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Turkish Press Review, 02-12-24
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr><LINK href="http://www.byegm.gov.tr_yayinlarimiz_chr_pics_css/tpr.css" rel=STYLESHEET type=text/css> <map name="FPMap1"> </map> <map name="FPMap1"></map> Press & Information Turkish Press Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
24.12.2002SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL TO BRIEF GUL ON IRAQ ISSUE AND TSK READINESS FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 PARLIAMENT’S CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION APPROVES AMENDMENT PACKAGEParliament’s Constitutional Commission yesterday unanimously re-approved a vetoed constitutional amendment package without making any changes to it. Last week, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer sent the three-article package back to Parliament to be re-debated, arguing that the legislation was unsuitable as it was intended to serve personal interests. The package proposes amendments to Articles 67, 76, 78 of the Constitution. The first round of balloting of the legislative package is scheduled to be held in the full Parliament today, and the second round is expected on Friday. /All Papers/
 LEADERS DISCUSS IRAQ ISSUEIn a two-stage meeting convened yesterday in Ankara by Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, a possible United States attack on Iraq and Turkey’s role in it were discussed. Present at the meeting were the chief of General Staff, the foreign minister and undersecretary, the Intelligence Service undersecretary, various state ministers and deputy prime ministers, the interior minister and the defense minister. Following the four-hour meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener told reporters that recent developments in the region had been comprehensively taken up and discussed. Sener said that no decision, either a political one or one concerning sending troops to the region, had been made at the meeting. /Turkiye/
 US OFFICIALS CONDUCT INSPECTIONS OF AIRBASES IN TURKEYWith permission from Turkish authorities, a United States military delegation yesterday was granted access to begin inspections of military airbases in Incirlik-Adana, Diyarbakir, Batman, Mus and Erhac-Malatya. The inspections are expected to be completed by the middle of next week, before the New Year. Any shortcomings of the bases will be addressed and rectified and if necessary, upgrades will be made. Should the Turkish government approve, US planes can be deployed at these bases beginning next February. The US administration has applied to the Turkish government to use airports in Corlu, Afyon and Sabiha Gokcen-Istanbul as well. /Aksam/
 GUL: “THE AKP GOVERNMENT HAS NO PLANS FOR A TAX AMNESTY”Speaking at an Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had no plans in the works to grant a tax amnesty, but that it had already began reforms on public sector expenditures. “The issue of public sector expenditure issue is related to taxes,” stated Gul. “We will be very careful in using the money we collect from the people in the form of taxes.” Gul also said that the government’s primary surplus carried great importance and that it needed to decrease public sector debts in order to boost the surplus. Increasing the primary surplus is a government priority, Gul added. /Hurriyet/
 ERDOGAN MEETS WITH RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER, PARTICIPATES IN RAMSTORE OPENING IN MOSCOWRuling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is currently in Moscow to pay an official visit, yesterday met with Russian Prime Minister Mihail Kasyanov. During their talks, Erdogan pressed for Russia to lower the price of natural gas that it sells to Turkey. Erdogan also said that he wanted the two countries to continue their suitcase trade. Erdogan was accompanied by State Minister Kursat Tuzmen, State Energy Minister Hilmi Guler and a number of businessmen. While participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a new Moscow Ramstore shopping center, a venture of Turkish conglomerate the Koc group, Erdogan said that a new period had started between the two countries, and that Ramstore was proof of this. “Businessmen will also play an important role in improving Turco-Russian relations,” he stated. Erdogan is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir today. /Hurrriyet/
 IRAQI OPPOSITION LEADERS PAY VISITS TO TURKEYAhead of a possible United States operation against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Turkey has recently been trying to improve its relations with Iraqi opposition groups living in exile. Representatives of these groups are paying visits to Ankara this week in order to discuss recent developments in the region. Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) leader Sanan Ahmet Aga yesterday met with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul. Speaking to the journalists after the meeting, Gul remarked that Turkey placed a high premium on its relations with the region’s Turkmen groups and would do its utmost to ensure the security of the ethnic Turkmens living in the region. Gul added that Turkey wanted the Iraqi problem to be solved peacefully. For his part, Aga stated that the ITF wanted to cooperate with the Turkish Army in case of a war. Meanwhile, Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani yesterday arrived in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) leader Massoud Barzani is expected to pay a visit to Ankara tomorrow. Turkish officials will hold consultations with the two leaders to evaluate the latest developments. /Cumhuriyet/
 ISRAELI OFFICIALS VISIT TURKEYIsraeli Foreign Minister Undersecretary Yoav Biran yesterday visited Ankara to review the current state of the Turkish-Israeli relations. Biran yesterday visited his Turkish counterpart Ugur Ziyal and is expected today to meet with a number of members of the new Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government. Biran remarked that he was satisfied with the current level of Turkish-Israeli relations and wanted to discuss bilateral and regional issues with Turkish officials. Remarking that Iraq’s territorial integrity should be protected for the security of all countries in the region, Biran stated that although Israel did not want to take part in a possible war in Iraq, the Israeli government was well aware of the serious threat to the region posed by Saddam Hussein. In addition, a delegation chaired by Israeli Chief of General Staff Gen. Moshe Yalon is due to visit Ankara. Gen. Yalon is expected to meet with his Turkish counterpart Gen. Hilmi Ozkok to discuss military cooperation between the two countries as well as the Iraq issue. /Cumhuriyet/
 SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL TO BRIEF GUL ON IRAQ ISSUE AND TSK READINESSThe Higher Military Council is to meet on Thursday to brief Prime Minister Abdullah Gul about recent developments on the Iraq issue as well as the preparations of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for a possible war against Saddam Hussein. Gul is also to be briefed on reactionary movements within Turkey which pose a threat to its democratic, secular regime. Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok and Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul will attend the meeting along with 15 other generals. Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) is to meet on Friday under the chairmanship of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer to discuss the latest developments on the Cyprus and Iraq issues. /Aksam/
 DENKTAS: “ACCEPTING THE UN’S CYPRUS PLAN WOULD SPELL THE END OF THE TURKISH CYPRIOTS”Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Rauf Denktas yesterday predicted that accepting the United Nations’ revised Cyprus plan wholesale would mean the end of the island’s Turkish Cypriot population within 5 or 10 years, yet held out the possibility of progress through negotiations. “We will discuss the plan with the Greek Cypriots, and try to reach an agreement,” said Denktas. “I am writing about the possible economic and political effects of the plan for Turkish Cypriots. I think that the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [the author of the plan] is unaware of these effects.” /Milliyet/
 TURKISH WRITERS MAKE LIST OF “WORLD’S MOST PROMISING POETS”In its list of the world’s “Ten Most Promising Poets” released this week, the Academy of American Poets (AAP) announced that two Turkish poets, Aziz Dogdu and Mine Bahadir, had made the prestigious ranking. Dogdu and Bahadir are the first Turkish poets to be so honored. The AAP, the world’s largest poetry organization, was founded in 1934 to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. /Aksam/
 FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 AN ACTIVE POSTURE BY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)Columnist Fikret Bila comments on Turkey’s possible role in an operation against Iraq by the US. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Ankara knows that the US is determined to carry out an attack against Iraq. Washington is trying to ensure support for the operation and during this period of time, both Ankara and Washington are busy with planning. Ankara is trying to turn the political and military choices into a common decision. During the recent Iraq summits in Ankara, common decisions were being created on various alternatives. Within this framework, we can summarize Ankara’s possible political and military preference in an Iraq operation like so: ‘Keeping in the thick of things.’ Turkey favors a solution to the problem without resorting to war, but it also sees that a military operation is very likely. Therefore it’s reasoning along these lines on the governmental level: ‘The US will do what it’s determined to do. It will do this whether Turkey supports it or not. In such a situation, Ankara’s putting itself into the thick of developments will yield better results than sitting outside.’ Thinking this way, political and military officials are of the opinion that Turkey should play an active role in an operation that will be based on international law. The degree of this role will be determined through military evaluations. The method of this determination will be technical negotiations to be held with US military officials. Ankara’s desire to take an active posture in an Iraq operation derives from its plans for cooperation and mutual assistance as well as its wish to protect Turkey’s national interests in northern Iraq. Ankara considers it indispensable for Turkey’s national and political interests that following any operation, control of the region will be under the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) rather any foreign military power.”
 CRITICAL ISSUES IN TURKISH-US BARGAINING OVER IRAQ WAR BY SEDAT ERGIN (HURRIYET)Columnist Sedat Ergin comments on Turkish-US relations ahead of a possible war on Iraq. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) decisions on Turkey’s prospective role in a possible US-led military attack on Iraq will shape critical operational factors of the war such as its timing, strategy and price tag. If Ankara allows the US to deploy its troops through Turkish soil into northern Iraq, Baghdad will be faced by a two-front war, from both the north and south, and thus the war will likely be over in short order. Moreover, the cost of the operation will be brought to a minimum. But if Turkey rejects the US proposal and confines its cooperation to allowing the US to use certain airbases and its airspace, then Washington will have to redraw its war plans and turn its eyes to the south, that is the Persian Gulf region.
Yet Ankara’s decision hinges on Washington’s stance on Turkey’s expectations from the US. First of all, Ankara wants to be assured that its prospective economic losses will be covered by the Bush administration to a reasonable extent. However, what Bush has offered up to now would barely meets Turkey’s demands. The reported amount of US compensation is only $3.5 billion, a mere drop in the bucket. And even this is not guaranteed, as the US Congress has yet to approve the sum.
Apart from all that, there are other as-yet unclear points as to the operational role of northern Iraq as well as the future of the country in the postwar period. Undeniably, Turkey and the US have diverging views on both issues. For example, while Ankara has serious reservations about a federal model that the US is pushing to establish in post-Saddam Iraq, the US is strongly opposed to a major Turkish buildup in northern Iraq meant to keep at bay a wave of refugees fleeing war. In case of a war, Turkey may dramatically and unsurprisingly up the number of its troops near the border.
Moreover, the US knows very well that Turkey is fully capable of sending in reinforcements to northern Iraq whenever necessary. And of course the role of Turkey’s military divisions in the region will not be confined to merely preempting a possible wave of refugees. Ankara will have the opportunity to head off any undesirable contingencies and prevent any fait accompli there. The presence of Turkish military forces in the region will give Turkey the opportunity to have its say on the future of Iraq.
Ankara’s determination to enter northern Iraq is rattling nerves in the Pentagon, which has its own plans to attack Baghdad from the north. Washington, as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz unambiguously put during his recent visits to Ankara, projects a tri-lateral mechanism in northern Iraq where the US will take on the role of a coordinating force beside Turkish military divisions and Kurdish groups. Ankara is firmly opposed to any arrangement putting Turkey on the same level as the Kurds, and instead wants itself to play the role of referee and parent in the region. This is because Turkey’s degree of involvement in a possible war will determine the strength of the country’s hand in Iraq’s post-Saddam future.”
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