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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-03-26

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. 57/10 25-26.03.10

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat wants a joint statement to be issued on 30 March and claims that the Turkish side gave no concessions during the negotiations
  • [02] Eroglu said that the existence of two separate states and peoples must be presented at the negotiations
  • [03] Ertugruloglu wants a new partnership on the basis of the sovereign equality in Cyprus; He met with the German Ambassador to Lefkosia
  • [04] ORP supported the candidature of Mehmet Ali Talat
  • [05] The German ambassador to Cyprus met with the general secretary of UBP
  • [06] Rauf Denktas said that the nationalist forces have united against Talat
  • [07] Ercakica criticises President Christofias for his statement against the so-called TRNC flag
  • [08] Bagis hopeful Cyprus talks will continue after the elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [09] Davutoglu stated that Cyprus was one of the chapters that prevented healthy course of Turkeys EU process
  • [10] Foreign delegates to attend WAPCs executive committee meeting in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus
  • [11] The illegal universities established in occupied Cyprus have signed a number of cooperation protocols with universities abroad
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [12] From the Turkish Press on 24-25 March 2010

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat wants a joint statement to be issued on 30 March and claims that the Turkish side gave no concessions during the negotiations

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (26.03.10) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat has alleged that the internal disorder in the Greek Cypriot side is slowing down the negotiations for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem. In statements at the illegal European University of Lefka (LAU) during his visit to the occupied area of Lefka and Morfou, Mr Talat reiterated that a joint statement will be issued on 30 March within the framework of the negotiations. He noted that the representatives of the leaders are working to turn the 30-page joint text into an understandable text and added that issuing such a statement especially in the period before the elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus is a responsibility they have against the people.

    Saying that we want an early and urgent solution does not mean that we will head towards the solution by giving concessions, said Mr Talat noting that the Turkish side did not give concessions.

    After LAU, Mr Talat visited occupied Lefka and Limnitis villages. Responding to questions of the villagers in Limnitis, Mr Talat said that on Monday at 11.30 hours in the morning they will go to the area together with President Christofias for the launching of the works for the opening of the crossing point in Limnitis area. I think that we will come on a helicopter, said Talat. The paper writes that the two leaders are expected to go there on the helicopter of the UN.

    Referring to the speech of Mr Talat at the illegal LAU, the paper writes that he referred to the Cyprus problem and said that the Turkish Cypriot side which has not been attaching much importance to the negotiations for the solution until 2004, is carrying out a serious, consistent and good negotiating process today.

    Noting that the last meeting of the Cyprus talks before the elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus will be held on 30 March, he said that it is not yet obvious whether there will be a joint statement after that meeting and expressed the wish of the Turkish side for such a statement to be issued.

    During this negotiating process we have registered our gains, claimed Mr Talat and added that during this negotiating process the Greek Cypriot side accepted some issues for the first time.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Eroglu said that the existence of two separate states and peoples must be presented at the negotiations

    Illegal Bayrak television (24.03.10) broadcast the following:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has stressed the need for presenting the reality of the existence of two separate states and peoples with different religious, linguistic and cultural backgrounds in Cyprus, on the negotiations table.

    'If you deny your own state at the table, then minority rights are what you will get' the Premier said, during his gathering with members of the Retired Sergeants Association at a dinner.

    Eroglu stressed that the perpetuation of the TRNC is his fundamental duty, adding that those who applauded the establishment of the TRNC should own the presidential post.

    Stating that the Greek Cypriot Side is offering the Turks of Cyprus a concessionary kind of partnership, the Premier said this in fact serves for the patching of Cyprus Turks into the so-called Republic of Cyprus.

    He warned that offers like cross-voting can lead to weakness in the Cyprus Turkish national identity.

    For his part, the President of the Retired Sergeants Association Esen Ömürlü stressed that the perpetuation of the TRNC as a state will remain as a must for them.

    In addition, Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.10) reports the following:

    Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said on Thursday that solution in Cyprus could only be attained through negotiation, adding that 'however sitting at negotiation table does not mean TRNC will accept everything which the Greek Cypriots want'.

    Eroglu, who also acts as the chairman of National Unity Party (UBP) and candidate for President, criticized the statements of TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat that Turkish Cypriots needed an urgent agreement.

    He said, 'if you sit at negotiation table with this understanding, the other party will continuously ask what other concessions you will make'.

    Eroglu said, 'we also favor agreement in Cyprus, however this agreement can only take place between the two states and two communities. '

    Eroglu denied criticisms that he would not sit at negotiation table if he was elected.

    Moreover, illegal Bayrak television (25.03.10) broadcast the following:

    The TRNC Malatya Culture Society, the Guzelyurt [occupied Morfu] Craftsmen and Artisans Union and the TRNC Refugees Society have voiced their support to Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu who is to compete in Aprils Presidential elections as a candidate of the National Unity Party. Welcoming the support given to him by the three civil society organizations, Prime Minister Eroglu said that the Aprils election is very important for the TRNC people.

    Mr Eroglu stressed that the priority should be given to the protection of the state, adding that he has been struggling to make it possible for next generations to live in peace and security.

    Stressing that claiming the state is an honourable duty, he said 'we should know what we are defending at the table. Only minority rights will be given to you, if you sit at the negotiation table by ignoring the reality of the state', adding that the existence of the TRNC should be taken into consideration while continuing the talks.

    He said that there is a need for a settlement in Cyprus, but added that the Greek Cypriot Side should also feel the need to bring a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    'The view that the Cyprus Turks are in desperate need of a settlement has increased the Greek Cypriot Sides demands for concessions' he noted.

    Responding to the Guzelyurt Craftsmen and Artisans Unions concerns about the future of the region, he said `both we and those living in Guzelyurt have red lines on this issue in spite of the Greek Cypriot Administrations views that the region is within its red lines.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (26.03.10) reports that in statements to Kibrisli TV, Mr Eroglu said that he is in politics since 1976 and he has never been against the negotiations for reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Perhaps Christofias will leave the table when I become president, I will defend our rights, alleged Eroglu adding, inter alia, the following:

    Talat is almost begging Christofias for making a joint statement. He sees this as a guarantee for the elections. No good could come out from negotiations which are carried out with the mentality. I gave absolutely no promise to Serdar Denktas in return of his support in the elections. Talat accepted the single sovereignty and single citizenship without consulting with Turkey. When it was said to him that this was a mistake, he said if I had not accepted it, Christofias would have leave the table. I have to register the fact that two separate sovereign peoples exist and make both Christofias and the world accept this The decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not a decision that makes me too happy. Actually, the ECHR saved itself from a burden. In the end, it was saved from more than 1500 cases.

    [03] Ertugruloglu wants a new partnership on the basis of the sovereign equality in Cyprus; He met with the German Ambassador to Lefkosia

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (26.03.10) reports that Tahsin Ertugruloglu, independent candidate in the presidential elections of 18 April, has alleged that in order for a result to be taken at the negotiating table for reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem, the necessary precondition is for a real basis of equality to be created. In statement to a Turkish Cypriot TV station, he expressed the following views:

    There is a need for a new partnership, which to include the active and effective guarantees of Turkey on the basis of the sovereign equality and this partnership to become a primary law of the European Union. I will continue to oppose to any plan which does not include these elements.

    Mr Ertugruloglu alleged that the resolutions of the UN Security Council are not binding and no sanctions could be imposed on a country which does not implement these decisions. As example for this he gave Turkey which recognizes the breakaway regime in Cyprus and no sanctions were imposed on it.

    Moreover, Star Kibris reports also that Mr Ertugruolglu said he held a two-hour meeting yesterday with the German Ambassador to Lefkosia at Dereboyu Hotel in the occupied part of the divided capital. The paper writes that the German Ambassador did not allow to the press to take any pictures and no information was acquired on the content of the meeting.

    In statements to Star Kibris, Mr Ertugruloglu said that the request for this meeting came from the German embassy and referred to the importance of this development. He noted that Germany did not want to meet with the Turkish Cypriots too often in the past, but during the recent period the number of these meetings increased. Mr Ertugruloglu said that the Cyprus problem was discussed during their meeting yesterday.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] ORP supported the candidature of Mehmet Ali Talat

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (25.03.10), under the title ORP decided unanimously to support Talat, reports that the leader of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) Turgay Avci, announced his partys support to the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat during a press conference on Wednesday.

    Mr Avci said that ORPs party assembly adopted unanimously the proposal to support Mehmet Ali Talats candidature for the so-called presidential elections on 18th of April 2010. He added that they had reached to this decision knowing that this presidential election would play an important role in determining the TRNCs future.

    Noting that they have never made any concessions from the line that has been adopted by the Turkish government, the National Security Council and all the institutions of Turkey, Mr Avci said they support a new partnership that will consist of two equal founding states based on the bi-zonality and the political equality of the two peoples under the active and effective guarantees of Turkey.

    Replying to a question regarding the influence of Ankara in their decision, Mr Avci said that many factors influenced their support to Talat and added that the consultations with Ankara were among these factors. He also said that for years now they have carried out the national cause with Turkey.

    Noting that it is natural for them to consult with the motherland, because without Turkey the political life, the economic structure and the infrastructure in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the opening to the world would not have existed, Mr Avci said that those who think only their personal interests do not consult with motherland and do not take the views of Turkey.

    (DPs)

    [05] The German ambassador to Cyprus met with the general secretary of UBP

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (25.03.10) reports that the German Ambassador in Cyprus, Gottfried Zeitz, met at the headquarters of the National Unity Party (UBP) with Irsen Kucuk, general secretary of UBP. No statement was issued after the meeting.

    (ML)

    [06] Rauf Denktas said that the nationalist forces have united against Talat

    Illegal Bayrak television (25.03.10) broadcast the following:

    The founding President Rauf Denktas has said that nationalist forces have united against President Mehmet Ali Talat who supports single identity and single sovereignty. He said that they were working to make sure that the people dont fall prey to outside interventions.

    Speaking during a visit he paid to the Society of Turkish Combatant Veterans in Ankara, the founding President said that not a single Turk would have remained on the island had it not been for the timely intervention of Turkish forces.

    He also complained that the current negotiations conducted by President Mehmet Ali Talat are aimed at abandoning the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    'A policy of creating single statehood, a single people, single sovereignty, reunification and integration with the world is being currently pursued at the talks' he said.

    The founding President said that nationalist forces had united against President Talat in support of the continuation of the TRNCs existence as well as Turkeys effective guarantees.

    He claimed that outside forces had once again started to interfere in the TRNCs internal affairs, trying to influence public opinion.

    [07] Ercakica criticises President Christofias for his statement against the so-called TRNC flag

    Illegal Bayrak television (25.03.10) broadcast the following:

    While the Cyprus negotiations process resumes, the Greek Cypriot leader Christofias has displayed yet another example of intransigence. Christofias once again revealed his obsession with the TRNC flag on the Besparmak [occupied Pentalaktylos] Mountains, describing it as a freak of nature.

    The Presidential Spokesman condemned the Greek Cypriot leader for his latest comments, calling him to be respectful.

    The Presidential spokesman Hasan Ercakica condemned the Greek Cypriot leaders attack on the TRNC flag.

    He said that Christofias had failed to derive lessons from the past and had insulted the Turks of Cyprus with his ugly words.

    Ercakica also called on the Greek Cypriot leader to respect the TRNC flag, which he said, was a symbol respected and scared for the Turks of Cyprus.

    The leader of the Greek Cypriot Administration had told a group of visiting foreign students that he was shocked every time he saw the TRNC flag on the Besparmak Mountains.

    [08] Bagis hopeful Cyprus talks will continue after the elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (26.03.10) reports the following:

    Turkeys chief EU negotiator has urged Greek Cypriots to do more to seek a peace deal for the divided island and said he did not expect reunification talks to break down after an election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) next month.

    State Minister and chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis also stated in an interview on Wednesday that he was confident Turkey would one day join the bloc but made clear that it was not about to open its ports to Greek Cypriot ships in a dispute that is holding up progress towards accession.

    Bagis said he was hopeful talks would continue after the April 18 presidential election in Turkish Cyprus despite suggestions they would stop if hard-liner Dervis Eroglu ousted Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. 'Would Eroglu be as enthusiastic for a comprehensive solution as Talat? We all need to see. But at least I hope so, ' Bagis told Reuters during a visit to Brussels.

    The dispute over Cyprus has hampered Turkeys bid to join the EU. The EU says Turkey must honor promises it made under a 2005 agreement known as the Ankara Protocol to open its ports and airports to traffic from the Greek Cypriot part of the island.

    Asked whether he expected any movement on the dispute, Bagis said Turkey wanted the EU first to end its international isolation of the KKTC. 'Yes, we can [open up the traffic routes] -- if the EU decides to implement its decision [to end the isolation], ' he said.

    [09] Davutoglu stated that Cyprus was one of the chapters that prevented healthy course of Turkeys EU process

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.10) reports the following:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday Turkey's Ambassador in Stockholm, Zergun Koruturk, will return back to Sweden at the beginning of next week.Speaking in a program on CNN Turk TV channel, Davutoglu said that Ambassador Koruturk, who was recalled after the Swedish Parliament recently adopted a bill on the incidents of 1915, will go back to Stockholm very shortly.

    'The cases in the United States and Sweden are not the same. The Swedish government clearly opposed the adoption of a bill on the incidents of 1915 at the Swedish Parliament. The Swedish government clearly demonstrated its stand on the bill regarding the incidents of 1915, ' Davutoglu stressed.

    Within this frame, statements from Sweden were satisfactory, Davutoglu also said.Davutoglu further said that the recent adoption of a resolution on the incidents of 1915 at the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States House of Representatives has caused deep reaction despite well rooted relations between Turkey and the U.S. adding that there was no problem in the nature of relations between Turkey and the United States.There has been significant progress in the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. Turkey has made enormous contributions in this regard. We will question the sincerity of a country if we are not well understood at a time when we must be actually properly understood. As a principle, we are against the evaluation of history in this fashion, Davutoglu underlined.

    The Turkish foreign minister saw Turkey as a subject in international arena. Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey was a subject in international arena, not an object.

    'This means that Turkey is carrying out its relations on its own, and it does not get any instructions from any one, ' Davutoglu told a televised interview.

    Davutoglu remarks came after allegations that Turkey had started to normalize its relations with Armenia, launched a democratic initiative and a process regarding the seminary in Heybeliada, Istanbul after U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Turkey in April 2009.

    'This is an unjust accusation against the governments of the Republic of Turkey, ' he said.Davutoglu said Turkey would only make necessary consultations with other countries.The Turkish minister defined the normalization process with Armenia as a part of Turkey's program of 'zero problem with neighboring countries'. 'Turkey will be in peace and deep relations with all its neighbors today and tomorrow' he said.Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols on October 10, 2009 to normalize relations between the two countries. The protocols envisage the two countries to establish diplomatic ties and open the border that has been close since 1993. Turkey and Armenia also agreed to take steps to operate a sub-commission on impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archive to define existing problems and formulate recommendations, in which Armenian, Turkish as well as Swiss and other international experts would take part. However, on January 12, 2010, the Constitutional Court of Armenia declared a decision of constitutional conformity on the protocols. Turkey thought the fifth article of Armenian Constitutional Court's verdict regarding the protocols was against the target and basis of the protocols.

    On Iraq, Davutoglu said Turkey was having close relations will all ethnic and political groups in Iraq. 'Iraq policy means northern Iraq policy, and northern Iraq policy means fighting the terrorist organization, ' he said. Davutoglu said Turkey would continue countering terrorism, but saw Iraq as a whole. The foreign minister defined the timing of the democratic initiative during the counter-terrorism process as a right step. 'If our security is taken under guarantee as the area of freedom is broadened, this is a permanent security, ' he said.

    Commenting on stories that German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed privileged partnership to Turkey, Davutoglu said it was not an official remark and Germany was supporting Turkey's European Union (EU) full membership bid.

    Davutoglu said Cyprus was one of the chapters that prevented healthy course of the process.'Unfortunately, the EU has not assumed an objective attitude towards Cyprus, ' he also said. The EU countries had decided in 2006 not to open 8 chapters in accession negotiations and suspending the conclusion of the remaining chapters in process on the grounds that Turkey failed to fulfill its responsibilities stemming from the 'Additional Protocol' to the Association Agreement which stipulates Turkey to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes.

    [10] Foreign delegates to attend WAPCs executive committee meeting in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (26.03.10) reports that 35 delegates are expected to attend the executive committee of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) that will convene in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus. The meeting, which will be hosted by the Turkish Cypriot Press Council, will take place between March 27-29 in occupied Lefkosia. The WAPC President and Chairman of the Press Council of India, Mr Ganendra Narayan Rey; the WAC General Secretary and Chairman of the Press Council of Hawaii, Mr Chris Conybeare; the WAPC Treasurer and Chairman of the Press Council of Turkey, Mr Oktay Eksi; and the WAPC executive committee member and chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Press Council, Mr Ismet Kotak will be among the participants in the meeting. Tomorrow night, the delegates are expected to attend a dinner hosted by the self-styled foreign minister, Huseyin Ozgurgun.

    (EA)

    [11] The illegal universities established in occupied Cyprus have signed a number of cooperation protocols with universities abroad

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (25.03.10) reports that the illegal Cyprus International University (UKU) has signed an educational protocol of cooperation with the Cultural Attache Office of Iraq to Ankara. The protocol provides for cooperation in Master and Doctorate programmes and cooperation in carrying out researches and implementing projects with joint laboratory work. The protocol was signed between Mehmet Ali Yukselen, socalled rector of the illegal UKU and the Iraqi Cultural Attache in Ankara, Mohammad Affan Alhamdany.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (25.03.10) reports that the illegal Eastern Mediterranean University (DAU) has signed an academic protocol of cooperation with the British Warwick University. The protocol which provides for the introduction of a joint Master program was signed between Abdullah Y. Oztoprak, socalled rector of the illegal DAU and the Warwick Manufacturing Group Director, Lord Prof. Dr. Bhattacharyya.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan newspaper (26.03.10) reports that the illegal Near East University (YDU) has signed a cooperation protocol with the University of Bristina. The protocol which provides for the exchange of academicians and students between the two institutions, was signed between the so-called rector of YDU, Umit Hassan and the rector of the Bristina University, Muje Rugova.

    (ML)


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [12] From the Turkish Press on 24-25 March 2010

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 24-25 March 2010:

    a) Constitutional Amendments Package

    Hurriyet Daily (25.03.10) carries an article by Mustafa Akyol who focuses on the Turkish liberals' support for the Justice and Development Party AKP, Government's constitutional amendment package. Drawing attention to the Kemalists' critical approach toward the "alliance between secular liberals and religious conservatives," Akyol notes that this is not an unconditional and steady support, but the liberals believe that the "AKP is still better than its alternatives, and that it has indeed taken the right steps on several important issues." The columnist concludes his article by stressing that "... therefore it won't be surprising to see them vouch for 'yes' in the probable referendum on the constitutional amendment package."

    In an article in the same newspaper (25.03.10), Mehmet Ali Birand says that he disagrees with the Turkish opposition parties, which claim that the ruling AKP does not have the right to change the Constitution before the general elections are held. Birand asserts that "if this system is called democracy then the party that came out of a democratic election has the right to change the constitution." He welcomes the proposed amendments to the Constitution, but notes that it is difficult to describe the judicial changes as a "judicial reform." It can simply be called as "a general change of structure," he adds.

    Milliyet columnist Mehmet Tezkan (25.03.10) says that he sees the government proposal to change the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, HSYK, as a move to strengthen the "regime of presidential tutelage." He argues that the government is planning to take steps to replace the current regime with a presidential system. Recalling that the 1982 Constitution which was adopted after the 1980 military coup aimed to have Kenan Evren remain as the leader of Turkey for seven years and keep the state institutions under his control, Tezkan claims that the ruling AKP is now similarly planning to "broaden" the powers of the president "in the name of democracy." He adds that the president will have the authority of appointing the members of the Constitutional Court and the HSYK if the proposed changes are put into practice.

    In his article entitled "Five Conditions From BDP," Milliyet's Fikret Bila (25.03.10) says that the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, is holding a "key position" in the adoption of the constitutional amendments proposed by the AKP government. Recalling that the government can pass the bill if it secures the support of the BDP, the Democratic Left Party, and the independent deputies, Bila notes the BDP says that it will support the government's constitutional package if it includes the following amendments:

    1. The 10 percent election threshold should be reduced.

    2. The political parties that secured 3 percent of the votes in the general elections, formed a group in the parliament, and opened branches in 41 provinces should be allowed to benefit from the Treasury funding.

    3. The draft law on the "stone-throwing children" should be adopted as soon as possible.

    4. Articles 215, 216, 220, and 314 of the Turkish Penal Code should be changed.

    5. Articles 7 and 8 of the Counterterrorism Law should be changed.

    Bila quotes BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas as saying that his party will not support the amendment package if the AKP refuses to consider their proposals.

    Taraf columnist Yasemin Congar (25.03.10) expresses support for the government's initiative to amend the Constitution, saying that it is an "insufficient" but "significant" move. In her article, Congar criticizes the members of the higher judiciary for their objection to the amendments and accuses them of failing to act in accordance with the requirements of the European Human Rights Convention. Recalling the "open support" Chief of the General Staff Ilker Basbug gave to Third Army Commander General Saldiray Berk who is accused of membership in a terrorist organization, the columnist slams the prosecutors for failing to file a criminal complaint against Gen Basbug, who, she says, violated Article 138 of the Constitution and Article 288 of the Turkish Penal Code. She laments that the members of the higher judiciary respect the military more than they respect the Constitution. Congar concludes by saying: "The AKP can win this struggle if it appropriately manages the process by ignoring the calls for 'compromise' voiced by the opponents of transformation and by giving priority to global norms and public expectations."

    A column by Oral Calislar of Radikal (25.03.10) also says that regardless of the fact that he finds the constitutional amendment package "insufficient," he can understand the AKP's willingness to make an amendment that will preserve it against the "permanent threat of a closure case." Arguing that the present Constitution which was drawn up by those who staged a military coup in 1980 ignores the public will, Calislar sees its amendment as an "urgent need" and says that any initiative toward a new Constitution should be supported.

    Pointing out, in commentary in Hurriyet (25.03.10), that the government is claiming that the constitutional amendment package is aimed at aligning Turkey's Constitution with EU standards, Mehmet Yilmaz maintains that this is not so, because the government's plan to "submit the entire package at once to a referendum does not conform with the criteria of the Venice Commission." Referring to the prime minister's accusation that the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, HSYK, wants to seize the executive and legislative authorities, Yilmaz suggests that it is the prime minister himself who wants to do that, given that he handpicks the party's parliamentarians. With this package, Yilmaz asserts, the prime minister also wants to control the judiciary, in contravention of the democratic principle of the separation of powers.

    In a column in the same newspaper (25.03.10), Sedat Ergin lauds the latest declaration issued by "the country's prominent intellectuals" regarding the recent reform package as "a guiding document that approaches the existing debate in a cool-headed and logical way." The declaration, Ergin explains, is in favor of changing the current Constitution in its entirety and replacing it with a democratic constitution advocating equality and freedoms. Moreover, he says, such a constitution must be achieved through a broad consensus to include all political parties and nongovernmental organizations, without causing polarization or tension in the society. Ergin welcomes the declaration, which also calls for lowering the election threshold, as it displays an independent reaction to the government proposal.

    Hurriyet's Cuneyt Ulsever (25.03.10) asserts that the Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, will play a key role in the vote for the constitutional amendment package. Ulsever pledges to follow the moves of the BDP and its negotiations with the government. Pointing that he does not expect the BDP to represent the entire Turkish people, or object to the issues concerning parliamentary immunity and party closures, Ulsever remarks, however, that the BDP should not make concessions over the 10-percent election threshold. This will be the sincerity test for the BDP, Ulsever concludes.

    Writing in Milliyet (25.03.10), Asli Aydintasbas argues that as things stand now, if a person supports the government's amendment package, he is labeled a reformist, and if he is opposed to it, he is accused of being in favor of the status quo. "It is as though if you want a democratic Turkey you should say 'Yes we can' in the referendum, and you should say 'No, no, no!' if you want to remain secular," Aydintasbas states. What about those of us who fall between the cracks, she asks, those who are both secular and liberal and who fear the absolute power of the majority even as they champion liberal values? Should we say yes or no? Aydintasbas opines that the package is trying to "touch up" a lame system, where the executive, legislative, and judicial authorities are intermingled, and where there are no checks and balances. It is neither a proper parliamentary system, nor a presidential one, she remarks, suggesting that a presidential system is what Turkey needs.

    Can Atakli, writing in a column in Vatan (25.03.10), asserts that "any sensible person knows and sees that the proposed constitutional amendment package does not aim at enhancing democracy and freedoms or ensuring the supremacy of the law," and its only aim is to "increase the power of the government and eliminate possible legal threats." Atakli bemoans the lack of active opposition on the part of the CHP, which he says should join the debate and "present a real constitutional amendment package."

    An editorial in the same newspaper (25.03.10) contends that "this deeply divisive 'reform' is now packaged with assorted sweeteners on which everyone agrees, including more protections for children, more guarantees of equal opportunity for women and other good things." The editorial expresses the belief that Turkey indeed needs a new constitution, but concludes: "Please, spare us the arguments that this is an exercise in strengthening the institutions of Turkish democracy. Don't tell us this is driven by the AKP's commitment to elevate Turkey to the standards of harmony with the European Union. It is simply a naked power grab and a court-packing plan. It is no more, no less."

    In an article entitled "Time To Democratize the Legal System" Yeni Safak columnist Yalcin Akdogan (25.03.10), writing under the pseudonym Yasin Dogan, makes out a case for the judicial reforms proposed in the latest constitutional amendment package unveiled by the ruling AKP. He argues that democracy in the true sense of the word cannot be established in this country as long as the judicial system fails to internalize democratic values and is governed by an administrative structure that cannot operate its own internal democratic mechanisms, adding that a judicial mindset that perceives Parliament, "the embodiment of the national will," as a threat and "labels the legitimacy provided by national sovereignty as politicization" poses the greatest obstacle to democracy.

    In an article entitled "Use Your Right To Remain Silent" on page 11, Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak (25.03.10), argues that objecting to Parliament being empowered to make appointments to the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, HSYK, on the grounds that this is contrary to the principle of the separation of powers, as some higher judicial officials who are critical of the constitutional amendment package are doing, is not any different from objecting to Parliament exercising its legislative authorities. He asks members of the judiciary "opposed to judicial reform" why they have refrained from voicing any opposition to militarism, coups, Fascism, the deep state, attempted military takeovers, etc in the past before he goes on to advise them to "use your right to remain silent because anything you say can be used against you."

    Under the headline, "Venice Commission Expresses Full Support for Constitutional Package," Zaman (25.03.10) runs a front-page report which highlights a statement by Thomas Markert, General Secretary of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, saying that they are happy with the proposed changes in the constitutional amendment package drawn up by the AKP.

    In an article entitled "A Constitution is Not Always a Constitution", Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone (25.03.10) asserts that the debate trigged by the latest constitutional amendment package does not merely signify a disagreement over the Constitution but a power struggle between the elected authority and the Establishment as represented by the political Opposition and the judicial and military bureaucracy. He also emphasizes the "critical" quality of the amendment proposed to Article 145 of the Constitution, asserting that if this article is changed, "everything will change in Turkey" because the military will be forced by the Constitution to fulfill its essential functions only.

    In an article entitled "Constitutional Amendment: A New Tie on an Old Suit", Today's Zaman columnist Kerim Balci (25.03.10) argues that absent "a brand new constitution," any amendments to the current constitution will not be effective beyond "the facts on the ground," namely "the legal paradigm of the 1982 Constitution. What is needed is a new paradigm, a new way of thinking. The AK Party government and the 24th Parliament have failed to do that."

    In an article entitled "A Constitution Should Unify the Nation Not Polarize It", Milli Gazete columnist Abdullah Ozkan (25.03.10) asserts that the social "tension" and controversy caused by the draft constitutional package have established that the public does not have confidence in the Government's good faith in its bid to change the Constitution. He also questions the AKP's sincerity in taking steps to pass constitutional amendments some seven years after coming to power.

    b) German Chancellor Merkel's Messages to Turkey

    In an article entitled "Insistent on Privileged Partnership," Milliyet columnist Semih Idiz (25.03.10) says that German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to a group of Turkish journalists prior to her official visit to Turkey on 29-30 March. Outlining Merkel's messages, Idiz says that Merkel seems to be insisting on her proposal of a "privileged partnership" instead of a full membership in the EU. Noting that the Cyprus issue will be the main topic of discussion during her Turkey visit, Idiz notes that Merkel clearly indicated that she will ask Ankara to take action for the opening of the Turkish ports to Greek Cypriot vessels in accordance with the requirements of the Ankara Protocol. He goes on to add that Merkel believes the debate over privileged partnership will not negatively affect the Turkey-EU relations and that it will not lead to a "change of axis" in Turkey. Idiz concludes by saying that Merkel rejected the argument over the assimilation of the Turks living in Germany, stressing that they are only expected to comply with the laws and the traditions of the country they live in and act in accordance with the "national adaptation plan."

    c) Turkey-US Relations

    Hurriyet (25.03.10) carries the second of an unspecified number of installments of an article by columnist Sedat Ergin who continues to write about the deterioration in the Turkish-US relations since the approval of the Armenian genocide bill by the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ergin recalls Ankara's decision to cancel the Turkish-American Council meetings that would be held between 11 and 14 April and notes that "Ankara's boycott" changed a "significant tradition" in bilateral relations which started almost 30 years ago. Noting that Prime Minister Erdogan even plans not to attend the Nuclear Energy Summit to be hosted by President Obama, Ergin asserts that the US side thinks that Erdogan is overreacting to the House voting despite the verbal guarantee given to him that the bill will not be brought to the attention of the Congress. The columnist also points to the importance of the message President Obama will gave in his 24 April speech, noting that the Turkish and US sides are unlikely to overcome the current crisis before that date. According to the writer, the disagreement between Ankara and Washington over the new sanctions to be imposed on Iran is another potential crisis between the two countries. He argues that Obama paying his first official overseas visit to Turkey and the AKP government's decision to stop asking for IMF support seem to have made Erdogan consider himself "indispensable in the eyes of the United States."

    Milli Gazete (24.03.10) published an interview entitled "Those Who Claim Genocide Took Place Shun Archives" with Professor Yusuf Halacoglu, former Chairman of the Turkish Historical Society. Halacoglu argues against the description of the events of 1915 in Ottoman Turkey as a campaign of genocide or ethnic cleansing against the Armenian people. He claims that advocates of the genocide argument object to the truth of their contentions being tested by historical archives because they know that their assertions are not borne out by the facts. He also puts the number of Armenian deaths during the deportation caused by attacks, illness, or starvation at 240,000 and argues that there are no documents to support the claim that some 1,5 million Armenians lost their lives during that time.

    EI


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