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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-03-31

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 60/10 31.03.10

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] The 71st meeting between Cyprus President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat
  • [02] Talat says he will soon issue a statement on the progress during the Cyprus talks
  • [03] Talat says that in six years he has served the TRNC more than those who accuse him that he does not believe in it
  • [04] The settlers from Adana support Eroglu; Eroglu alleges that peace exists on the island and it should be declared to the world through an agreement
  • [05] Serdar Denktas: The main policy followed on the Cyprus issue is prepared together with Turkey
  • [06] Ertugruloglu says he will launch a new political movement after the elections
  • [07] UBP filed a complaint against Mehmet Ali Talats candidature for violating articles of the election law
  • [08] Turkish newspaper alleges that German ships under the Cyprus flag are the reason behind Chancellor Merkels demand for Turkey to open its ports to Cyprus
  • [09] EU Enlargement Commissioner: It is not only in Turkeys interest but also the EUs to continue the accession process
  • [10] A constitutional reform package is submitted to Parliament
  • [11] Turkish Ambassador returns to Sweden
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [12] Turkish Columnist writes that Ankara is trying hard for ECHRs ruling on the Immovable Property Committee to have an impact on the Orams case
  • [13] Angela Merkels visit

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] The 71st meeting between Cyprus President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat

    Illegal Bayrak television (30.03.10) broadcast the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias have concluded another round of negotiations aimed at bringing a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem. In a statement issued at the end of Tuesdays meeting, the two leaders said: 'We are encouraged by the important progress we have made so far on the chapters of Governance and Power-sharing, EU Matters and the Economy and we are convinced that with perseverance we shall achieve a comprehensive settlement'.

    Reading out the statement on behalf of the two leaders, UN Envoy Alexander Downer said: 'While the negotiations remain confidential, it is recognized that the leaders may explain to their communities the progress made so far and the differences that still need to be resolved. We have been engaged in a serious effort to find a solution to the Cyprus problem in the shortest possible time. We express our appreciation to the UN Secretary- General for his good offices mission entrusted to him by the Security Council and for his efforts aimed at finding a mutually agreed solution of the Cyprus problem. We underscore that negotiations are being conducted under the overriding principle of the integrated whole approach, which means 'Nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed'.

    The two leaders say they are convinced that their mutual concern for the common good of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and their will for a comprehensive solution will soon lead them to an exhaustive discussion of the remaining aspects of the Cyprus problem and the overcoming of the divergence positions, so as to achieve a mutually acceptable solution, that will be put to separate simultaneous referenda.Todays meeting was the last to be held between the two leaders before next months presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    Moreover, Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.10) reports the following:

    The head of the United Nations (UN) said on Tuesday that today's joint statement released by the Cypriot leaders highlighted their stronger than ever commitment to a settlement in Cyprus.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a written statement that Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias' joint statement also underscored the important progress achieved in the chapters of Governance and Power-sharing and European Union matters.

    The Cyprus problem has remained unresolved for too long. Both Mr Christofias and Mr Talat are leaders with courage and vision and they have taken enormous political risks to carry the process forward, the UN head said.

    The Gecretary-General also called on the leaders to continue their work to find a solution to the Cyprus problem which would take into full consideration the legitimate rights and concerns of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

    A settlement is in the interest of all Cypriots, leading to stability, reconciliation and greater prosperity for Cyprus. It would also represent a critical peace dividend for the entire region, the UN SG said.

    On the same issue, Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.10) reports the following:

    The head official of the European Commission has expressed his appreciation over the joint statement announced by the leaders of the Turkish and Greek communities in Cyprus on Tuesday.

    Releasing a written statement, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said the joint statement showed the level of commitment and responsibility that President Mehmet Ali Talat of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias are putting in the settlement talks on the island.

    The statement shows, also, the important progress achieved since the full fledged negotiations started on September 3, 2008. These achievements clearly demonstrate that a settlement is in reach and that there is a chance to finalize the talks in the next few months, Barroso said.

    Expressing the Commission's full support to the two leaders' efforts aiming at the rapid solution of the matter, Barroso said: The Commission follows very closely the development of the talks and hopes that this long standing conflict on European soil will come to an end.

    [02] Talat says he will soon issue a statement on the progress during the Cyprus talks

    Under the title there is no joint statement, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.03.10) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has stated that issuing a statement before the elections in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus and informing the people about the stage the negotiations between himself and President Christofias have reached is necessary because of ethical reasons.

    In statements at his office yesterday after the conclusion of the last meeting of the Cyprus talks before the illegal elections in the occupied areas, Mr Talat said that within the next few days he would announce to the people the progress made during the negotiations. He noted that he would inform the people about the situation based on the joint texts of the negotiations.

    Mr Talat said that the progress and the convergence have been confirmed in the statement issued yesterday after the last meeting of the talks and therefore they stressed that the remaining issues within the framework of the negotiations will be taken up in the coming days.

    Asked on the content of the statement of the leaders to their communities, Mr Talat said that there would be no joint text and added that he does not know if President Christofias will issue a statement.

    Mr Talat said: We will issue our statement. I do not know whether or not the Greek Cypriot side will issue its own statement. However, in any case both statements will be the same, because we will make our statement based on the joint texts. We are not going to make statements based on our own views outside the joint texts. Therefore, when the joint texts are announced, they will be in any case the same in both sides.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Talat says that in six years he has served the TRNC more than those who accuse him that he does not believe in it

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.03.10) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat has stated that he has served the TRNC, breakaway regime in the occupied areas of Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriots more than those who say that they will promote the TRNC and have it recognized and accuse him of not believing in the TRNC.

    In statements at occupied Chatoz village, Mr Talat said: If you want, we can make a comparison. We can compare the actions which those who say I will make the TRNC live did over a period of 35 years and my actions over a period of six years.

    Mr Talat noted that the UN Security Council had adopted resolutions against Turkey and the TRNC in the past, while during his own term expressions praising the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey were used in all UN reports. Noting that those who want to take the Turkish Cypriots back to the dark past and challenge the world have been mobilized again and established an alliance. Mr Talat said that after so many steps forward, they will never allow a return to the past.

    Mr Talat replied to the accusations that the world supports Talat and noted: They are complaining that the world supports Talat. Whom they would support? Whom they would support if not a leader who wants to carry his people to the world, make his people citizens of the world and speaks the same language with the world? Would they support those who have the talent of being isolated by the world, those who know only to challenge the world?

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] The settlers from Adana support Eroglu; Eroglu alleges that peace exists on the island and it should be declared to the world through an agreement

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.03.10) reports that a delegation from the Culture and Integration Association of the Turkish settlers who illegally came to the occupied areas of Cyprus from Adana, has visited Dervis Eroglu, prime minister and candidate for the illegal presidential elections, and expressed its support to his candidature.

    Hatice Kul, member of the administrative council of the association, stated that they decided to support Eroglu and they know that Eroglu supports peace. In any case, peace exists on our island. Soon we will visit you as president, she alleged.

    In his statements, Mr Eroglu alleged that peace continues on the island and that peace should be declared to the world through an agreement.

    Meanwhile, in statements during a meeting with the Movement for Bright Future (AYH), Mr Eroglu reiterated that in case he wins the presidential elections he will establish a National Council and a Peoples Council consisting of civilian organizations representing various parts of society. He noted that with these councils, he plans to find out and bring to the negotiating table the views of those parts of the society which are not represented in the parliament.

    Mr Eroglu described as an important development the correspondence of the AYH with the Australian Ministry of Environment and the carrying out of the project for using economic bulbs, supported by Australia and Canada, to the occupied areas of Cyprus. Mr Eroglu wished for the positive work of the AYH to continue.

    The chairman of AYH, Anil Kaya, handed over the correspondence they had had with the Australian Minister of Environment regarding the project and asked for the implementation of the project in the occupied areas of Cyprus. He said that the project has been launched by Australia and Canada and is on the agenda of the 27 EU member states.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Serdar Denktas: The main policy followed on the Cyprus issue is prepared together with Turkey

    Turkish Cypriot daily Bakis newspaper (31.03.10) reports that Serdar Denktas, chairman of the Democratic Party (DP), speaking during a program of Kibris television, has stated that the main policy followed in the Cyprus problem is prepared together with Turkey. Replying to questions of young people coming from the youth organizations of the political parties represented in the assembly, Mr Denktas noted that the details and the negotiating method in the negotiations is a responsibility undertaken by the negotiator in consultation with Turkey.

    Responding to a question, Mr Denktas alleged that Turkey does not decide on issues such as the number of the ministers in the cabinet, the term of the rotating presidency etc. One of these issues is the cross voting. This is a proposal brought to the table by the Greek Cypriot side. Talat was the one who conveyed the issue to Turkey and suggested its acceptance, noted Denktas.

    Replying to another question, he admitted that he said that Mr Eroglu has no experience on foreign policy issues, but added that Mr Talat had also no experience when he assumed his duties. Mr Denktas reminded that Mr Eroglu says he would establish a national council and argued that this will overcome the problem created by his inexperience in the negotiations.

    Mr Denktas claimed, inter alia, the following: The two sides will come to the table as sovereign. They will discuss the transferring to the common state of one part of the powers deriving from their sovereignty. The powers which are not transferred to the central state are yours, because you are sovereign and the fact that these powers belong to you is indisputable. I support this solution. I support any kind of agreement where equality, sovereignty and Turkeys active and effective guarantees continue. Eroglu is an opportunity for solution. The solution agreement which he will make is going to be a more sound and viable agreement.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] Ertugruloglu says he will launch a new political movement after the elections

    Turkish Cypriot daily Haberdar newspaper (31.03.10) reports that Tahsin Ertugruloglu, candidate in the illegal presidential elections, has said that his political action will not remain limited to the illegal presidential elections and added that he will launch a political movement after these elections depending on the percentage of votes he will get.

    In an interview with Rasih Resat, general director of Haberdar, Mr Ertugruloglu stated that he will work for a change of regime in the occupied areas of Cyprus. He said that in case the climate for freely discussing the issue of adopting the presidential system and for launching a work on this issue is not created after the elections, it will be meaningless to stay in politics. He said that the breakaway regime is not administered with the appropriate regime for the past 36 years.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] UBP filed a complaint against Mehmet Ali Talats candidature for violating articles of the elections law

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (31.03.10) reports that the National Unity Party (UBP) of the self - styled prime minister, Dervis Eroglu, has filed a complaint to the so-called Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) against the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, on the grounds that he has violated the elections law with his presence in the ceremony held at the Limnitis crossing point on March 29, 2010.

    The complaint was filed by Irsen Kucuk, general secretary of UBP, and according to Mr Kucuks statements, while Mr Talat was running as an independent candidate in the so-called presidential elections of April 18, 2010, he attended and participated under the status of the president in the inauguration ceremony organized at the Limnitis crossing point to mark the launching of the infrastructure works in the area.

    According to Mr Kucuk, Mehmet Ali Talat has violated Articles 80. and 81. of the 5/76 Elections and Public Voting Law and other articles by using the presidential car for his transportation, attending the ceremony accompanied with bureaucrats of the presidency and making statements and speeches which contain propagandistic elements.

    (ML)

    [08] Turkish newspaper alleges that German ships under the Cyprus flag are the reason behind Chancellor Merkels demand for Turkey to open its ports to Cyprus

    Under the title, German ships in the Greek Cypriot fleet, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet newspaper (31.03.10) reports that the reason behind the insistence of German Chancellor Merkel, during her visit to Ankara and her meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that Turkey should open its ports to the Greek Cypriots ships and aircraft, is the fact that there are several German ships which carry the Cyprus flag. As the paper writes, there are 216 ships belonging to German ship-owners in the Greek Cypriot merchant marine fleet and Germany holds the second place in that fleet, after Greece which owns 340 ships. The paper goes on and writes that Chancellor Merkels statement that the Ankara Protocol must be implemented because the Cyprus problem has not been solved has brought to the agenda the political stance of the Berlin government and the economic interests of Germany in the Mediterranean Sea.

    As the paper reports, Turkeys maritime transportation share is calculated at around 2.5 billion dollars. If we add the oil coming from Baku-Tiflis-Ceyhan, the above-mentioned number is estimated at around 3.5-4 billion dollars, the paper writes. Citing information from a report prepared by the Danish Ship-owners Association, the paper writes that Cyprus is among the first ten countries in the world maritime transportation, holding 2.5% of the world tonnage.

    (EA)

    [09] EU Enlargement Commissioner: It is not only in Turkeys interest but also the EUs to continue the accession process

    EurActiv online media on EU affairs publishes (30.03.10), inter alia, the following interview with the newly appointed EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule:

    Q: Your predecessor, Olli Rehn, said his biggest disappointment was the lack of progress on the Cyprus problem. On your first visit to Turkey as the enlargement commissioner, Turkey apparently signalled that it would not change its position and would not open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels. Also, UN reunification talks are not really advancing will the EU play a bigger role in these talks in the future?

    A: Im not sure that I share the view that the talks are not moving forward. It is a very complex issue that has existed since 1974 and there is a huge division between the communities, so I am encouraged by what the two leaders have been able to achieve so far. They need encouragement from the EU and that is exactly what they are getting.

    The EU cannot be a substitute for the UN but that does not mean that we are not working with all parties concerned. Last year, Commission President José Manuel Barroso appointed a special representative to the UN office in Cyprus to help both parties discuss EU issues and I think this support and assistance will be strengthened in the coming months.

    Q:The negotiation process with Turkey is due to stop at the end of this year due to the suspension of most chapters some frozen by the Commission due to the Cyprus stalemate and others by certain member states so what would be your message to these EU countries and to Turkey? Does the Commission have an emergency plan to keep accession talks afloat?

    A: I strongly believe that is it not only in Turkeys interest but also the EUs to continue the accession process. This is the most effective way for Turkey to implement reforms and I believe it is the best way to find a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue. So while some speculate that the process could stop, I am confident that a solution will be found to ensure that accession talks with this strategically important country will continue.

    Q: From time to time, Turkey says it has alternative options without spelling out what they actually are. Do you think this is the right way for them to present their position?

    A: There may be speculation about alternative options, but the most important thing is that there are no alternatives on the table. What is on the table is a serious accession process.

    [10] A constitutional reform package is submitted to Parliament

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.10) reports the following:

    The Turkish government's constitutional amendment bill includes 26 articles.

    The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party submitted the 26-article constitutional amendment bill to the Office of the Parliament on Tuesday. The bill envisages amendments to 23 articles of the Constitution, and abolition of the provisional Article 15 of the Constitution.

    It also paves the way for the trial of the parliament speaker, the chief of general staff, and senior commanders by the High Tribunal on charges of crimes they commit vis-a-vis their positions.

    According to the bill, the Constitutional Court will consist of 17 permanent members. It currently has 11 permanent and four associate members. The Turkish parliament will elect three members by secret voting, whereas the president will choose ten members among candidates of several state institutions and choose four other himself.

    The Constitutional Court will not be comprised of three chambers, which was an amendment foreseen in the previous bill prepared by the AK Party last week.

    The bill also limits the term in office of Constitutional Court members. It says members will be elected for 12 years, and no one can be elected to membership twice. Also, citizens can make individual applications to the Constitutional Court.

    The bill will also abolish the ban on the right to general strike; it paves the way for a citizen to become a member of more than one trade unions, and for civil servants and other public officials to have the right to collective bargaining.

    According to the bill, the Court of Accounts will make the financial audit of political parties. A lawsuit to close a political party can only be filed with the votes of two-thirds of a committee to be set up by five members from each political party represented in parliament. The lawsuit can be filed under a request of the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

    The Constitutional Court will not decide whether or not to close down a political party, but it can only decide whether to partially or to totally deprive a party of state assistance according to the importance of the act in question. Under the bill, no one can lose his/her deputyship.

    The bill also paves the way for the trial of decisions of the Supreme Military Council. Military courts will only be entrusted to deal with military crimes committed by military personnel. General courts will deal with crimes against state security and constitutional order, and civilians cannot be tried by military courts except at war time.

    According to the bill, the structure of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) will change. The permanent members of the board will rise to 21 from 7, and the number of its associate members will rise to 10 from 5. They will be elected for four years, and can be re-elected after their terms in office end. The head of the board will continue to be the justice minister. Also, the undersecretary of the justice ministry will take part in the board.

    The bill also provides for the abolition of provisional article 15 of the constitution which does not allow trial of the members of the Council of National Security formed after the military intervention on September 12, 1980.

    Also, the bill adds three provisional articles to the Constitution, one of which makes the amendments to the structure of the Constitutional Court also valid in any ongoing case. The current associate members of the Constitutional Court will become permanent members.

    If the bill is to be put to referendum, it will be voted as a whole.

    The Turkish government made public a constitutional amendment bill on March 22 which envisaged some of the above mentioned amendments. Opposition parties which are sceptical of the government bill, severely criticized the attempt and said the move aimed at taking over and politicising the judiciary.

    The Supreme Court, the Council of State and the Supreme Court of Judges have also severely criticised the bill and accused the government of attempting to infiltrate into the judiciary. The government, which denies accusations, argues that the bill aims at making Turkey more democratic in line with EU expectations.

    The bill needs to get 367 votes in order to be adopted. If it receives somewhere between 330 votes and 366 votes the government may put it to referendum. If it receives less than 330 votes the bill will be rejected. AK Party holds 337 seats in the parliament. However, Parliament, speakers are not allowed to vote in the Parliament, which reduces potential votes in favour of the bill to 336.

    Both the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) declared they would not support the bill.

    On the same issue, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News newspaper (online, 30.03.10), under the title: EUs Fule urges dialogue, compromise for Turkish reform package reports the following:

    Having welcomed the introduction of the constitutional amendments package to Parliament, the European Commission urged Turkish political parties to engage into a broader dialogue and compromise to reach a consensus.

    Given the crucial importance of these reforms for the future of the country, it is equally important that the broadest possible consultation takes place, involving all political parties and civil society, in a spirit of dialogue and compromise, Stefan Füle said in a written statement following the submission of the major constitutional amendments package to Parliament.

    In this way all views and sensitivities can be expressed and Turkey as a whole can contribute to the much needed consensus behind this major reform, he said.

    The EU was criticizing the government for slowing down the reform process. The package stands as the first major governmental move in the direction of future EU membership since the 2007 general elections.

    A revised Constitution is needed in Turkey to allow for a number of key reforms - which aim at enhancing the democratic standards, human rights and the rule of law, and thus improving the daily life of Turkish citizens, Füle said. I am happy that this objective is broadly accepted today within the Turkish society and over major parts of the political spectrum.

    [11] Turkish Ambassador returns to Sweden

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (30.03.10) reports the following:

    Turkey's ambassadress to Sweden, told reporters that she was going back to Sweden after she had held consultations in Ankara on the Swedish parliament's adopting the resolution acknowledging Armenian allegations regarding the incidents of 1915. 'In diplomacy, calling back an ambassador to his/her country for consultations is a serious reaction, and even a protest', she said

    Koruturk said Turkey demonstrated that reaction and the Swedish government in no way approved the decision of the Parliament. 'The Swedish constitution authorizes the government to deal with foreign policy, and therefore this decision is only recommendatory, ' she said. Koruturk said the Swedish government had clearly stated that it would not implement that decision. Ambassadress Koruturk flew to Turkey immediately after the adoption of the resolution.

    Foreign ministers of the two countries met in Finland afterwards, and Swedish prime minister called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and apologized for the developments.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [12] Turkish Columnist writes that Ankara is trying hard for ECHRs ruling on the Immovable Property Committee to have an impact on the Orams case

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News newspaper (online, 30.03.10) publishes the following commentery by Fulya Ozerkan under the title EU move may untie Cyprus knot:

    The EU pushes for a swift fix on Cyprus. While the European court ruling that recognizes an official mechanism in northern Cyprus forces the Greek Cypriots to choose between a solution or a domestic remedy body in the north, the EU is seeking formulas to pass a once-promised direct trade package for the Turkish Cypriots.

    Unwilling to let its strategic interests be taken hostage by the Greek Cypriots, the European Union is looking for formulas that will both help sustain peace talks on the divided island and overcome the deadlock of Turkeys European Union process.

    One of the first signs is a recent ruling by the Strasbourg-based European Court, which for the first time recognized an official institution in northern Cyprus, saving Turkey from paying millions of euros in compensation to the Greek Cypriots.

    'The European courts verdict acknowledging the presence of a functioning mechanism in northern Cyprus provided the Greek Cypriots with the right to choose between two alternatives: either a comprehensive settlement or handling of property disputes by an official commission in northern Cyprus, ' said a senior Turkish diplomat, who noted that there are about 1,500 Greek Cypriot complaints before the Immovable Property Commission in the north.

    The court ruling is a source of hope for Turkey, which was fined many times in the past over property disputes by the European court. Ankara is now trying hard for the ruling to have an impact on another property dispute involving a British couple - commonly known as the Orams case.

    The case centers on British couple Linda and David Orams, who purchased and built a house on a plot of land in northern Cyprus that belonged to a Greek Cypriot. The Court of Appeals in London ruled the British couple must demolish and abandon their holiday home. This came as a shock to the Turkish side, which warned the decision would negatively impact the ongoing negotiations between the Cypriot leaders, who are also discussing the property chapter, one of the hardest issues of the Cyprus question.

    'The European courts ruling should impact the Orams case. We are working to this end, 'said the same diplomat.

    Subtitle: Direct trade

    Another EU sign for the Greek Cypriots, who were upset by the European court ruling, came when Brussels showed willingness to re-discuss the direct trade package promised to the Turkish Cypriots after their 'yes' vote for the UN peace plan, known as the Annan plan. The package failed to pass due to the Greek Cypriot blockade.

    'With the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU is planning to realize one more time the direct trade regulations', said Ali Erel, president of the Turkish Cypriot EU Association.

    Observers expect direct trade regulations will be submitted for the approval of the European Parliament by June, and if the Parliaments report is adopted, it will be submitted to the June EU Council summit, where a qualified vote - instead of a unanimous vote - will be sought. That is seen as a formula to overcome the Greek Cypriot veto.

    'That will open the way for direct trade with northern Cyprus, which is under embargoes, ' said Erel.

    Observers say that will give Turkey an upper hand to extend the Ankara Agreement with EU member Greek Cyprus in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed on the Turkish Cypriots. While such a move would remove certain member states' vetoes on Turkish negotiations, it would help open at least eight to nine suspended chapters in the Turkey-EU talks.

    However, observers note that all the procedures depend on the result of the presidential elections in the north set for April 18 and the negotiations between the Cypriot leaders.

    Subtitle: Last meeting before elections

    The Cypriot leaders met Tuesday marking the last talks before the presidential elections. After a disagreement over making a joint declaration or not, the leaders agreed to make a statement to their respective communities. According to Turkish diplomatic sources, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will make a comprehensive declaration and inform the public on the negotiations Thursday.

    According to the joint declaration read by U.N. special envoy Alexander Downer, while the negotiations remain confidential, those involved recognize that leaders may explain to their communities the progress made so far and the differences that still need to be resolved.

    We underscore the fact that negotiations are being conducted under the overriding principle of the integrated whole approach, which means that 'nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed, said the authors of the declaration.

    [13] Angela Merkels visit

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (online, 31.03.10) publishes the following commentary by Dogu Ergil:

    Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany paid a two-day visit to Turkey amid rising tension that was born of her refusal of Turkeys full membership in the EU and her Turkish counterparts bold answers, such as accusing her of harboring hatred toward Turks.

    Did her arrival and contacts with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan and President Abdullah Gül defuse this tension? Somewhat. Mr. Erdogan s proposal to open Turkish high schools in Germany for Turkish youngsters was accepted by Ms. Merkel on the condition that these schools would not inhibit Turkish children from learning sufficient German and integrating into the society they are living in. It couldnt be otherwise because neither the Turkish migrant population that has settled in Germany would want schools to detach their children from the culture of the society they have opted to live in, nor would the German authorities allow an alien population to perpetually recreate itself and remain distant from the society they should be a productive part of. So Erdoan s emphasis on Turkish high schools in Germany was more of a tactical and emotional effort of getting something back when higher expectations were not met.

    Other than that, not much was cooked up between the two heads of government. Ms. Merkel reiterated her stance on Turkeys association with the European Union in a special way but offered no future in it. She emphasized the need for Turkey to recognize the Greek Cypriot government as the sole legitimate political body and open her ports to Cypriot ships and planes. However, the Turkish government had no stomach for this.

    This means large parts of the membership negotiations will remain blocked because of Turkeys refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot goods and vessels. Turkeys refusal to grant trade privileges to Cyprus has led Brussels to freeze talks in eight of the 35 chapters that candidates must successfully negotiate prior to membership. Of course, EU member states expediently forget the fact that it was not the Turks but the Greeks of Cyprus who turned down the chance to create a mutual government in a referendum held on the island back in 2004.

    Ms Merkel did not depart from supporting her countrys ban on dual citizenship, which makes it impossible for Turks in Germany to acquire German passports while keeping their Turkish ID papers. Her reasoning was straightforward: What we want is people who live among us over several generations to integrate into this country; that obviously involves learning the German language and obeying German laws.

    Once again she raised Turkish hackles by reiterating her long-standing opposition to Turkish membership in the EU, offering Ankara a privileged partnership, a unique status that has not been conferred on any other country that has negotiated its way to membership. For Ms Merkel, this meant that Turkey could conform to some 80 percent of EU law. It did not take too long to get the Turkish sides reply. Such a thing as a privileged partnership does not exist, so we do not take that option seriously, said Egemen Ba1, state minister and chief EU negotiator. He added: At times, I feel insulted by being offered something which does not exist.

    It is almost certain that the existing political tensions between Germany and Turkey will grow as Turkey builds itself into a formidable regional power straddling Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, while Europes economic woes grow and its solidarity declines together with its self-confidence. In fact, this trend has put many Turks off their initial desire for membership in the EU. What was once 70 percent support for the EU has dwindled to 38 percent nowadays.

    Ms Merkel urged the Turkish leaders to back Western allies in imposing a possible fresh set of sanctions over Irans suspected efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. If Iran fails to take a clear step shortly, we will decide on the sanctions issue. ... Germany would be very happy if we could vote together with the United States, Europe and Turkey, she said. In return, Erdogan emphasized that he remained opposed to new sanctions against Iran and preferred diplomacy until Iran is proven to be doing wrong.

    Despite a friendly but relatively fruitless visit, there are two very important factors that unite Germany and Turkey. Primarily, the two countries are principal economic partners in the European theater. Bilateral trade amounted to almost 25 billion euros ($36 billion) in 2008. More than 4,000 German companies operate or have partnerships in Turkey. Secondly, close to 3 million Turks in Germany link the two countries economically, politically (there are German politicians of Turkish-Kurdish descent) and socially -- there are many mixed marriages. A part of the economic value produced in Germany is due to this large Turkish enclave. However, such deep bonds have not yet been rewarded by the politicians of the two sides and carried to a higher level. Maybe another generation or election will do it.

    EI


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