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Anadolu Agency: News in English, 99-12-25

Anadolu Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Anadolu Agency Home Page at <>

[01] AA News

25 December 1999 Saturday


These are some of the major headlines and their brief stories in Turkey's press on December 25, 1999. The Anadolu Ajansi does not verify these stories and does not vouch for their occuracy.


Hasan Heybetli, one of the notorious mafia bosses, who fled to Kos Island of Greece after shooting and injuring two persons in Bodrum on July 27, was put in Mugla prison. After being interrogated by Bakirkoy Criminal Court of Peace No: 2, Heybetli, was sent to Mugla prison from Istanbul. Heybetli was extradited from Greece to Turkey on Thursday.

Gulay Asliturk, the former Mayor of Sisli, who was released on bail, was booed by Turkish citizens living in London. They told her that she should be ashamed.

Two missing parts of sarcophagus reflecting 12 labours of mythological hero Heracles, were found and replaced. The missing parts which were unearthed during illegal excavations in ancient Perge city in 1974, were smuggled to abroad. The sarcophogus will be opened to visitors in 2000.


General Huseyin Kivrikoglu, the Chief of General Staff, said, ''we are ready to cooperate with Greece. I have offered Greece to stage a joint military manoeuvres in the Aegean Sea. I will pay a visit to Greece to attend the NATO meeting in September. Then we expect them to pay a visit to Turkey. We have began to fly over the Aegean Sea without weapons as a nice gesture. But we have later abandoned it because Greece did not replied our gesture in the same manner.''

General Huseyin Kivrikoglu, the Chief of General Staff, said that only 500 members of the terrorist organization PKK remained in Turkey.

Heavy snowfall paralyzed daily life and traffic in Thrace region. Roads of 18 villages in Edirne, Kirklareli and Tekirdag provinces have been closed to traffic due to heavy snowfall. In Edirne's Ipsala county, the schools were recessed for one day. In Enez county, 15 villages cannot be reached and 19 villages cannot given electricity.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said that the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum would be held in Davos on January 27, adding, ''I was also invited to the meeting which is expected to focus on Turkey. It seems to be a significant meeting for us. I have asked relevant state institutions to make preparations prior to the meeting. There are many things to do in Turkey with the contribution of the foreign capital. We will do our utmost to make the meeting an encouraging one concerning the investments in Turkey. As I said, projects for which the foreign capital door is open, will be collected in a book, and presented to foreign businessmen and investors.''

Ramazan Toprak, the Aksaray Deputy of the Virtue Party (FP), claimed that those who assasinated Prof. Dr. Ahmet Taner Kislali, the former Culture Minister and a leading journalist, fled to Kos İsland of Greece.

Non-governmental organizations protested the government's plans to build nuclear power plants and said the use of nuclear energy would turn Turkey into a ''nuclear garbage.'' In the meantime, villagers of Bergama who came to Ankara to join the protests were manhandled by the police. Non- governmental organizations said the nuclear tenders with U.S. and European countries should be cancelled. ''France suspended its nuclear programme until 2010. The U.S., Germany and Canada are not building nuclear power plants. We don't want a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu or at another place. We will resist till the very end,'' they said at the protest.

Turkey which was granted EU candidacy status in Helsinki was able to finish examining only 60 percent of the EU law since 1987 when it applied to the union for the first time. The EU Coordination Council convened to start the necessary studies for Turkey's membership. However, justice and interior ministries have not yet started any activities and the lack of qualified experts in the ministries is creating problems. The delay might negatively affect the national programme talks which will be held when EU Commission's representatives come to Turkey end of January, 2000.


Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who said there will not be a step back from the stability program, promised that the measures will be implemented without being diluted. Pointing out that they have taken steps months before the intent letter given to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ecevit said ''almost all the decisions we have taken were like reforms. Government's determination was tested.'' Ecevit said the government will continue its determination, adding that, ''it is very hard to stop or step back from now on.''

The Supreme Court Criminal Department No: 9 upheld unanimously the capital punishment given to Semdin Sakik, the second leading name of the terrorist organization PKK, on Friday.

The Supreme Court Criminal Department No: 9 ruled that that the capital punishment given to Semdin Sakik by the Diyarbakir State Security Court (DGM) No: 1, was fair.

The Supreme Court Republican Chief Prosecutor's Office has the right to object to the decision of the Supreme Court Criminal Department No:9 about Arif Sakik. If the Supreme Court Republican Chief Prosecutor's Office does not object or its objection is rejected, Arif Sakik will be retried by the Diyarbakir DGM No: 1.

Meanwhile, Semdin Sakik has the right to request correction of the verdict.


Gen. Huseyin Kivrikoglu, Chief of General Staff, who congratulated Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit when the government was formed, visited him for a second time on Friday. Gen. Kivrikoglu and Ecevit said they have discussed issues concerning Turkish Armed Forces. Ecevit said they have not taken up any political issues.

Coalition government, who took a series of rooted measures on threshold of a new century for economy, is determined to implement its program. The government will apply its primary measures without giving concession. The most important target is to re-put the economy on the right track. Coalition government aims to overcome the problems of high inflation, energy shortage, and democratization. Harmonization between the coalition partners facilitates reaching the target.

The U.S. think tank Freedom House, in its 1999 World Freedom Report, categorized Turkey in the ''partially free'' from the aspect of political rights and individual freedoms. Other countries who were defined as ''partially free'' are Albania, Gabon, Liberia, Moldovo, Russia and Zambia. Our neighbours Greece, Greek Cypriot Administration and Bulgaria were classified as ''free countries''.


ANKARA, Dec 25 (A.A) - President Suleyman Demirel staged a press conference on Saturday to evaluate the developments in 1999.

Addressing the press conference, President Demirel said, ''since taking office as President of the Republic, I have considered it imperative under a democratic regime to engage in a comprehensive examination of the events of the past year and to share my observations with my fellow citizens through your assistance. This press conference should be read together with the opening address I gave at the parliament on 1 October 1999. The written elements in the booklet should also be considered delivered here.''

President Demirel noted, ''1999 was full of important developments. Therefore, I can only address a number of them within the limits of a press conference. I therefore wish to make an overall evaluation of 1999 and express some of my views towards 2000.''

Referring to the massive earthquake disaster, Demirel told reporters, ''our country was struck by an earthquake disaster on 17 August 1999 at 03:02 local time. This earthquake with 7.4 force in Richter Scale and of which the center was Kocaeli has caused extensive damage. In an area, 400 km in lenght, 150 km in with width and where 20 million people lived. Unfortunately, 17.424 of our citizens lost their lives and 43.953 of our citizens were wounded. 244.383 housing and business units suffered various degrees of damage. Our nation was united in grief, and rushed to the help of victims. So did the international community. 87 countries came to help in different ways.

I respectfully solude the memories of our citizens who lost their lives. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the institutions, the Turkish Armed Forces to begin with, to Red Crescent, and to voluntary organizations, municipalities, and last but not least, to our fellow citizens for their help and contributions. This was a display of grand solidarity. Furthermore, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the nations that came to our help.''

''As we were trying to heal the wounds of the first disaster, a second earthquake hit on November 12. The earthquake with magnitude 7.2 was centered on Duzce. A total of 832 people lost their lives while 4,948 others were injured. 40 thousands dwellings and business places collapsed or suffered damage. Once again Turkey and the world took action to assist quake survivors. Everything has been taken under control. Now, we will begin to construct new cities and counties in February or March. All wounds of the quake disasters would have been healed at the end of 2000. Turkey sits on an quake-prone belt. During the last decade, Erzincan, Dinar, Corum, Merzifon, Adana and Ceyhan experienced similar quake disasters. We have learned our lesson. We will make use of science and technology. We will learn how to live with the quake,'' Demirel added.


ANKARA, Dec 25 (A.A) - President Suleyman Demirel staged a press conference on Saturday to evaluate the developments in 1999.

Addressing the press conference, President Demirel said, ''in a matter of a few days, we shall be entering not only a new century, but a new millennium. As I have stated on numerous occasions, this historical moment provides us with the opportunity to reconsider the achievements of mankind, the place of our Nation within the framework of world history, and our objectives for the future.''

Demirel told reporters, ''thus, at this press conference I intend to examine not only the developments of the year 1999, but of the historical period which is drawing to a close. The present millennium is, in fact, the period during which our nation made a valuable contribution to world civilization by joining Europe and Asia. Reaching outward from the steppes of Central Asia and extending as far as the Mediterranean and Europe, our Nation, during the past millennium created two great Empires and a great, modern Republic. The Ottoman Empire, which our forefathers established, and of which we are the heirs, was created some 700 years ago. As we celebrate the 700th anniversary of its foundation, let us remember that for 624 years it played a formative role in the shaping of Mediterranean and European culture and civilization.''

''When this extensive Empire withdrew from the stage of history, we created a modern Republic from its ashes. This Republic came into being as a unitary nation-state, in full accord with the principles of international law. From its very beginning, the Republic saw itself as a fully- functioning member of the international community, and set itself the goal of reaching, and even surprassing, contemporary levels of civilization. It drew its strength from a concept of citizenship based upon equality, irrevocable basic rights and freedoms, constitutional republicanism, and secularism. At a time when ethnic nationalism and religious discrimination prevailed, the Turkish Republic brought into being a notion of constitutional citizenship. This concept was the creation of the unequalled genius of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Without regard to race, language, religion sect, or gender, it guaranteed equality and freedom to all citizens, and incorporating a conception of secularism which guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience, forged ties between the local and the global. It was upon this enduring foundation that we carried out the most successful project of the Twentieth Century for social and political change. It was thanks to the creation of the Republic that we were able to re-assume our position as a major state within a short period of time,'' Demirel emphasized.

He noted, ''throughout the past Millennium, mankind has experienced numerous conflicts brought about by religious, ethnic, and ideological divisiveness. Two world wars, followed by the Cold War, have made it abundantly clear to humanity that we have no choice but to learn to live and work together in peace and solidarity.''

''On the brink of the Second World War, in 1937, the founder of our republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, proposed a vision of peace which can serve as the key to improved international relations in the coming century: ''To the same extent that we are concerned with the survival and well-being of our own Nation, so should we think of the peace and prosperity of all of the nations of the world. To the same extent that we value the well-being of our own nation, so should we work to our full capacity in order to ensure the well-being of humanity as a whole. This is because endeavouring to improve the well-being of the nations of the world as a whole inevitably leads to one's own well-being as well. In the absence of peace and understanding on a world scale, there is no way whatsoever that any one nation can hope to achieve well-being for itself. Distant events which appear to have no relation whatsoever to us, may one day have a direct impact upon us.''

It is this world view which has enabled the Republic of Turkey over the past 76 years to contribute to world peace and to the creation of a universal society based upon basic human values,'' Demirel said.

He stressed, ''as a respected member of the community of democratic states, Turkey has played a part in securing peace, stability, and welfare on a global scale, thanks to its effectiveness in diplomacy. Following a multi- dimensional foreign policy, Turkey has played a guiding role over an area stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific and continues to be anation whose friendship is sought by others.''

''1999, the year which marked the Tenth Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of ideological polarization, was a year marked by a lengthy Agenda for Turkey, and at the same time, a year filled with numerous achievements. During this past year our efforts to eliminate foreign sources of terrorism have been extremely successful. The arrest of the ringleader Öcalan, marks a major milestone in our struggle against PKK terrorism. General and local elections held on the 18th of April were reaffirmation's of the strength of our democracy and of our citizens abiding faith in the democratic system. We won the respect of the international community through our leading role in the victory of the democracies in the Kosovo crisis and in bringing about a solution to the large-scale migration which was a tragic result of this crisis. Our efforts on the diplomatic front were effective in shaping the decisions concerning the security of the European-Atlantic region taken at the Summit Conference marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of NATO, we participated in activities aimed at securing the peace following the successful NATO operations in Kosovo. We actively supported the revival of the Middle East Peace Process and the positive atmosphere which came into being. We played a role in bringing about the pact for stability in South-East Europe,'' he said.

Demirel noted, ''we initiated a process of constitutional and legal reforms in the parliament. We were stricken by tragic earthquakes, but achieved a world-scale success in healing the wounds they caused. In spite of problems caused by negative developments in the world economy, we continued implementing development projects, and thanks to the contributions of our nation, made noteworthy investments in the areas of education, health, and energy. We became a member of the G-20, a group empowered to discuss all aspects of the global economy and the international financial system. For the first time in the history of the Republic, the Head of State paid a visit to Kosovo. Our relation with the United States reached a new level with the six-day President of President Clinton. We hosted the last major summit conference of the century in a manner that won the admiration of the international community. Along with the other heads of state of the countries of the region, and U.S. President Clinton, we signed historical agreements related to pipelines which will bring petroleum and natural gas from the Caspian basin to Turkey, and via Turkey to the world. And finally, at the European Union Summit in Helsinki, Turkey was officially declared a candidate, thereby opening the way to full EU membership. There are very few members of the community of democratic nations that could have achieved so much in a year marked by major natural disasters, economic difficulties, and national and local elections. Our achievements are the product of the democratic dynamism and creative energy of our nation. Turkey is a country where problems can be freely debated and in which solutions can thus be found. That is, in fact, the major foundation of our strength. It is for that reason that I have always spoken out in favor of a Turkey in which all matters are freely and openly discussed.''

''Our achievements over the past year are the products of the efforts to carry Turkey into the bright future it faces in the coming millennium. As we stand on the threshold of a new century, we must never lose our self- confidence or our optimism, but we must also never forget that there are numerous tasks awaiting us. As I have stated on numerous occasions, we are now at a turning point where numerous established international rules and institutions are being held up to scrutiny, and at which new solutions and directions are being sought at an ever-increasing rate. We are obliged to function as an organic part of the world community, and to play an active role in seeking and implementing new solutions. It is for this reason that as soon as possible, we must complete certain reforms which have, in fact, already begun in the spheres of politics, economy, administration, and justice. The year 2000 must be a new beginning, not only on the calendar, but in the history of Turkey. We are obliged to make it so. Over the next few years, lasting peace and stability will become a reality in the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Balkans, the Caspian, Black Sea, and Mediterranean Basins. With the completion of the Baku-Ceyhan Petroleum Pipeline, the Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Pipeline, and the Blue Stream Projects, Turkey will take a position as a world-scale energy distribution terminal. The next few years will also mark the beginning of discussions concerning Turkey's full membership in the European Union. The first steps in this direction were taken over the past year. We committed to ensure that further steps are taken in the same direction,'' he added.


ANKARA, Dec 25 (A.A) - President Suleyman Demirel staged a press conference on Saturday.

Addressing the news conference, Demirel said, ''the most important task that faces us as we enter the new millennium are preparations for full membership in the European Union (EU). These preparations are an integral part of Turkey's intention to be a full participant in the advancement of civilization. In fact, Turkey's goal of full membership in the European Union is her own free choice, and the natural outcome of a process of modernization which has been going on for nearly two centuries. Following the Second World War, Turkey became a member of all of the European institutions created within the framework of the reconstruction of Europe.''

Demirel said, ''finally, on 10 December 1999, Turkey became a candidate for full membership in the European Union of which Turkey had been an associate member since 1963. At the Helsinki Summit of the European Union, discrimination based upon religion was rejected, dedication to a project for a democratic, unified Europe in which cultural differences are valued was espoused, and recognition was granted to the fact that there can be no Europe without Turkey, and no Turkey without Europe. This marked the beginning of a new period in Turkish-EU relations, and, in fact, a new period in the history of Europe. I sincerely believe that this new period, which is of historical importance not only for Turkey, but for the EU as well, will lead to Turkey's accession to full membership in a shorter time than many expect.''

He said, ''our nation has demonstrated great pleasure, and even excitement, at the decision taken at the Helsinki Summit of the European Union declaring that Turkey will enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as the other candidates, and thereby eliminating the discrimination which was exhibited at the 1997 European Union Summit in Luxembourg. The general discussions held at the Turkish Grand National Assembly with regard to this matter demonstrated that a mutual understanding has been reached among our political parties. The Turkish public is of the general opinion that Turkey's acceptance for candidacy represents a national victory, and that all of the steps necessary for full membership must be taken promptly, in a serious and determined manner.''

Demirel pointed out that Turkey's candidacy for full membership in the EU has been cause for celebration from Georgia to Azerbaijan, from the Caucasus to Central Asia, from Croatia to Bosnia-Herzegovina, from the Balkans to the Middle East, and from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. This spontaneous wave of enthusiasm is proof of the fact that as Turkey assumes a more dominant place in the region, her integration with Europe gains impetus, and as her integration with Europe becomes more certain, the role she plays in her region becomes even greater.''

''In fact, it has always been our position that the role that we play in securing the peace, stability, and well-being of Eurasia complements our policy and approach vis-a-vis the European Union. The European Union shall also directly benefit from this policy. Turkey is not simply a major state in the European context, but in the context of the entire world, as well. Playing a determining role in securing the peace, stability, and well-being of a large geographical area, Turkey's responsibility and importance within the European Union will be commensurate with her role as a major power in the international context'' Demirel emphasized.

He said, ''the Turkish nation has already given its full support to the notion that preparations for full membership in the EU must begin immediately. Now, it is time for us to transform this national consensus into a full-scale mobilization. We have no time to lose. Not only our state institutions, but local government, universities, businessmen, unions, non- governmental organizations, and each and every Turkish citizen must be prepared to play a part in this national mobilization. I am absolutely certain that such will, in fact, be the case.''

Demirel said, ''the two matters that first confront us as we make our preparations are organization and the drawing up of a time schedule. On the one hand, we must intensify our diplomatic efforts: On the other hand, we must bring about the necessary domestic coordination. It is obligatory, that within the shortest possible time, an administrative framework be created that will coordinate the international and national dimensions of the issue. We must also give support to the formation of structure like the Economic and Social Council, which will encompass the worlds of business, labor, and NGOs, with the aim of facilitating preparations for full membership to the EU.

He said, ''as stated in the Helsinki decisions, Turkey is now "A candidate for membership, with the same criteria as applied to the other candidates". It was also decided at Helsinki that strategic support be given to Turkey with regard to preparations for full membership. Turkey will thus be able to benefit from EU funds, with this aim in mind.''

At the same time, Turkey will also be entitled to participate in various programs of the EU, alongside. Other candidates for full membership. Furthermore, an association partnership will be jointly prepared, a mechanism to ensure coordination between Turkey and the European Union Commission in preparation for full membership. Thus, in the new period which we are about to begin, the steps that need to be taken will be determined in coordination with the EU Commission, he noted.

Demirel said, ''Turkey's aim in the future, just as it has been so far, is to meet European standards in the shortest possible time. We must meet not only the Copenhagen criteria, but the conditions outlined at Maastricht, as well as those of the European Monetary Union. This, in fact, is a goal that we have set for ourselves in order to secure progress, prosperity, well being, and happiness for our country as rapidly as we can.''


ANKARA, Dec 25 (A.A) - President Suleyman Demirel staged a press conference on Saturday.

Addressing the news conference Demırel said, ''the time has come for Turkey to take full responsibility for accelerating the process which has already begun to bring about lasting reforms with this aim in mind. To some extent, it is we ourselves who hold the key which will determine when we shall accede to full EU membership. Reforms in the legal sphere will take their place beside other procedures which have already begun to facilitate our application for full membership. It is significant that candidacy for full membership in the EU, far-reaching economic reforms, and the stand-by agreement with the IMF should all coincide with the beginning of the new century. An evaluation of the economic situation, to be carried out jointly with the EU Commission, is on the Agenda for the month of January.''

''In this manner, EU support will be secured for the economic program which we are engaged in implementing. Our goal in the economic sphere is accord with the Maastricht criteria and the standards of the European monetary Union. These criteria consist of the following:

1. The budgetary deficit must not exceed 3 percent of the domestic gross national product. At present, this figure is 12 percent in Turkey. Our goal for the year 2000 is to bring this high figure down to 11 percent. A pre- condition for full membership is that this figure be reduced to less than 3 percent, a goal that requires a major agricultural reform, accompanied by other basic structural reforms.

2. The total gross public debt must not exceed 60 percent of the domestic gross national product. At present, this figure exceeds 60 percent in many of the EU member countries, while in Turkey it is roughly 55 percent, thus, in this regard, Turkey's situation is best in Europe.

3. The rate of inflation must not exceed the average of the three EU member countries with the lowest rates, by more than 1.5 percent. It is expected that in the year 2000, the average inflation rate in the EU member countries which belong to the European Monetary Union will be 1.5 percent that is to say, it is expected that the rate of inflation in the three countries with the lowest rate will be approximately 1 percent. In Turkey, it is expected that the new monetary program of the Central Bank will bring down the inflation rate to 7 percent in the year 2002. Thus, if we intend to accede to full membership in 2004, we must reduce the rate of inflation to between 2 to 3 percent in the year 2003, and to below 2 percent in 2004. In fact, inflation is the basic cause of all of the economic difficulties of a country.

4. Long term interest rates must not exceed the average of the three EU member countries with the lowest rates by more than 2 percent. The average rate in the 11 EU member countries which belong to the European monetary Union is currently 5 percent. Consequently, Turkey must bring down its rate to between 5 and 6 percent. High public sector debts and high inflation are responsible for our high interest rates. These two problems must be solved at the same time if we are to bring interest rates down to the level required for accession to the EU.

5. The unit of currency must meet the limits of the fluctuation band determined by the European Monetary system for a period of at least two years and sudden severe changes in value must be prevented. This may also be decribed as a "price stability criterion". If the other criteria are met, this criteria will automatically be met as well. It must also not be forgotten that the transition to the Euro as the unit of currency will also modify the meaning of this criterion. In addition to these five criteria for inclusion in the economic and monetary union, structural guarantees must ensure that central banks occupy a position of independence vis-a-vis the governments.

In addition to the above-mentioned points, the free circulation of services and transparency in bids and tenders in the public sector occupy a position of importance in preparations for full EU membership. These matters shall, in fact, be discussed in our talks with the EU Commission next month.

In this regard, procedures must immediately be initiated to secure accord with EU regulations and EU conditions of competition in the service sector, particularly in banking and insurance. Priority must be granted to developments in this area.


ANKARA, Dec 25 (A.A) - President Suleyman Demirel staged a press conference on Saturday to evaluate the developments in 1999.

Addressing the press conference, President Demirel said, ''in the post-Cold War period, the importance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Eurasia, has become even greater. The last summit conference of this organization to be held in the 20th century took place in Istanbul between November 18-19, 1999. In the course of the Summit, four documents of major significance were accepted and signed: The Istanbul Charter for European Security, the Istanbul Summit Declaration, The CFE Agreement, and the document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures.''

He added, ''the Istanbul Charter for European Security, hereafter to be known as the Istanbul Charter, clearly states OSCE targets for the Twentieth Century. According to the Istanbul Charter:

- Basic OSCE principles such sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the inviolability of borders were re-affirmed,

- It was re-affirmed that violations cannot be considered to be any country's internal matter, but that such violations constitute a cause for legitimate concern on the part of the international community,

- There was general agreement that the setting into action of such OSCE mechanisms as cooperative efforts for democratization and post-conflict rehabilitation be subject to the approval of the countries concerned,

- Responsibilities with regard to the elimination of racism, xenophobia, and terrorism were increased, commitments were made for cooperation in the struggle against new risks and dangers (organized, crime, migration, etc.), and measures to be taken against bribery and corruption were included in the OSCE Agenda.''

''The rights of it was affirmed that members of minorities are individual, not group, rights. He product of deliberations over a period of five years, the Istanbul charter will play a determining role in the activities of OSCE henceforth, Thus, the cornerstones of a security structure covering a vast area from Vancouver to Vladivostok were laid in Istanbul. This chart also constitutes a valuable legacy to future generations,'' he noted.

Demirel stressed, ''the OSCE summit also contributed to Turkey's image abroad in the political sphere. Taking full advantage of this opportunity, we achieved noteworthy success in terms of the excellent organization of the summit. At the same time, the summit provided the opportunity for numerous bi-lateral contacts at the level of president, prime minister, and foreign minister. As well as at other levels. Visits were paid prior to the Summit by the President of the U.S., and following the Summit by the EU Term President, the President of Finland, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. These diplomatic activities in the context of the OSCE Summit, combined with those at the NATO Summit and other bi-lateral visits and negotiations, played a decisive role in bringing about the historic decision at Helsinki opening the way to full membership in the EU.''

President Demirel told reporters, ''1999 was also a significant year in terms of further strengthening our strategic partnership with the U.S. My discussions with President Clinton when I was in Washington in the month of April for the NATO Summit, Prime Minister Ecevit's visit to the U.S. in September, President's bilateral State Visit to Turkey, followed by by his six-day stay in Turkey for the OSCE Summit on 14-19 November, are all indicators of the intensity experienced in Turkish of any U.S. President so far. It also marked the first first time that a U.S. President addressed the Turkish Grand National Assembly. We were pleased to note that by means of his visit itself, as well as by means of statements made during that visit, President Clinton re-affirmed U.S. determination to collaborate with Turkey, and stressed the importance attached by the U.S. to the role that Turkey will play in shaping the word of next century. This year, once again, the dimensions of the areas of joint interest and action of Turkey and the United States, democracies which share a common destiny, were strikingly clear. We shall continue to cooperate with our friend, ally, and strategic partner, the United States of America, to ensure peace, stability, and well- being in an area stretching from Central Asia and the Caucasus to Europe, from the Balkans to the Middle East, from the Caspian to the Black Sea, and Mediterranean basins. Through cooperation in the economic sphere, our multi- dimensional relations have become even more developed. With respect to matters of vital concern to humanity as a whole, our partnership with the United States will develop even further within a framework of mutual advantage, these matters include: The integration into the world market of new energy-supplying areas, the restructuring of the global economy, the propagation of our commonly-held values in the new political geography of Eurasia, the establishment of democracy and a free market economy in that region, and cooperative efforts aimed at eliminating threats to international peace and security, terrorism being the major such threat.''


ANKARA, Dec 25 (A.A) - President Suleyman Demirel staged a press conference on Saturday to evaluate the developments in 1999.

Addressing the press conference, President Demirel said, ''one of the outstanding developments of the 20th century is the re-establishment of fraternal ties between the nations of the Turkish world, an entity for which Turkey's only wish is well-being, peace, and prosperity. As the heir to the Seljuk and Ottoman Empires, which were the outstanding symbols of our common civilization over the past millennium, Turkey, with its experience and its achievements, is the strongest source of support and a gateway of opportunity for the Turkish world. At this point, I wish to reiterate that it is of utmost importance that we maintain Turkey's positive image in Eurasia and the Turkish world, that we remain faithful to our promises, and that we intensify relations at all levels in these regions.''

Demirel noted, ''it is with these facts in mind that we are engaged in shedding light upon and preserving our common cultural heritage, and in rebuilding bridges of solidarity and friendship between those Turkish communities dispersed throughout former Ottoman territory. As well as in our ancestral homeland. Within this framework, we have provided opportunities for thousands of young people from the Turkish world to study in Turkey, thereby taking measures to ensure future peace and prosperity in Eurasia. These young people will be the architects of our common future. Consequently, this project for peace must be continued in a determined manner. The Hodja Ahmed Yesevi and Manas Universities established in Central Asia with Turkish State support, will play a key role in bringing about a Turkish renaissance which will make a major contribution to universal civilization in this region during the 21st century.''

He stressed, ''another of Turkey's priorities in Eurasia is the repair of ruptures in the regional infrasructure which came into being in the intervening years, as well as the creation of new infrastructures. The restoration of the historical Silk Road, the establishment of new telecommunication networks thanks to Turkish satellites, the East-West Transportation Corridor stretching from Varna to Durres, the Baku-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline and the Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Pipeline and basic infrastructure projects such as the Kars-Tbilisi Railway are all elements contributing to the integration of the region into the world via Turkey, in the most economical, and most secure manner, and by means of the shortest road. This is a concrete reality which provides Turkey with new strategic importance.''

''In this framework, since the break-up of the Soviet Union and the coming into being of new independent republics in this region, we have supported and worked in collaboration with the energy-producing countries and the United States for the creation of the Baku-Ceyhan Petroleum Pipeline and the Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Pipeline. Finally, on 18 November 1999, the Heads of State of the countries concerned and U.S. President Clinton signed historic agreements in Istanbul. Constituting a turning-point in history, these agreements aim at the completion of the Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline by 2004, and of the Trans-Caspian Pipeline by 2002. The necessary procedures for accomplishing these goals are already underway,'' Demirel said.

He told reporters, ''with these agreements, we not only expressed our common determination to transport petroleum and natural gas from the sources in the Caspian basin to the markets of the world in a safe, economical, and environmentally friendly way, but also made a concrete contribution to the prosperity and happiness of future generations. By means of these agreements, a new phase of history has begun. In his end-of- the-year press conference held on 8 December, President Clinton stated that thirty years from now when we look backward, we will come to understand that the signing of these agreements was the most important event of 1999. In fact, it is clear that these agreements will play a determining role in the world of the 21st century, since it was by means of them that a new phase in the history of Eurasia has begun.''

''These agreements are of particular importance to the inhabitants of Istanbul. When these projects are completed, Istanbul and the Bosphorus will be far safer places. At the same time, environmental protection and the preservation of the ecological balance will be guaranteed,'' Demirel added.

''When the regional infrastructures are completed, the Caspian, Black, and Mediterranean Seas will no longer be seen as bodies of water that divide peoples and cultures, but rather as bridges to joint prosperity. As Turkey renovates and improves its harbours, airports, highways, and free trade zones, it will function as the center of distribution to the world for the new economic reality which will come into being around these seas. The second international conference on the theme 'The Story of Three Seas', which I opened this year, told the story of such a journey aiming at peace and prosperity. At the same time, this story is the story of a process which has transformed Eurasia into a concrete political and economic reality. Turkey is one of the leaders of this process and will continue to carry out this historic role with determination,'' Demirel emphasized.

President Demirel underlined, ''from Turkey's point-of-view, the Caucasus is the most sensitive part of the Eurasian region. Functioning as a gateway throughout history, the Caucasus, thanks to the Silk Road, now has the opportunity to function as an area of peace and prosperity. As I have often stated, the Caucasus is also the threshold between Europe and Asia. Consequently, it too occupies a strategic place in our Eurasian vision. The establishment of lasting peace and stability in the Caucasus are among the priorities of Turkey's basic foreign policy. Let me say one more time: The only obstacle to peace is the fact that 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan is under occupation, and more than one million of our Azeri brothers and sisters are forced to live as refugees. A just and lasting solution to the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, within the context of international legitimacy is the only key to enable all of the peoples of the region to benefit from the increasing opportunities for cooperation and prosperity. If I may reiterate: Those leaders who succeed in replacing hostility with cooperation, and who exhibit the wisdom to take the first courageous steps toward building a new future, will consequently occupy a prominent place in the golden pages of history. In this regard, I wish to declare that we offer our full support to the direct negotiations being carried out between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and that we are always ready to make contributions to the cause of peace.''

''At this point, I would like to place particular emphasis on the fact that we are determined to continue in our support of Azerbaijan's reforms aimed at consolidating its independence, strengthening its democracy, and developing its free market economy,'' he added.

President Demirel said, ''as I have stated on numerous occasions, Georgia occupies a position of major importance among Turkey's closest friends. Our particular interest in, and close cooperation with Georgia are basic elements of our foreign policy.''

''Yet another of the basic goals of our foreign policy is to contribute to finding new markets for developing Turkish industry. Over a large geographic area stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Caspian Basin, the Middle East, and Central Asia, Turkey occupies a position as the strongest and most dynamic economy, and that which is most able to engage in competition. Today, Turkish businessmen are making investments in 55 countries. Industrial products account for 90 percent of Turkey's exports. Turkey is engaged in trade with 135 countries. Fully aware of the fact that the lifting of restrictions on a trade on a global scale contributes to global economic prosperity, we continue to support free trade through bilateral and multilateral agreements. Our support of free trade also serves to create new areas of influence in terms of our foreign policy. Furthermore, inroads which Turkish foreign policy have made in recent years in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America have opened new markets for Turkish industry and have transformed Turkey into a country with a significant role in the global economy with an increasingly growing share of world trade,'' Demirel stressed.

He noted, ''in the post-cold war era, Turkey continues to support regional cooperation as the means of bringing peace and stability to a turbulent region. The leading role that we play in the BSEC, ECO, and the D-8 makes a major contribution to the creation of new areas of joint action and economic cooperation, from the Bering Straits to the Atlantic, over an area covering three continents and twenty-four countries. No other country in the world is involved in such a great number of different efforts for economic cooperations on such a large scale.''

President Demirel added, ''Turkey continues to take determined steps forward in the struggle against international terrorism, and is signatory to various agreements with this aim in mind. Furthermore, agreements signed between Turkey and numerous countries in the areas of military training and cooperation for security allow Turkey to play a major role in this successful struggle. It should not be forgotten that in the face of the threat posed to international stability and peace by fundamentalist and separatist terrorism, international cooperation and solidarity have assumed an even more important place.''


ANKARA, Dec 25 (A.A) - Parliamentary General Assembly on Saturday adopted Primership Memorandum regarding the extension of the mandate of ''Operation Northern Watch'' for another six months as of December 31, 1999.

Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, Minister of National Defense, who spoke on behalf of government, said an appropriate atmosphere has been prepared in struggle against terrorist PKK organization as a result of Operation Northern Watch, adding that immigration which threatened social and economic order, and border security, has been prevented.

Cakmakoglu said, ''continuation of the operation in the existing atmosphere in Northern Iraq, where all tensions and indefiniteness continue, is important for the balances of our foreign policy.''

Cakmakoglu said Kirkuk-Yumurtalik Oil Pipeline, which remained closed for long years, and its re-activation within the framework of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, was prepared as a result of Operation Northern Watch.

Mehmet Kaya, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Kahramanmaras Deputy, said continuation of the Operation will be good as indefiniteness and tension atmosphere continue in Northern Iraq. He said this was required for the balances of Turkish Foreign Policy.

Pointing out that Operation Northern Watch, which prevents a new immigration wave to Turkey also cause lack of authority in Northern Iraq, Kaya said this problem should be solved.


GAZIANTEP, Dec 25 (A.A) - During a joint operation carried out by the anti- terrorism and intelligence teams on Saturday, 14 members of the illegal Hezbollah terrorist organization were caught in Gaziantep.

Many organizational documents and reports, one gun, 8 rifle cartridges and several casettes were found in the houses and work places of the terrorists.

Hasim Tunc, the Acting Security Director in Gaziantep said the documents that were found revealed that the organization was working to topple the constitutional system, and set up an Iranian type state.

Tunc also noted that the Hezbollah members were working to gain supporters in Gaziantep and its surrounding and collected ''donations'' from people.


LONDON, Dec 25 (A.A) - Gulay Asliturk, former Sisli Mayor, said on Saturday that she wanted to be tried without detention.

Addressing a news conference in London, Asliturk said many mayors like Nurettin Sozen, Bedrettin Dalan, Murat Karayalcin, Melih Gokcek, and Tayyip Erdogan were tried under similar accusations, but that all of them were tried without detention.

Asliturk pointed out that she wants to return Turkey and give her testimony if arrest warrant against her are lifted.

Asked if she would request political asylum from Britain, Asliturk said, ''I have one country and one passport. I had services to Turkey. Seeking for asylum is out of question.''


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