarding Turkey's European identity and its bid to become an EU member do not square with fairness, the principle of pacta sund servanda and historical facts.

    At a meeting in Ankara with EU countries' ambassadors to Turkey, Erdogan said it would make more sense for EU to discuss new enlargement waves instead of enlargement fatigue. I regret that EU's tendency to return to its shell and bring commitments and accords up for discussion again are discouraging for both Turkish and European peoples, Erdogan said.

    Referring to privileged partnership proposals for Turkey, Erdogan accused some European leaders of acting insincerely. He said such proposals, which he said were aimed at changing the rules in the middle of the game were also aimed at delaying Turkey's EU accession although Turkey has had a strong pro-Western vision. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have both stated repeatedly that Turkey should become a privileged partner instead of a full member.

    Last week, Gunter Verheugen, former EU commissioner for enlargement, said that this attitude is pure populism, and it is dangerous. He said that the proposal is 'fake packaging, because Turkey already has a privileged relationship with the EU, Erdogan recalled. Turkey should never be the injured party of daily polemics in the EU which is caught between its feelings and its mind, Erdogan said, adding that Turkey will continue to make reforms in its way to the EU, not only because they are an obligation in the negotiation process, but also for the sake of national interests. Bold steps taken on democratization and human rights by our government are entirely the results of this self-confidence, he said. We will continue to do our part as we have always done. We expect the EU to act in the same way, he told EU ambassadors.

    In addition, Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.02.10) reported the following:

    The European Union welcomes recent steps taken by Turkey, especially the government's democratic initiative and protocols signed last October with Armenia to normalize their relations, Spanish Ambassador to Turkey said on Thursday.

    Ambassadors of EU member states met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. Spanish Ambassador Joan Clos, who took the floor as representative of the EU member state holding the six-month rotating presidency, said that Turkey had recently made serious reforms. Clos said both Turkey and the EU were going through a period of change, adding that this process gained momentum after the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force last December. He said Turkey and the EU will give important advantages during the negotiation process due to this change.

    Clos said both parties were aspirant for Turkey's accession and he expressed the belief that Turkey and the EU would make progress during the Spanish presidency. He said Spain hopes to open negotiation chapters on food safety, public procurement, social and cultural relations, and energy during its presidency until July 2010. Although Turkey might face some obstacles on its way to EU membership, Spanish ambassador said, he went on saying that all countries that started negotiations with the EU eventually became members.

    [14] Gul wraps up his visit to India; Turkey to support India on its bid to the non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.02.10) reported the following from Mumbai:

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Thursday that Turkey had extended an invitation to India to participate in an upcoming meeting in Istanbul on Afghanistan.

    Turkey's and India's policies are similar in that both countries are helping Afghanistan maintain stability. So, we have invited India to take part in an economic cooperation meeting which will be held in Istanbul, Gul told Turkish reporters covering his visit to the country. Gul said India had security concerns in its region, adding that Turkey appreciated the New Delhi administration's efforts to help the Afghan government.

    The Turkish president urged Turkish investors to seek business opportunities in India, adding that the country attached great importance to foreign investments. Gul stressed India was planning to make investments worth 500 billion USD in the near future, including the construction sector, which he said would offer a big opportunity for Turkish construction firms.

    Gul said India had supported Turkey's non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council, adding that Turkey would support India for its bid to have a seat in the Council for the 2011-2012 term.

    The Turkish president said Turkey would open three more consulates in India, adding that Turkey's national air carrier was also planning to launch additional flights to three more destinations in the country.

    [15] Kurdish newspaper editor jailed for PKK propaganda

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (12.02.10) reports the following:

    Ozan Kilinc, the editor of the Kurdish-language Azadiya Welat daily published in Diyarbakir, has been sentenced to 21 years and three months in prison for disseminating propaganda for the outlawed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

    The prosecutor demanded the jail term for Kilinc, saying Kilinc had allowed 12 editions of the paper to go out with items promoting PKK propaganda. Comments and acts judged to be supportive of the PKK and its jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, are considered a crime in Turkey.

    Published in the city of Diyarbakir since 1994, the newspaper has already been shut down five times.

    Judges at the Diyarbakir 5th High Criminal Court found Kilinc guilty of disseminating propaganda on behalf of the PKK and Ocalan at a final hearing on Wednesday because he allowed headlines, news content and photographs that showed sympathy for the PKK to be published in 12 editions of the daily in June 2009.

    Kilincs lawyer said Kilinc had no any intention of praising the PKK or the terrorist groups leader, Ocalan. However, after a recess, the judges sentenced the editor to 21 years and three months in prison.

    The judges had earlier issued an arrest warrant for Kilinc after are attempt on his part to flee.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [16] From the Turkish Press of 11 February 2010

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 11 February 2010:

    a) Turkish Foreign Policy:

    Hurriyet Daily News carries an article penned by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the "key objective" of the Turkish foreign policy and relations with EU. The foreign minister points to Turkey's "need to pursue a proactive diplomacy with the aim of strengthening prosperity, stability and security in a neighbourhood which spans the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Caspian basin, the Black Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, from the Gulf to North Africa." He reiterates Turkeys determination to become a full EU member state by stressing: "Membership in the EU is Turkey's strategic choice and this objective is one of the most important projects of the Republican era. As stated in the EU documents that compose our 'acquis' with the union, the aim of the negotiations is membership."

    b) Domestic Political Tension:

    A column by Sukru Kucuksahin of Hurriyet quotes Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal on his recent conflict with Prime Minister Erdogan over an alleged diplomatic warning by the French administration that Erdogan's veiled wife should not accompany him during a former official visit. Opposing the criticism that he used this speculation as a political tool, Baykal asserts that Erdogan is the person who placed family matters on the political agenda first by recalling that his wife was not allowed to enter the Gulhane Military Hospital because of her Islamic headdress three years ago. The columnist says that the opposition leader said that his aim was to prevent the prime minister from using family matters for political purposes in the future. Referring to the recent public opinion polls showing the public support for the AKP as 30.2 percent and for the CHP 26.8 percent, he cites Baykal as saying that "the CHP may easily become the leading party if it works hard until the scheduled election date."

    In an article entitled "MHP's fascist tendencies", Yeni Safak columnist Yalcin Akdogan, writing under the pseudonym Yasin Dogan, criticizes the way Nationalist Action Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli has lately been making "threats" to the news media, the Government, AKP deputies, and certain businessmen. He claims that Bahceli's behaviour openly reflects a fascist tendency and warns that the sort of "intolerance" encouraged by the MHP's accusations of betrayal and separatism against the Government threatens to breed a "culture of violence".

    c) Gul's Comments on Leaders, Constitutional Amendments:

    An editorial in Hurriyet Daily News laments the Turkish politicians' failure to amend the constitution, saying: "The most important thing a country needs for amending its charter is 'the wide consensus' that Turkey has had for so long. Under these conditions, the only thing one can point to is the lack of sincerity among the politicians." Recalling that President Gul said in India that "a historic opportunity was missed," the editorial says that the president, who made a similar comment about the Kurdish issue some time ago, should know that "frequent use of this rhetoric will not only increase disappointment in society but also will result in the loss of the credibility of politicians."

    According to Asli Aydintasbas of Milliyet, certain columnists' assessment of his remarks on the parliament's missing the opportunity for constitutional amendments, made President Gul uneasy. In his article, Aydintasbas cites Gul as noting that "I neither tolerate nor understand deliberate efforts to misinterpret my remarks." Recalling that pro-government commentators Radikal's Akif Beki and Star's Samil Tayyar claimed that the reason for Gul's negative stand on constitutional amendments is his objection to the plan to reduce the term of presidency from 7 to 5 years, she says that the president reiterated that he does not want to be misinterpreted and that he is not against the amendment of the constitution partially.

    Recalling that President Gul criticized the party leaders, including Erdogan, for escalating tension in the country, a column by Gungor Mengi of Vatan says that the pro-AKP media started to question the actual purpose of the president who urged the media to "censor" the remarks of the leaders, including his "brother" [Erdogan]. Mengi argues that "freedom of the pro-government media is limited to the interests of the AKP" and that is why, he adds, their criticism of Gul's remarks over a new constitution and the leaders' rhetoric should be taken very seriously.

    Recalling that Erdogan's former adviser Akif Beki "warned" the president with a "threatening tone" in his column in Radikal, Mengi implies that Beki conveyed the message of Prime Minister Erdogan who is said to have been uneasy over Gul's effort to act as an "impartial" president. He concludes by saying that the warning can be taken as a "new sign of the prime minister's plan to run for the presidency".

    In an article ironically entitled "Good for us", Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru criticizes certain commentators for the way they accused President Gul of "insulting the Parliament" and calling for censorship of the free press in saying that Turkey appears to have missed the opportunity to draw up a new constitution and urging the news media to help ease domestic tensions by concentrating on positive rather than negative issues.

    EG/


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