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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-05-13
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 88/10 13.05.10
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Turkey pushes UN to set timeline for Cyprus talksUnder the above title, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (12.05.10) reported the following from New York:
Talk of a timeline for Cypriot reunification from the United Nations Secretary-General would represent an important success in the peace process, according to a Turkish diplomat.
Mentioning --even indirectly-- a timeline for the completion of the talks by [U.N. Secretary-General] Mr Ban Ki-moon in his to-be-released Goodwill Mission Report on Cyprus would be important progress, a Turkish diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity told a group of visiting Turkish journalists in New York late Tuesday. That would oblige the parties to show their political will for the solution process.
The nearly four-decades-old conflict has witnessed many inter-communal negotiations to end the problem, but Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the Annan Plan, the last major peace proposal, during a 2004 referendum even though Turkish Cypriots supported the motion.
Ongoing negotiations were restarted in 2008, but it is unclear when the talks will conclude, given their open-ended status.
Turkey and northern Cyprus are pressing the international community to put pressure on Greek Cypriots to speed up the process and complete it before the end of 2010, a critical time for Turkey, as the country is continuing negotiations for full accession to the European Union will be reviewed by the bloc.
Turkey has yet to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot vessels and planes, saying it can only open its ports if a comprehensive solution ending the international isolation of northern Cyprus is also reached. In the pursuit of more compromise from the Turkish side, however, Greek Cypriots have postponed the process while waiting to see the EUs stance toward Turkey in December.
The international community has the feeling that Greek Cypriots are not very willing to reach a speedy solution. What we tell the international community is that, instead of focusing on such tactical moves, it would be better for both sides if Greek Cypriots spend more energy finding a breakthrough, the diplomat said.
It is not certain that Turkeys call for the introduction of a timeline will be accepted by Ban. Speaking to Turkish journalists, Lynn Pascoe, the U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, refrained from saying whether Ban would take such a step in his future report. Deflecting the question, he said reaching a plan that was in the interest of both was most important.
In June, the secretary-general will issue two reports, one on the status of the U.N. peace force and the other on Bans goodwill mission. His last goodwill mission report, issued last December, cited progress on the talks but failed to refer to a similar report that was released in 2004 soon after the failure of the Annan Plan.
Ban, meanwhile, is expected to visit Turkey on May 21 to attend a summit about Somalia in Istanbul, where he will also meet with Turkish officials.
Subtitle: Talks to resume May 26
Following the change of the leadership in the northern part of the island, the talks between newly elected President Dervis Eroglu and Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias are set to begin on May 26. In line with Eroglus commitment to start talks from where they were halted by his predecessor, the two leaders will first handle the chapter on property, one of the six main issues.
If we could make progress in talks related to the property issues, we believe a general picture could emerge. That would give the parties an opportunity to start a give-and-take process, the diplomat said.
 Eroglu evaluates his visit to Ankara and his meeting with ErdoganTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (13.05.10) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu has said that they have prepared well for the Cyprus talks which will recommence on 26 May and added that they will start the negotiations with the property issue. In statements yesterday during one of his meetings, Mr Eroglu evaluated his recent visit to Ankara and his meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Eroglu noted that he went to Ankara after an invitation by Mr Erdogan and discussed with him in detail issues such as the Cyprus problem, the visit of Mr Erdogan to Greece and some economic problems which the breakaway regime is facing. He said that they put everything onto the table during their three-hour meeting and exchanged views on the economy and the negotiations towards finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Responding to a question regarding his negotiating team and the stage of their preparations, Mr Eroglu said: Our team is complete. From the very first day we have come to the presidency, we started to work by establishing our team. You know that the negotiations will begin with the property issue. There are some proposals which the sides have put onto the table before. We are working on these. If we will submit new proposals, we are working on these.
Mr Eroglu noted that after the beginning of the negotiations on 26 May they will decide on the issue of how many times they will be meeting every week.
Asked on whether there is a change on the vision of Turkey, Mr Eroglu said Turkey wants an agreement to be reached in Cyprus until the end of the year. He reiterated that the agreement could not be made only with the will of the Turkish side, that the other side should show such a will and that we shall see this at the negotiating table.
Meanwhile, in statements to the illegal Bayrak television, Mr Eroglu said yesterday that they met with Mr Erdogan for three hours and discussed all issues in detail before the negotiations. Moreover, he added that they discussed the problems of the breakaway regime. We always share our problems with Motherland Turkey. We discussed these problems today as well, we debated on them and evaluated some views we have for the future, said Mr Eroglu.
He noted that taking the views of Turkey regarding the negotiations is important. Mr Eroglu said that during their visit to Ankara his special representative, Kudret Ozersay held a separate meeting with the Undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his team and added that they will make an evaluation together as well.
Responding to a question, Mr Eroglu said that the Cyprus issue will be on the top of the agenda of Mr Erdogans visit to Athens and added that it is important for the views of the breakaway regime regarding the negotiations to be a part of these meetings.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (13.05.10) reports that the Turkish Prime Minister gave to Mr Eroglu a political and economic road map for the next five years. The paper writes that the fact that Erdogan met for three hours with Mr Eroglu attracted attention. The paper notes that this is the longest meeting which one Turkish Prime Minister had with any Turkish Cypriot leader until today.
 Green light for cooperation between the UBP and DP in the municipal elections and the establishment of a coalition governmentTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (13.05.10) reports that the possibility of the establishment of a coalition government between the National Unity Party (UBP) and the Democratic Party (DP) and the cooperation of these parties in the municipal elections has increased. After meetings held yesterday between the leaders and delegations of these parties, the central administrative boards of the UBP and DP have given the green light for a coalition government and cooperation between them in the municipal elections.
According to information acquired by Kibris, the UBP offered to the DP two ministries, while the DP asked for three ministries. As a result of negotiations, an agreement was achieved on the issue of the sharing of the ministries. According to this agreement, UBP will take eight and the DP two ministries. The paper writes that no obstacle will exist for the establishment of a coalition government, in case the assemblies of the parties approve it.
The paper reports that Serdar Denktas announced that he will not participate in the coalition government and asked for the ministries of public works and transports and economy and tourism to be given to the DP. Sources close to the DP claimed that the two ministries of the party will be given to its General Secretary, Dr Ertugrul Hasipoglu and Dr Mehmet Tuncer.
Kibris reports that the DP asked for eight municipalities in the local elections. The party has four municipalities at the moment and asked for another four, which are the municipalities of Famagusta, Kythrea, Vadili and Louroudjina. It also asked to be given the right of appointing a candidate in another one municipality. The UBP, on the other hand, suggested to the DP the discussion of the issue so that the number of the municipalities which will be given to the DP to be decreased to less than eight.
The issue is expected to be discussed today by officials of the two parties. A source close to the UBP said that most probably the government will be announced tomorrow night or on Saturday.
The chairman of the UBP, Irsen Kucuk, said they made progress during their meetings and added that they would meet again with Serdar Denktas today. Mr Kucuk said he is hopeful both on the issue of the cooperation between the parties in the elections and for the establishment of a coalition government. Mr Kucuk said also that they have received seven applications from persons who wish to become the candidate of the UBP in the elections of 27 June for the one seat in the assembly which is vacant in occupied Famagusta after the election of Dervis Eroglu to the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community.
Moreover, Mr Serdar Denktas stated that there were some problems regarding the municipal elections, but they overcame them to a great extent. He noted that the possibility of cooperation between the two parties in the municipal elections is high at this stage.
Meanwhile, referring to the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (13.05.10) reports that the UBP-DP coalition is almost ready and writes that the DP will take two ministries, Serdar Denktas might remain outside the government and the UBP suggested to the DP six municipalities instead of eight which the party of Mr Denktas has asked. The paper notes that the suggestion of Mr Denktas remaining outside the cabinet was submitted by the UBP.
Moreover, the paper reports also that the central administrative committee of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) convened yesterday and gave to its chairman, Turgay Avci the duty of meeting with the UBP for the establishment of a coalition government. Sources close to the ORP told the paper that the UBP would not have any other alternative than cooperating with Avci in case its negotiations with the DP come to an impasse.
 Hasan Bozer says they want Israel to stop occupying Palestinian territoriesTurkish Cypriot daily Yeni Volkan newspaper (13.05.10) reports that the self-styled speaker of the illegal regimes assembly, Hasan Bozer, has participated in an extraordinary meeting of the Islamic Conference Organizations Inter-Parliamentary Union held in Istanbul. The meeting was held with the aim of the delegations to discuss their reaction to the fact that Israel continues building settlements in Jerusalem and its efforts to destroy the cultural and religious wealth of Islam. Twenty-seven speakers of parliament and their delegations participated in the meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Mr Bozer stated that during 1963-1974 period the Turkish Cypriots experienced the pain which Palestinians have been experiencing for half a century and added that they wish for Israel to end immediately the occupation of the Palestinian territories within the framework of the provisions of the international law.
Mr Bozer has attended the conference upon an invitation addressed to him by the Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Mehmet Ali Sahin.
 Illegal DAU participates in the 5th meeting of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World in AzerbaijanTurkish Cypriot daily Haberdar newspaper (13.05.10) reports that the rector of the illegal Eastern Mediterranean University (DAU), Abdullah Oztoprak, participates in the 5th meeting of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World (FUIW) which is taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan. This is the second participation of Mr Oztoprak in such a meeting, the paper writes and adds that during the meeting, the participants will exchange information on issues regarding the universities. The three-day meeting is being held with the participation of representatives from nearly 160 universities and 42 countries.
 The so-called higher broadcasting council is attending a meeting in SpainIllegal Bayrak television (12.05.10) broadcast the following:
The TRNC Higher Broadcasting Council is attending the meeting of the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities in Spain. The Council is attending the 31st meeting of the council together with the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK).
Decisions taken at the EPRA meetings, which are being organized two times in a year, are not binding but recommendations and developments are being conveyed during the meetings.
 Opening by the breakaway regime to the German market in the field of tourismTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (13.05.10) reports that Turkish Cypriot tour agents will meet with tour agents of the Turkish Airlines (THY) tomorrow at Acapulco Hotel in occupied Keryneia. According to a statement issued by the self-styled ministry of tourism, environment and culture, a workshop is organized with the aim of the breakaway regime making an opening to the German market in the field of tourism. The workshop is co-organized by the ministry, the THY and the organizations of the Turkish Cypriot businessmen in the field of tourism. A delegation of 80 tour agents of the THY in Germany will participate in the meeting and discuss ways of cooperation and develop methods for opening the TRNC to the German market. The delegation will remain in the occupied areas of Cyprus until 17 May and visit various places with the aim of getting to know closer the occupied areas of Cyprus.
 Russian President Medvedev in Turkey; A number of agreements have been signedUnder the title, Turkish-Russian ties evolve into strategic partnership, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (13.05.10) reports the following:
Turkey and Russia agreed to create an intergovernmental council and signed a series of agreements --including one on mutually lifting visa requirements-- to bolster cooperation between the former Cold War rivals yesterday, prompting visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to brand the relations between the two countries a strategic partnership.
Russia and Turkey are strategic partners, not only in words but genuinely, Medvedev said during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his first official visit to Ankara. His remarks were simultaneously translated into Turkish. Earlier in the day, during a press conference with President Abdullah Gul, he said relations have progressed to a new phase and was multidimensional and had a strategic dimension.
Cooperation between Turkey and Russia has significantly expanded under Erdogan's government, but economic ties have constituted the engine of the deepening ties, with political aspect trying, unsuccessfully, to catch up. But in a sign of significant momentum in the political field, the two countries agreed yesterday to launch a high-level cooperation council, an intergovernmental body that is to be led by Medvedev and Erdogan and will meet annually to review ties.
Our cooperation has grown to such an extent that it became a necessity for political leaders to oversee them, Medvedev said during the press conference with Erdogan. Our political contacts and consultations will increase in the future, he added.
Turkey, which has been seeking an active role in its region, has established similar mechanisms with Syria, Iraq and Greece. The two sides also agreed to lift the visa requirement for their nationals for trips not exceeding 30 days, a measure that is expected to please Russians who flock to Turkeys southern holiday resorts every year. Some three million Russian visitors come to Turkey, mostly to Antalya, annually, and the visa exemption is expected to further increase the number. The visa liberalization, however, will only become effective following the signing of an agreement that authorities say is designed to prevent the abuse of visa-free travel.
The agreement to lift the visa requirement clearly attests to the expanding cooperation between Turkey and Russia and is expected to be welcomed by the Turkish tourism sector. However, initial assessments show the Turkish national budget will be an immediate loser. It is expected to lose revenue from the visa fees collected from Russian nationals, which stands at about TL 80 million annually.
Medvedev said the agreement to abolish the visa requirements was a historic one, saying it will make life easier for millions of people. Lifting the visa requirement is pleasing for the peoples of both Russia and Turkey, and it will affect the tourists positively in the first place, Gul said. Drivers and people in the transportation business will also benefit, but it is a great advantage for tourists, he added.
Subtitle: Nuclear deal and energy cooperation
Among other highlights of the visit is an agreement that will allow Russian companies to build Turkeys first nuclear power plant in the southern province of Mersin. A previous tender won by a Russian consortium was cancelled by a Turkish court. The construction of the nuclear power plant is expected to take seven years, Prime Minister Erdogan said.
State-controlled Russian builder Atomstroyexport will lead the construction of the plant in the coastal town of Akkuyu, Russian nuclear agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko said. Its an extremely important contract for us, the Rosatom chief told reporters.
Russia has built nuclear power plants in nations such as Iran and China and is aggressively seeking deals to build new stations. Kiriyenko said that for the first time, Russia would not just build the plant but would have a controlling stake in a company to be created to own it. It is much more interesting for us to be a co-investor in such projects, he said, adding that a long-term contract would be reached to supply power to a Turkish utility.
Medvedev and Turkish leaders also voiced readiness to boost the bilateral trade volume, currently standing at about $40 billion, to $100 billion in the next five years. Medvedev said the goal is attainable. It is hard even to imagine, but this figure is an attainable one, he said. Once we will achieve this goal, we will be a model for Europe.
Most of the trade volume stems from Turkish energy imports from Russia. Turkey, dependent on Russia for 70 percent of its energy imports, is trying to balance the imports with cooperation in a number of energy projects. Medvedev said they also agreed to work on the proposed Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline that would pump Russian oil from Turkeys Black Sea coast to the Mediterranean. It will run from the Black Sea port of Samsun to the Ceyhan oil terminal in the Mediterranean, where an oil refinery will be set up. The significance of the project is that it is to bypass the Bosporus to alleviate the congested oil tanker traffic through the narrow waterway that bisects Istanbul, where accidents are a concern, as well as the Dardanelles Strait, further south. The Turkish straits are the sole naval outlet from the Black Sea. Ankara also hopes the pipeline will boost its status as a global hub for energy transportation.
Discussions are also under way on cooperation regarding the Moscow-backed, Europe-bound South Stream gas pipeline.
The two countries signed a total of 17 agreements yesterday. They cover, in addition to the visa regime and energy, a number of areas ranging from transportation to education and combating drug trafficking.
 Turkish and Russian Presidents hold a joint press conference; Cyprus among their issuesAnkara Anatolia news agency (12.05.10) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Wednesday that very big projects were fulfilled between Turkey and Russia in energy, and new projects were on the agenda. Gul and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held a joint news conference following their tete-a-tete meeting and talks between the delegations of Turkey and Russia.
Referring to economic relations between Turkey and Russia, Gul said level of cooperation between the two countries were pleasing. Gul said 38 billion USD bilateral trade volume in 2008 was an example to everybody, and noted that both parties shared determination to amount trade volume to 100 billion USD in the next five years.
Turkey and Russia reaffirmed decision to make cooperation in future projects. The parties reviewed the level of cooperation in new oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines as well as nuclear energy. Similarly, cooperation in economy, trade, marketing with national currency, new projects in transportation boost economic cooperation between the two countries, Gul said.
Gul underlined the success of relationship between Turkey and Russia in tourism. Three million tourists visiting Turkey indicate strength of relations between the two parties, he noted. Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Wednesday that the liberalization of visas was pleasing for both the Turkish and Russian peoples. Gul and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held a joint news conference following their tete-a-tete meeting and talks between the delegations of Turkey and Russia and will benefit not only transporters but also tourists. We are proud to sign the agreement on the liberalization of visas today, Gul said. In response to a question from a Russian journalist on the liberalization of visas, President Gul said that both Turkey and Russia will benefit from an agreement on visas. The agreement will be in effect continuously as long as both countries benefit from it, Gul said.
Furthermore, Ankara Anatolia news agency (12.05.10) reported the following from Ankara:
The Russian president extended on Wednesday support to normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia was monitoring the process carefully, and wished that the process that had gained momentum with protocol signed between Turkey and Armenia would continue. I hope parties will reach an agreement, Medvedev told a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara. Medvedev said the normalization would contribute to regional stability, improve economic relations and raise living standards. We support this process, we will make use of our resources, but the concerned parties will make the (final) decision, he said.
On Karabakh dispute, Medvedev said it was a challenging issue but not the sole issue in the Caucasus. Medvedev said promising steps had been taken recently for settlement of Karabakh controversy, and there had been a number of developments but that did not mean a compromise on all matters. The Russian president said he had recommended Russia's mediation to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsian, organized negotiations in Russia and such initiatives would continue.Medvedev said significant progress had been made recently, but nobody should be contented with that progress.
On bilateral relations, Medvedev said he discussed contributions of Turkey and Russia on regional and global stability with Gul, and referred to two countries' responsibility in the Black Sea basin. Medvedev said Gul and he once more confirmed the will to counter terrorism, and two countries would do their best for cooperation among security, military and intelligence units.
Also, Medvedev said two countries had similar views on solution of Middle East problem and they could make the process more active. Medvedev said Gul and he discussed possible steps that could be taken, and the recent slowdown in the process had affected living standards in the region.All countries should work efficiently to solve problems, Medvedev said.Medvedev said all concerned parties should take part in solution of the Middle East problem, and it was not possible for the Palestinian administration to solve the problem with such a division.
This will lead to Palestine's recess and the peace process is not going on as desired, he said.
Medvedev said the United States should be more active on this issue, and the Middle East should be a region purified from nuclear weapons. Presence of nuclear weapons and their use will be a disaster, he said.
The Russian president said Gul and he also debated Iraq and Iran, and Russia's stance on Iran was certain and close to that of Turkey. Medvedev said measures to ensure stability should be taken, Iran should assume a constructive approach and a peaceful solution should be found. If a country implements its own nuclear program, it will destabilize balances rapidly and cause serious results, he said. Medvedev said Russia aimed to use all its resources and continue talks with particularly Iran, Israel and other countries involved in the process. I am hopeful that it will be possible to get out of this complicated situation, but it is a challenging one, he said.
Russia and Turkey were also interested in the stability of the Caucasus, Medvedev said. Medvedev said two countries were working to solve the Karabakh dispute, and Russia would continue the process and consultations with Turkey.
Gul and Medvedev also took up Balkans and Cyprus.
Turkish and Russian partnership is in line with the best interests of our nations, and it is one of elements ensuring regional peace, he also said.
Medvedev is actually paying a formal visit to Turkey. He will meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which will be followed by a working lunch. The Russian president will also meet Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin. Medvedev will participate in a meeting of the Turkish-Russian Business Forum.Turkey's President Gul is expected to host a dinner in Medvedev's honour at the Cankaya Presidential Residence.
 Gul and Medvedev address Turkish-Russian Business ForumAnkara Anatolia news agency (12.05.10) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said, if there are sound political relations between Turkey and Russia, they will have a positive impact on our economic relations. Good relations between Turkish and Russian statesmen will encourage businessmen.
President Gul said at the Turkey-Russia Business Forum at Ankara's Rixos Hotel, During my visit to Russia last year, we signed a declaration to further improve and deepen the multi-dimensional relations between the two countries. And today, the parties agreed to establish the High-Level Cooperation Council.
He highlighted importance of Turkey-Russia relations for Eurasia region and for the world. Russia is one of the world's most important countries. And Turkey is a significant country in its region with its historical and political influence. Therefore, relations between the two countries are extraordinarily valuable, he said.
President Gul expressed his belief that Turkey and Russia would reach their target of 100 billion USD trade volume in the next five years. He said that Turkish businessmen's investments in Russia amounted to 7 billion USD and number of Russian tourists who came to Turkey to spent their holiday exceeded 3 million.
We also attach great importance to development of our cultural relations. A Russian Culture Centre can be opened in Turkey and a Turkish Cultural Centre can be opened in Russia. I believe that close cultural relations can affect economic relations positively, he said.
President Gul also called on Turkish and Russian businessmen to develop and carry out joint projects in the third countries.
Speaking at Turkey-Russia Business Forum in Ankara, Medvedev said that there was a high-level economic cooperation between Turkey and Russia. Medvedev said that Turkey and Russia signed many agreements today, and the amount of investments was expected to exceed 25 million USD thanks to these agreements. We can reach the figures of pre-economic crisis period, he added. We target to reach 100 billion USD of trade volume between Turkey and Russia within the next few years, said Medvedev. He noted that it was important to make investments in textile, food industries, chemical industry and agriculture too.
Medvedev said that visa requirement for tourists and businessmen, was ended between Turkey and Russia today, adding that this was just a beginning. Medvedev said that they targeted to apply a whole visa-free regulation in long-term.
Noting that construction sector was on very good level in Russia, Medvedev said that many Turkish companies were operating in Russia in this sector. He added that the business volume of Turkish construction companies in Russia was nearly 30 billion USD. Medvedev said that the investments were mutual, adding that the amount of Russian businessmen's investments in Turkey reached billions of USD, and they were on technology and metal industry areas.
In addition, Ankara Anatolia news agency (12.05.10) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkey's State Minister Zafer Caglayan said that they aimed at increasing Turkey-Russia trade volume up to 100 billion USD in the next five years.
Speaking at the Turkey-Russia Business Forum at Ankara's Rixos Hotel, Caglayan said that Russia was Turkey's biggest commercial partner. Trade volume between Turkey and Russia was about 40 billion USD in 2008. Because of the global financial crisis, this amount fell to 25 billion USD in 2009. Trade volume began climbing again in the first quarter of this year. We aimed at increasing Turkey-Russia trade volume up to 100 billion USD in the next five years, he said. Caglayan said that Russian economy was the world's 7th biggest economy and Turkey was ranked 17th biggest economy of the world. Total trade volume of Turkey and Italy is more than 1 trillion USD, he said.
He said that removal of visa requirements between the two countries would have a positive impact on economic and commercial relations. Caglayan highlighted importance of establishment of a joint bank to boost economic and commercial relations between the two countries. The Turkish minister added that the two countries would also sign an agreement about shipbuilding in the coming months.
 Turkish President approves the constitutional amendments; CHP to apply to the Constitutional CourtAnkara Anatolia news agency (12.05.10) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) will go to country's top court to block government-backed constitutional amendments, a party executive said on Wednesday. CHP spokesman Mustafa Ozyurek said that his party would submit a petition to Turkey's Constitutional Court on Thursday asking cancellation of the amendment bill which was adopted by the parliament and approved by President Abdullah Gul.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul approved on Wednesday government-backed changes to country's constitution. Gul's office has sent the bill to Prime Minister's office to be put on referendum. On May 7, Turkish Parliament adopted the constitutional amendment bill in the final voting of the package as a whole. The package, except the rejected article 8th over the closure of political parties and a related provisional article, was adopted by 336 votes in favour and 72 against. The bill is set to be put on referendum in line with the Turkish constitution because it received votes more than 330 but less than 367.
The package brings amendments to the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), and closure of political parties. It abolishes the provisional article 15 of the constitution which does not allow trial of the members of the National Security Council formed after a coup in 1980. The bill also abolishes the ban on right to general strike; paves the way for a citizen to become a member of more than one union, and the civil servants and other public officials the right to collective bargaining. It paves the way for trial of parliament speaker, chief of general staff, and senior commanders by the High Tribunal on charges of crimes they commit regarding their positions.
The main opposition party is sceptical of the government bill, as it fears it would erode the independence of the judiciary. CHP also argues that with 26 articles put to vote as a package, raises the question of non-separability of preferences of voters, as they are expected to vote "yes" or "no" to the whole package. It criticizes the voting of the package as a whole arguing that all articles should be put to vote separately.
Second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) accuses the government of attempting to politicize the judiciary and subordinate the judiciary to the executive branch.
However, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party denies accusations and argues that the bill aims at making Turkey more democratic in line with EU's expectations.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 From the Turkish Press of 12 May 2010Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish Press on 12 May 2010:
a) Medvedevs visit to Turkey:
Viewing Russian President Medvedevs visit to Turkey in his article in Hurriyet Daily News, Mehmet Ali Birand asserts that Russia is the country that best reflects the expression strategic partner in Turkeys bilateral relations. Arguing that Turkeys strategic partnership with the United States is a hollow one, Birand goes on to detail the reasons why Russia is a better strategic partner.
Assessing the two abnormal developments related to Medvedevs visit and the economic talks being conducted within that framework his article in Hurriyet, Yalcin Dogan suspects a secret conflict within the ruling party. Dogan explains: The private sector has been conducting our relations with other countries for close to 20 years. The engine of the private sector is DEIK [Foreign Economic Relations Board]. However, the government has recently created two more engines. One of them is TUSKON [Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists] and the other TIM [Turkish Exporters Assembly]. This Assembly is linked to State Minister Zafer Caglayan. Pointing out that Energy Minister Taner Yildiz is in charge of conducting economic relations with Russia, Dogan draws attention to the fact that DEIK cancelled a luncheon planned with Medvedev and to a statement issued by the Office of Minister Caglayan declaring that every kind of organization for the Turkish-Russian Business Forum will be conducted jointly by TUSKON and TIM under the coordination of Minister Caglayan.
b) Baykals resignation over sex scandal:
Examining the rules by which Turkish political parties function with regards to the resignation of Republican Peoples Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, an editorial in Hurriyet Daily News maintains that Turkey does not have political parties in the sense they are conceived of in any advanced democracy, but rather patronage networks operating under the label of political parties. The editorial concludes: It is this closed feature of the Turkish political landscape that incubates and nurtures conspiratorial tactics, plotting and backstabbing and all manner of gamesmanship. We think this had as much to do with the fall of Baykal as did anything else cited in the waves of commentary now breaking over public life in Turkey.
Viewing the post-Baykal period in the first section of his article in Hurriyet Daily News, Mehmet Ali Birand argues that the AKP [Justice and Development Party] will be relieved by Baykals retreat. No matter what anyone says, the nationalist segment, to say the least, will remain without a protector until the CHP gets up and back on its feet and finds another leader. Noting that it will be difficult for the CHP to conduct opposition during the referendum process, Birand predicts that that the AKP could move the 2011 elections to an earlier date and have the country vote even before the CHP is able to get back on its feet.
Viewing Baykals resignation from the EU perspective in an article in Milliyet, Semih Idiz writes that this development was received with great interests in EU circles since Baykal is seen as an obstructive force. Noting that these circles view the CHP as the reason for the fall of the constitutional amendment article concerning the closure of parties, Idiz declares that what these circles are curious about now is whether the CHP will be able to renew itself, muster the support of the masses, and become a party that will advance the EU perspective. Idiz, however, does not believe that Baykal has withdrawn from the political arena, adding that his speech of resignation was a declaration that he would continue his political struggle to the very end. The possibility of the CHP emerging from its upcoming Congress with a younger and renewed administration is very low, predicts Idiz, adding: Even if he does not announce his candidacy, Baykal will exert efforts to ensure that the candidates for the party leadership are from his circle.
Baykals videotape appeared at a time when the peoples anger at the AKP government was on the rise and when the optimistic picture it was trying to paint about the economy no longer fooled anyone, writes Tufan Turenc in an article in Hurriyet, asking who would have the audacity to enter the bedroom of the leader of the main opposition party without the support of the ruling party. Underlining that it is impossible not to hold the government responsible for this scandal, Turenc argues that the government cannot shirk from this responsibility before it brings to justice the perpetrators of this attack on Baykal. Raising the possibility that this plot was hatched without the knowledge of the government, Turenc says that the situation is equally grave raising doubts about the positions of the prime minister and the interior minister.
In an article in Referans, Cengiz Candar says we should accept that the Deniz Baykal period is over or about to be over. Describing the method of the videotape as a plot against Baykal, Candar underlines that, however, its content is not a plot. Assuming that there are additional videotapes and that Baykal is aware of their existence, Candar argues that if this tape has been diffused by those who think that Baykals expiry date has arrived, then Prime Minister Erdogan should be the one to worry about Baykals elimination for having failed to show the desired performance against Erdogan. In conclusion, Candar wonders whether a closure case against the AKP will once again be placed on the agenda in this referendum atmosphere.
The CHP grassroots want Baykal to return to the party leadership, writes Aydin Ayaydin in an article in Vatan, adding that the party administration has begun to collect signatures on the issue from the 1,200 delegates who will be participating in the upcoming CHP Congress. Explaining that only with the signature of 20 percent of the delegates can Baykals candidacy for party leader be submitted to the Congress, Ayaydin notes that based on his conversations with party officials some 1,000 delegates are in favour of submitting his candidacy. Enumerating the alternatives in front of Baykal, Ayaydin says that he can either return to the party leadership, or refuse to return and apply to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the amendment package. If the Constitutional Court rejects the application, then Baykal can tour the country explaining the reasons why the amendments aim to place the high courts under a siege, states Ayaydin, noting that Baykal has no clear plan yet and that he will make a decision in line with the developments.
Referring to Baykals announcement of his resignation in an article in Vatan, Rusen Cakir underlines that his clearing the Gulen community of any blame on the video plot came as a surprise. Recalling that Baykal had directly or indirectly pointed the finger at this community during the various developments in the Ergenekon process and had questioned the communitys ties with the government, Cakir argues that those who have been claiming that Baykals recent remarks on the Gulen community aim at disrupting the relations between the Gulen community and the government might not be that wrong. Dismissing speculations that the government was either informed of this plot in advance or that it was the one masterminding it, Cakir maintains that Erdogan and his colleagues prefer a CHP under the leadership of Baykal because a rooted change in the CHP might increase the possibility of the CHP becoming an alternative to the government.
It is not only Ankara that is interested to know the future of the CHP and Baykal, writes Murat Yetkin in an article in Radikal, underlining that Washington and the EU are equally interested in the future of the party and Baykal. Yetkin who conducted a phone interview with Baykal, reports the former leader as having said that he will not be attending the upcoming CHP Congress. Baykal, however, is ready to fulfil the duties that befall him and to be effective in the constitutional process and the referendum campaign, declares Yetkin. Questioning whether the CHP can embark on a new beginning with a new leader to be elected within an administration composed of Baykal and his team, Yetkin underlines that the CHP deserves that new beginning after the trauma it has experienced.
The video operation is not a routine initiative to redesign the opposition through a change in leadership, concedes Samil Tayyar in an article in Star, speculating that the final goal might be to establish a new Turkey without Erdogan and without Baykal. Therefore, this operations field of investment is the upcoming general elections and the presidential elections. The referendum is only a tool, writes Tayyar, adding: The international coordinates of this local alliance are very important because Turkey is the 17thcountry with the largest economy in the world and is a regional power. It is, at the same time, a serious global actor. Noting that international players find Turkeys policy on Iran and Israel disturbing, Tayyar maintains that the new Turkish equation after the elimination of Erdogan and Baykal will be a weak coalition government.
In an article entitled There is something wrong in this, Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru criticizes Deniz Baykal for focusing exclusively on the criminal aspect of the latest conspiracy against him in his statement announcing his resignation at the recent news conference and not uttering a single word about the essence of the matter, i.e. the revelation of what is alleged to be his secret affair with a CHP deputy. He claims that Baykal can expect a strong backlash from his voters for the way he has downplayed the scandal before he goes on to speculate ironically that the Turkish people may have become too apathetic to take an interest in the essence of the matter or that the CHPs female voters consist of bighearted women who will not give any thought to the content and significance of the video in question.
In an article entitled Conspiracy might not be what we think it is, Todays Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar asserts that Baykals strategy as the CHPs resigned leader is already clear: He will not go quietly and he will do his utmost to work the scandal to his personal favour ... His goal is to pull Recep Tayyip Erdogan into the ring and turn the issue into a confrontation between the two parties.
In an article entitled Special plans bureau: Baykal and moderate left, Milli Gazete writers Mustafa Yilmaz and Mustafa Kurdas quote an unnamed source as saying that the events that led to Baykals resignation were engineered by the United States in a bid to enable a new politician to emerge as a moderate leftist leader.