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Turkish Press Review, 05-01-06
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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
06.01.2005ERDOGAN TO TRAVEL TO SOUTH ASIA, URGES TOP BUSINESSMEN TO HELP TSUNAMI SURVIVORS TURKEY LOWERS FLAGS IN MEMORY OF TSUNAMI VICTIMS GUL PLEDGES SUPPORT TO PALESTINIANS GUL ADDRESSES PALESTINIAN PARLIAMENT ERDOGAN: “OUR ECONOMY IS ON SOLID GROUND” DISSIDENT CHP DEPUTIES CALL FOR BAYKAL’S RESIGNATION IRAQI CITIZENS IN TURKEY CAN VOTE IN THIS MONTH’S ELECTIONS OECD FORECASTS 5.7% GROWTH IN 2006-2009 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… THE CHP’S SITUATION AND FUTURE BY ISMET BERKAN (RADIKAL) FROM ISRAELI AGENT, TO WAR OF WORDS WITH ARMITAGE BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI (STAR)
 SEZER RECEIVES ERDOGANIn the offcials’ regular weekly meeting, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer yesterday received Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Also in attendance was State Minister for Economy Ali Babacan, who briefed Sezer on the new Turkish lira. In related news, referring to recent media speculation about a looming Cabinet reshuffle, Erdogan said, “We won’t reshuffle the Cabinet at the media’s behest, but only when the time is right.” /Star/
 ERDOGAN TO TRAVEL TO SOUTH ASIA, URGES TOP BUSINESSMEN TO HELP TSUNAMI SURVIVORSAddressing his party’s Central Decision Executive Board (MKYK) yesterday, Prime Minister and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would travel to South Asia to see the damage wrought late last month by a devastating earthquake and resulting tsunamis. “This is truly a terrible disaster,” he said. “I’ll go to the region to make observations.” In related news, Erdogan telephoned leading Turkish businessmen urging them to aid survivors of the natural catastrophe. /Milliyet/ TURKEY LOWERS FLAGS IN MEMORY OF TSUNAMI VICTIMS
Turkey shared in the grief of people around the world mourning the hundreds of thousands of victims who lost their lives in the recent Asian tsunami by lowering flags in all provinces yesterday to half-mast until sunset. In related news, joining similar campaigns already underway in Turkey, Religious Affairs Directorate head Ali Bardakoglu announced yesterday that a nationwide fund-raising campaign would begin to help survivors of the disaster. /Turkiye/
 GUL PLEDGES SUPPORT TO PALESTINIANSAs part of his three-day visit to the Mideast, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday met with his Palestinian counterpart Nabil Shaat in Ramallah. At a joint press conference, Gul reiterated that Ankara was ready to play an active role to promote peace in the Mideast. Stressing that Turkey would continue to lend support to Palestinians and their just cause, Gul stated that Ankara was planning to help Palestine both economically and socially. For his part, Shaat said that Palestinians would welcome Ankara’s efforts for peace, adding, “Turkey has always been one of our strong, true allies.” Then Gul met with other Palestinian officials including Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Mahmoud Abbas, a leading contender for Palestine’s presidency. Officials also briefed Gul about the presidential elections set for this Sunday. After completing his contacts in Palestine, Gul proceeded to Amman, Jordan to attend a meeting of Iraq’s neighbors on the Iraq issue. /Turkiye/
 GUL ADDRESSES PALESTINIAN PARLIAMENTDuring his visit to Palestine, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday addressed the Palestinian Parliament. Stressing that Turkey had fully supported the Palestinian people and their just and legal cause at every opportunity, Gul urged both parties in the region to return to the negotiating table to seek peace. He stated that the future of Palestine and Israel depended on each other, adding that making peace would only be possible through common sense and compromise. Calling on both sides to stop the violence, Gul said, “Israel also favors peace, but Israeli officials first want the suicide attacks to stop.” Violence, the use of excessive force and terrorism only serve the interests of those opposed to peace, he argued, adding that both Israeli and Palestinian officials now have a historic responsibility. /Turkiye/
 NATO COMMANDER TO VISIT TURKEYGen. James L. Jones, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe (SACEUR), is set to arrive in Ankara today to pay an official visit at the invitation of Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok. /Cumhuriyet/
 ERDOGAN: “OUR ECONOMY IS ON SOLID GROUND”Addressing a Turkish Regional and Sectoral Economy Council meeting yesterday organized jointly by the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) and private sector representatives, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the stability of the Turkish economy, saying that it was based on sound foundations. “We’ll continue to build on these sound foundations to establish a modern, advanced and productive economy,” said Erdogan. Touching on Turkey’s European Union membership bid, Erdogan said that during Ankara’s upcoming EU accession talks, the government would avoid mistakes which were made in the past. “Both the private and public sectors will work together for the nation’s EU membership,” he added. For his part, TOBB head Rifat Hisarciklioglu said that by overcoming its crises Turkey had created confidence in the country. Hisarciklioglu added that recent positive economic developments were due to both Erdogan’s successful political leadership and the determination of industrialists. /Aksam/
 DISSIDENT CHP DEPUTIES CALL FOR BAYKAL’S RESIGNATIONA group of 14 dissident deputies from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), all supporters of Istanbul Sisli district Mayor and challenger for the CHP leadership Mustafa Sarigul, yesterday called on CHP leader Deniz Baykal to resign. At a press conference in Parliament, Mersin Deputy Ersoy Bulut read out a statement asking Baykal not to “sacrifice the party for his own ambition and greed.” Concerning Baykal’s accusations against the party’s Supreme Disciplinary Board (YDK), which this week decided not to dismiss Sarigul from the party, Bulut said, “Never before have we seen a party leader making such harsh accusations against a party organ whose members were chosen by him.” He charged that Baykal had called for a party congress out of panic and called for him to resign. /Cumhuriyet/
 IRAQI CITIZENS IN TURKEY CAN VOTE IN THIS MONTH’S ELECTIONSIraqi citizens residing in Turkey can vote in the month-end Iraqi elections, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced yesterday. The Iraqi Independent Election Commission has authorized Iraqi citizens abroad to use the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to cast their ballots. A total of 14 countries, including Turkey, are using the IOM mechanism. “Our aim is to contribute to establishing democracy, security and stability in Iraq, as well as to help reach a national consensus,” said the ministry. Iraqi citizens will be able to vote on Jan. 28-30 in venues in Ankara and Istanbul. /Sabah/ OECD FORECASTS 5.7% GROWTH IN 2006-2009
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) yesterday forecast that Turkey would enjoy growth of 5.7% in 2006-2009, a rate higher than those of the European Union member states and other OECD members. Under the OECD forecast, Turkey’s inflation for 2005 would be 10.2%, falling to 6% in 2009. The OECD further projected that unemployment be at 11.2% by the end of this year and fall to 9.5% by 2009. The organization further forecast long-term interest rates of 18.1% for this year. /Aksam/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 THE CHP’S SITUATION AND FUTURE BY ISMET BERKAN (RADIKAL)Columnist Ismet Berkan comments on the opposition Republic People’s Party (CHP). A summary of his column is as follows:
“Everybody who deals with Turkish politics should realize that the voters have been saying for 10 years that the prevailing mode of politics should change, in with the new and out with the old. Voters expect political parties and politicians to focus on tomorrow, not yesterday. Rather than pointless political polemics, they prefer discussing how politics can be done better. In sum, negative politics in Turkey are finished. However, let’s look at the current situation of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). It has based all its politics and rhetoric on negative politics. Instead of highlighting the inadequacies of the government and setting realistic new goals, the CHP is stuck in yesterday’s agenda. However, the voters already know that our problems can’t be solved through old approaches. Maybe they will award an opposition party, a creative and positive one, in the next elections. However, the CHP prefers to drone on about old issues. Unfortunately, this is why today we’re discussing the CHP, which we can’t take seriously due to its style.
The CHP is too unproductive and stagnant, and many believe there is no hope left for it. That this month’s extraordinary party congress will be dominated by Istanbul Sisli district Mayor Mustafa Sarigul and CHP leader Deniz Baykal just underlines this point. Only Baykal sets the politics which lead the CHP to hemorrhage votes. In addition, his rival Sarigul always talks in circles and confusing language. These two also exchange rude words rather than talk about CHP policies and Turkey’s future. It’s a real pity. Nobody cares about the CHP. Actually Turkey’s situation is sad because unfortunately our chief political problem is the opposition.”
 FROM ISRAELI AGENT, TO WAR OF WORDS WITH ARMITAGE BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI (STAR)Columnist Zeynep Gurcanli comments on Turkish-US relations. A summary of her column is as follows:
“Wherever Turkey looks in the Middle East, it sees the United States. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is currently trying to sound out the Israelis and Palestinians to gauge their views on Turkey’s possible ‘facilitator’ role in the region. The Turkish delegation wants to discuss not only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also what Ankara could do to help Israeli-Syrian relations recover.
Meanwhile, in an interesting story, Israeli daily Haaretz recently reported that during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent visit to Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asked him to convey a message to Israel. It concerned the possible return of the body of an Israeli Mossad agent who was caught and executed in Syria in 1965. Gul is now expected to convey Syria’s conditions on the issue to Israel. Highly committed to the principle of looking after all of its citizens, including the deceased, Israel has for years been using every possible means to get back the body of its intelligence agent. Therefore, Israel places a high premium on both Syria’s message and Turkey’s ‘facilitator’ role in the region. However, Israel’s sole condition to accept Ankara as a facilitator is Washington’s approval, and here we find the real problem.
Unfortunately, we can’t really characterize this week’s visit to Ankara of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as positive or constructive. Armitage reportedly held intense meetings and discussions with Turkish officials. They focused on Ankara’s disapproval of US policy towards the PKK in northern Iraq, namely Washington’s lenience on the terrorists and Kurdish groups there.
Armitage’s most heated conversation was with Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc. According to reports, after Armitage said that Washington was shocked by Parliament Human Rights Commission head Mehmet Elkatmis’ recent blasting of US operations in Iraq as ‘genocide,’ Arinc responded that although Ankara doesn’t necessarily agree with Elkatmis’ exact words, it could not understand and tolerate the killing of thousands of Iraqi civilians. ‘Our commission has gotten dozens of letters protesting US soldiers’ actions in Iraq, and I ask you to convey our dissatisfaction to your government,’ Arinc said. At that Armitage got very angry, thundering, ‘Saddam Hussein killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq. Did Mr. Elkatmis react to these killings?’ Arinc replied that Ankara had indeed protested these, stressing that Turkey always believed that Saddam Hussein was a dictator who did the greatest damage to his own people. ‘You can’t accuse us of being silent about the crimes committed in Iraq,’ he concluded.
In addition to this war of words between Arinc and Armitage, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul seemed to refuse to shake hands with the US official in front of the TV cameras. One can easily see how tense Turkish-US relations are. What do you think? Do you really believe Washington will allow Ankara to assume a ‘mediator’ role in the Middle East?”
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