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Turkish Press Review, 03-02-18
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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> e-mail : email@example.com Press & Information Turkish Press Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
18.02.2003FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS
 PRIME MINISTER GUL IN BRUSSELS TO ATTEND EU SUMMIT ON IRAQPrime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday left for Brussels to attend a European Union summit on the Iraq issue and to hold bilateral meetings with his European counterparts. Before his departure, Gul answered reporters’ questions on two proposals due to be sent to Parliament regarding possible preparations for an Iraq conflict. “Regarding a military operation in Iraq, Turkey has certain political, military and economic concerns,” he said. Without the United States addressing these concerns, getting Parliament’s support will be very difficult, he added. After his arrival in Brussels, Gul met with EU Term President Greek’s Prime Minister Costas Simitis, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstad, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Gul reportedly received a pledge from Simitis for EU help to avert a refugee crisis in case of war. In addition, Gul had telephone conversations with the British and Spanish prime ministers, whose nations are among a handful in the EU supporting the US’ stance on Iraq. Speaking after these meetings, Gul said that Turkey’s importance had been underscored and that the EU appreciated the help of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. /All Papers/
 IRAQ PROPOSALS NOT ON PARLIAMENT’S AGENDA TODAY, SAYS PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ARINCParliament Speaker Bulent Arinc said yesterday that a proposal to allow the stationing of US troops in Turkey and a separate proposal to send Turkish troops to Iraq would not be on Parliament’s agenda today. During a visit to the Association of Parliament Journalists, Arinc told reporters, “There was an expectation that the two proposals would be debated in Parliament on Feb. 18 [today]. However, as far as I know, if conditions don’t change, the government won’t sent them to Parliament on that day.” Stressing that he didn’t want a proposal regarding a war in Iraq to be sent to Parliament, Arinc said, “The government and all our other officials are trying to resolve the issue through peaceful means.” He added that if the proposals were voted on in Parliament, the deputies would be guided by Turkey’s best interests in making its decisions. /Turkiye/
 YAKIS: “PARLIAMENT WILL MAKE A DECISION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE”Speaking yesterday after his meeting with State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan, Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said that it would be difficult for Parliament to pass legislation today signalling Turkey’s support for a US-led operation against Iraq. “As of today, certain factors weighing against our taking such action are still in play,” he stated. “When these conditions change, Parliament will make a decision as soon as possible. The government will act within the framework of its strategic cooperation with the United States.” /Aksam/
 NEWSWEEK: “TURKEY WILL INTERVENE IN NORTHERN IRAQ ON ITS OWN”In case of a war in Iraq, Turkey will intervene in northern Iraq single- handedly, reports Newsweek international in its current issue. The report states that the Turkish army is planning to penetrate the country as far as 250 kilometers in, halfway to Baghdad, with over 75,000 troops, adding that these forces would not be under US command. /Cumhuriyet/
 DE SOTO: “PAPADOPOULOS WILL SOON START EARNEST NEGOTIATIONS WITH DENKTAS”Alvaro de Soto, the United Nations’ special envoy to Cyprus, yesterday arrived in Turkey to meet with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal for discussions on the Cyprus issue. Speaking after their meeting, de Soto said that he had met with Greek Cypriot president-elect Tassos Papadopoulos before coming to Turkey and that Papadopoulos had pledged to him to start “earnest negotiations” with Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Rauf Denktas. “Papadopoulos said that he would be ready for negotiations in a few days,” stated de Soto. Though Papadopulos is not due to take office until March 1, outgoing Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides has said he would allow his successor to represent the nation at the Cyprus bargaining table before then. De Soto urged the island’s two sides to reach an agreement before Feb. 28, a deadline ahead of Greek Cyprus’ full European Union accession, adding that Papadopoulos’s election wouldn’t alter the deadline. /Milliyet/
 DENKTAS: “I HOPE PAPADOPOULOS WILL PURSUE A PRAGMATIC POLICY ON CYPRUS”Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Rauf Denktas said yesterday that he hoped Tassos Papadopoulos, the Greek Cypriot president- elect after that nation’s Sunday polls, would pursue a pragmatic policy on Cyprus as well as accept the presence of two equal states on the island. Denktas added that Papadopoulos wanted to make significant changes to the United Nations’ current Cyprus plan. /Aksam/
 LEADERS OF IRAQI OPPOSITION GROUPS, TURKISH OFFICIALS MEETAhead of a possible US-led military campaign against Saddam Hussein, leaders of several Iraqi opposition groups and Turkish military officials yesterday met in a buffer zone on the Iraqi border, near the southeastern Anatolian province of Silopi. Among those attending the gathering were, on the Turkish side, Special Forces Assistant Commander Gen. Abdullah Kilicarslan along with Foreign Ministry and National Intelligence Agency (MIT) officials, and, on the Iraqi opposition side, Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani, Ahmet Sami Abdurrahman of the Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party, and Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Sanan Ahmet Aga. Sources characterized the meeting as critical, as Turkish officials reportedly warned Kurdish leaders not to oppose Turkey’s deploying its troops in northern Iraq in order to prevent a regional power vacuum in the event of a war. /Cumhuriyet/
 EUROPEAN COUNCIL COMMITTEE INSPECTS TERRORIST OCALAN’S PRISON FACILITIESA four-member delegation from the European Council's Committee for the Prevention of Torture yesterday visited terrorist Abdullah Ocalan and inspected his prison conditions at Imrali Island in the Sea of Marmara. The committee is expected to present a report in Strasbourg on its findings at a future date. Ocalan was captured in 1999 in Kenya, brought back to Turkey, tried and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison last year when the Turkish Parliament lifted the death penalty. Ocalan’s terrorist organization PKK/KADEK is responsible for claiming over 30,000 lives in southeastern Turkey. /Cumhuriyet_
 TOBB CHAIRMAN HISARCIKLIOGLU URGES GERMANS TO INVEST IN TURKEYTurkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchange Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu and Germany’s Ambassador to Turkey Rudolf Schmidt yesterday held a joint press conference regarding Turkish-German economic and trade relations. Hisarciklioglu asked the German government to take a leading role in spurring more German investment in Turkey. Pointing out that Germany was Turkey’s top trading partner and that the two countries had a tradition of friendly relations, Hisarciklioglu said however that the nations’ current trade and economic relations didn’t reflect their true potential. For his part, Schmidt stated that despite economic troubles in Turkey, German businessmen continued to invest there. “As it sent 3.5 million tourists to Turkey last year, Germany holds the top spot in Turkey’s tourism sector,” added the German ambassador. In addition, Hisarciklioglu predicted that Turkey’s economic losses would total some $16.6 billion in case of a war in Iraq lasting for one year, warning, however, “If it lasts longer, the losses will be much higher.” He added that Turkey’s tourism revenue losses alone could reach as high as $5 billion. /Turkiye/
 FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS
 LACK OF CONFIDENCE BY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)Columnist Fikret Bila writes on Turkey’s stance on the Iraq issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
“There is no point in criticizing Turkey’s reluctant stance on the Iraq issue. Since Turkey opposes a war in the region, bargaining over the price of cooperation is under way in earnest. In exchange for the use of its territory by US troops, our government is asking for significant economic help to ensure there’s no repeat of the economic recession that followed the 1991 Gulf War.
Although the Bush administration, which has failed to win international legitimacy for an Iraq military operation, is expected to develop a new strategy to ease Turkey’s justifiable concerns, it is still pursuing an unreliable Iraq policy and failing to satisfy either the Turkish government or Chief of General Staff’s Office. Consequently, Turkey and the US have recently found themselves in a political wrestling match.
It’s very clear that both Turkey’s government and its people strongly oppose a US-led war against Iraq. Our government is currently striving hard to arrive at a peaceful solution to the crisis. Although the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also doesn’t want a war to be waged against Saddam Hussein, it believes that Turkey must take part in a US-led operation, if such is inevitable. Ankara will cooperate with Washington provided the Bush administration satisfies Ankara's main demands such as blocking the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq and compensating Turkey’s economic losses in the event of war. In other words, Turkey this time wants to take every possible measure to avert economic and political crisis within its borders. However, our government is currently irked with the Bush administration because of its close relations with Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party (IKDP) leader Massoud Barzani, who recently made hostile remarks against Turkey. On the other hand, the Bush administration is also concerned about Turkey’s reluctant and extremely cautious stance. US President George W. Bush has not yet held a meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul. However, the White House has already been visited by Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis and State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan. Why did the Bush administration choose to meet with these figures instead of our prime minister? Maybe it’s concerned about Gul’s cautious stance. We all know that Gul is more reluctant than Erdogan on backing a US-led Iraq war.
It’s clear that there is a lack of confidence between the two countries, and here lies a real problem.”
 THE AKP’S WEAKENING RESISTANCE BY OKTAY EKSI (HURRIYET)Columnist Oktay Eksi comments on the Justice and Development Party’s stance on the Iraqi crisis. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The US seems to have dropped any pretense of politeness. According to one US diplomat, the Bush administration already regrets voicing its requests to Turkey back in December in polite terms rather than insistently. Now the US wants to say, ‘Either you pass the necessary proposal through Parliament by Feb. 18, that is, even as you’re reading these lines, or our 50-year friendship will be nothing but a fond memory.’ For example, Hurriyet’s Washington correspondent Kasim Cindemir quoted one US official as saying, ‘If Parliament doesn’t pass the proposal, we will review our relations and they could suffer enormous damage. We wouldn’t forget such a thing.’ As a matter of fact, Turkish journalists in Washington are reflecting the same atmosphere: ‘We should either say yes to the US’ requests immediately, or we can no longer expect the US to be tolerant and friendly towards us in any way.’
It’s impossible to understand the US’ emotional stance because actually Turkey has for many years asked the US for support whenever it go into trouble. In return, the US always considered Turkey’s requests positively, except on the Cyprus issue and developments in Iraq. The US has done all these things, but none of them contradicted the US’ national interests. However, the US is now asking Turkey to do things which nobody believes to be in Turkey’s best interests. For example, the US wants Turkey to join its military operation against Iraq alongside US forces, even if this action would violate international law.
The US also wants Turkish soldiers to be commanded by US commanders, although a war wouldn’t be a NATO operation. The US is also saying, ‘We will meet this much of your loss -- the figure isn’t clear yet -- owing to this war but we won’t be involved in the rest.’ What’s worse, the resistance of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which has been defending Turkey’s interests peacefully, is getting weaker and weaker with each passing day. For example, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul had previously said that Parliament wouldn’t consider the US requests without a second United Nations resolution, but now he’s abandoned that stance. AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had called Turkish soldiers receiving orders from US commanders a ‘humiliation’ and an ‘insult,’ has since fallen silent. And at the same time, there are other reports saying that 30,000 of our soldiers will be getting orders from US commanders. Truly, did the US ask Turkey’s opinion at all before getting involved in this business?”
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