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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 11-01-24

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 CYPRIOT AND TURKISH MEDIA REVIEW No. 15/11 22-24.01.11 C O N T E N T S

[A] TURKISH CYPRIOT PRESS

  • [01] Eroglu to travel to Geneva via Istanbul
  • [02] Eroglu reiterates: Talks cannot continue forever; Demands deadlines
  • [03] Eroglu briefs Turkish Cypriot political parties
  • [04] Eroglu meets Turkish Cypriot NGOs prior to the Geneva meeting
  • [05] Bozer comments on OIC resolution
  • [06] Kucuk's contacts in Istanbul
  • [07] The wave of strikes is growing as 13th salary cannot be paid
  • [08] Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad calls for a "plan B based on two states"
  • [09] "40,000 illegal workers"
  • [B] TURKISH PRESS

  • [10] The Turkish side proposes the Belgian model in Geneva
  • [11] "MGK records on Annan plan seized at Golcuk base"
  • [12] Egemen Bagis evaluates Turkey's EU process
  • [13] The meeting between Iran and P5+1 took place in Istanbul
  • [14] Gul and Davutoglu to address PACE
  • [15] Argentinean officials' contacts in Turkey; MoU signed
  • [16] Turkish energy minister holds contacts in Azerbaijan
  • [17] Turkey to lay the foundation of a new border crossing with Syria
  • [18] Antalya MP resigns from ruling AKP
  • [19] Highlights

  • [A] TURKISH CYPRIOT PRESS

    Eroglu's travel to Geneva via Istanbul, his meeting with political parties and the "People's Council", Bozer's statements regarding the recent decision by the Political Affairs Committee of PUIC in Abu Dhabi, the continuing Trade Unions strikes and a march organized by CTP over the weekend, Kucuk's interview with Kathimerini, a front page article in Volkan newspaper repeating claims regarding occupied Varosha, and other internal issues are the main topics in the Turkish Cypriot press.

    [01] Eroglu to travel to Geneva via Istanbul

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 23.01.11), the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will travel to Istanbul before the tripartite meeting in Geneva of January 26.

    Eroglu will leave Istanbul for Geneva on Tuesday morning at the UN headquarters. He will be accompanied by his "Special aide for the negotiations" Kudret Ozersay, his 'spokesman' Osman Ertug and members of the negotiations team.

    [02] Eroglu reiterates: Talks cannot continue forever; Demands deadlines

    According to illegal Bayrak television (BRT ? online, 21.01.11), Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said that the Turkish Cypriot side expected the Geneva meeting to show the way on how an agreement could be reached in the first quarter of 2011, before elections in Cyprus and Turkey. Eroglu also underlined the need to introduce deadlines if a positive outcome is to be reached.

    Briefing journalists after his meeting with President Christofias in the framework of the negotiation process, Eroglu said they discussed the chapters on governance and power sharing as well as EU. He said that the UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer had also briefed them on how next week's meeting in Geneva would proceed.

    Touching upon the Geneva meeting, Eroglu said that they expected the Geneva meeting to direct the way for an agreement in the first quarter of this year. Stating that the talks have been dragging on for years without any results, Eroglu underlined the need to introduce a deadline. "The talks cannot continue forever. They must have some sort of a deadline. We expect the UN Secretary-General to set some sort of deadline by March," he added. According BRT reports, Eroglu also referred to what he described as the Greek Cypriot side's delaying tactics.

    Eroglu further said that the meeting will be similar to that in New York. He expressed the belief that the UN Secretary-General may be preparing to put his views on the table regarding the six chapters in the negotiation process. "I believe that the Secretary-General will try to be more active in Geneva," he said.

    [03] Eroglu briefs Turkish Cypriot political parties

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 22.01.11), Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu held a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot political parties that are represented at the so-called parliament, in order to exchange views on the strategy to be followed during the Geneva meeting. Party "representatives" expressed full support to Eroglu and to maintaining the vision for a solution.

    Attending the briefing on behalf of the National Unity Party (UBP), Foreign Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun told reporters that Eroglu will be leaving for Geneva with a strong hand. Noting that the Turkish Cypriot approach has been very positive at the current phase of the Cyprus solution process, Ozgurgun complained that the Greek Cypriot side does not show willingness towards a settlement.

    The leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), Ferdi Sabit Soyer, expressed the hope that Geneva meeting will launch a process that enables the UN to take an initiative. Stating that the Greek Cypriot side has been trying to provoke the Turkish Cypriot side by bringing proposals in favour of a unitary state, Soyer underlined the need not to destroy the principal agreements reached between the two sides on the island.

    Democrat Party (DP) leader Serdar Denktas for his part, wishing Eroglu success at the Geneva meeting said. "We exchanged views about the meeting. We will continue to follow closely the developments."

    The leader of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP), Turgay Avci, stressed the need for resuming the solution will. Pointing to the need to work within a timetable for the solution of the Cyprus problem, Avci said his party proposed a multipartite conference to take place on the Cyprus problem next month.

    Finally, speaking to reporters, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (TDP), Mehmet Cakici, expressed the view that the outcome of the Geneva meeting will bring leaders into the give-and-take process. Cakici stressed the need to use concrete language to prevent ambiguity.

    [04] Eroglu meets Turkish Cypriot NGOs prior to the Geneva meeting

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 23.01.11), the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said he will work towards finding a just and permanent solution to the Cyprus problem in the first quarter of the year, a solution that will not harm the rights and interests of the "Cyprus Turkish people".

    Eroglu had a meeting with the "Peoples' Council", consisting of several non-governmental organizations, which it briefed of the latest developments in the Cyprus talks. Making a statement before the meeting, Eroglu said that he believed that a solution could be found to the Cyprus problem in the first quarter of the new year, as stated by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but added that this could not be achieved with the "Cyprus Turks" alone. "We are striving to find a just, permanent and peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem," said Eroglu.

    He also said: "We have come to an agreement with the People's Council that sovereignty and statehood cannot be abandoned and the continuation of motherland Turkey as a guarantor power is a must."

    The 40 NGOs, which make up the "Peoples' Council", in a joint declaration at after the meeting expressed their full support to Eroglu during the talks and their desire for a time limit to be applied so that a desirable agreement is reached.

    [05] Bozer comments on OIC resolution

    Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak television reports (21.01.11, online) that Hasan Bozer, so-called parliamentary speaker of the breakaway regime praised the unanimous decision adopted at the 13th session General Assembly of the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) members, concerning the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) agreement between Cyprus and Israel. He claimed that the decision has brought a new dimension to the Cyprus problem as well as relations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Evaluating the OIC decision as well as the delegation's contacts in the United Arab Emirates at a press conference on Friday, Bozer said that they had successfully brought to the OIC's council agenda the Greek Cypriot side's attempts regarding EEZ's in the region and supported that the matter should be taken up as part of the ongoing Cyprus negotiations process.

    He alleged that the unanimously adopted resolution, which acknowledged the Greek Cypriot side's ill-intended moves concerning natural resources in the area, would have important political consequences and said: "Both sides need to benefit from underground natural resources and such resources should be shared with neighbouring countries. However, the Greek Cypriot side is determined to implement its plans despite the ongoing dispute on the island."

    [06] Kucuk's contacts in Istanbul

    Illegal Bayrak television (online 23.01.11) reported that the so-called prime minister Irsen Kucuk returned to the occupied areas on Sunday after completing his contacts in Istanbul. Speaking to reporters at Tymvou Airport, Kucuk pointed to the importance of increasing relations with "TRNC" citizens living in Turkey. Kucuk said this will be beneficial for the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". Reminding that 2011 had been declared as "the year of TRNC tourism" in Turkey, Kucuk asked for support from "TRNC citizens" residing in Turkey in order to attract more tourists.

    Kucuk also said that during a wedding that was also attended by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu and the Chief Negotiator for EU Egemen Bagis, he had opportunity to discuss foreign policy, the Geneva summit and economic issues.

    [07] The wave of strikes is growing as 13th salary cannot be paid

    According to the Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (24.01.11), the Trade Unions' Platform continues the indefinite strike, which began on January 11, 2011. Apart from two elementary schools, one high school and two "public departments", the "department of population registry" also starts a strike today.

    Under the title "The 13th salary is postponed for February", the paper reports that self-styled prime minister Irsen Kucuk called for an urgent meeting of the "council of ministers", because the problem with the payment of the 13th salary could not be resolved.

    According to the paper, Kucuk met with the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan at wedding ceremony in Istanbul, where they discussed the economy of the breakaway regime. It is reported that Erdogan told Kucuk "Dear prime minister, I have the sense that you have not taken sufficient steps regarding the reform issue. The road map in order to create your own resources is clear, however, you are proceeding slowly". Erdogan also said that the reforms should be implemented the soonest. Erdogan gave a clear message that there are none resources to send to the breakaway regime.

    The paper also reports that the newly appointed general secretary of the National Unity Party (UBP) Ertugrul Hasipoglu said that the 13th salary would be paid on 20 January 2010. The paper concludes that despite all the statements, if money does not come from Turkey, the occupation regime cannot make the payments.

    [08] Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad calls for a "plan B based on two states"

    Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Today reports (22.01.11) that a petition for a "Plan B" in Cyprus if peace talks fail --signed by more than 200 groups-- was handed over to the UN at Ledra Palace checkpoint on Friday. The petition, drawn up by the Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad (ATCA), has attracted the support of 203 non- governmental organisations across the globe, among them the North Cyprus-based British Residents' Society (BRS) and Homebuyer's Pressure Group. The association calls for a back-up strategy if leaders on both sides of the Green Line fail to make a breakthrough in peace talks on Wednesday.

    The statement was handed over by ATCA founder and "TRNC" representative Kerem Hasan, who said: "This is the first time the civil groups have come together globally to make a plea and a calI to the UN. We fully support a comprehensive solution in Cyprus. We have done everything to support the efforts of President Dervis Eroglu and the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias. But the inhumane isolation on the people of North Cyprus still continues. If the current basis of the talks is clearly not yielding any results, the Turkish Cypriots cannot continue to be penalised and remain isolated through no fault of their own."

    Copies of the letter, which states among other things: "A two-state solution should be proposed based on the past experience and the existing realities on the island" will also be given to British Prime Minister David Cameron, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the leader of the Turkish Cypriots Dervis Eroglu.

    [09] "40,000 illegal workers"

    Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (24.01.11) reports that the illegal workers in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, who work particularly in the construction and entertainment sectors, are estimated to be over 40,000. The paper reports that the illegal workers do not come only from Turkey, but also from Turkmenistan and the Philippines.

    Yusuf Onderol, "director of the labour department", said that the "registered workers" in the occupied areas are 40,898. However, he avoided giving figures of illegal workers, the paper reports.


    [B] TURKISH PRESS

    Statements by Dervis Eroglu that the Turkish Cypriot side is ready for the Geneva meeting, statements by Andrew Duff, Liberal Democrat Member of the EP that no progress will be achieved in the Geneva meeting, reports that Gul is to address PACE meeting, statements by Ria Oomen Rujiten, the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey in support of Merkel's statements in Cyprus, Turkey's reaction on Israel's report about Mavi Marmara attack, and other internal issues are some of the main stories highlighted by the Turkish press.

    [10] The Turkish side proposes the Belgian model in Geneva

    Under the title "'Belgian model' the proposal for the solution of the Cyprus problem", Turkish daily Yeni Safak (22.01.11 ? online version) reports that the Turkish side [Turkish Cypriot side] is to sit at the negotiating table in Geneva with the Belgian model as a basis.

    According to the proposal, the island will be divided based on language. Those who want to live in the Turkish side [Turkish Cypriot side] will accept Turkish as their native language while those who want to live in the Greek side [Greek Cypriot side] will accept Greek as their native language. Both languages will be official languages in Lefkosia writes the paper.

    The paper also reports the following: "The Turkish side clarifies its proposals at the negotiations talks, to be launched on January 26 in Geneva, concerning the solution. As it was made known, the Turkish side will propose to the Greeks [Greek Cypriots] the Belgian model.

    The Greek [Greek Cypriot] and the Turkish [Turkish Cypriot] side will meet again in Geneva regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem. Turkey is participating with new proposals. Prime Minister Erdogan stated in Davos that Turkey will be one-step ahead regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem. With Erdogan's statements, it is apparent that Turkey was constantly one step ahead and thus it was obliged to set the Annan plan in a referendum, in which the Greek side said no. Turkey kept its promise, is one step ahead and is going to Geneva. Instead of exchanging views regarding the current situation, Turkey is submitting new proposals.

    Subtitle: Historic proposal from North Cyprus

    It was made known that the President of the TRNC, Dervis Eroglu will submit a historic proposal at the meeting. According to information acquired from diplomatic sources, Eroglu will submit a proposal based on language, instead of the division of the founding states in Cyprus between "Turks" and "Greeks" on the ethnic grounds. Turkey will propose a solution model based on "Turkish" and "Greek" [languages].

    The model to be submitted by the Turkish [Turkish Cypriot] side to the Greek side [Greek Cypriot side] at Geneva will be the Belgian model.

    The proposal to be submitted by the Turkish side at the meeting will envisage two states in Cyprus on the basis of 'language'. In this context, Turkish speakers will not be able to settle in an area where Greek is spoken, and Greek speakers will not be able to settle in an area where Turkish spoken. To settle in a Turkish area, a Greek Cypriot would be obliged to learn Turkish. Settlement in this area without knowing Turkish will not be possible. However, those who are under the age of 65 could be able to settle in a Turkish area even if they do not speak Turkish. However, for Lefkosia there will be a different status. The status envisaged for Lefkosia will be like the one in Brussels. Here, Turkish and Greek will be official languages.

    Subtitle: Founding states are sovereign

    Kibris newspaper published some details concerning the proposals on "Governance and Power Sharing" chapter. Among the proposals, the expectations of the Greek side [Greek Cypriot side] about "single sovereignty" are eliminated and the concept that "the founding states are sovereign" comes into the scene. The rights of the guarantor countries are further broadened and it is proposed that the territorial integrity of the founding states is guaranteed by the guarantor countries. Another important issue in the proposals is related to international agreements. The Turkish side demands that the founding states are able to draw agreements with other states in all issues which are not transferable to the federal state."

    The paper then publishes a description of the Belgian model.

    The paper adds: "Greeks [Greek Cypriots] are surprised by the fact that Turkey is constantly one step ahead. Earlier, the Turkish side decided to establish the 'Immovable Property Commission' for the solution of the property issue. This step by the Turkish side impeded the Greek Cypriots from submitting lawsuits to ECHR. After the establishment of this commission the ECHR has decided that the solution for the property cases lies with the 'Immovable Property Commission'."

    (AK)

    [11] "MGK records on Annan plan seized at Golcuk base"

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Today's Zaman (22.01.11) reported that confidential documents seized at the Golcuk Naval Command by the Turkish police in late December included records of a National Security Council (MGK) meeting in 2004, during which high-profile participants discussed the Annan plan.

    The records are believed to have been kept by members of a junta nested within the Naval Forces Command, which contributed to a suspected coup plan, known as the Sledgehammer Security Operation Plan.

    According to the paper, the records include details about the MGK meeting such as the identity of its participants. Among the participants were the Turkish president at the time, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, then-Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, then-Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal, then-Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, then-Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytac Yalman, then-Naval Forces Commander Adm. Ozden Ornek, then-Air Forces Commander Gen. Ibrahim Firtina, then-Gendarmerie General Commander Gen. Sener Eruygur and then-Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug. The MGK meeting lasted for more than four hours. Participants discussed the content of the Annan plan. A statement released after the meeting read that the government would decide whether it wanted to give a final shape to the Annan plan.

    Prosecutors involved in the Sledgehammer case are now investigating why the records of the MGK meeting were being kept at the Golcuk Naval Command.

    [12] Egemen Bagis evaluates Turkey's EU process

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (23.01.11) reported from Ankara that Turkey's state minister and chief negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis said on Sunday that everything was not perfect in the European Union (EU) but it should be accepted that EU helped to raise standards.

    Speaking on a TV program, Bagis said Turkey really recorded progress and added: "EU process is behind this. We are resolved in the EU process. We are resolved to raise the living standards of the Turkish people". Bagis said the energy chapter could not be opened because of the blockade of the Greek Cypriot party, "If all the obstacles put forth by the EU are eliminated, Turkey will enact all the harmonization laws by the end of 2013 within the scope of Turkey's National Programme and will be ready for the EU as of January 2014", he said adding "Turkey progresses in its own timetable. In the next process, we will wait for formation of political consensus. Turkey's importance grows for EU and dependence to EU decreases".

    Asked to comment on the visit of French President Nicholas Sarkozy at the end of February, Bagis said Sarkozy will be amazed to see the changes in Turkey. Bagis said some European leaders, including Sarkozy, have not been talking about privileged partnership lately, "We see that stances of some countries in Europe gradually change. We should be patient," he added.

    Asked if he resents Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou over his statements in eastern province of Erzurum, Bagis pointed out that Erzurum residents welcomed Papandreou in the best way and that Prime Minister Erdogan gave the necessary response. "Neither Turkey nor Greece can change history, but they can change the future," Bagis said, underlining that it is natural that security mechanisms of the two countries show sensitivity from time to time, "however, being NATO members, both Turkey and Greece have commitments to protect each other". Bagis said both countries allocate vast amounts of funds for the defence industry, "neither the Greek nor the Turkish people need new tanks or rifles. However, they need new roads. Both Greece and Turkey should keep their defence expenses within NATO standards and orient themselves to investments that will meet daily needs of their people," he added.

    [13] The meeting between Iran and P5+1 took place in Istanbul

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (23.01.11) reported form Istanbul that a spokesperson for the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs said on Saturday that Turkey had voiced constructive suggestions during the recent nuclear summit in Istanbul.

    During a press conference after the nuclear talks between Iran and P5+1 countries (five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Selcuk Unal said the aim was to find a common floor for cooperation on the nuclear issue.

    "Turkey has contacted the parties when demanded and expressed constructive suggestions during the talks in Istanbul. The main goal of this process is to reach a consensus among the relevant parties," Unal said. Unal noted that Turkey welcomed the parties' leaving the door open to negotiation and hoped parties would assess the proposals made in Istanbul in detail. He added that Turkey would continue to exert efforts to resolve the issue in a peaceful way.

    Catherine Ashton, European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, headed the P5+1 delegation at the talks. Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, headed the Iranian delegation.

    [14] Gul and Davutoglu to address PACE

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (AA ? 23.01.11) reported form Strasbourg that the Turkish President Abdullah Gul will address the plenary session of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on January 24. Moreover, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will brief the general assembly of the activities during Turkey's rotating presidency of the Committee of Ministers.

    It is also reported that Gul is scheduled to meet Council of Europe's Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland and PACE President Mevlut Cavusoglu. Gul will also inaugurate a photograph exhibition at the PACE headquarters titled "Turkey in the Council of Europe between 1949 and 2010", and meet representatives of Turkish associations. He is expected to depart from Strasbourg on January 26.

    [15] Argentinean officials' contacts in Turkey; MoU signed

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (AA ? 21.01.11) reported that the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Argentine counterpart Hector Marcos Timerman met in Istanbul on Friday, and discussed bilateral relations, and cooperation between the region where Turkey is situated and Latin America.

    In addition, Turkey's state minister for foreign trade Zafer Caglayan, addressing the Turkish-Argentine Business Forum in Istanbul, said that Turkey and Argentina have similar cooperation opportunities, and suggested the two countries to cooperate. He said Turkey had started to increase its trade with Latin American countries thanks to its strategy. "When Turkish and Argentine businessmen support each other instead of behaving as rivals, Turkish-Argentine relations will boost," Caglayan said. Caglayan added that Turkey signed a free trade agreement with Chile, and Turkey's trade volume with Latin American countries doubled, reaching 5 billion USD in the last four years.

    On the sidelines of the business forum, Turkey and Argentina signed two memoranda of understanding (MoU) regarding commercial relations.

    Moreover, as AA reported that Argentina wants to set up a trade office in Istanbul, as Argentina President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner said in her address of the Turkey-Argentina Business Council on Friday. Kirchner said they wanted to see a synergy between the two countries in not just bilateral trade but also trade with third countries.

    [16] Turkish energy minister holds contacts in Azerbaijan

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.01.11) reported from that Turkey's Energy Minister and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz was received by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Saturday. Yildiz, who arrived in Azerbaijan to participate in the 6th Turkish-Azerbaijani Joint Economic Committee meeting, held a closed-door meeting with the country's President. Yildiz also met with Azerbaijani Deputy Premier Abid Serifov.

    Commercial and economic issues, as well as transportation, industry, energy and tourism were on the agenda of the committee meeting, officials said. Yildiz and Serifov signed a protocol, which follows a letter of intent on earth sciences and mine resources signed by relevant institutions of the two countries.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Yildiz said steps to be taken on Shah Deniz 1 and Shah Deniz 2 projects, as well as new projects concerning Turkey, Azerbaijan and Europe, were on the agenda of his meeting with the Azerbaijani president.

    [17] Turkey to lay the foundation of a new border crossing with Syria

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.01.11) reported from Nusaybin that Turkey will lay the foundation of a new crossing across its border with Syria next weekend, according to the head of Nusaybin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Necdet Aktas.

    Aktas said that Turkey's State Minister Hayati Yazici, Syrian Finance Minister Muhammad al-Husayn, and Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the chairman of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), will participate in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Nusaybin border pass on January 29.

    "This will be the first customs gate in Turkey that will be operated as a 'sister crossing' model together with Syria," Aktas told AA correspondent. He said there were only three other such customs gates in the world, two of which were in the United States and one in Switzerland. "Turkey will get access to the Middle East more easily through this customs gate through which people can cross into the other country with a single stamp," Aktas said. He noted that the Nusaybin border crossing would ease the burden on the Habur customs gate.

    Mines were cleared in a 216 acres of land in order to open the Nusaybin border crossing.

    [18] Antalya MP resigns from ruling AKP

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (21.01.11) reported from Ankara that Yusuf Ziya Irbec, a lawmaker from southern province of Antalya, resigned from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Friday.

    Following the resignation of Irbec, AKP deputies dropped to 334 while the number of independent deputies rose to nine.

    The current distribution of seats at the Parliament is as follows:

    AKP 334

    CHP 101

    MHP 70

    BDP 20

    DSP 6

    TP 1

    Independent 9

    Vacant 9

    Total 550

    (Tr. note: CHP: Republican People's Party; MHP: Nationalist Movement Party; BDP: Peace & Democracy Party; DSP: Democratic Left Party; TP: Turkey Party)

    [19] Highlights

    Following are summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 21-24 January 2011:

    a) Turkey's foreign Policy / The Middle East

    Milliyet's (23.01.11) Semih Idiz argues that the AKP government's mediation efforts in the Middle East failed, adding that Ankara has emerged as a regional "supporting personnel" rather than a "leading firefighter." Despite its unsuccessful efforts in the region, Turkey tries to strengthen its status with steps that are reminiscent of establishing joint trade and travel zones and political cooperation, Idiz notes adding that, although these efforts are unlikely to bring about a "Middle East Union," they are positive steps and should continue.

    In an article in Hurriyet (22.01.11) entitled "Humiliating developments for our country", columnist Tufan Turenc cites recent critical remarks by Armenian, Greek, and German leaders about Turkey, and the slow progress in the ongoing accession talks with the EU as examples showing that AKP's foreign policy has not been successful. Stressing that the Turkish Government's efforts to play an influential role in the Middle East have failed, Turenc comments that the AKP is dragging Turkey toward other waters by steering the boat from the West to the Middle East.

    Radikal (22.01.11) columnist Cengiz Candar argues that the outcome of Turkey's efforts to defuse the political crisis in Lebanon and to find a solution to the dispute Iran and the West, have shown that Turkey's foreign policy has reached its limit in terms of achieving results. He comments: "There is a limit to the role that we can play with Qatar in Lebanon and we have reached that limit. There is no role that we can play in Tunisian in the foreseeable future. In other words, Turkey has not become a country designing the world order yet. It cannot achieve it by pursuing a 'voluntarist' foreign policy and having a very bright foreign minister before overcoming its own problems, especially those related to democracy and the Kurdish issue."

    b) Sledgehammer case

    Yeni Safak (22.1.11) carries a front-page report which asserts that the documents seized in the police search at the naval command in Golcuk some time ago have established that the "junta" that prepared the anti-government conspiracy called "Sledgehammer", kept close tabs on senior commanders opposed to a military takeover and listed some admirals as potential threats based on their observance of Muslim religious practices.

    Yeni Akit (22.01.11) columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak comments on the objectives of Operation Sledgehammer based on new alleged evidence found at the naval command in Golcuk. He asserts that thousands of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) members including War Academy cadets, NCOs, generals, military attach?s, etc knew about or supported the "coup plot" and that that the plan was modelled on the military takeover of 12 September, 1980. Comparing Operation Sledgehammer to a "disaster" that Turkey avoided narrowly, he claims that Turkey would have turned into another North Korea if the plan had been successful because the architects of the alleged coup conspiracy planned to adopt many anti-democratic and coercive measures by passing a law based on the "National Responsibilities Decree" passed on Ataturk's urging on 7 August, 1921.

    Yeni Safak (21.01.11) asserts in a front-page report that the documents seized in the police search at the naval command in Golcuk recently have conclusively disproven allegations that Operation Sledgehammer was a "routine military seminar" as well as establishing that this "coup" plan was actually put into practice.

    Zaman (21.01.11) carries a front-page report asserting that the documents seized at the Golcuk naval command have conclusively established that Operation Sledgehammer was a coup plan. The report quotes journalists who were "in the crosshairs of the junta" as saying that the Golcuk documents decisively give the lie to allegations that the defendants in the Sledgehammer investigation are being accused based on fabricated evidence.

    Zaman (22.01.11) columnist Sahin Alpay calls asserts that Operation Sledgehammer was an attempted coup not only against an elected government but also against the TSK in the sense that the masterminds behind the operation intended to put some 16 admirals under arrest. Alpay also underlines the "role" that this situation played in the failure of "coup attempts" like Sledgehammer and Ergenekon and the eventual prosecution of their architects.

    Today's Zaman (22.01.11) columnist Abdulhamit Bilici asks Harvard University Professor Doni Rodrik, the son-in-law of Former First Army Commander Cetin Dogan, a prime suspect in the Sledgehammer case, how he proposes to defend his theory that false evidence has been used as a basis for accusing the Sledgehammer suspects of conspiring to overthrow the Government in the face of new incriminating evidence against the suspects. He adds that he is "very curious" as to "what a respected institution like Harvard will say to a professor who has taken on an embarrassing mission of making a coup attempt ..."

    Yeni Safak (21.01.11) asserts in a front-page report that the documents seized in the police search at the naval command in Golcuk recently have conclusively disproven allegations that Operation Sledgehammer was a "routine military seminar" as well as establishing that this "coup" plan was actually put into practice.

    Zaman (21.01.11) asserts in a front-page report that according to the documents seized at the naval command in Golcuk, the architects of the Sledgehammer conspiracy infiltrated their operatives into Alevi communities, tarikats, leftist circles, minorities, and the news media in order to keep close tabs on these groups, planned to stage what would look like PKK attacks, and prepared lists of military commanders to be arrested for opposing the "coup" plan.

    Zaman (21.01.11) columnist Ihsan Dagi argues that new evidence in the Sledgehammer investigation indicating that the alleged 2003 coup plan continued to be "updated in 2008" constitutes proof that "putschism" in Turkey is not an aberration but a "systemic" problem. He cites a far-reaching prosecution as the only cure for this "illness," adding that the pre-election political tension should not be allowed to hijack the military-civilian "confrontation" required by the "Golcuk documents." He also asserts that neither the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) nor "liberal-democratic intellectuals" can achieve democratization in Turkey single-handedly and warns that the "rift in the democracy bloc" suggested by the debate between the AKP and certain liberal columnists could play into the hands of anti-democratic forces that perceive the general election in June as the "last exit before full democracy."

    Today's Zaman (21.01.11) columnist Yavuz Baydar hails "evidence" against the Sledgehammer suspects seized at the naval command in Golcuk as "a strong slap in the face" for sceptics about the Sledgehammer "coup" plan.

    c) Nuclear talks between Iran and P5+1

    Hurriyet's (23.01.11) Ferai Tinc maintains that Iran returns home "with victory" after the P5+1 Istanbul talks as Iran put forth preconditions. Tinc argues that the crisis in Lebanon served Iran's interests the most, the mediators "unfortunately failed" and Iran's role in the Middle East will be strengthened if Hezbollah emerges stronger from the Lebanese crisis.

    d) Domestic politics

    Taraf's (23.01.11) Ahmet Altan argues that the Republican People's Party (CHP) is unable to be a true alternative to the ruling AKP in the 2011 elections, as it fails to effectively put forth any significant criticism against the AKP. Altan argues that Turkey lacks a party that promises "democracy and freedom" for the entire society and which can become the speaker of all the "oppressed". Attan wonders whether the People's Voice Party, People and Democracy Party, the Equality and Democracy Party, and the Revolutionary Socialist Workers' Party come together" and jointly defend the rights of conservatives, the Kurds, the Alevis, and the leftists "as a whole."

    Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review (22.01.11) columnist Yusuf Kanli says that the election strategy devised by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) use nationalist rhetoric in a bid to marginalize the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and gain voters from it. Ascribing Erdogan's strategy to his ambition to be elected as the next president with broad executive powers, Kanli points out this means Erdogan will need to win more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and acquire the power to write a new constitution without being compelled to seek consensus with the opposition. "If the MHP stays below 10% and cannot send deputies to Parliament, the AKP may win two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, even with only around 45% of the vote," Kanli concludes.

    Yeni Akit (21.01.11) columnist Hasan Karakaya asserts that Ergenekon is trying to establish an election alliance against the AKP consisting of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Democratic Party (DP), as well as looking into staging various "provocations" in its "life-or-death" effort to bring the Erdogan government to an end. He also asserts that CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu is planning to request an audience with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his forthcoming visit to Washington in order to make representations against the AKP.

    e) Hizbullah's activities

    Hurriyet (22.01.11) columnist Yalcin Dogan cites a letter from a teacher working in a village in southern Turkey that Mustazaf-Der, a branch of Hezbollah, holds daily meetings in mosques for schoolchildren in order to indoctrinate them. Pointing out that Hezbollah members regard Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah in Lebanon, as their leader, Dogan criticizes Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu for meeting with Nasrallah during his recent visit to Lebanon.

    Milliyet (22.01.11) columnist Guneri Civaoglu says that Hezbollah leaders plan to make efforts to convince religious Kurdish voters to support independent candidates affiliated with the organization in the upcoming parliamentary election. Pointing out that Hezbollah may also lure conservative voters who are supportive of the AKP and the Felicity Party, while its appearance in politics may prompt some conservative voters to support the AKP, Civaoglu says that around five independent pro-Hezbollah MPs may be elected in June.

    f) Headscarves / State Council ruling

    Yeni Akit (22.01.11) in a front-page report blasts the Council of State for "causing domestic tension once again (...) at a time when political and social consensus on the need to lift the headscarf ban has been achieved."

    Yeni Safak (22.01.11) columnist Resul Tosun criticizes the recent Council of State ruling that overturned a Higher Education Council (YOK) decision to allow women to take the Academic Personnel and Graduate Study Admission Exam (ALES) wearing headscarves as a verdict that openly violates the laws governing the functions of the Council of State. He claims that the Council of State should have rejected the case because the appellant against the YOK decision, the Education and Science Employees Union, has not sustained any personal harm because of the said decision. He also accuses the Council of State of violating Article 125 of the Constitution, which restricts appellant courts' authority to determining the legality of administrative decisions, in overturning the YOK decision on the grounds that if ALES examinees were allowed to wear headscarves, it would be hard to verify their identity.

    Milli Gazete (22.01.11) runs a front-page report which asserts that the Council of State is coming under increasingly sharp criticism over its latest "political" ruling on Islamic headscarves rendered "in violation of Article 2 of the Constitution." According to the report, the public expects the Government to take steps to have Parliament remove the headscarf ban altogether.

    Zaman (21.01.11) columnist Mustafa Unal slams the Council of State for overturning a recent Higher Education Council (YOK) headscarves on the grounds that it would be difficult to verify the identity of ALES examinees if they were allowed to cover their heads. Unal claims that the Council of State ruling is irreconcilable with logic or reason and that it reflects ideological opposition to Islamic headscarves.

    g) Erdogan's reaction to critics

    In an article in Today's Zaman (22.01.11) entitled "Freedom of expression, the PM and the silencing of Ahmet Altan", columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz censures Prime Minister Erdogan for suing journalist Ahmet Altan over an article in which he criticized him. Cengiz asserts that Erdogan's "predilection for filing personal legal cases against journalists is somewhat akin to a professional boxer picking fights with passers-by who annoy him. It is a disproportionate use of force."

    h) Kurdish issue

    A Taraf (21.01.11) report, based on an article carried by the Paris-based Intelligence Online, says that that Turkey and Syria have signed a secret agreement whereby Syria will declare an amnesty for all PKK members in Syria and outside Syria enabling the PKK fighters in Iraq to return to Turkey via Syria without facing any prosecution. That will prevent the repetition of the popular reaction shown to PKK homecoming in 2009.

    i) Erdogan/ TUSIAD

    Turkish papers give prominent coverage to Prime Minister Erdogan's address to the TUSIAD [Turkish Industry and Business Association] General Assembly, highlighting particularly his statement that his government has not, and will not, interfere in anyone's lifestyle and, therefore, all worries expressed on this issue are baseless. Erdogan has also called on TUSIAD to contribute to the drafting of a new constitution. TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION http://www.moi.gov.cy/pio

    /EG


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