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Turkish Press Review, 03-05-29
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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 : firstname.lastname@example.org <caption> <_caption> Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
29.05.2003FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 GUL: “ISLAMIC COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD NEED A RENEWED VISION”Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who is currently in Tehran, Iran to attend the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s (OIC) 30th foreign ministers’ meeting, declared yesterday that the Islamic countries of the world must work to embrace and act with a renewed vision. In a speech to his counterparts, Gul said that although the Islamic world had a heritage of peace, tolerance and compassion, it still faced strategic risks. “In the past these risks tended to dominate us, but now we must avoid this fate,” said Gul. “The important question is how we will achieve this. We must act with a renewed vision.” He added that freedoms, basic rights and gender equality were among the vital issues that need to be addressed. /Milliyet/
 CABINET DISCUSSES THE ECONOMYThe Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened yesterday. Afterwards, Cabinet spokesman and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek told reporters that during the two-hour meeting, State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan had briefed his fellow ministers about recent economic developments. Cicek said that according to Babacan’s data, the negative economic impact of the Iraq war had been completely dispelled and an economic revival had begun. Expressing his satisfaction with this situation, Cicek stressed that the downward trend in interest rates was continuing and that he expected them to fall even further. Recalling that discussions with the International Monetary Fund on the fifth review of the IMF-backed economic program had started, Cicek said that structural reforms were important, and that several bills should be passed towards that end next month. /Anatolia News Agency/
 MGK CONVENES, DISCUSSES FOREIGN POLICY ISSUESThe National Security Council (MGK) chaired by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer met yesterday. During the six-hour meeting, Turkish-European Union relations were reportedly discussed. In addition, recent developments on Cyprus and Iraq were taken up. Following the gathering, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the MGK would hold a special meeting next month devoted exclusively to a discussion of Turkey’s EU membership bid. /All Papers/
 REMAINS OF 62 PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN PLANE CRASH RETURNED TO SPAINThe remains of 62 Spanish soldiers killed in Monday’s plane crash near the Black Sea city of Trabzon were returned to their country yesterday after a military ceremony at Trabzon airport. An investigation of the crash is continuing, and the crashed plane’s recovered black boxes have been sent to Ankara for examination. The Ukrainian plane was carrying Spanish soldiers returning from peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan when it crashed, apparently due to heavy fog. After the crash, Spanish Defense Minister Federico Trillo also came to Trabzon to view the plane’s wreckage. /Star/
 BABACAN: “TURKISH FIRMS WILL TAKE PART IN IRAQ’S RECONSTRUCTION”State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan yesterday attended a meeting entitled “Agenda 2003” organized by the Turkish Union of Contractors. He told the Turkish businessmen there that though Turkish-US relations had been strained in the wake of Turkey’s refusal of US troop deployment before the Iraq war, they were recently been mended through the joint efforts of diplomats and bureaucrats from both sides. In addition, Babacan remarked that the Turkish companies were poised to play an active role in Iraq’s reconstruction. “The Iraqi market is very important to Turkey,” said the state minister. “Although US and British companies will get the biggest share, they want to see Turkish companies as their partners. There will be no discrimination against us.” /Hurriyet/
 FORMER CIA DIRECTOR WOOLSEY: “THE CRISIS IN TURKISH-US RELATIONS HAS BEEN OVERCOME”Former CIA Director James Woolsey stated yesterday that Turkey and the US had overcome the crisis which emerged in the wake of Turkey’s refusal of US troop deployment before the Iraq war. “It’s high time for Turkey to play an active role in Iraq’s reconstruction,” added Woolsey. “Washington should cooperate with Turkey, its most important ally in the Middle East. It was the decision of Turkish democracy not to support the US during the war. Democracy doesn’t have to agree with Washington all the time. We should respect Turkey’s decision.” /Sabah/
 POLAND CALLS ON TURKISH ARMY TO PARTICIPATE IN IRAQ PEACEKEEPING FORCEPoland, due to have a multinational Polish-led peacekeeping force in place in Iraq at the end of July, has asked Turkey to contribute to the force, diplomatic sources said yesterday. The 7,000 troops of the force from 20 countries will be charged with a number of vital tasks in postwar Iraq, such as maintaining public order and protecting the country’s cultural and religious heritage. /Cumhuriyet/
 CB HEAD: “WE ARE WAITING FOR THE RIGHT TIME TO CUT INTEREST RATES”Central Bank Governor Sureyya Serdengecti said yesterday that the CB was waiting for the right time to cut interest rates, adding that the bank made such decisions on the basis of inflation projections. “We can’t reduce interest rates merely because the markets are hoping for it, or due to political influence,” he added. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and government economy ministers have recently been calling on the CB to cut high interest rates. Serdengecti remarked that the CB would not allow the excess rise or fall of foreign exchange rates under the floating rate mechanism, adding that two key government economic targets for this year, 20% inflation and 5% growth, were still achievable. /Milliyet/
 TUSIAD CHAIRMAN: “TURKISH-US TENSIONS CAN BE MENDED THROUGH TOP-LEVEL OFFICIAL VISITS”Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) Chairman Tuncay Ozilhan, who is currently visiting the United States, yesterday met with US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a traditional friend of Turkey whose controversial criticisms of Ankara early this month caused a stir in Ankara and Washington alike. Speaking after the meeting, Ozilhan lamented recent tensions in Turkish-US ties, adding that these could be overcome by top-level official visits between the two countries. Ozilhan stated that Turkey should work to form a clear and sound policy for the Middle East and that TUSIAD was also ready to contribute to this process. “The US wants to see Turkey’s stance for the region,” he said. “We should put forth our views clearly.” Ozilhan added that the US’ top priority was fighting terrorism. The TUSIAD head is due to meet today with UN Special Cyprus Envoy Alvaro de Soto. /Aksam/
 TURKEY SIGNS SOCIAL SECURITY AGREEMENT WITH QUEBECTurkey and the government of Canada’s province of Quebec have signed an agreement regulating the social security rights of some 5,000 ethnic Turkish Quebecois in matters such as job loss, death, old-age insurance, etc. The agreement has been sent to the Turkish Parliament for approval, under which citizens from both Turkey and Quebec will be treated equally under their respective laws regarding social security rights and responsibilities. /Hurriyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 TURKEY IS NOW AT A CROSSROADSBY MURAT YETKIN (RADIKAL)
Columnist Murat Yetkin comments on recent political developments in Turkey and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s speech to an international Islamic conference in Tehran, Iran. A summary of his column is as follows:
“-- Nesastend u goftend u berhastend. -- This is what, in Persian, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told visiting Iranian Vice President Mohammed Reza Aref a month ago, meaning, ‘They sat down, talked to each other and then just up and left.’ ‘Let’s not do it this way,’ Erdogan told Aref. ‘Our countries’ agreements have never gone beyond mere words on paper. In practice we have yet to make even the slightest progress,’ lamented Erdogan. ‘Let’s talk this time with an eye towards concrete results.’ Yes, a month ago Turkey was seeking ways to get closer to Iran.
And a year ago, National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Gen. Tuncer Kilinc, ‘for his part,’ told a meeting at the Istanbul War Academy that the European Union would not let Turkey in anyway, so that the country should move to establish closer ties with Eurasian countries such as Russia and Iran.
Recently, however, we have been witnessing quite different developments. Let’s first take the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association’s (TUSIAD) contacts in the US this week. Following his meeting with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who has loudly expressed his ‘disappointment’ with Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) ‘less-than- supportive’ attitude during the Iraq war, TUSIAD Chairman Tuncay Ozilhan said Wolfowitz had effectively told him that the ball was now in Turkey’s court to mend Turkish-US relations, and that Washington hoped to get Turkey’s support on certain future political developments in the Middle East. When asked whether the US’ expectations had anything to do with Iran, Ozilhan said guardedly, ‘Wolfowitz didn’t mention any country by name.’
It has become more than a mere prediction that following up on Iraq, the US’ new target will be Iran, especially when Wolfowitz’s boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made a statement on the issue on Tuesday. The importance of the debate for Turkey is shaping up around US fears that Turkey will gradually shift its 80-year Western-centric foreign policy due a rift between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the Turkish bureaucratic establishment, which is vigorously suspicious of the AKP. And those who insist on the status quo in the country tied the Gordion knot even tighter by announcing their reservations on the necessity to speed up EU harmonization reforms.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok has identified Turkey’s EU accession with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s pointing to the West as the source of progress. The opposite of this perspective is one recommending seeking alliances in the East and conversely drawing back from the West.
Just at this very crucial moment came Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s historic statements at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meetings held in Tehran, Iran. It is quite surprising to hear such remarks at an Islamic conference from a politician who has pursued a religious line in politics since his early years. Gul has said that the Muslim world had to renew itself by establishing transparent, responsible administrations which strive for equality between women and men, and which are governed by economic rationalism, free of any references to ‘divine law.’
Gul’s remarks are in no way related to an Islamic systematic of thinking and governing. It’s like the number two man of the AKP was trying to demonstrate that the party favored a government based on religious rules neither in Turkey nor in any other Muslim country. And he even did it at an Islamic conference, one moreover in Tehran. Moreover, Gul echoed the US’ perspective on the Middle East, characterized by calls for ‘democracy’ and the international fight against terrorism, by condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Riyadh and Casablanca perpetrated by suspected Islamic groups and by voicing his support for the US-backed road map for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In Iran, the AKP government thus declared its support for the US agenda in the Middle East and Iran. Meanwhile, the MGK discussed the EU harmonization package and the situation in the Middle East (including Iran) in the post-Iraq war era, that is in fact, discussed the future course of relations with the US. These developments are very likely to have an impact on domestic issues, and even on civilian-military relations.”
 ADVICE FROM GULBY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)
Columnist Sami Kohen comments on Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s address yesterday to the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s meeting and the “road map” for Middle East peace. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) delegates from more than 50 countries met in Tehran yesterday, where they listened to an address from Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul which was most unexpected. Gul’s statements were effectively a clarion call to the Islamic world like so: ‘Now is the time for change. First we must put ourselves in order and strive to be modern.’ Such a call from Gul on such a conservative platform favoring the status quo was a brave and fitting move. Leaders of certain countries within the OIC might not be pleased with Gul’s counsel, that is, such advice as ‘become democratic, establish good government, ensure gender equality, respect human rights and freedoms, and make the fights against corruption, ignorance and violence your priority.’
How many of these countries are ready for radical reform? Gul is presenting them a ‘vision’ and showing the necessity for the Islamic world to make a move by taking ‘strategic risks.’ Gul also gave advice on various issues, including the Israeli-Arab conflict. Speaking on the Cyprus issue, Gul requested that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) should be given not an ‘observer status’ but rather full membership within the OIC. Is it too much to ask the Islamic world such a thing? I wonder how Gul’s words will reverberate within the OIC.
Is there any realistic reason for hope of peace in the Middle East to suddenly rise? Yes, there is. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will hold their first official meeting on the ‘road map’ to peace today. And next week the two leaders are due to meet with US President George W. Bush. Thus, the three-stage road map will go some distance, at least, for the new peace process to start. There are certain important reasons for these three sides to walk down this road.
As for the US, now Bush understands that the Palestinian problem must be solved for the war against terrorism to be successful. He thinks that the Israeli-Arab disputes must be resolved in order to establish a new order in the Middle East, and that the US should use its power towards this end. There are certain reasons for Israel to come to an agreement, among them anxiety over terrorism, economic woes and renewed US pressure. Sharon is now openly saying that territorial incursion isn’t a good solution. In addition, Abbas thinks that violence isn’t a solution either and sees the miserable situation of his nation.
All these reasons would suffice for sitting down at the table. However, will these factors urge them to meet all the conditions of the road map? Of course walking down this road won’t be easy, but even beginning the path is a source of hope.”
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