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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 11-09-05

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 <>



  • [01] Turkish Minister threatens Cyprus about oil exploration in the Mediterranean
  • [02] Statements by Davutoglu on the Cyprus problem
  • [03] Davutoglu announced Turkey's measures against Israel
  • [04] The Turkish President claims that the Palmer report is null and void
  • [05] "Cyprus: Gloom and doom"
  • [06] Statements by Eroglu after last Friday's negotiations
  • [07] Ozersay says the negotiations are entering into a critical stage
  • [08] Statements by Yorgancioglu on oil and gas explorations
  • [09] BKP censures the Turkish Government's policy on natural gas exploration activities in Cyprus
  • [10] TDP: It seems that Erdogan does not want a solution in Cyprus
  • [11] ESBA Executive Committee meeting to be held in occupied Cyprus
  • [12] BDP re-elects Selahattin Demirtas as party chairman
  • [13] Turkey wins Libananco case
  • [14] Turkey to host NATO's radar
  • [15] Turkey plans to strengthen its naval presence in Eastern Mediterranean
  • [16] Columnists view Turkish-Israeli relations


    The threats by Turkish officials against the Republic of Cyprus on the issue of the explorations for oil and natural gas, the tension in the relations between Turkey and Israel, statements by Eroglu after his last meeting with President Christofias within the framework of the Cyprus talks, statements by Kudret Ozersay to illegal TAK on the Cyprus negotiations, and other internal matters are the most important issues covered by the Turkish Cypriot press over the weekend. The papers refer also to statements by CTP and BKP on the Cyprus problem and the reaction of Turkey on the issue of exploration for oil and natural gas, statements by TDP's general secretary accusing Turkey of not wanting a solution in Cyprus and the warning of the employees of the "electricity authority" that they will go on strike in case the "institution" is privatized.

    The increased tension between Israel and Turkey and the press statement by Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu on the five measures Ankara is taking regarding its relations with Tel Aviv are the main topics in today's Turkish dailies. In addition, the papers report on the warnings of Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis to Cyprus, on the issue of oil exploration in the Mediterranean and the re-election of Hakkari Selahattin Demirtas in the leadership of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party.

    [01] Turkish Minister threatens Cyprus about oil exploration in the Mediterranean

    Turkish daily Today's Zaman (04.09.11, online) publishes an interview with Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis. Apart from his "warnings" to Cyprus, Bagis shared his views on a number of issues ranging from the state of affairs in Turkish opposition parties to humanitarian aid in Somalia, the London riots and the Libyan refugee crisis. Following is part of the interview as published in the newspaper:

    "Greek Cyprus has declared that it will begin oil exploration in the Mediterranean on Oct. 1. Can you comment on this?

    The kinds of things that have happened in the past [Turkish naval interference with exploration] whenever the Greek Cypriots have made such attempts may well happen again. That is how serious Turkey is. Doing this in waters where they have no jurisdiction is illegal. Turkey will rely on international law to pursue its rights to the fullest extent.

    Will the navy send a fleet?

    This is what we have the navy for. We have trained our marines for this; we have equipped the navy for this. All options are on the table; anything can be done."

    [02] Statements by Davutoglu on the Cyprus problem

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (04.09.11) reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking to Turkish state-run television TRT Haber during a gathering of European Foreign Ministers in Poland, said that everybody should be engaged as soon as possible for a Cyprus settlement and stressed the importance to reach a solution by 31 June 2012.

    Davutoglu, who was in Sopot, Poland to attend an unofficial meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, replied to questions of TRT Haber about the latest developments on Turkey's agenda.

    Commenting on Turkey-EU relations, Davutoglu said: "In the course of history, every country will be able to plan its future when its stands in the right position. This right position for the EU is Turkey's integration to the EU." He also said that EU perceived Turkey's strategic importance with each passing day.

    Noting that the EU is a victim of the mechanism set up by itself, Davutoglu said that the most important example is the Cyprus problem.

    Noting that the announcement on the Cyprus problem has been appreciated by the interlocutors, Davutoglu said that the message he gave in the announcement is very clear. He went on by saying that here at this moment, everybody should step in order to solve the Cyprus problem and the message that was given is a solution by the 31 June 2012.

    In addition, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (05.09.11) reports that Davutoglu, speaking to Turkish journalists, stated that in the framework of the gathering of the European Foreign Ministers in Poland, he shook hands with Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus.

    According to Davutoglu, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis went to him and stated: "This is the first time I will shake your hands. We will meet more often (from now on)". Commenting on this, Davutoglu replied to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus that the Turkish side is always willing to have a four-party meeting. "'If you want we can meet; but it is not possible to have a separate meeting with you', I told her", he said to the journalists. He went on and added that he told Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis that they support the two sites in Cyprus to be locked-up in a place for the negotiations. "That is because in the island's political environment it is not possible for Christofias to a accept anything", he stated.

    [03] Davutoglu announced Turkey's measures against Israel

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (02.09.11, online) reported that Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel to second-secretary level on Friday. "Diplomatic relations with Israel has been reduced to a second-secretary level. All personnel above the second-secretary level, primarily the Ambassadors, will return to their countries by Wednesday at the latest," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told at a press conference on Friday.

    The downgrading of diplomatic ties was the first among five measures that Davutoglu announced in response to Israel's failure to apologize for the raid and compensate the victims' families, which Ankara sought as a condition for normalizing bilateral ties.

    Secondly, Davutoglu said all military agreements with Israel have been suspended. Last year, Turkey had already effectively suspended military agreements and military exercises with Israel, and Ankara barred Israeli military aircraft from using Turkish airspace. Turkey went a step further Friday by officially announcing that it has suspended all existing military pacts.

    Davutoglu also said that Turkey would take every precaution it considers necessary for the safety of maritime navigation in the East Mediterranean, as the country with the longest coastline there. Turkey's military presence in the East Mediterranean is expected to be boosted in the upcoming days. The move could be considered as a manifestation of Turkey's position rejecting Gaza's blockade, a Turkish diplomat said.

    Davutoglu said Turkey does not recognize Israel's right to blockade Gaza and intended to ask the International Court of Justice in The Hague to examine the blockade as it stood on May 31, 2010. "For this aim, we are starting initiatives to put the U.N. General Assembly in motion [on the issue]," he said. The move suggests Ankara will seek collective action at the U.N. to apply to the International Court of Justice in a bid to secure a legal deliberation on the legitimacy of the blockade.

    Lastly, Davutoglu said that Turkey will support legal action by the families of Turkish and foreign victims in the Mavi Marmara raid. Turkish nationals can seek justice in local courts first. One of the nine dead was a U.S. citizen of Turkish origin and his family has already started legal action in U.S. courts.

    The measures, Davutoglu said, were a response to the attitudes of the current Israeli Government, and did not target the Israeli people. "Our aim is not to harm the historical Turkish-Jewish friendship, but on the contrary, to urge the Israeli Government to correct its mistake that does not befit this exceptional friendship," Davutoglu said. "No state is above the law, and the time has come for Israel to pay a price for its illegal actions. This price, first of all, is being deprived of Turkey's friendship."

    [04] The Turkish President claims that the Palmer report is null and void

    Ankara Anatolia news agency reported (02.09.11) that Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Friday that Turkey considered the UN inquiry panel's report on last year's Mavi Marmara attack "non-existent".

    Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, President Gul said that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's latest remarks on the Palmer report reflected the position of the Turkish state. "In fact, these measures would have been taken earlier, but in an effort to give chance to some ally countries' good-intentioned efforts, we have waited until today," Gul said.

    "Perhaps, certain circles could not understand our state's determination to show that incidents of the past were not forgotten and that we will always protect the rights of our citizens. The measures announced today constitute the first step. In line with the progress of events and Israel's stance, additional measures can be taken in the future," he said.

    "Turkey, as the most powerful country in this region, will not only protect its own rights but also the rights of all the people in need. The international community should also be aware of that," Gul noted and added that Turkey wants peace and stability in its region, and in order to achieve such goal, Israel had to take some steps.

    Upon a question on the Palmer report's not suggesting an apology for Turkey, Gul claimed that "such report does not exist for us".

    [05] "Cyprus: Gloom and doom"

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Today's Zaman (04.09.11, online) published the following commentary by Amanda Paul: "I have just returned from August holidays in Cyprus. It was an interesting time to be there as many things are happening. All are interconnected, each one impacting on the other and on Turkey.

    The Greek Cypriots, together with an American partner, Nobel, are due to start exploratory drilling for gas on Oct. 1. There has also been considerable coverage in the Cypriot media over agreements signed and to be signed between Israel and Cyprus on energy and security issues, with Cyprus clearly taking advance of the continuing deterioration in Turkey's relations with Israel.

    Turkey remains far from happy about the gas venture and does not accept that Greek Cypriots should be allowed to explore this gas field and financially gain from it while the Turkish Cypriots feel no benefits. The Greek Cypriots seems to feel confident that the Turks are all bark and no bite simply because of the US involvement and the fact that the Russians have verbally supported the project. I am not so confident of this. While Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to drum up nationalist support for a new Constitution it is unlikely that Turkey will just sit and watch. However, what action Turkey may take, including as Ankara did once before, by sending their navy into the Republic of Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, remains to be seen.

    Unfortunately, the development is not conducive to ongoing peace talks aimed at resolving the decade's old Cyprus problem. A key meeting due to take place in New York on Oct. 8-9 between UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities needs to show that the two sides have been seriously negotiating, otherwise the UN has threatened to pull the plug. This comes after a warning by Erdogan that if there is no solution (which Ankara squarely blames on the Greek Cypriots) by the time Cyprus takes up the rotating presidency of the EU, Turkey will freeze its relations with the club and Turkey will begin to work on "alternatives" for the future of the north. This threat was apparently meant to spur the West into pressuring the Greek Cypriots. So far I see very little evidence that it has worked.

    All the Cypriots I spoke to predicted failure. While everybody seems to want peace, not many people want to compromise. It seems like talk of reunification is simply swimming against the tide. While the Greek Cypriots continue to say that it is Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu who are responsible for the lack of progress, at the same time, their leader, Demetris Christofias is also highly unpopular. Turkish Cypriots still resent his role in the failure of the 2004 Annan Plan, which the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) failed to support, while numerous Greek Cypriots told me they no longer trust him and the Government following a disastrous explosion in July at a naval base which left several people dead.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriots are moving towards extinction on the island, being outnumbered by tens of thousands of Turkish settlers. Many Turkish Cypriots expressed deep concern over this trend, which shows no sign of stopping. While many Turks have come to work and will return, I nevertheless felt that I was, more than ever before, in a Turkish province during my time in the north. Indeed my son innocently asked the manager of a caf? overlooking Kyrenia harbor why there were Turkish flags flying literally everywhere. He answered by saying, "Because this is part of Turkey."

    Cyprus has been divided for almost four decades and it looks like it will remain this way although it seems that neither side -- particularly the Greek Cypriots -- has really understood what the implications of this will be. Turkish Cypriots, but perhaps more so Turkey, seem to believe that if the blame for the failure of the talks can be pinned on the Greek Cypriots, this will improve the chances of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) being internationally recognized. However, Ban's special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, recently said that the KKTC would never be recognized even if failure is placed at the door of the Greek Cypriots. I would agree with him because Cyprus, at the end of the day, is not the centre of the universe as many of its politicians and people seem to believe. I would not, however, rule out the possibility of some Muslim nations recognizing it under Turkish pressure.

    Turkish settlers will continue to come and one day the KKTC will have a Turkish president, with Turkish Cypriots almost disappearing. Turkey will never be able to join the EU. Of course this is not very bad news for Turkey which, as an increasingly influential and powerful regional country, will remain an important partner for the West and EU membership is no longer a priority. The Greek Cypriots will lose their property and land forever; Varosha may never be returned. Security in the region will remain fragile but I believe the West will live with it. The costs, including economically, will be high for all those concerned."

    [06] Statements by Eroglu after last Friday's negotiations

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (02.09.11) reported that the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu met on Friday with the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias at the buffer zone in Lefkosia.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Eroglu said that technical issues associated with "territory" would be prepared by technical delegations as a report. We will begin discussing the issue of "property" on Tuesday, Eroglu said.

    Asked if a specific date was determined for a tripartite meeting with the UN Secretary General, Eroglu said that a "tripartite meeting will take place in New York at the end of October". The negotiations in Cyprus will continue until October 21, Eroglu said.

    "We would have reached agreements on various issues by then. For those issues on which we cannot agree on, we will make efforts with the UN Secretary General to reach agreements", Eroglu also said.

    [07] Ozersay says the negotiations are entering into a critical stage

    Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes (05.09.11) reports that Kudret Ozersay, special representative of the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, has said that the negotiating process in Cyprus is entering into a critical stage and added that the leaders will start discussing the "property" chapter during their meeting on Tuesday. In statements to illegal TAK news agency, Ozersay said that during their meeting on Monday, the representatives of the leaders would discuss whether convergence was achieved on the chapter of "territorial adjustments". He noted that they would go to the meeting expecting that a positive result would be achieved and if convergences are agreed, they would be submitted to the approval of the leaders tomorrow.

    Explaining what is discussed on the chapter of the territorial adjustments, Ozersay said that no map is discussed at the moment, adding that the issue of how much territory will be given is also not on the negotiating table. He noted that they discuss what kind of measures will be taken, what possibilities will be secured and other similar issues regarding people who might be influenced as a result of possible territorial adjustments.

    Responding to a question on how the Turkish Cypriot side sees the economic and political crisis which allegedly exists in the government-controlled area of Cyprus, Ozersay said: "We are watching with concern the political developments in the south [Tr. Note: The government controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus]. However, in the end this is an internal matter of the Greek Cypriot side and should not influence the negotiating process. There are promises given to the UN Secretary-General. Everybody should follow these promises. Let me be content with saying the following: We are not happy by the fact that our interlocutor, with whom we try to establish a partnership and to make an agreement, is in trouble politically. We are not pleased when we see this, because we want the solution of the problem".


    [08] Statements by Yorgancioglu on oil and gas explorations

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (04.09.11) reported that the leader of the Republican Turkish Party ? United Forces (CTP-BG) Ozkan Yorgacioglu, in a written statement, said that the works on the issue of oil and gas explorations should be postponed until the solution of the Cyprus problem, adding that if this is impossible, then at least the Greek Cypriot administration (as he referred to the Cyprus Government) should be prevented by benefitting the earnings of the explorations until a Cyprus settlement.

    Yorgancioglu also said that the latest developments and the risks created by the non-solution of the Cyprus problem are as big as a reason for tense developments.

    Commenting on the latest statement by Turkish Minister Bagis that Turkey will do whatever is necessary if the Greek Cypriot side starts oil exploration works, Yorgancioglu said that they have an excuse to worry that the tension will be increased.

    Yorgancioglu reiterated his view that, because the Greek Cypriot side is a member of the EU, influences negatively the Republic of Cyprus' motivation for a solution.

    [09] BKP censures the Turkish Government's policy on natural gas exploration activities in Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika (04.09.11) reports on a written statement by the United Cyprus Party (BKP) on the rising tension regarding the natural gas exploration activities of the Republic of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. In its statement, BKP criticises the Turkish Government that it follows a "policy of tension" and notes that with its "threatening and intense statements", it influences negatively the efforts for a solution in Cyprus.

    Referring to the recent statements by the Turkish Minister and EU Negotiator Egemen Bagis, BKP general secretary Izzet Izcan, in his statement, noted that such statements are "war cries" and said that officials should refrain from such statements. It was added, that Turkey has no right over the natural resources existing in Cyprus and that the natural resources of the island belong to its people. The statement concludes by saying that tension-rising policies should be avoided and focus should be given to an early solution for the Cyprus problem.

    [10] TDP: It seems that Erdogan does not want a solution in Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli (05.09.11) reports that Esat Varoglu, general secretary of the Social Democracy Party (TDP), has argued that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), in the beginning seemed that they were pursuing a policy aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, but after 2006-2007 it seems that they do not want a solution. In statements to Kibrisli, Varoglu said that Erdogan does not implement an active policy on Cyprus. He noted that with the statements he made regarding the solution, especially after acquiring 50% in the last elections, Erdogan exhibited his attitude of not wanting a solution.

    Referring to the internal situation in the occupied area of Cyprus, Varoglu said that the only way out of the economic, political and administrative problems is "early elections". He argued that the National Unity Party (UBP) cannot administrate the "country" anymore and expressed the view that the political parties should come together and "produce local solutions" to the problems. He noted that the economic packages which come ready to the occupied area of Cyprus could not improve their economy, because they are not in harmony with the structure of the "country". He argued that the world economic crisis is reflected multiplied in the occupied area of Cyprus, because the Turkish Cypriots have stopped producing for many years.


    [11] ESBA Executive Committee meeting to be held in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (05.09.11) reports that the third Executive Committee meeting of the European Small Businesses Alliance (ESBA) is to be held in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus. According to an announcement by the "Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce" (KTTO), ESBA Executive Committee's chairman Tina Sommer and its members will travel to the occupied area on Wednesday. During its stay in occupied Cyprus, the ESBA delegation will participate in a series of activities.

    On Thursday, ESBA officials will hold a meeting with the KTTO in order to get familiarized with the Turkish Cypriot business world. As the paper reports, the opening speeches at the above-mentioned meeting will be made by the KTTO and ESBA Executive Committee member Salih Celiker, and the ESBA chairman Tina Sommer. In addition, the so-called minister of economy and energy Sunat Atun will make a speech titled: "TRNC economy and investments' climate", while on his part, former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will address the meeting with a speech titled: "north Cyprus: In the EU or not?".

    Later, the ESBA delegation will be briefed by Erhan Ercin, chairman of the EU coordination centre activating in the occupied area of Cyprus, on the "EU-north Cyprus relations". As it is reported, on Thursday evening, the delegation will be guided around the occupied part of Lefkosia. The ESBA Executive Committee meeting will be held on Friday in occupied Kyrenia and it will be closed to the press. After the meeting, the delegation will be toured in occupied Famagusta. The delegation will depart from the occupied area on Sunday, September 11.

    [12] BDP re-elects Selahattin Demirtas as party chairman

    Turkish daily Today's Zaman newspaper (04.09.11, online) reported that pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) re-elected Hakkari Selahattin Demirtas as the party's chairman while Siirt Deputy Gultan Kisanak was elected as the co-chairperson at the party's second extraordinary party congress in Ankara on Sunday.

    The party congress was attended by 1,074 party delegates. The main agenda item of the congress was a demand for autonomy for Kurds. Placards in Turkish and Kurdish were hoisted all around the hall bearing messages for autonomy.

    The BDP has so far refused to take the parliamentary oath and join in parliamentary proceedings as a sign of protest of the imprisonment of six of its Deputies. Thirty-six independent Deputies supported by the pro-Kurdish BDP were elected in the June 12 elections; however, six of the BDP-backed Deputies are currently under arrest as part of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) trial.

    The BDP made the decision to boycott the Parliament after the Supreme Election Board (YSK) stripped Hatip Dicle, one of the six jailed BDP Deputies, of his mandate over a prior terrorism-related conviction after the June 12 vote.

    [13] Turkey wins Libananco case

    Turkish daily Today's Zaman (04.09.11, online) reported that an international arbitration body ruled on Saturday in favour of Turkey in a five-year-old case, dismissing a complaint from a company linked to embattled businessman Cem Uzan that a 2003 confiscation by Turkish authorities of assets belonging to the Uzan family had caused them financial losses. Zaman reports the following:

    "Libananco, a Greek Cyprus-based company, whose major shareholders include Cem Uzan and Hakan Uzan, filed an arbitration claim against the Turkish Energy Ministry in 2006 with the Paris-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) for losses incurred after the Government seized the Uzan family's companies for siphoning off company assets. Libananco and the Uzan family asked the tribunal for $10.1 billion in damages -- or up to $21.5 billion with interest. The Cukurova Electricity Corporation (CEAS) and the Kepez Electricity Corporation were among the companies expropriated. Libananco holds 66% of both companies and is suing for losses stemming from their seizure".

    Speaking at a press conference on the issue, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the ICSID's decision lifted a major burden off Turkey's shoulders. Yildiz thanked the ICSID for the "commonsense" it has shown, saying it did not allow an "international robbery scheme" to succeed. "Turkey has gotten rid of a leech, a hunchback. It is like cutting off an arm with gangrene," the Minister said. Yildiz also said that the Uzan family attempted to use the case as a means to score goals in their political campaign against the Government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, he said, had acted to "defend Turkish citizens' rights" in the face of "fraudulent acts and corruption" of the Uzan family.

    The legal justification sent from the ICSID to the Energy Ministry on Saturday night underlined that the claimant will need to pay $16 million in litigation costs plus interest to Turkey. The Uzan family had asked for a total of $230 billion from the Turkish Government in damages in five different cases. "This number represents Turkey's gross domestic product [GDP] in 2003 or differently, the Uzan family was asking that every single Turkish person pay $3,000. However, all five cases were ruled in favour of Turkey and the claimant did not win a single cent. The total reached $30 million in legal costs from the five cases," Yildiz told reporters. "I would like to thank President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and all other people who worked hard to win the Libananco case," he said.


    [14] Turkey to host NATO's radar

    According to Turkish daily Today's Zaman (04.09.11, online) an early warning radar system that Turkey recently agreed to host in order to bolster NATO defences against missiles, is to be established in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakir.

    The defensive warning system primarily developed to protect the NATO countries from nuclear missiles from outside Europe is projected to be established in the radar facilities of the Second Tactical Air Command, near Pirinclik village close to Diyarbakir province, which was previously used by the US until it was put out of use in October 1998. The radar system in Pirinclik was used at the time under an umbrella of NATO to monitor border zones in Syria, Iran and Iraq. A similar system was also operating in Mardin.

    Feasibility studies were reportedly being conducted on both facilities for them to be reactivated and Patriot missiles are projected to be implemented in the command base. Patriot missile shields were set up in Diyarbakir at the time of the Gulf War when the US intervened in Iraq, but the missiles were taken back to the US after the war.

    [15] Turkey plans to strengthen its naval presence in Eastern Mediterranean

    Serkan Demirtas wrote in Hurriyet Daily News (02.09.11, online) that the Turkish Navy will be more visible in Eastern Mediterranean through regular patrolling in international waters and cites a Turkish official: "A more aggressive strategy will be pursued. Israel will no longer be able to exercise its bullying practices freely." He argues that Turkish Foreign Minister's statements will likely spark a new faceoff between Turkey and Israel with serious negative consequences for regional stability.

    Demirtas, based on diplomatic sources, writes that among the plans set to be implemented are the use of Turkish naval vessels to escort ships carrying aid to Palestine and observe free navigation in the zone between the island of Cyprus and Israel. The zone described by Turkish sources has been the subject of a recent diplomatic struggle between Turkey and Greek Cyprus over the latter's project to start drilling natural gas reserves. Greek Cyprus and Israel recently agreed to jointly initiate the drilling with the participation of some American companies.

    Turkey sees the gas-exploration deal as an agreement between two hostile countries against Turkey and has urged both parties not to get involved in such a project before a solution is found to the Cyprus issue in order to preserve the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Erdogan plans Gaza visit

    As part of Turkey's more aggressive strategy against Israel, sources told the Daily News that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to visit Hamas-controlled Gaza in the coming weeks, an intention he voiced in late July.

    "Our Prime Minister has already instructed the Foreign Ministry to set a date for the visit. We are looking for the best timing for the visit," a diplomatic source said. "Our primary purpose is to draw the world's attention to what is going on in Gaza and to push the international community to end the unfair embargo imposed by Israel", the same source said.

    [16] Columnists view Turkish-Israeli relations

    The majority of the Turkish dailies host news reports and commentaries regarding the latest developments in the Turkish-Israeli diplomatic relations.

    Columnist Ihsan Dagi views in Today's Zaman (04.09.11, online) the downturn in Turkish-Israeli relations and argues that it started with Israel's war against Gaza in December 2008. He pins the current crisis not to the "so-called Islamist background" of the Erdogan Government, but on the failure by recent Israeli Governments to understand the dynamics, actors and policies essential to the "new Turkey."

    Under the title: "Deciphering Israel's behaviour," Omer Taspinar views the reasons why Israel decided not to apologize although it knew that relations would hit rock bottom as a result. He concludes that it was not because of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's stubbornness or Benjamin Netanyahu's difficult domestic situation and sliding popularity, but because according to the strategic assessment in Israel, it seemed that the relationship with Turkey was broken beyond repair. "The fact that Turkey was not only demanding an apology and compensation but also an end to the embargo over Gaza is very telling for the Israelis. This showed that normalization with Turkey was almost impossible as long as the Turkish Government indexed its relations with Tel Aviv not just to bilateral factors but also to the Palestinian question," writes Taspinar.

    Hurriyet Daily News columnist Murat Yetkin in his article: "The story of failure in Turkish-Israeli diplomacy" (02.09.11, online), gives a detailed account of the diplomatic contacts between the two countries since the Turkish-Israeli cooperation broke down in 2009 when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres had their "one minute" row over Israeli operations against Palestinians that were causing the death of civilians in Gaza. He concludes that diplomacy between the two countries collapsed last week when the Turks accused the Israelis of misleading the media that it was the Turks who wanted another six months for the release of the report, and writes: "Turkey challenged the U.N. and the U.S. for an immediate release. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton asked for some more time personally from Davutoglu to convince U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Israelis. But the lobby which managed to provide a speech in the U.S. Congress ? with the help of the American opposition when President Barack Obama was out of the U.S. for Europe ? probably managed to leak the report to the New York Times to further embarrass Clinton and cause Davutoglu to explode."

    Hurriyet columnist Sedat Ergin (03.09.11, online) argues that Turkey is challenging Israel in virtually every sphere, and on every front. He writes inter alia: "We are thus entering into a period in which the two countries will confront each other head to head not just in the Eastern Mediterranean, but on a global scale. This mean more tension, and more conflict, between Turkey and Israel."

    Sabah columnist Erdal Safak (04.09.11, online) views implications of Erdogan's visit to Egypt and a possible visit to Gaza. He notes the change of rhetoric by Egypt's new Government towards Israel and writes that "Erdogan - if there is no change at the last moment - will meet in the days ahead with an Egypt that has shaken off the dust that had covered it and once again does not hesitate to pound its fist on the table in the face of Israel. A meeting that is going to change the geopolitical balances in the Middle East."

    Columnist Fikret Bila writing in Turkish daily Milliyet (04.09.11, online) comments that the chain of errors made by the Israeli Government has caused it to lose Turkey and that the ending of the Turkish-Israeli friendship will give rise to consequences that will create more problems for Tel Aviv than for Ankara. TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION


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