|Wednesday, 13 November 2019|
Turkish Press Review, 99-05-21
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From: Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs <http://www.mfa.gov.tr>
Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS
 THE ISSUE IS NOT IMPRISONMENT BUT NOT TO IMPRISON - BY TUFAN TURENC (HURRIYET)
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 SPECIAL KOSOVO
 AKBULUT BECOMES 22ND SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENTMotherland Party (ANAP) Deputy Yildirim Akbulut was elected yesterday in the fourth and final round of the voting as the new Speaker of the Turkish Parliament. Akbulut received 332 votes in yesterday's round, while Sadi Somuncuoglu of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) received 191 votes. Eleven ballots were void, while seven deputies abstained. A total of 541 deputies attended yesterday's voting. /All papers/
 SAKIK BROTHERS SENTENCED TO DEATHThe former 'number two' of the PKK terrorist organization, Semdin Sakik, and his brother Arif Sakik were sentenced to death by Diyarbakir State Security Court (DGM) yesterday on charges of murder and separatism. The death penalties came just several days before the start of the trial of the PKK Chief, Abdullah Ocalan. The Sakik brothers were captured by Turkish forces in April of last year during an operation near the Northern Iraqi town of Dohuk. The trial has been continuing for the last nine months. /All papers/
 HOPES REVIVED FOR DSP-MHP-ANAP COALITIONIn spite of the fact that the Nationalist Action Party's expectation of a `gesture' from the Democratic Left Party (DSP) in the Speaker of Parliament election following Rahsan Ecevit's scathing criticism of the MHP has not been realized, Devlet Bahceli, the Chairman of the MHP, has accepted the restart of the previously broken-off talks between the Chairmen and the leading figures of the two parties to discuss a coalition government. It is reported that the MHP Parliamentary Group, convened after the Speaker of Parliament election, was unable to reach a precise decision concerning the fate of the coalition talks with the DSP. Upon this development, Bulent Ecevit sent Husamettin Ozkan, the Deputy Chairman of the DSP, to the MHP Headquarters. Meeting Devlet Bahceli and three other leading figures of the MHP for 1.5 hours, Husamettin Ozkan left the MHP Headquarters with Bahceli's message that `direct' contacts between the leaders of the two parties might be restarted for the coalition talks. It is reported that Husamettin Ozkan presented a draft coalition protocol to Bahceli and that the MHP Bureau of Assembly will convene today for a final decision.
Indeed, signs of the mitigation of relations between the two parties came immediately after the Speaker of Parliament election. Answering the journalists' questions concerning the possible impact of this election on the current crisis between the DSP and MHP, Devlet Bahceli said, "We will not let Ecevit wait for a long time. We will give our answer to their request for a meeting as soon as possible." Moreover, during the Parliamentary Group meeting, Bahceli also said, "Turkey has serious impasses. There is an urgent need for a stable government. We can no longer continue to display such an `egocentric' attitude." In turn, DSP leader Ecevit said, "Turkey should not be made to wait. A government should be formed one way or another. I also hope that they respond to our request as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, it is reported that the MHP may offer the DSP a `rotational Prime Ministry' formula according to which Bahceli and Ecevit will each become Prime Minister in turn. It is expected that Bahceli and Ecevit will meet today to discuss the details of a proposed coalition government between the DSP, MHP and the Motherland Party (ANAP). /Milliyet/Hurriyet/
 DEMIREL: "I EXPECT TO APPROVE THE NINTH GOVERNMENT"President Suleyman Demirel remarked that eight out of the 10 governments formed in Turkey in the last 10 years had been approved by himself and that he expects to approve his ninth government. Inaugurating an international fair in Ankara, Demirel said that despite 10 different governments in 10 years, Turkey has succeeded in reaching a 5% average growth rate and made a total of exports worth $27 billion in 1998. /Hurriyet/
 ALIYEV IN ANKARAAzerbaijani President Haydar Aliyev arrived in Ankara yesterday upon the invitation of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel. Demirel, the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Ankara, Mehmed Aliyev, and other officials welcomed Aliyev at Ankara's Esenboga Airport. The two Presidents later went to the Presidential Palace. During his meetings in Ankara, Aliyev is expected to receive his International Ataturk Peace Prize from Demirel on Saturday. /Turkiye/
 YILMAZ: "COALITION EFFORTS CARRY ON"Mesut Yilmaz, the Chairman of the Motherland Party (ANAP), said that he was pleased with the election of Yildirim Akbulut as the Speaker of the Parliament; he added that he belived Akbulut would carry out his mission in the best way. Meanwhile, claiming that the election for the Speaker of Parliament would not effect the efforts to form the new government, Yilmaz said, "The issue of the coalition government will carry on in its own direction." /Milliyet/
 GREEK TRICK IN WESTERN THRACEThe Archbishop of the Greek Church, Patriarch Hristodulos, is offerring financial assistance to every Greek family living in Western Thrace with more than three children. Turks living in Western Thrace have harshly reacted to this implementation and say that it is part of the policy to assimilate Turks in this region.
Meanwhile, another hostile policy is being pursued by Greece nowadays. On the front of T-shirts sold in many Greek districts, an eagle, the symbol of the Greeks, cuts the Turkish flag into two and on the back of the T-shirts, an eagle and a Greek flag emerge through a torn Turkish flag. Greece has previously shown its hostility against Turkey in many ways such as on telephone cards, calendars and by using various symbols. /Aksam/
 COUP IN THE VIRTUE PARTYThe reformist wing of the Virtue Party (FP) has dealt a blow against their former leader Necmettin Erbakan, whom they hold responsible for the real threat of closure hanging over the party. Backed by the majority of the renewed Parliamentary Group of the FP, the reformists discarded the so-called `candidates of Erbakan' on behalf of their own candidates during the elections for the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Group. Accordingly, the conservative `Erbakanist' wing received the heaviest blow in the election for the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament in which Yasin Hatipoglu and Mehmet Ali Sahin, known for their close relations with Erbakan, lost against Kocaeli Deputy Vecdi Gonul, the candidate of the reformists. On the other hand, despite Oguzhan Asilturk's counter-efforts right up until the last minute, Bulent Arinc, the symbol of the opposition to Erbakan, was elected as the Deputy Chairman of the FP Parliamentary Group. These election results within the FP's Parliamentary Group yesterday have been interpreted as `the most important exercise of the reformist wing before the great congress in the autumn'. /Hurriyet/
 BAYKAL EARTHQUAKE IN CHPDeniz Baykal, the former leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) who resigned following the failure of the party to enter Parliament in the April 18 Election, declared that he will run for the leadership of the party once again during their Extraordinary Congress tomorrow. Baykal's declaration of his candidacy for the leadership has resulted in heated debates within the party whereas Sefa Sirmen, the Mayor of Kocaeli, and Celal Dogan, the Mayor of Gaziantep, announced that they will resign from the party if Baykal is elected once again. However, it is reported that Baykal is determined in his decision and said, "I am a candidate. I cannot leave the CHP in chaos." Meanwhile, with Baykal's candidacy, the election of the CHP leader has turned into a complete mess. Currently Alyan Oymen, Tarhan Erdem, Ertugrul Gunay, Hursit Gunes and Deniz Baykal are running for the leadership, whereas it is expected that either Karayalcin or Fehmi Gunes, or both if they are unable to compromise, will declare their candidacy today. /Cumhuriyet/Hurriyet/
 TURKISH LEADER PRAISES BULGARIAN MINORITY POLICYThe political leader of the ethnic Turks in Bulgaria has praised the Bulgarian government's treatment of minorities, the Anatolia News Agency reports. "The Bulgarian model treatment concerning on ethnic minorities should be an example for all countries, particularly Yugoslavia", Ahmet Dogan, the leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedom (HOH), said in the southern Bulgarian town of Jebel.
 NATO PFP SEMINARThe NATO Allied Land Forces Command of Southeastern Europe (LSE) hosted a regional seminar between May 17-21 in Izmir, attended by seven members of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFP) Programme, two members from the Mediterranean Dialogue Programme and three from NATO member countries. NATO LSE Commander Gen.Edip Baser, said that views had been exchanged on many issues such as PFP exercises and activities, a PFP training centre in Ankara and inter-system harmonization within NATO, the Anatolia News Agency reports.
 GENERAL DERVISOGLU IN GERMANYThe Commander of the Naval Forces, General Salim Dervisoglu, has gone to Germany, reported the Anatolian News Agency. According to the Office of the Commander of the Naval Forces, Dervisoglu will attend the European Naval Forces Commanders' Meeting in Berlin. Dervisoglu will return to Turkey on 22 May.
 TURKISH VICTORY IN EUROPEA decision issued by the Justice Court, the highest judiciary organ of the European Union (EU), is of great importance for Sema Surul, who is currently living in Germany, and for other Turks living in both Germany and other EU countries. Sema Surul and her husband Kenan Surul, who were subject to racist discrimination in Germany, gained their social rights stemming from the Turco-EU Association Agreement signed in 1963 via the decision proclaimed by the Justice Court. /Aksam/
 MILITARY VEHICLE HITS A MINEA military vehicle hit a mine in the Kurtalan district of Siirt wounding three soldiers. The wounded were later taken to Kurtalan State Hospital. Officials stated that a search for the terrorists in the region was still in progress. /Aksam/
 ANAP MARKS 16TH ANNIVERSARYThe Motherland Party (ANAP) was founded on May 20, 1983, by the late Prime Minister and President, Turgut Ozal. ANAP Leader Mesut Yilmaz, who was speaking at the Party Headquarters in Ankara yesterday, on the 16th anniversary of the party's foundation, said: "Reconciliation is a characteristic of ANAP". In its 16 years of experience, ANAP has been in power for nine years and eight months, has founded a government six times and given the country one President, three Prime Ministers and three Parliament Speakers. /All papers/
 FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES INCREASEAccording to the Central Bank, its foreign exchange reserves have been increasing since the second half of April. Last week, foreign exchange reserves reached $ 22.317 billion with an increase of $ 108 million. /Hurriyet/
 TURKISH BUSINESSMEN'S ISRAELI HOPEMessages stating that the "Middle East peace process will continue" issued immediately after the leader of the Workers' Party, Ehud Barak, won the General Election in Israel, have activated the Turkish business sector. A Turkish delegation including representatives from the Istanbul Trade Chamber, the Turco-Israeli Business Council, the Police General Directorate and other officials will go to Israel today in order to improve economic, tourism and cultural relations between the two countries. Expecting that the US and Europe will implement their projects in the Middle East via Turkey, the Turkish business world aims to take the advantage of acting together with Israel. At present, Turkey also enjoys a $ 800 million trade volume with Israel. /Cumhuriyet/
 TURCO-TURKMEN NATURAL GAS AGREEMENTA Turco-Turkmen natural gas agreement will be signed in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashkabad today. Energy and Natural Resources Minister Ziya Aktas will sign the agreement on behalf of Turkey. As part of a project which envisages the transport of Turkmen natural gas via a pipeline to be laid beneath the Caspian Basin to Turkey and to Europe, an annual 16 billion cubic metres of natural gas will be purchased over a 30-year period. The pipeline will be nearly 2,000 km long. Almost 14 billion cubic metres of natural gas will be transported to Western markets via Turkey. The pipeline expected to go into operation in the year 2002 will cost $2-2.5 billion, the Anatolia News Agency reports.
 MEASURES IN TEXTILE SECTORThe results of a Conference during which the problems of the textile sector and their solutions were discussed have been announced by the former State Minister and the Head of the Executive Board of System Engineering Services, Tinaz Titiz. Titiz remarked that it was agreed during the Conference that a secretarial mechanism to follow the measures taken in the textile sector will be established. Titiz said that the Turkish Textile Employers' Union would assume the secretarial function. The Head of the Turkish Textile Industry Employers' Union, Halit Narin, stated that they were expecting the new government to take decisions which would aid the recovery in the financial world and contribute to the economy. /Aksam/
 $ 4 BILLION INVESTMENT IN ENERGYThe Treasury gave the go-ahead to five energy projects which have a $ 4 billion investment value and will be constructed along the lines of a buid-operate-transfer model. The approved projects are as follows: Two natural gas transfer power stations, one at Izmir and the other at Aliaga, both to be constructed by Intergen-Enka at a cost of $ one billion each. A natural gas transfer power station to be built at Ankara by the National Power-Bayindir-Mimag consortium at a cost of $ 480 million. A natural gas transfer power plant at Adapazari, constructed by the Intetergen-Enka consortium at a cost of $ 520 million. A coal power plant to be built by the Siemens-Steag consortium at Iskenderun. The investment cost of this plant is $ one million. /Sabah/
 STATE MINISTER GEMICI IN ALGERIAState Minister Hasan Gemici attended the "Turkish Days" festival in Algeria organized by a Turkish company, the Ladin Fair and Organization Corporation. Gemici was also received by the Algerian President, Abdulaziz Buteflika, and conveyed President Suleyman Demirel's message inviting Buteflika to attend the 700th anniversary of the establishment of the Ottoman Empire in Ankara. After the meeting, Gemici said that economic, cultural and social relations with Algeria were at a perfect level. During his meetings in Algeria, Gemici noted that they had reached a mutual agreement on lifting the visa requirement in order to further improve economic relations. /Hurriyet/
 TOURISM MINISTRY ORGANIZES A TRIP TO GAPMinister of Tourism Ahmet Tan said that the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) was a suitable project to bring the Eastern and Southeastern regions into the fold of tourism. Within the scope of the project, the Ministry of Tourism will commence a train journey to the GAP region. Students and lecturers from the Middle East Technical University (METU) and officials from the Ministry will be on board. Concerning the journey, Tan said that they had to move tourism activities from the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts to the GAP region. Tan also referred to the fact that the use of the railways had been neglected for many years as far as transport was concerned and that they wanted to employ trains in the tourism sector. /Cumhuriyet/
 TURKEY IS FAVOURITE FOR RUSSIANSSince 1993 Turkey has been the favourite country for Russian tourists. According to the Russian Briefing magazine, 41.7 % of the Russian tourism agencies organize holidays to Turkey. The second most popular with 38.4 % of them is Spain. /Sabah/
 TURCO-US COOPERATIONCulture and Show Centres A.S., affiliated to Transturk Holdings, the owner of which is the Head of Galatasaray Club, Faruk Suren, has signed a partnership agreement with the Loews Cineplex (LCE) company to move into the movie sector. The agreement foresees that 15 multi-screen cinemas will be opened in Turkey, the Turkish-Speaking Republics and Romania within five years and the LCE will have a 50 % share in Culture and Show Centres A.S. /Aksam/
 TURKISH HAZELNUTS EXPORTED TO USThe Head of the Black Sea Hazelnut and Products Exporters' Union, Ahmet Baskan, said that the annual hazelnut production of the US, which consumes a great deal of nuts, was nearly 20,000 tons. Baskan added that Turkey exports 5,000 tons of shelled hazelnuts to the US and that their initial aim was to increase Turkey's exports to 50,000 tons. /Aksam/
 UYAN APPOINTED FOR EUROPAY EURASIA OPERATIONSEuropay International, the world's number-one payment systems group, has named Kemal Uyan, a Turkish computer engineer, as Operations and Technology Director of its Eurasia office. Thirty-four Turkish banks are members of Europay International. /All papers/
 HAYRETTIN ERKMEN DIESHayrettin Erkmen, 86, a former Member of Parliament who served as Turkey's Foreign Minister from 1979-1980, died in Istanbul on Tuesday night, family members said. Funeral services will be held today. /All papers/
 SIXTH TURKISH PRODUCTS FAIR IN SOFIAThe Sixth Turkish Products Fair is going to be organized in Sofia between June 9-12 by the Fair Organization Center (FOREM). Turkish products ranging from ready-made to industrial machinery will be exhibited in the fair in which 52 Turkish companies will participate, reports the Anatolian News Agency.
 JEWELLERY PRODUCERS TO FORM EXPORT COMPANYA group of 100 Turkish gold jewellery manufacturers are coming together to form a foreign trade company to bolster the country's gold jewellery exports, business executives have said. Anagold Sectoral Dis Ticaret Sirketi, the foreign trade company, would help double Turkey's gold jewellery exports from 80,000 tons a year to 150,000 tons in the year 2000, Muammer Alkim, the Head of the Jewellery Businessmen's Association, said in a written statement. /All papers/
 THY TO START ITS FLIGHTS TO MIAMI-ISTANBULTurkish Airlines (THY) will start its direct flights between Istanbul and Miami on June 1, 1999; Anatolian News Agency reported on Thursday. Miami is the third route of THY in the US. The flights will be realized for three days a week with Airbus A-340 aircrafts. The officials from the THY is the third most punctual airlines in the world according to the surveys of the European Airlines Union, following Irish Air Lingus and Scandinavian SAS Airlines.
 MINISTER OF CULTURE TO VISIT BISHKEKIstemihan Talay, the Minister of Culture, will go to the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on May 25 to attend the 12th meeting of the Turkish Culture and Arts Joint Management (TURKSAY) Permanent Council, the Anatolia News Agency reports. Tekin Aybas, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture, will accompany Talay. Talay and Aybas will return home on May 27.
 SPANISH PLASTICS PRODUCERS' INTEREST IN EXPOTECNICAThe Spanish plastics and rubber producers will participate in the Expotecnica `99 Fair to be held between June 1-6 in Istanbul, reports the Anatolian News Agency. According to a statement issued by the Bogazici Iletisim Group which is undertaking the promotion campaign of the Fair, the relevant Spanish companies are known for their achievements in hi-tech production processes.
 WORLD-FAMOUS AMERICAN DRUMMER VISITS ISTANBULThe American, Dom Famularo, who is accepted as one of the greatest drummers in the world, will come to Istanbul, Turkey to be a jury member at the "The Best Drummer" contest to be held in Istanbul on 1 June, reported the Anatolia News Agency. The aim of the contest, which Famularo will judge, is to make drums more widely-known.
 FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS
 COMPROMISE - BY TAHA AKYOL (MILLIYET)Columnist Taha Akyol recalls past events and comments on the present. A summary of his column is as follows.
" Prior to the September 12 military intervention there was anarchy in the country. There was blood spilt between the Republican People's Party led by Ecevit and the Nationalist Action Party(MHP) led by Turkes. The number of seats obtained by the Republican People's Party (CHP) which came out as the largest party from the 1977 Election was not enough to elect the Speaker of Parliament. The 17 seats of the Nationalist Action Party would decide the winner, either the RPP candidate or the candidate from the right-wing parties. The MHP issued a statement to the effect that in order to pacify grassroots opinion, the party administrations should moderate their standpoints and declared that its parliamentary group would be able to vote for a moderate CHP member. Cahit Karakas was such a moderate deputy and he was elected Speaker of the Parliament with the votes of the MHP members.
The second initiative taken by the MHP, to modify the views of the grassroots through a toning-down within the party administrations, was the suggestion of a coalition with the CHP. With the knowledge of Ecevit and Turkes, Gun Sazak from the MHP and Vedat Dalokay from the CHP secretly met three times. Both men were respected within their parties, and today both of them are no longer alive. The MHP General Administrative Council approved the CHP-MHP coalition. However, Ecevit spoke against it, probably fearing the reaction of the radical element within his party.
Every day, both sides were reading about some friends killed by the others and attending their funerals. The initiative taken by the MHP to tone down differences of opinion in that atmosphere was a constructive and reasonable step. A compromise between the CHP and the MHP could have controlled the bloodshed if not prevented it altogether. As the opportunity for a coalition between the CHP and the MHP was lost, government crises followed. Troublesome Ecevit governments and troublesome Nationalistic Front (MC) governments followed. The economy went bankrupt, terrorist actions increased, and in the end military forces intervened!
Today, both the left and the right have been transformed greatly. However, we are still faced with serious problems. Their solution depends on compromises. The DSP has not made any gestures to the MHP concerning the election of the Parliament. What will happen next?
Yildirim Akbulut highly deserves the post of Speaker of the Parliament. I congratulate him."
 THE ISSUE IS NOT IMPRISONMENT BUT NOT TO IMPRISON - BY TUFAN TURENC (HURRIYET)Tufan Turenc, a columnist in the daily 'Hurriyet' newspaper, says the following in his article today:
"The issue that must be of concern is that the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) has not shown any reaction to those outdated laws which have imprisoned journalist Oral Calislar. Thinking that a party will be armed and go on to the streets is absurd. It is also extremely optimistic that that party will make a huge contribution to democracy. The basic concern of Ecevit should be this matter. For instance, he should have tried to learn what that party is thinking about the sort of mentality which wants to imprison Oral Calislar.
Everyone in Turkey knows that Turkey cannot change its image without amending its outdated laws. We will either bring full democracy to the country or be outside European civilization."
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 SPECIAL KOSOVO
 ANKARA: "GROUND OPERATION IS RISKY"While discussions on a likely ground operation against Yugoslavia are continuing because Belgrade is not backing down, it is reported that Ankara is decidedly cool concerning the ground operation issue. Ankara believes that air strikes should continue until a positive result is achieved. It is considered that the geographical location and the non-existence of an army in good order in the region will create some drawbacks if a ground operation is carried out by NATO.
Meanwhile, a Turkish officer has played a key role in the bringing-down of three Serbian MIG-29 aircraft. The Turkish officer is on duty on an Awacs early-warning aircraft. In a further development, Italian Prime Minister Massimon D'Alema wishes NATO to suspend air strikes against Yugoslavia. /Milliyet-Aksam/
 MILOSEVIC WANTS MORE TALKSNATO jets pounded Belgrade and its suburbs early yesterday, hitting a hospital and killing at least three people. The Swedish Ambassador's residence was also slightly damaged in the attack. In a brief statement, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's office said: "The solution can only be found politically within the UN and with the active and direct participation of Yugoslavia, starting from the principles of the G-8". It added that talks would continue on Monday and Tuesday in Belgrade.
The terms of the G-8 plan include the withdrawal of Milosevic's 'military, police and paramilitary forces' from Kosovo. NATO seeks a total withdrawal of all the 40,000 strong Serb forces, including regular troops. The G-8 plan also calls for the deployment of 'international civil and security presences', while NATO demands a well-armed international force with NATO at its core, something Milosevic has vehemently rejected in the past. /All papers/
 TURKEY ACCEPTS THE MOST REFUGEES AMONG THE NATO ALLIESAccording to recent NATO information, Turkey is the NATO ally which has accepted the most Kosovars, reported the Anatolian News Agency. According to the official list issued on 18 May, Turkey has received 15,321 refugees and some other countries are as follows: Germany has taken in 12,018, Italy has housed 11,285, Hungary 4,081, Norway has sheltered 4,081, Canada has accepted 3,851, the Netherlands 2,014, etc... After visiting the refugee camps in Macedonia, the NATO General Secretary said that Turks has achieved the best organization in the refugee camps due to their previous experience. NATO sources reported that Turkey had proved how vitally important she is in the areas of military, strategic and humanitarian aid during the Kosovo crisis. It added, "Turkey will open up her air bases to NATO aircraft and once more clearly show that she is essential for NATO."
 CIRCUMCISION FEAST FOR KOSOVAR CHILDREN23 Kosovar children who fled to Turkey from the Serbian massacre were circumcised yesterday in Istanbul. The representative of Kosovo in Turkey, Enver Tali, the Chairman of the Kosovo Cooperation Committee and Cooperation Association, Fahri Turkkan, Kosovar families and Turkish officials attended the circumcision feast. Before the feast, Turkish singers staged a concert for the Kosovar children. /Hurriyet/
 DEMIREL: "WE ARE BOMBING" - BY SEDAT ERGIN (HURRIYET)Columnist Sedat Ergin comments on the statement of Turkish PResident Suleyman Demirel concerning Kosovo. A summary of his column is as follows:
"For some time, articles were seen in the Turkish press to the effect that Turkish war planes were participating in the NATO air strikes operation. These revealed a serious change in Turkey's Kosovo policy. What is more interesting is that no official denial was issued. During a conversation with President Demirel, we asked him if Turkish planes were taking part in bombing missions to which he answered that sometimes they did. With these words of the President, the change in Turkey's policy has been confirmed for the first time by the highest Turkish official.
Thus, following the decision to open up Bandirma Air Base to US warplanes participating in the NATO strikes, Turkey has taken one more step in entering the conflict. In the past, due to concerns that it would harm its future relations with Serbia, Turkey had taken on a limited role within the NATO air strikes. It did not include offensive action and, until last week, Turkish F-16s were flying on defensive missions and were not dropping bombs. As the mission has changed, it is understood that some new concerns have pushed back the cautious policies adopted before. What can be the reasons or expectations which have changed our policy?
President Demirel has answered this question with the statement that we cannot act like Greece. This statement shows that the main consideration is to place Turkey above Greece, who is standing close to Serbia, and is the main reason for this change. The President went on to say that loyalty was one of the main factors in deciding Turkish policy. He added that Turkey was a first-class member of NATO, and to drop to the position of a second or third-class member would go against Turkey's interests. In NATO, Turkey is among the top five states and she should not lose this position.
This means that the decision is being taken to consolidate Turkey's position in the West and strengthen its pro-Western policy. Turkey is going through serious bottlenecks in her relations with the West. At a period when these problems could not be eradicated, her active role in NATO is expected to compensate for the coolness in relations with other states.
Demirel also states that the problem concerns Kosovo which was under Ottoman administration for 524 years. Those oppressed in Kosovo are Muslim Turks and Albanians. He states that in an operation which aims to save our kinsmen, Turkey cannot follow a policy of indifference."
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