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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-03-19

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. 53/10 19.03.10

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat says Spain exerted efforts for a six-party summit on the Cyprus problem
  • [02] Talat says that an interim agreement before the elections would be tantamount to making fun of the Turkish Cypriots and reveals that such a proposal was submitted by Britain
  • [03] The importance of the recent decision of the ECHR on the property issue was emphasized during Talat-Gul meeting
  • [04] Eroglu reiterated that TRNC is a sovereign state
  • [05] Eroglu meets with the Turkish Ambassador to Madagascar in occupied Cyprus
  • [06] The candidates decreased to seven for the so-called presidential elections in April
  • [07] How the Turkish Cypriot press covers President Christofias press conference on the Cyprus problem
  • [08] Downer has reportedly launched an initiative in the field of sports; He is expected to meet with the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation
  • [09] The illegal municipalities union and Swiss experts are jointly organizing a conference in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus
  • [10] Sunat Atun claims that the number of the ferry services between Syria and the occupation regime will increase
  • [11] An agreement on boosting trade between Turkey and Britain; so-called MP with the DP, among the members of the delegation
  • [12] Nabucco partners to finalize production accord in April
  • [13] Turkish Russian energy conference will be held in Istanbul in April
  • [14] New action plan in Turkey for EU membership
  • [15] Forty seven European Parliament members establish Friends of Turkey group
  • [16] Two members of former DTP will be tried
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [17] From the Turkish Press of 18 March 2010

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat says Spain exerted efforts for a six-party summit on the Cyprus problem

    Under the title Spains initiative failed, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (19.03.10) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has alleged that Spain, the EU term presidency, has been exerting efforts for a six-party summit on the Cyprus problem, but these efforts failed because of the stance of the Greek Cypriot side.

    After his return from Turkey, Mr Talat was asked yesterday at the illegal Tymvou airport to comment on information published by a Turkish daily newspaper according to which Spain had submitted a proposal for a six-party summit regarding the Cyprus problem. Mr Talat said that Spains proposal was in the direction of a meeting with the participation of Turkey, Greece, the Republic of Cyprus, the TRNC, the United Nations and Spain. He noted that President Christofias put the condition of holding a separate face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan for accepting such a summit. In return, added Mr Talat, the Turkish side demanded a meeting between himself and Prime Minister Papandreou. Noting that he knew that Spains efforts failed, Mr Talat added that if the information that the process is still continuing is correct, then this is a welcome development.

    Mr Talat referred to the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the property issue in Cyprus and claimed that this decision confirmed once more that efforts should be exerted for the solution of the Cyprus problem and the negotiations should be held consistently. He alleged that the decision has shown clearly that in occupied northern part of Cyprus laws are prepared in harmony with the European Convention of Human Rights and the international law. Except for all these, he added, this decision says that a solution should be found to the Cyprus problem through negotiations.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Talat says that an interim agreement before the elections would be tantamount to making fun of the Turkish Cypriots and reveals that such a proposal was submitted by Britain

    Illegal Bayrak television (18.03.10, internet version) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat has said that the Turkish Cypriot side is definitely in favour of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem and expressed the view that interim formulas or solutions before the elections in the occupied areas would be tantamount to making fun of the Turkish Cypriot people. He said the Turkish Cypriots have never brought such an issue onto the agenda.

    In statements to Bayraks correspondent in Ankara regarding his contacts in the Turkish capital, Mr Talat said that they have never thought of an interim solution or a formula before the elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus, that such a proposal was submitted by Britain and was rejected by both sides. Such a view has never been reflected to the negotiating process, said Talat.

    Mr Talat noted that full agreement has been achieved on the chapter of judiciary in the Cyprus talks, while agreement to a great extent exists on the chapter of Governance and Power Sharing, Economy and the EU. He said that more than 50% of the issues in these chapters were agreed.

    Mr Talat expressed the belief that he will win the elections from the first round and for this reason we have not stopped the negotiations.

    Referring to his contacts in Ankara, he said that with Mr Erdogan he discussed the meetings of the Turkish Prime Minister in London and pointed out that the stance of Britain is important because it is one of the three guarantor powers. He noted that during the meeting of Mr Erdogan with the British Prime Minister we saw once more that Britain supports sincerely the solution in Cyprus.

    Britain seems to have accepted to become more active for a solution. These are positive developments, we evaluated all these in Ankara, he said.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] The importance of the recent decision of the ECHR on the property issue was emphasized during Talat-Gul meeting

    Under the title The ECHR decision was evaluated in Ankara, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (19.03.10) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met yesterday in Ankara with President Abdullah Gul. According to the paper, the importance of the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to accept the Immovable Property Compensation Commission set up by Turkey in the occupied areas of Cyprus as local remedy was emphasized during the meeting. Mr Talat thanked Mr Gul for his unique contribution and support. He also briefed him on the ongoing negotiating process in the island.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Eroglu reiterated that TRNC is a sovereign state

    Illegal Bayrak television (18.03.10) broadcast the following:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has underlined the need to give a message to those perceiving the TRNC as a community at the table that there is a sovereign state in the North of the island.

    Prime Minister Eroglu came together with former and current National Unity Party deputies at dinner last night.

    In an address at the event, the Prime Minister said 'we are all have been carrying out a joint struggle for our people and the State', adding that their final objective is to claim the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    On the Cyprus issue, Mr Eroglu said there are messages needed to be given to those who still perceive the TRNC as a community.

    'There are people who are still rejecting our sovereignty and who are still debating it. No debate can be held over the issue' he said, adding that first of all the TRNCs sovereignty should be accepted at the table.

    The Premier said it is time to explain to the world and the Greek Cypriot Leader Demetris Christofias that it will be easier to reach an agreement if the Cyprus Turkish peoples sovereignty is accepted.

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has complained that the most crucial issues have been put aside at the negotiations table. 'You cant resolve the Cyprus issue by negotiating the chapters on EU Matters and Governance and Power Sharing' the Premier said, while receiving members of the 50. Anniversary of the TMT - the TMT Association President Yilmaz Bora and the President of the Cyprus Turkish Fighters Society Vural Turkmen today.

    Stating that the Cyprus Turkish national struggle was crowned with the establishment of the TRNC, Prime Minister Eroglu said that a settlement, which will make it possible for the Cyprus Turkish people to live with honor, can be reached only if the Cyprus problem is considered as a whole.

    He said that the Greek Cypriot Side has been continuously asking for concessions because of the failure to bring crucial issues, such as territory and guarantorship, to the table and the attempts to please the Greek Cypriot Leader Christofias.

    For his part, Bora called on the TRNC people to protect their state. He said that the Association is disappointed with the acceptance of principles of single sovereignty and citizenship and claimed that the issue of guarantorship was also opened to debate. Bora also announced that they will support Mr Eroglu in the presidential elections.

    [05] Eroglu meets with the Turkish Ambassador to Madagascar in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Haberdar newspaper (19.03.10) reports that the self-styled prime minister, Mr Dervis Eroglu, met with the newly appointed Turkish Ambassador to Madagascar, Mr Ercument Erc. During their meeting, Mr Eroglu wished every success to Mr Ercs new duties and noted that they believe that Mr Erc will work as an ambassador of the breakaway regime, as well. On his part, the Turkish diplomat stated that he will be in office as of April and added that he is visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus as a guest of the illegal Eastern Mediterranean University (DAU).

    (EA)

    [06] The candidates decreased to seven for the so-called presidential elections in April

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.03.10) reports the following:

    The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Supreme Electoral Board ruled that Serap Tezcan could not run in upcoming presidential election. Seven candidates will run the election.

    The Supreme Electoral Board evaluated objections against candidacy of Tezcan and President Mehmet Ali Talat.

    The Board accepted the objection against Tezcan that she had 'some psychological problems', and ruled that she was 'not eligible to run in the elections'.

    Meanwhile, the Board rejected the objection against Talat's candidacy that he did 'not abide by the oath he took while taking the office as the president'.

    Names of seven candidates are as follows:

    -President Mehmet Ali Talat (independent)

    -Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu (National Unity Party)

    -Mustafa Kemal Tumkan (independent)

    -Arif Salih Kirdag (independent)

    -Zeki Besiktepeli (independent)

    -Ayhan Kaymak (independent)

    -Tahsin Ertugruloglu (independent)

    The final list of candidates will be declared by the Supreme Electoral Board on March 22.

    The presidential election will be held in the TRNC on April 18. If any candidate cannot reach the required threshold of 50 percent in the first round, the second round of the election will be held on April 25 between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the first round.

    [07] How the Turkish Cypriot press covers President Christofias press conference on the Cyprus problem

    Many Turkish Cypriot newspapers cover on their front page today (19.03.10) the statements made by President Christofias on the Cyprus problem during his press conference yesterday.

    Under the title We were not able to solve it, Kibris reports that Christofias, who was not able to agree with Talat in the negotiations in Cyprus, brought again onto the agenda the international conference which had been an old proposal of Makarios. The paper alleges that the President wants to transfer the problem outside Cyprus and that his target is to show Turkey as occupier.

    Afrika and Bakis cover the statements by President Christofias under the title If there is no solution, I will not become candidate. The papers write that in response to Erdogans proposal for a six-party summit on the Cyprus problem, President Christofias suggested a summit of 6 plus the 2 communities.

    Ortam covers the issue under the title If there is no solution until 2013, Christofias will not become candidate.

    Kibrisli, under the title The summit has been turned into rubbish, reports that the counter proposal submitted by President Christofias turned the proposal for a six-party summit on the Cyprus problem into rubbish.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] Downer has reportedly launched an initiative in the field of sports; He is expected to meet with the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation

    Under the title Is the sports embargo being lifted? Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (19.03.10) reports that Alexander Downer, UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Cyprus, has launched an initiative in order for the Turkish Cypriot young people to be able to participate in international sports games. Noting that the UN has rolled up its sleeves on this issue, the paper writes that Mr Downer asked for a meeting with Omer Adal, chairman of the illegal Turkish Cypriot Football Federation, and the administrative council of this federation.

    The Adal administration is waiting for the day and time of the meeting to be determined, writes the paper and cites information according to which Mr Adal received an invitation to participate in an organization under the name of International Football Union (IFU), which will be established by football federations of no-recognized states. The letter was sent by Nelson do Nasicimento, general secretary of the IFU, the headquarters of which will be in Portugal, writes the paper reminding that the self-styled Turkish Cypriot football Federation is a founding member of the Non FIFA Board, another organization which is composed of federations from non-recognized states.

    In his statements, Mr Adal reminded that FIFA had submitted a proposal on the future of the football in Cyprus and that this proposal was shelved after being rejected by the Turkish Cypriot politicians. Mr Adal added: However, recently the issue came onto the agenda again through Downer. We have conveyed our views to Downer who asked to learn our views on the solution of the issue of football in Cyprus. I think that an initiative will be launched on this issue after taking the views of the Greek Cypriot side as well

    (I/Ts.)

    [09] The illegal municipalities union and Swiss experts are jointly organizing a conference in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (19.03.10) reports that the so-called Turkish Cypriot Municipalities Union (KTBB) is organizing a conference in occupied Lefkosia with the cooperation of Swiss experts. The conference, which will take place today, is titled, Environmental Policies Targets, Water and Natural Resources Management, Sharing of Responsibilities regarding the Planning between the Central Government and the Local Administrations and Legal Adjustments. The opening speech will be made by the so-called mayor of occupied Lefkosia, Mr Cemal Bulutoglulari, while Mr Rolf A. Karlson and Mr Carl Asted will make presentations during the conference.

    (EA)

    [10] Sunat Atun claims that the number of the ferry services between Syria and the occupation regime will increase

    Illegal Bayrak television (18.03.10) broadcast the following:

    The Minister of Economy and Energy Sunat Atun has said that new initiatives have been undertaken to develop the countrys economy.

    Speaking on a Turkish TV channel, the Minister underlined the importance of the development of real sector and said that the economy should be maintained on a rational basis.

    Referring to ferry services between the TRNC and Syria, he said that they are considering to increase the number of the ferry services, reminding that contacts have been made with Gulf countries with the aim of strengthening bilateral relations. He added that great importance is also being given to cooperation between the TRNC and the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmens Association.

    The Minister noted that work is also underway to prepare the necessary grounds for EU membership in case of an agreement on the Cyprus issue. Pointing out that there has been a substantial drop in the Cyprus Turkish peoples trust in the EU because of the Blocks failure to honor its promises, Atun said the TRNC will be able to make trade with Arabic countries with the implementation of direct trade.

    [11] An agreement on boosting trade between Turkey and Britain; so-called MP with the DP, among the members of the delegation

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.03.10) reports from London the following:

    Turkish and British parties signed an agreement on boosting trade in British capital of London on Thursday.

    Turkey's State Minister for foreign trade Zafer Caglayan and British Minister for Trade, Investment and Small Business Lord Davies attended the meeting of Britain-Turkey Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) in London. After the meeting, Caglayan and Davies signed the agreement on boosting commercial relations between the two countries.

    Caglayan said the areas of energy, defence, investment, tourism, finance and technology were discussed in the meeting. Turkey and Britain had the potential to boost trade volume to 20-30 billion U.S. dollars, he said.

    Caglayan said the businesspeople of the two countries could make joint investments in the third countries. I hope that Turkish businessmen will be provided with easiness in visa procedure, he said. Investments amounting to 120 billion U.S. dollars will be made in the sector of energy in Turkey within next 10 years. International energy companies are interested in these investments, Caglayan said.

    In his part, Lord Davies said that Turkey and Britain had sound economic relations despite of global economic crisis. British companies like BP and others made investments in Turkey and there should be more cooperation between the two countries, he said.

    Lord Davies said they wanted to see Turkey as a member of the EU. Caglayan is expected to return to Turkey today.

    Meanwhile, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (19.03.10) reports on the meeting of the Turkish State Minister, Mr Zafer Cagalayan, with various British companies at the hotel he was staying for about 1.5 hour. As the paper writes, Mr Ejder Aslanbaba, so-called parliamentarian with the Democratic Party (DP) in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, was among the members of the Turkish delegation that attended the meeting.

    The meeting was also attended by representatives from the following British companies: Scott Wilson, BP, Perrod Ricard, European Nickel PLC, THALES, International Power, Legal&General, TESCO, Countermine Technologies, MODEC Limited, Eads Astrium, The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and GlaxoSmith Kline.

    [12] Nabucco partners to finalize production accord in April

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News newspaper (online, 18.03.10) reports the following:

    The partners in the planned Nabucco natural-gas pipeline to Europe will conclude a production-sharing agreement in April, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Y1ld1z said Thursday. A Project Support Agreement, or PSA, will be clarified and then signed, he added.

    Nabucco is a strategic and commercial effort supported politically by Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, the minister told reporters after a meeting in Ankara that was attended by representatives of all the countries participating in the pipeline project. Turkey is lending its full political support to Nabucco, Y1ld1z added.

    Reinhard Mitschek, a high-level executive with the project, said that an intergovernmental agreement had been signed for Nabucco in 2009 and that extremely crucial developments are expected this year. According to Mitschek, natural gas will start to flow through the pipeline in 2014.

    The Turkish Parliament approved March 4 a bill on a deal signed with the other four countries to launch the Nabucco pipeline project, which will link Europe to the Caspian Sea region and is considered a key step toward reducing Europes energy dependence on Russia. Under the law approved by Parliament, the pipeline will carry Caspian natural gas to Austria through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

    Y1ld1z told lawmakers that the state-owned Turkish Pipeline Company, or BOTAS, and the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO, could create partnerships with international firms. 'Energy diplomacy is like chess. When you see a move, you have to make one as well', he said.

    Responding to a question about whether a new partner for the project was needed, Y1ld1z said Nabucco was an ever-developing project and would therefore always be open to new partnership deals. 'However, the new partner needs be at a level where it can provide full support and contribute something valuable to the project', he added.

    [13] Turkish Russian energy conference will be held in Istanbul in April

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.03.10) reports the following:

    A Turkish-Russian energy conference is set to be held on April 15-16 between in Istanbul, DEIK, a private Turkish business organization, said Thursday.

    The energy cooperation conference will be hosted by Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board's (DEIK) Turkish-Russian Business Council.

    The conference is set to discuss issues under six headings on energy policies, natural gas, electricity, oil, nuclear and energy finance.

    Turkey's energy minister as well as senior energy officials from Russia and Tatarstan are expected to participate in the conference. Turkey's Sabanci Holding CEO Guler Sabanci and ENKA Holding Honorary President Sarik Tara are set to deliver speech at the event.

    Turkey and Russia signed mid-January a joint declaration on cooperation in construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey. Turkey is major buyer of Russian natural gas.

    Turkey's imports in 2009 from Russia totalled some $19.7 billion and its exports to Russia was $3.2 billion, according to figures of Turkey's statistics authority, TurkStat.

    [14] New action plan in Turkey for EU membership

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.03.10) reports the following:

    A newly adopted action plan in Turkey for European Union membership process affirms the country's resolve for accession, Turkey's EU affairs body said Thursday.

    The new action plan, approved by the Cabinet on Monday, aims to give a fresh momentum to the negotiations process as well as to create public awareness about and support for EU membership, Turkey's EU Secretariat General said.

    The new strategy targets to align Turkey with the EU acquis as much as possible by 2013, doing necessary work in all policy areas in the negotiations "regardless of whether they were opened, suspended or blocked," the secretariat said.

    The action plan has been put together in a three-month effort in cooperation with state bodies and civil society organizations.

    [15] Forty seven European Parliament members establish Friends of Turkey group

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (online, 19.03.10) reports the following:

    The Friends of Turkey informal parliamentary friendship group was established this week in the European Parliament and counts among its members 47 European MEPs hailing from parties as diverse as the Christian Democrats, the Socialists, the Liberals, the Greens, the European Conservatives and the Reformists.

    Former Slovenian Prime Minister Social Democrat Alojz Peterle was chosen to lead the group, while Fatih Aydogan, German Socialist Ismail Ertugs assistant, was elected general secretary.

    Elected unanimously, Friends of Turkey group chairman Peterle said the group, whose charter was signed by 47 deputies from various parties and 15 countries, will be very active in the European Parliament. He also said the group will launch initiatives to enhance Turkey-EU relations.

    Among the groups members are the spouse of Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, Anna Corazza-Bildt; Sandra Kalniete (Latvia); Jaroslaw Leszek Walesa (Poland); Birgit Schnieber-Jastram (Germany); Georg Bach from Luxemburgs Christian Democrats; Ismail Ertug, Knut Fleckenstein, Jutta Steinruck and Peter Simon (Germany); Emine Bozkurt (the Netherlands); Richard Howitt and Claude Moraes (UK); Tanja Fajon (Slovenia); Ioan Enciu and Victor Bostinaru (Romania); Boguslaw Liberadzki (Poland); Said El-Khadraoui (Belgium); Baris Zala (Slovakia); Evgeni Kirilov (Bulgaria); Raimon Obiols (Spain); and Kader Arif from the French Socialists.

    Metin Kazak (Bulgaria); Jelko Kacin and Ivo Vajgl (Slovenia); Graham Watson, Andrew Duff, Sarah Ludford and Michael Cashman (UK); Marietje Schaake and Sophie int Veld (the Netherlands); Michael Theurer and Alexandra Thain (Germany); Liisa Jaakonsaari and Anneli Jaatteenmaki from the Finnish Liberals; EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee co-chairperson Hélène Flautre, Catherine Greze and Karima Delli (France); Fransizka Keller and Jan Philipp Albrecht (Germany); Raul Romeva i Rueda (Spain); Indrek Tarand (Estonia); Heidi Hautala (Finland); Judith Sargentini from the Dutch Greens and Sajjad Karim from the Dutch European Conservatives and Reformists are also among the members of the group.

    [16] Two members of former DTP will be tried

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.03.10) reports the following:

    A lawsuit was filed against two members of the outlawed Democratic Society Party (DTP) for allegedly making propaganda of the PKK terrorist organization in their speeches.

    The Chief Prosecutor's Office in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir prepared two separate indictments against Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk after they were stripped off their political immunity.

    The prosecutor demanded 45 years in prison for Turk and 70 years for Tugluk for allegedly propagandizing for the terrorist organization in their speeches between the years of 2005 and 2009.

    Trial of Turk and Tugluk will begin in the coming days.

    The Constitutional Court outlawed the DTP on December 11, 2009, after ruling that the party became a focal point of activities against state's unity with its actions and ties to the PKK terrorist organization. The court also barred Turk and Tugluk, former co-chairpersons, and 35 other party members from joining any political party for five years.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [17] From the Turkish Press of 18 March 2010

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 18 March 2010:

    a) Internal political affairs

    Hurriyet Daily News carries an article by Radikal columnist Mehmet Ali Kislali who laments that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) which has won the "utmost respect and confidence" of the Turkish society, has been tormented recently but has failed to retaliate against accusations and attacks. Drawing attention to the integrity and solidarity within the army, Kislali urges the TSK to "defend itself and share its troubles with society."

    A column by Cuneyt Ulsever of Hurriyet comments on the controversy over the authenticity of the signature on the "Action Plan to Fight Reactionarism," which was allegedly prepared by Navy Captain Dursun Cicek. Recalling that Cicek was released pending trial despite the fact that both the civilian and military prosecutors acknowledged that the signature on the alleged anti-government plan belongs to him, the columnist says that he agrees with Cicek's lawyers who insist that the fingerprints on the said document should be analyzed to have a more solid evidence. Recalling that the Office of the Chief Prosecutor turned down this request saying that the "examination might damage the document," Ulsever says: "Is it possible to stop looking for evidence in such an important investigation with such an excuse? Is it not possible to complete all the required document examination and then look for the fingerprints if the damage is inevitable? It seems the writer of the novel 'Cicek's Unavoidable Adventures' does not want to finalize the story!"

    An article by Taraf columnist Yasemin Congar views the "information" she obtained from Taraf reporter Mehmet Baransu who said that "a new closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, was ready and a lawsuit might be filed even on Friday [19 March]." Pointing out that she will not be surprised with such a step to be taken by Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya and the civilian and military bureaucrats who "encourage" him, Congar views the possible closure case as a sign showing "the misuse of the judiciary for power struggle." She also draws attention to the recent government preparations to adopt a constitutional amendment that will prevent the closure of political parties easily and quotes an unnamed government official as saying that "as indicated in the media, we have been hearing some rumours for the past 4 or 5 months that preparations are underway for a new closure case."

    A column by Fikret Bila of Milliyet says that Prime Minister Erdogan discussed the constitutional amendment package with his party whips in a meeting in Ankara. Stressing that the article related to party closures was one of the most important issues discussed at the meeting, Bila notes that the government, which is against the regulation that authorizes the republican prosecutor to file a closure case is planning to propose an amendment that will transfer this authority to the National Assembly. Recalling that another issue taken up during the meeting was the judicial reforms, Bila highlights the objections of the judiciary to the proposed reform package which keeps the justice minister and his undersecretary as the members of the Higher Council of Judges and Prosecutors. According to many jurists, this practice "casts a shadow over the independence of the judiciary," he says.

    In an article entitled "Wanted: Democratic Opposition in Turkey", Today's Zaman columnist Muhammed Cetin argues that the absence of "true democratic opposition" in Turkey creates a "gap" that is "unfortunately filled by the military and the judicial bureaucracy, resulting in weak institutionalization and incomplete democratization."

    In an article entitled "This is an Important Step", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak emphasizes the significance of a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement saying that "Turkey does not have to recognize the Fener Greek Patriarchate as having ecumenical status" but that the Turkish state "does not prevent the Patriarchate from using this title." Dilipak claims that Ankara should officially recognize the ecumenical status of not only the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate but also that of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate. He also argues that the Turkish secular establishment condones the "injustices" against Christian groups in Turkey because it is apprehensive that if the rights and authorities of these institutions are recognized, Muslims will demand the restitution of their rights, too.

    b) Foreign policy issues-Relations with Armenia, the USA and Iraq

    In an article in Hurriyet Daily News, Burcu Gultekin Punsmann, foreign policy analyst of Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) in Ankara, opposes the efforts to link the Turkish-Armenian normalization process to the resolution of the Karabakh issue. She says: "If the window of opportunity is lost and the process is interrupted, the perspective to establish normal state-to-state relations between Turkey and Armenia can be lost for many years. That might push to region back, far beyond where the talks started."

    In his article in Hurriyet Daily News, Mehmet Ali Birand strongly criticizes Prime Minister Erdogan for his remarks on BBC that the illegal Armenian workers might be deported from Turkey. Recalling that those people are only struggling to survive, Birand says: "... no matter how hostile Armenia or the Diaspora is, protecting these people can only dignify Turkey further."

    A column by Mehmet Tezkan of Milliyet also criticizes Erdogan for the "unfortunate statement" he made in Britain and notes that the prime minister, who got angry with the United States, Sweden, France, and Russia, threatened Armenia with the poor Armenians who illegally arrived in Turkey to earn a living. Noting that even the most radical nationalists have not made such a statement thus far, he asserts that Erdogan's remarks conflict with the initiative he launched in 2009 in a bid to normalize the relations with Armenia.

    In her article in Milliyet, Asli Aydintasbas who attended the joint conference organized by the Brookings Institute and Sabanci University in Washington, comments on the changing relations between Turkey and the United States. Pointing out that Ankara's reaction to the US House Committee's adoption of the Armenian resolution was stronger than expected, Aydintasbas asserts that "the cold winds blowing on the Turkish-US ties have a symbolic meaning" showing that Turkey, which is willing to become "an independent actor" in the world, is "moving away from the Western club step by step." According to the columnist, the recent disagreement between Ankara and Washington is the sign of future crises which could be triggered by the conflicts over Israel and Iran.

    A column by Ismet Berkan of Radikal also says that he observed a change in the US approach toward Turkey. Describing the recent Human Rights Report issued by the US State Department as the "first sign" of that change, the columnist says that the report draws attention to human rights violations as well as the restrictions on freedom of press in Turkey. According to Berkan, the most important problem between Turkey and the United States is the upcoming UN vote on the new sanctions to be imposed on Iran. He says that Washington expects Ankara to side with it on this issue although the Turkish Government reiterated several times that it is "against the imposition of new sanctions." Commenting on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee's approval of the Armenian resolution, he criticizes the Turkish Government's decision to recall its ambassador as a reaction to the voting. He concludes by stressing that "no one should be surprised to see further increase in Washington's critical tone toward the AKP Administration" under the present conditions.

    In her article entitled "Iraq's Jerusalem: 'Kirkuk,'" Sabah columnist Meliha Okur focuses on the outcome of the general elections in Iraq, saying that a "transformation" process will start in the country depending on the balances in the new coalition government. Recalling the Kurdish politicians' strong position in the former Iraqi administration, she says that Kurds might lose their influence if they fail to take place in the new government. She also comments on the political situation in the oil-rich Kirkuk, warning that the conflicts of interest between the Arab groups and the Kurds might lead to the collapse of Turkey's "zero-problem policy with the neighbouring countries."

    ES/


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