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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-03-04

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. 42/10 04.03.10

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Statements by Talat to CNN-Turk
  • [02] Downer describes the statements made by Erdogan to Greek Cypriot journalists as the most important message which came from Ankara for a long time
  • [03] Eroglu flies to Ankara to hold talks with Gul and Erdogan on the latest developments on Cyprus and the situation in the illegal regime
  • [04] Eroglu will reportedly discuss the candidature of Ertugruloglu with the government in Ankara
  • [05] Mechtild Rothe said Europarliament socialist group wants isolation of Turkish Cypriots lifted and Direct Trade Regulation implemented
  • [06] Alexander Downer discussed the Cyprus problem and the political situation in occupied Cyprus with delegations of Turkish Cypriot civil organizations
  • [07] Turkeys TUSIAD to pay an illegal visit to the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [08] Students to represent the illegal regime to the National Anthem Singing Competition in Kosovo
  • [09] President Gul held a phone conversation with U.S. President Obama before the voting on the Armenian genocide bill
  • [10] Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu meets with Palestinian Authority President Abbas in Cairo
  • [11] Turkey to establish a regional forum with similar format to Davos forum
  • [12] A new political party is established in Turkey
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [13] Turkish Cypriot columnist says there is no obstacle anymore for Erdogan if he wants to solve the Cyprus problem
  • [14] From the Turkish Press of 03 March 2010

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Statements by Talat to CNN-Turk

    Turkish CNN-Turk television (03.03.10) broadcast an interview with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Responding to questions of journalist Sirin Payzin, Mr Talat said that 2010 is the possible year for the solution of the Cyprus problem. He alleged that the financial crisis in Greece is facilitating the solution of the Cyprus problem, claiming that Greece spends a lot of money in the race of armaments with Turkey.

    Noting that he will be a candidate in the elections of 18 April, Mr Talat said that his opponent, Dervis Eroglu, wants the solution of confederation on the island and added that the United Nations will not accept this. He accused Mr Eroglu of not having a vision for the solution and of not turning such a vision into his mission.

    Responding to a question, Mr Talat alleged that the proposals submitted in the negotiations by the Turkish side are prepared in the occupied areas of Cyprus, not in Turkey.

    Mr Talat said that if the sides do not make concessions it will not be possible for them to reach to an agreement. He argued that if the Turkish Cypriot side remains with the proposals it made until today and if the Greek Cypriot side does the same, then they will not reach to an agreement.

    Asked to comment on the accusation against him that he is selling the country, Mr Talat said that you have to be one step forward at the negotiations and added that the negotiations could be successful only if they are held on the win-win principle. Therefore, this is not selling the country, this is saving the country, he noted. He reiterated the Turkish allegations that the Turkish Cypriots are isolated and argued that if the Cyprus problem is solved and the Turkish Cypriots are unified with the world this would be tantamount to saving the country not selling it.

    Asked whether Prime Minister Erdogan offers him support in the negotiations, Mr Talat responded positively and added that they work in harmony with the AKP government.

    Asked whether his possible victory in the elections would be victory of the AKP as well, Mr Talat said that together with Turkey they follow a successful policy, the Turkish Cypriots are now accepted in the world and that he has various meetings with foreign officials. He gave as example his recent visit to Spain and the long-lasting meetings he held there. He said also that the economic situation of the Turkish Cypriots is better now, noting that all these happened with the policy they developed and follow together with Turkey. He expressed the belief that they will be unified further with the world if they continue this policy.

    Asked on whether the developments in Turkey and the weakening of the army are making his job easier, Mr Talat said they are not talking directly with the Turkish army, but they had no problem with it until now. Our interlocutor is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the civilian government, he noted. He said that they experienced no problems in Cyprus on the issues concerning the army.

    Mr Talat reiterated that after the Annan Plan, the image of the Turkish side in the world changed and noted that they use some elements which they gained in the Annan Plan during the negotiations, when this is necessary.

    Asked on whether the Cyprus problem will definitely be solved in 2010, he said: I do not like to say that we will definitely solve it in 2010, but 2010 is a possible year for the solution. There are many reasons for this. The most important, of course, is the international situation and the fact that this is a necessity in Turkeys EU accession course.

    Replying to a question on the financial crisis in Greece and on whether this will facilitate the solution, he alleged it will facilitate it because the highest amount of Greeces expenses are spent for weapons in the armament race with Turkey. He argued also that Cyprus is the most important problem between Turkey and Greece.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Downer describes the statements made by Erdogan to Greek Cypriot journalists as the most important message which came from Ankara for a long time

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.03.10) reports that Alexander Downer, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Cyprus, has described the statements made recently by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greek Cypriot journalists as the most important message which came from Ankara for a long time. In statements to Kibris, Mr Donwer noted that with Mr Erdogans statements a strong wish for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem was expressed. The paper writes that Mr Downer spoke with praise and enthusiasm of Mr Erdogans statements. Referring to Erdogans statements, he said, inter alia, the following:

    It is important that he said they will support an agreement providing for a single citizenship based on bi-zonality, bi-communality and the political equality of the two communities. It is very important that a personality who is appreciated by the international community made such a statement. Moreover, the fact that all circles concerned wish the success of the negotiations is very important. All these make me optimistic.

    He said that the efforts for the solution will continue. I am not in favour of the interruption of the process. I will go in April, but I will come again, he noted.

    Referring to the issue of the guarantees, Mr Downer said that this should be discussed by the guarantor powers and noted that the decision taken by the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus is recommendatory and not binding. Mr Downer said this is an issue that should be solved not only by the Cypriots, but by Turkey, Greece and Britain as well. The guarantors know it very well, the Cypriot leaders know it very well, the issue of guarantees is an issue which should be discussed when the time is right, he added. Furthermore, he said that the decision taken by the self-styled assembly on the issue of the guarantees is also not binding.

    Asked on why the leaders have not announced that they agreed even on the simplest chapter, Mr Downer said it is important to understand the formula of the negotiations and added that as long as everything is not agreed nothing is considered to be agreed. However, progress in a real sense has been achieved, he added.

    When asked to comment on statements made by Greek Cypriot political leaders that serious disagreements exist on issues such as the property, the territory, the guarantees and the security, Mr Downer said it is true that agreement has not been achieved on everything, but progress has been made on many chapters. He noted: There is no progress on the issue of guarantees and the issue of territory. The guarantors have not sat to discuss. Difficulties exist.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Eroglu flies to Ankara to hold talks with Gul and Erdogan on the latest developments on Cyprus and the situation in the illegal regime

    Illegal Bayrak television (03.03.10) broadcast the following:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu will be flying to the Turkish capital Ankara tomorrow for talks with Turkish officials. The Prime Minister will be meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Latest developments on the Cyprus problem and the general situation in the TRNC will be high on the agenda of Premiers discussions.Speaking before todays meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister told reporters that he will embark on his contacts in the Turkish capital tomorrow morning with a meeting with President Abdullah Gul. Mr Eroglu said that he will hold discussions with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at 1.30pm. He added that a meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is also included in his agenda. On Friday, he will meet with Minister of State also in charge of Cyprus Affairs deputy-Prime Minister, Cemil Cicek. Mr Eroglu said that he will exchange views with Mr Cicek on ways of repairing the damage caused by the flood disaster in the TRNC and the problems being faced by the TRNC universities. He will also deliver a speech at the National Institute for Strategic Studies.

    [04] Eroglu will reportedly discuss the candidature of Ertugruloglu with the government in Ankara

    Under the title Eroglus agenda is Ertugruloglu, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (04.03.10) reports that the issue of Tahsin Ertugruloglu, MP with the National Unity Party (UBP) will be on the agenda of the leader of the UBP and self-styled prime minister, Dervis Eroglu who is visiting Ankara today accompanied by the self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Huseyin Ozgurgun. In statements yesterday before the meeting of the council of ministers of the breakaway regime, Mr Eroglu said the issue of the candidature of Mr Ertugruloglu for the presidential elections to be held in the occupied areas of Cyprus on 18 April has not been discussed in the party and added that Mr Ertugruloglu has not discussed the issue with him during the past few days. The paper reports that it is certain that the issue of Mr Ertgruloglu will be on Mr Eroglus agenda during his high level contacts in Ankara, even if this was not mentioned in the program he announced regarding the visit.

    Referring to the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (04.03.10) reports that Tahsin Ertugruloglu blackmails Mr Eroglu that he will announce his candidature on 11 March, in case he does not promise to support him for the presidency of the UBP and the post of the prime minister of the breakaway regime. The paper writes that Mr Eroglu has been concerned and worried from this development and the preparations by Mr Ertugruloglu to announce his candidature in order to deal a blow to Mr Eroglus candidature, knowing that he will not win.

    Eroglu is setting off for Ankara once more today because of the developments, notes Afrika adding that no one doubts that this is a visit aiming at the elections.

    The paper argues that the colour of the elections will be clarified after the meetings which Mr Eroglu will have in Ankara with President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, Foreign Minister Davutoglu and State Minister Cicek.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Mechtild Rothe said Europarliament socialist group wants isolation of Turkish Cypriots lifted and Direct Trade Regulation implemented

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (04.03.10) reports that Mechtild Rothe, adviser to the President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, held contacts yesterday with Turkish Cypriot political parties. During talks with Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) leader Turgay Avci, Ms Rothe said that a Group delegation came to the island in order to support the negotiation process. Noting that she is engaged in the Cyprus problem for twenty five years now, Ms Rothe stressed the importance of a Cyprus settlement. Ms Rothe also said that it is very important for the Turkish Cypriots to seize all opportunities presented to them and benefit from EU citizenship and added: Although the whole of Cyprus is an EU member, the Turkish Cypriots cannot benefit from this. Noting that the Group has no intention of interfering in the forthcoming elections in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus and that it only wants what is best for Cyprus future, Ms Rothe said: We have concerns over the things that may happen. The paper reports that Ms Rothe did not explain what those concerns are. She also said that they want the lifting of the isolations imposed on the Turkish Cypriots and the implementation of the Direct Trade Regulation.

    On his part, Mr Avci said that his party supports a Cyprus solution. He also noted that many of the difficulties faced by Turkish Cypriots are due to the EU not keeping its promises to the Turkish Cypriots and that the Direct Trade Regulation has not yet been implemented.

    During her meeting with United Cyprus Party (BKP) General Secretary Izzet Izcan, Ms Rothe described the ongoing negotiation process between President Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as a unique opportunity to reach a settlement on the island. Noting that her Group is trying to contribute as much support as possible to the solution process, Ms Rothe said they believe that settlement talks can bring a bi-zonal federal solution.

    On his part, Mr Izcan said that the Cyprus problem should be solved within the framework of UN resolutions in the shortest time possible. Rob van der Water, special foreign affairs adviser to the Socialist Democrats Group was also present at the meeting.

    Ms Rothe and Mr Rob van der Water also met with Social Democrat Party (TDP) leader Mehmet Cakici. According to a statement issued by TDP, Mr Cakici exchanged views with Ms Rothe and Mr Van der Water regarding the latest developments on the Cyprus problem.

    Ms Rothe also met yesterday with Democratic Party (DP) Foreign Affairs Secretary Bengu Sonya. According to a statement issued by DP, Mr Sonya said that their main philosophy as a party is that the core elements of a solution should be grounded in Turkish Cypriot rights of equal sovereignty and as founding partners deriving from the 1960 Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus.

    (DPs)

    [06] Alexander Downer discussed the Cyprus problem and the political situation in occupied Cyprus with delegations of Turkish Cypriot civil organizations

    Illegal Bayrak television (03.03.10) broadcast the following:

    The United Nations Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, has met with officials from the Cyprus Turkish Public Workers Union, or the KAMU-IS. The meeting, which took place upon an invitation from the trade union, focused on the Cyprus negotiations process.During the meeting, KAMU-IS President Sami Dilek thanked Mr Downer for providing his support to peace negotiations. The UN Envoy, for his part, said it is important for him to learn the point of view of such a deep-rooted trade union on the Cyprus issue.

    On Mr. Downer contacts, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (04.03.10) writes that within the framework of the contacts Alexander Downer is holding with civil organizations in occupied Cyprus, he held a meeting yesterday with a delegation of the Turkish Cypriot Teachers Trade Union (KTOS).

    The importance which is being attached on the continuation of the solution process in Cyprus, as well as the evaluation of the political situation in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus were the issues discussed during the meeting held between KTOS and Alexander Downer, the General-Secretary of KTOS, Sener Elcil stated after the meeting.

    [07] Turkeys TUSIAD to pay an illegal visit to the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (04.03.10) reports that a delegation of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), chaired by its president, Mrs Umit Boyner, will pay tomorrow an one-day illegal visit to the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus for contacts. According to an announcement made by the Businessmens Association (ISAD), the visit of the ten-member-delegation will start with its attendance at a working meeting with the members of ISAD in occupied Lefkosia. Then, the delegation will meet with the self-styled Turkish ambassador to occupied Lefkosia, Sakir Fakili and later will pay a visit to the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. In the afternoon, TUSIAD delegation is expected to meet with the self-styled minister of economy and energy, Sunat Atun. Before departing from the occupied areas of Cyprus, the delegation will hold a press conference at the illegal Tymvou airport.

    (EA)

    [08] Students to represent the illegal regime to the National Anthem Singing Competition in Kosovo

    Illegal Bayrak television (03.03.10) broadcast the following:

    Students from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are attending the National Anthem Singing Competition in Kosovo.

    The competition will take place between 14th and 18th of March. Ahead of the contest, Berfin Benli and Deniz Gaziler together with their teachers visited the Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports Kemal Durust today. Speaking during the visit, Mr Durust said that his ministry attaches a great importance to the competition in terms of the representation of the TRNC and improvement of relations in the international arena. He also wished success to the students who will represent the TRNC in the competition.

    [09] President Gul held a phone conversation with U.S. President Obama before the voting on the Armenian genocide bill

    Ankara Anatolia (A.A) news agency (03.03.10) reported from Ankara that Turkish President Abdullah Gul held a phone conversation with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama on Wednesday.

    Sources from the Turkish Presidency told the A.A that President Gul and Obama exchanged views on bilateral and regional issues.

    The fact that Gul-Obama conversation took place prior to the voting on a resolution on the incidents of 1915 at the United States House of Representatives on Thursday, March 4 was noteworthy, said officials.

    [10] Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu meets with Palestinian Authority President Abbas in Cairo

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (03.03.10) reported the following from Cairo:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Wednesday.

    The meeting was part of Davutoglu's talks in Egypt where he will attend the meeting of foreign ministers of the Arab League.

    Davutoglu told Abbas that Arab countries should stand "in unity" to find a solution to the Palestinian problem, diplomats said.

    Davutoglu and Abbas informed each other about their talks in Cairo before the meeting of the Arab League, diplomats said.

    Davutoglu also pointed out the importance of efforts to help lift the embargo on Gaza and overcome the humanitarian ordeal in the region.

    [11] Turkey to establish a regional forum with similar format to Davos forum

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (04.03.10) reports that Turkey has started work to establish a regional summit similar to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where many business and political leaders gather to find solutions to the problems facing the world.

    Under the leadership of President Abdullah Gul, representatives from the Middle East, the Balkans and the Central Asian republics will convene for the International Cooperation Forum in Istanbul, scheduled for this October.

    Presidential Secretary-General Mustafa Isen; President Guls chief Middle East adviser, Ersat Hurmuzlu; Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu; Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) Chairman Rona Yircali; Erdogan Aklin; Nevzat Yalcintas; and former Industry and Trade Minister Ali Coskun, who are listed as members of the forums advisory board, have already started work on the forums activities.

    The regional forum, which will have a similar format to Davos, will include meetings on culture, the economy and the media. In addition to statesmen from Middle Eastern, Balkan and Central Asian countries, important public figures will also be invited to attend the forum.

    The International Cooperation Forum is expected to take place on October 27, 2010. Organizers have already extended invitations to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As Israels involvement may reduce the participation of other countries in the region, it is unlikely that it will be invited.

    [12] A new political party is established in Turkey

    Under the title, A new party with three crescent moons, Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (04.03.10) reports that a new political party entered Turkeys political life. The new Nationalist and Conservative Party (MMP) has been established under the chairmanship of Ahmet Reyiz Yilmaz. According to the written application of the party submitted to the Turkish Ministry of Interior, MMP aims to gather under the same roof both nationalism and conservatism. The emblem of MMP portrays three crescent moons and three stars over the earth. As the paper writes, the three moons symbolise law, justice and prosperity, while the three crescent moons represent the validity of the above-mentioned concepts for the whole world.

    (EA)


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [13] Turkish Cypriot columnist says there is no obstacle anymore for Erdogan if he wants to solve the Cyprus problem

    Writing in his daily column in Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (04.03.10) Turkish Cypriot columnist Sener Levent comments on the statements made by the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greek Cypriot journalists regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem and says that there is no obstacle anymore for Erdogan if he wants to solve the Cyprus problem, because after the arrests of army officers in Turkey the political government remained as the single power in the country.

    Under the title There is no obstacle anymore, Mr Levent writes, inter alia, the following:

    There were two powers in Turkey in the past. The army, and the civilians. After the recent arrests of generals, only one power remained. The civilians. That is, the government. It has been said that in the past the government could not make the reforms it wanted and take the steps it wanted in Cyprus because of the fear of a military coup. Given that no coup happened even after former army commanders were taken into custody, there will certainly be no coup from now on. That is, the fear for a military coup has been overcome. The Erdogan government is much more relaxed than it was in the past. It can now take fearlessly the steps it will take.

    In this manner the myth that Erdogan supports the solution in Cyprus and the army prevents the solution has also been demolished. Was the army the one that prevented the withdrawal of troops from the island, the opening of Varosha and the giving of territorial concession to the Greek Cypriot side and even the erasure of the flag which is on the mountains? This obstacle now has been lifted. Is a government, which had the courage to throw into the jail cells the generals in Turkey, afraid now to take these steps in Cyprus? No one believes this. Neither do I... If Erdogan wants a solution in Cyprus now, is there anyone who holds him back? Who is preventing him? Is it Eroglu? Or is it the generals who are clapped out?

    During the briefing in Istanbul Erdogan said I appreciate Talat. What happened if he said this? Should he say that I do not like at all what Talat is doing? Should he deny himself? He was telling Talat what to do and Talat did it. Should he now, on top of all, give him a slap like they do to the whipping boys? Is this expression of Erdogan not very comical anyhow? What does it mean that I appreciate Talat? Is Talat doing what he does on his own? Are the proposals he submits to Christofias his own? Is he the one who prepared them? And Ankara said okay? Since when the master says okay to his apprentice?

    It is true that Erdogan praised Talat, but at the same time he did not offend Eroglu. He said nothing to hurt him. He has even praised him as well, like Talat. If he is elected, he said, Dervis Eroglu will not make a mistake. He reminded of Eroglus statements. He too, he said, sees these negotiations as a window of opportunity...

    Let us return to the beginning again, if you want. Is there anyone who prevents Erdogan now to find a solution in Cyprus? Look. America. Europe. Britain. The UN. Everybody wants a solution. Given that the hands of the generals in Turkey are now tied up, is there an obstacle anymore? Beware, do not say that Christofias is. I will not believe it!

    (I/Ts.)

    [14] From the Turkish Press of 03 March 2010

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 03 March 2010:

    a) The Sledgehammer Plan:

    According to a report in Taraf, the military officer who sent the original copy of the "Plan to combat reactionarism" to prosecutors said that the plan was drafted by Navy Captain Dursun Cicek in accordance with the instruction of First Army Commander General Hasan Igsiz. The report quotes the unnamed informer as saying that he decided to send a letter on the action plan to prosecutors when he realized that Chief of the General Staff Ilker Basbug denied the plan although he was informed of all the developments. Taraf notes that judge Faik Tarimcioglu believes civilian prosecutors might consider including Gen Igsiz in the probe in the light of this information.

    A report in Milliyet outlines the 32-page expertise report drawn up by Major Ahmet Erdogan on the "Sledgehammer Plan," an alleged action plan to overthrow the government. The Milliyet report says that the plan was discussed in a seminar organized by the 1st Army Command on 5-7 March 2003. Recalling that 147 military officers, including 26 generals, attended the seminar, the report notes that the Land Forces Command was not informed of the action plan, which considered "radio" stations and "Kral TV message band system" appropriate communication channels for the commencement of the anti-government actions.

    In his article entitled "Wet signature," Milliyet columnist Taha Akyol welcomes the military forensic report verifying the authenticity of the "Plan to Combat Reactionarism" signed by Navy Captain Dursun Cicek. According to Akyol, the military report showed the importance of the principles concerning the institutions' "official impartiality" and "loyalty to the law." He lauds the gendarmerie officers and the Office of the Military Prosecutor for examining the document "with an impartial eye," instead of trying to conceal the facts for the sake of the army's prestige and the fight against reactionarism. That is the only way for the "normalization" of the republic, he adds. Recalling that Chief of the General Staff Ilker Basbug described the plan as a "piece of paper" when it was first revealed but also promised to reopen an investigation in the event of new evidence, the columnist says it is now the time to find out the other figures behind the coup plan.

    In his article entitled "Basbug's reactions," Milliyet columnist Fikret Bila says that the verification of the authenticity of Cicek's signature under the "Plan to Combat Reactionarism" has placed the General Staff chief in a difficult position as he described the plan in June 2009 as "a piece of paper that was prepared in an effort to discredit the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces]." Bila links Basbug's "overreaction" to the misleading information and analysis given to him, but also asserts that henceforth, the General Staff should be "more cautious" while preparing its statements. He also concludes by expressing the hope that those who asked Captain Cicek to prepare the plan will be revealed at the end of the probe.

    In his article in Radikal, Cengiz Candar urges the circles, which see the Ergenekon probe as a smear campaign against the TSK, to admit the facts about the coup plans. Recalling that even the military officials began to acknowledge the plans, he welcomes the weakening of the "political coalition between the military forces, higher judicial organs (Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeals, Council of State), and the Republican People's Party, CHP. Candar links the Ergenekon-related developments to the Kurdish issue, urging the Kurds to avoid remaining indifferent to Turkey's "transformation," which, he says, will have an impact on their faith as well.

    Under the headline, "Three important developments," Milli Gazete carries a front-page report which highlights yesterday's "three shocking developments" at home, namely an Erzurum court's decision to agree to hear an indictment that cites Ilhan Cihaner and Saldiray Berk as members of the Ergenekon network, a statement by the office of the military prosecutor announcing that Operation Sledgehammer is a coup plan, and "the General Staff's disclosure" that the signature on a document allegedly detailing a coup conspiracy has been verified as belonging to Dursun Cicek.

    In an article entitled "What Cagaptay and Cicek have in common", Zaman columnist Abdulhamit Bilici criticizes WINEP fellow Soner Cagaptay for a recent article in the Foreign Policy Magazine in which he holds the Gulen community responsible for the "coup arrests" in Turkey. Bilici claims that a gendarmerie forensic examination having verified the authenticity of the coup "conspiracy" bearing Navy Captain Cemil Cicek's signature, one is left wondering about "the similarity between the document in question and Cagaptay's purposes in continuously attacking the AKP and Gulen. Or is the Turkey Program at the Washington Institute one of those places like Erzincan where the plan detailed in the said document is being implemented?"

    In an article entitled "'Mother of all problems'", Today's Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar holds the way the military positions itself in political life as being responsible for the "maladies" that make Turkey "unmanageable and ungovernable by the elected." He also asserts that Prime Minister Erdogan "seems fully intent to penetrate the heart of the top command [of the TSK], merely in order to 'build bridges' of trust with ... Gen Ilker Basbug and his closest [aides] to deal - once and for all - with the 'monster within.'"

    b) Debate over the constitutional amendment package:

    Hurriyet carries a report on an interview with President of the Constitutional Court Hasim Kilic by Metehan Demir. Kilic admits the need for a constitutional reform but notes the adoption of such a reform requires a "large consensus" that considers the sensitivities of all the sectors in the country. Criticizing the politicians for carrying all conflicts to the Constitutional Court, he urges the political cadres to learn how to solve the problems with a sincere approach and stop regarding the Court as a platform for solution of the conflicts. The president denies the rumors that efforts are underway for a new party closure case and adds that he disagrees with the rhetoric against the party closures. "The parties that carry out racist and separatist policies and encourage uprisings can be closed down," he says.

    Under the headline, "Three indispensable amendments," Vakit carries a front-page report which quotes Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek and Chairman of the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission Burhan Kuzu as having told Vakit that proposals for changing the structure of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, HSYK, making political party closures difficult, and implementing radical changes to the composition of the Constitutional Court are considered an indispensable part of the constitutional amendment package that the Government is planning to draw up by April and put to referendum in July.

    In an article in Hurriyet, Cuneyt Ulsever argues that the government is planning to place the judiciary under its control through a so-called judicial reform package. Claiming that the government will be able to appoint the members of the judicial organs, such as the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors and the Constitutional Court, if the reform package is adopted, he says that the proposed reforms will only "strengthen the civilian tutelage." He also opposes the government intention to hold a referendum for the judicial reform, saying that such a referendum will turn into a "vote of confidence for the government."

    c) Turkish US relations and the Armenian genocide bill:

    An article by Melih Asik of Milliyet says that Turkey started to discuss the possible US decision on the Armenian genocide bill as April draws near. Stressing that the US administration is likely to give the green light to the Armenian claims this year, Asik quotes CHP Deputy Onur Oymen as saying: "President Obama promised to recognize the genocide in the past. He may not backtrack on his promise this year." According to Oymen, Asik adds, the government should have sent a larger delegation to carry out the lobbying activities against the Armenian bill in Washington.

    An article by Milliyet columnist Semih Idiz says that he disagrees with those who expect the "Zurich Protocols" to prevent the US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee from placing the Armenian genocide bill on its agenda. Recalling that the Armenian Diaspora view the protocols as "Armenia's unacceptable concession to Turkey," Idiz says that they hope that the discussion of the bill by the Congress will lead to the annulment of those protocols. On the other hand, he adds, the Obama Administration is openly using the genocide bill as a tool for the adoption of the Zurich Protocols by the Turkish parliament. Noting that the US Congress adopting a resolution acknowledging the Armenian claims is unlikely this year, he warns that if the Obama Administration fails to prevent the adoption of the bill at the Congress, then the "defense and foreign policy strategists in Ankara will have to draw up their plans accordingly."

    In a commentary entitled "Who would the Armenian stick hurt?", Ali Akel in Yeni Safak argues that President Barack Obama and other US decision makers need to think twice if they believe they could use Armenian genocide bills successfully as a means of forcing Ankara into signing the normalization protocols with Yerevan. He also warns that the approval of the latest Armenian bill submitted to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs would cause unpredictable developments not only between Ankara, Yerevan, and Washington but also across regions that are adjacent to Turkey and Armenia.

    EG/


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