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Turkish Press Review, 02-12-27
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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
27.12.2002FOREIGN MINISTER YAKIS: “IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO HEAD OFF WAR” SENER: “AN IRAQ WAR WON’T MAKE THE GOVERNMENT WAVER FROM ITS ECONOMIC TARGETS” GROSSMAN AND TAYLOR VISIT TURKEY, DISCUSS IRAQ OPERATION PARLIAMENT RE-APPROVES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PACKAGE CHP LEADER BAYKAL MEETS WITH TALABANI SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL DISCUSSES IRAQI OPERATION STATE AGENCIES’ REPRESENTATIVES BRIEFED AT PRIME MINISTRY PARLIAMENT’S HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DECLARES OPPOSITION TO WAR IN IRAQ TURKISH CYPRIOTS DEMONSTRATE IN FAVOR OF PEACE PLAN, EU MEMBERSHIP TALAT: “TURKEY CAN’T JOIN THE EU BEFORE A SETTLEMENT IS REACHED ON CYPRUS” THREE CONTENDERS VIE FOR ANAP LEADERSHIP FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 FOREIGN MINISTER YAKIS: “IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO HEAD OFF WAR”Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said yesterday that Turkey would soon officially reply to a number of US requests concerning its cooperation with a possible Iraqi operation, adding that the government’s decision would reflect the views and sensibilities of the Turkish public. “I still believe that this problem can be solved peacefully, without firing a single shot,” said the minister. Speaking to reporters, Yakis said that Turkish officials were seeking the best way to act to protect Turkey’s interests in case of an Iraqi operation. “The final decision will be made by Parliament,” he added. In related news, US Secretary of State Colin Powell reportedly called Yakis yesterday to discuss the current visit to Ankara of US Deputy Treasury Secretary John Taylor and Deputy Secretary of State Marc Grossman. In addition, Yakis yesterday briefed Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission regarding developments on the Iraq issue. He stressed that Turkey favored a new United Nations resolution authorizing force before any war begins. “However,” he added, “the US seems to be intent on attacking Iraq without any such resolution.” Yakis stated that Turkey’s economic losses in such a war would total some $100 billion, whether it directly participates or not. Remarking that the Turkish government had not yet made any decision on whether to allow the US military to use airbases, deploy its troops and make transit through Turkish territories, Yasar said that Turkish officials had recently issued permits for a 150-member US delegation to conduct inspections on certain airbases. “But the delegation hasn’t arrived yet,” added Yakis. /Turkiye/
 SENER: “AN IRAQ WAR WON’T MAKE THE GOVERNMENT WAVER FROM ITS ECONOMIC TARGETS”Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener said yesterday that a war in Iraq notwithstanding, the government wouldn’t waver from implementing the targets set out in its economic program. Sener stated that the government wouldn’t allow any contingency coming out of an Iraqi conflict to put it off track. In related news, international ratings agency Standard and Poor’s announced yesterday that it could raise Turkey’s credit rating if the country held firm to the current International Monetary Fund-backed economic program even if a war broke out in Iraq. /Hurriyet/
 GROSSMAN AND TAYLOR VISIT TURKEY, DISCUSS IRAQ OPERATIONAfter arriving in Turkey yesterday, Assistant Secretary of State Marc Grossman and Treasury Secretary John Taylor are set today to met with Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis and Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan. The meeting will focus on the effects on Turkey of a possible United States operation against Iraq. Speaking to reporters before their meeting, Taylor said that they would discuss how an operation against Iraq might impact Turkey. “However, our aim is to prevent such an operation,” he added. “We’ll also discuss Turkey’s economic reforms.” Taylor stated that Turkey’s implementation of reforms so far had been successful, adding that during the meeting they would also discuss economic issues in general. /Milliyet/
 PARLIAMENT RE-APPROVES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PACKAGEAS widely expected, Parliament re-approved yesterday 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 was held in Parliament on Tuesday, and next the package goes once again to Sezer. The Constitution denies the president the right to re-veto any re-approved amendments, but does grant him the right to apply to the Constitutional Court to annul the package. /All Papers/
 CHP LEADER BAYKAL MEETS WITH TALABANIOpposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal met yesterday with Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani at the CHP’s headquarters. Following their half-hour meeting, Baykal told reporters that they had conferred on recent developments concerning the Iraq issue and that Talabani had told him about a Dec. 14-15 meeting of Iraqi opposition groups in London. When asked if he was concerned about the situation in Iraq, Baykal replied, “Of course, complacency would be inappropriate now. Turkey is about to face a very difficult situation.” /Cumhuriyet/
 SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL DISCUSSES IRAQI OPERATIONThe Supreme Military Council (YAS) chaired by Prime Minister Abdullah Gul convened yesterday to discuss domestic and foreign threats against Turkey, economizing measures carried out in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), as well as Turkey’s stance in a possible Iraqi operation. Also during the meeting, the dismissal of seven military personnel due to disciplinary problems was made official. In addition, in the evening President Ahmet Necdet Sezer hosted a dinner at the Cankaya Presidential Palace for the council members. /Turkiye/
 MGK TO CONVENE TODAYThe National Security Council (MGK) chaired by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer will hold its last meeting of the year today at the Cankaya Presidential Palace. During the meeting, domestic and foreign developments will be taken up. In related news, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday met with the Cabinet ministers set to attend the MGK meeting to discuss developments in preparation for today’s gathering. /Turkiye/
 STATE AGENCIES’ REPRESENTATIVES BRIEFED AT PRIME MINISTRYA meeting was held yesterday chaired by Ali Caki, the Prime Ministry’s deputy undersecretary, and coordinated by the General Staff at the ministry building. At the meeting, nearly 100 representatives of various state agencies were briefed on measures designed to protect Turkey from nuclear, biological and chemical attacks in case of a possible Iraqi operation. /Turkiye/
 PARLIAMENT’S HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DECLARES OPPOSITION TO WAR IN IRAQParliament’s Human Rights Commission, chaired by Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Mehmet Elkatmis, yesterday issued a declaration expressing its opposition to a possible US-led war in Iraq. The declaration warned that US intervention in Iraq, whatever its reasons, would inevitably lead to a bloodbath there. “We say no to a war in Iraq. We say no to Turkey’s involvement in it,” said the declaration. “War constitutes a crime against humanity, and madness besides.” Elkatmis also stated that the commission would deliver its declaration to the General Staff, National Security Council (NSC), and Defense Ministry, as well as the US, British and Iraqi embassies. /Sabah/
 TURKISH CYPRIOTS DEMONSTRATE IN FAVOR OF PEACE PLAN, EU MEMBERSHIPA host of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and political parties in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) yesterday led a large demonstration in the capital Lefkosha urging the nation’s leaders to agree on a peace plan to facilitate Northern Cyprus’ European Union membership. The United Nations has set a Feb. 28, 2003 deadline to reach agreement on the basis of its plan to formally reunite the divided island, whose Greek half has been greenlighted for EU membership. At the demonstration, many protestors said that they held TRNC President Rauf Denktas responsible for the lack of an agreement, and there were calls for his resignation. Speaking at the demonstration, former TRNC Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Akinci said that no agreement could be reached under Denktas. Ferdi Sabit Soyer, secretary-general of the TRNC’s Republican Turkish Party (CTP), added that the nation wanted a solution on Cyprus within the framework of the UN plan. /Milliyet/
 TALAT: “TURKEY CAN’T JOIN THE EU BEFORE A SETTLEMENT IS REACHED ON CYPRUS”Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (TRNC) opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP), said yesterday that Turkey could not join the European Union before a settlement was reached on the island. Stating that resisting solutions to the issue would result in grave consequences for Turkey and Cyprus’ Turks alike, Talat warned that if a solution couldn’t be reached before Feb. 28, the European Union-set deadline, the Turkish side would lose whatever leverage it now has in negotiations. Talat added that he was ready to put his signature on UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan’s solution proposal with only slight revisions. The European Union greenlighted Greek Cyprus’ membership at its summit in Copenhagen earlier this month, erroneously taking the Greek administration to represent the entire island. /Hurriyet/
 THREE CONTENDERS VIE FOR ANAP LEADERSHIPIsin Celebi yesterday formally announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Motherland Party (ANAP). With Lutfullah Kayalar and Ali Talip Ozdemir, who declared their candidacies earlier this week, Celebi brought to three the number of contenders for the party helm. Celebi said that ANAP’s upcoming congress, set for Jan. 11, would change the party’s way of thinking, adding that all three candidates would continue to serve ANAP no matter who emerges leader. Former ANAP leader Mesut Yimaz stepped down after the party’s disastrous showing in November’s general elections, which left the former government coalition partner with no seats in Parliament. /Milliyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 THE HEAVY COST OF WAR
 BY FERAI TINC (HURRIYET)Columnist Ferai Tinc comments on the social and economic costs of a US operation against Iraq. A summary of her column is as follows:
“In contrast to 1991’s first Gulf War, Turkey’s decision this time around will be quite difficult. Why are we hesitating now? Because, as a nation, we’ve had to pay the price of the war with a host of economic and social problems over the 11 years since it ended. Moreover, the public doesn’t favor war and is still trying to heal the wounds of years of conflict. In 1990, then President Turgut Ozal gave the US a list of what Turkey needed in return for its contributions to the Gulf War. Accordingly, Turkey’s debt was to be reduced, its military modernization supported and quotas on its textile imports lifted. Ozal’s requests were met, but how? Through urgent aid amounting to $82 billion, additional aid amounting to $282 million in 1991, a $150 million boost in military aid and textile imports, and $200 more million delivered in 1992. A Turkish Defense Fund of $4.2 million was put together (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates also participated). Egypt purchased F-16 planes, but no Arab countries wanted to purchase anything from Turkey. At any rate, a part of this fund was returned to the US in exchange for F-16 financing in the years following. The damage that Turkey suffered in the decade since ’91 amounted to $100 billion. This is a figure far exceeding the aid it received. After the war, Turkey tried to set into motion a UN provision compensating its losses due to economic sanctions, but it failed to get US support for this.
The war hit our economy so hard that we were never really able to recover. Here are a few cold, hard figures: In 1990, Turkey’s growth rate was 9.5%, but just one year later it had plummeted to 0.5%. At the same time, our budget deficit was 210% and domestic inflation rose by 15%. But Ozal’s expectations weren’t met. Turkey wasn’t given a role in reshaping the region. For example, Turkey wasn’t invited to the ending phase of the Gulf War, that is, the Madrid summit that was held on the Middle East peace process. And contrary to our expectations, the US didn’t overthrow Saddam Hussein, so Turkey had to continue its relations with Saddam’s administration, which remained its neighbor.
However, the basic price was paid in terms of the political results of the Gulf War. Our losses of $100 billion were reflected throughout society in poverty, hopelessness, the blood of Turkish and Kurdish young people, and corruption. The democratization process was stalled and we were helpless to solve the Kurdish problem. Terrorism negatively affected Turkey’s relations with its neighbors, problems with Greece worsened, the Cyprus issue remained unsolved and our path to the European Union became full of roadblocks. If these were the costs of $100 billon, what will be the costs of $150 billion? This is the answer that we’re looking for now.”
 THE NSC POINTS THE WAY
 BY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)Columnist Fikret Bila comments about recent developments on the Iraq issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The clock is ticking for Turkey to make its mind up on the Iraq issue. Washington has recently stepped up pressure on Turkey to decide its level of support for a possible US operation against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. It’s very difficult for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to decide whether or not to join such an operation. Within the AKP itself and the Parliament, there are certain circles which are strongly opposed to war, groups which will make it more difficult for the AKP-led government to come to a final decision. Although some believe that the Turkish Army should also participate in these discussions, the army thinks that this time the political leadership should have the final say.
According to domestic political circles, the decisions to be made at today’s National Security Council (NSC) meeting on the Iraq issue will be pivotal in the government finalizing its official stance. The NSC is expected to issue an advisory decision which takes into consideration Turkey’s national interests. This decision is expected to recommend that the government take part in an Iraq war while keeping a watchful eye on the nation’s short and long-term interests. After today’s NSC meeting, it will probably be easier for the Parliament to make its final decision. Both the Foreign Ministry and the Office of the Chief of General Staff have separately prepared their own reports on the issue to present to the NSC today.
Ankara is still trying to find the least harmful solution to the problem. The government doesn’t want to assume any role in a possible US war that would engender hostility towards Turkey at its borders. However, neither does it want to lose the strategic partnership of the United States. The government is fearful of a strong opposition, but believes that it will be easier for Parliament to make a decision after the NSC issues its advisory decision.
In fact, there are signs that Turkey is planning to permit the US to deploy troops at its bases and to use its airspace. However, the Turkish Army wants only a limited number of American soldiers to be deployed at Turkey’s bases, and of course not for a long time. That’s why Turkey might permit the US Army to use its bases for transit.
Not only Turkey’s response to the US’ demands but also the US’ response to Turkey’s own demands are extremely important at this point. Turkish and US military officials are still holding meetings on these issues. I expect that we’ll see even more meetings, and more frequently, after the New Year.
In addition, Iraqi opposition groups are also still hashing out arrangements for the postwar period. This week Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani and Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Sanan Ahmet Aga visited Turkey to hold consultations with Turkish officials. Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) leader Massoud Barzani, however, cancelled his visit to Turkey. The Iraqi opposition leaders with the exception of Barzani are trying to find a way to help the US and Turkey. In brief, as anyone can see, the war has already started within our minds.”
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