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Turkish Press Review, 05-02-24
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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> e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org <caption> <_caption> Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
24.02.2005FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 ERDOGAN: “GUL WILL HEAD OUR EU TALKS DELEGATION, BUT WE HAVEN’T YET NAMED A CHIEF NEGOTIATOR”Appearing on television yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the head of Turkey’s delegation for its upcoming accession talks with the European Union would be Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, adding that the government was continuing its selection process for a chief negotiator. Asked if State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan might fill the post, Erdogan repeated that the government was still evaluating candidates. “We haven’t decided on this,” he said. In related news, Erdogan yesterday attended the funeral ceremony for a military pilot whose jet crashed in Manisa on Tuesday. /Milliyet/
 ERDOGAN: “THE SSK TRANSFER PROBLEMS WILL END SOON”The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting was held yesterday in Ankara. Addressing the assembled deputies, Prime Minister and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on problems stemming from the recent transfer of Social Security Authority (SSK) hospitals to the Health Ministry. Stressing that a pivotal institutional consolidation was at stake, Erdogan pledged to solve all the hitches faced at the beginning of this process. “Wherever problems exist, necessary changes will be made. Let’s not upset the people by labeling this a huge crisis,” urged the premier. In addition, following the group meeting, Erdogan met with 20 AKP deputies at a lunch to exchange views on various topics. /Turkiye/
 BAYKAL: “THE LACK OF A CHIEF NEGOTIATOR IS RAISING UNCERTAINTY”Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal charged yesterday that the government was moving too slowly on the nation’s European Union membership bid, adding that the absence so far of a chief negotiator for this fall’s EU talks in particular had raised uncertainty. Speaking before leaving for Stockholm, Sweden for a European socialists’ meeting, Baykal said that after getting a date last December from the EU to begin its accession talks, the government had mistakenly believed its work for Ankara’s EU bid was over. “I hope the government will reevaluate this and begin to take action as soon as possible,” he added. “We don’t have much time.” /Cumhuriyet/
 OZKOK DISCUSSES REGIONAL SECURITY WITH EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MUBARAKChief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, in Cairo for an official visit, yesterday met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Speaking afterwards, Ozkok said that the two had discussed a number of issues, including regional security. Ozkok returned to Ankara last night after completing his contacts in Eygpt. /Milliyet/
 BOUCHER: “RELATIONS BETWEEN ANKARA AND WASHINGTON ARE VERY POSITIVE”US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Tuesday praised relations between Ankara and Washington as very positive and healthy. "Turkey is a very important ally and we have enormous areas of cooperation on broad strategic issues like Turkey's future destiny in Europe," Boucher told a press conference. "We have broad cooperation on the Middle East, both the peacemaking process and the events in Iraq and in the region; we have very broad cooperation economically. So this is a very positive and healthy relationship with the United States and one that deserves the kind of work that we put into it to make sure it stays healthy and productive for both sides." /Cumhuriyet/
 FOREIGN MINISTRY: “TURKEY IS PLEASED WITH AL-JAAFARI’S NOMINATION”Iraq’s new leaders will be elected by the Iraqi people, Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan said yesterday at his weekly press briefing. “Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is running for the office of prime minister, is an experienced statesman who knows Turkey well and whom we also know well,” said the spokesman. Tan recalled that al-Jaafari visited Turkey last year and held productive meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Tan added that Ankara was still evaluating Washington’s request to use Incirlik Airbase as a transportation hub for US forces in Iraq. / Turkiye/
 TURKEY-EU JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION PRAISES TURKEY AS AN “EXCEPTIONAL COUNTRY”The Turkey-European Union Joint Parliamentary Commission’s 53rd meeting began yesterday in Strasbourg, France. During the first day of the gathering, Turkey’s unique status on the international stage was stressed. Pierre Mirel, a member of the EU Commission, said that Turkey was an exceptional country which is both Islamic and secular. Mirel said that the framework for Ankara’s EU negotiations would be completed by June 29, adding that the talks were set to begin on Oct. 3. /Aksam/
 BUSINESS, LABOR REPRESENTATIVES MEET ON EURepresentatives of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Artisans’ (TESK), Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB) and labor and employers’ unions met in Ankara yesterday. The representatives called on the government to take urgent steps to complete its preparations for European Union accession talks, taking into consideration the relevant social aspects. Speaking at the gathering, TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu stressed that the social aspects would weigh large in harmonization with the EU and the implementation of required changes. Stating that the nation’s economy was recovering, Hisarciklioglu pointed to unemployment as a main concern. He also urged EU countries to start direct trade with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) so as to end its international isolation. /Cumhuriyet/
 STUDENT AMNESTY PASSES PARLIAMENTA controversial Student Amnesty bill was passed yesterday by Parliament. The bill, designed to enable some 700,000 students dismissed from universities since June 29, 2000 to resume their education, will be enacted after President Ahmet Necdet Sezer’s approval. Addressing the Parliament, Education Minister Huseyin Celik said that the law would extend new opportunities to the students and thanked the deputies for their support. /Turkiye/
 TURKISH DELEGATION TO VISIT TALABANIA Turkish delegation headed by Turkey’s Special Representative to Iraq Osman Koruturk is set to visit Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani today. The delegation consisting of top-level officials from the General Staff and the Foreign Ministry will express the government’s views on the future of Iraq. The nation’s territorial integrity, Kirkuk, Iraqi ethnic groups and the terrorist group PKK are among issues set to discussed. /Hurriyet/
 ID INFO SHARING SYSTEM PROJECT PROMOTEDDuring at a gathering in Parliament yesterday, a new ID-Information Sharing System Project was promoted. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were present at the gathering. The new system will enable state institutions to access all citizens’ personal information through their national ID numbers. /Star/
 NEW CREDIT CARD REGULATIONS PROPOSEDThe Banking Supervision and Regulation Agency (BDDK) has prepared draft legislation on credit cards. Promoting the new regulations at a press conference yesterday, BDDK Chairman Tevfik Bilgin said that the more input there was on the proposal, the better the final product would be. It aims to crack down on banks who issue credit cards irresponsibly without the customers’ consent, and punish people unable to pay card bills that sometimes exceed their incomes by several times. He stated that new regulations were needed in the wake of an increasing number of complaints. /Turkiye/
 GERMAN OPPOSITION SUBMITS MOTION ON SO-CALLED GENOCIDEGerman opposition parties the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Socialist Union (CSU) yesterday submitted a motion to the Federal Parliament reiterating claims of a so-called Armenian genocide. Saying that the beginning of the so-called genocide should be commemorated, the motion further proposed that Germany work to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. CDU leader Angela Merkel also signed the motion. /Hýrriyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 DISCRIMINATION BY TURGUT TARHANLI (RADIKAL)Columnist Turgut Tarhanli comments on the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s (ECRI) recent report on Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Last week the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) released its third report on Turkey. Our leaders and media rebuffed the report and its arguments that despite legislative reforms, gaps remain concerning racism and intolerance in Turkey's Constitution and its civil, criminal and administrative codes, particularly concerning allegedly compulsory religion courses and religious affiliation listings on national ID cards. However, of course it covered many other issues as well. The report drew a swift reaction from our politicos and media, both because we lack sufficient background on the ECRI’s activities, and also because the commission failed to provide reporters with adequate and unbiased information on the report.
The ECRI, which was established by the Council of Europe (CoE), is an independent human rights monitoring body specializing in questions relating to racism and intolerance. Its members are completely independent. The ECRI carries a heavy burden, as discrimination is a widespread problem which can take many forms even in the most developed democracies. For example, over 2003-2004 in France, racist incidents rose some 30%.
Moreover, the ECRI is one institution within the CoE that Turkey has long supported. It’s no surprise that a country which has millions of immigrant citizens living in European countries lends its full support to an independent body dealing with such sensitive issues as racism, discrimination and xenophobia.
But the other side of the coin must be our domestic legislation and practices. Unfortunately, Turkey is suffering from certain gaps and shortcomings in its application of reforms. Discrimination isn’t always as systematic or clear-cut as apartheid, South Africa’s old policy of segregation. It can take many forms, visible and invisible, and intrude into our daily lives.
To fight discrimination, there needs to be an autonomous body to deal with such issues. However, Turkey lacks this. There is only a small unit within the body of the Labor Ministry. In addition to such official agencies, we also need to change our mindset so we can grasp that discrimination isn’t peculiar to the public space, and in fact can exist anywhere, even in our most private relations.”
 HOW CAN WE IMPROVE RELATIONS? BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)Columnist Sami Kohen comments on Turkish-US relations. A summary of his column is as follows:
“’There’s no tension between Turkey and the US on the level of our leaders, ’ said Egemen Bagis, a foreign policy advisor to the prime minister, during yesterday’s banquet organized by the Turkish-American Business Councils. ‘As this week’s meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President George W. Bush in Brussels showed, these leaders have a sincere dialogue. Recent communication problems shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. While solving the current sensitive problems, we all should look ahead in light of the strategic importance of our relations.’ He signalled that there is no crisis or tension in Turkish-US relations on the governmental level and that both sides were determined to continue their dialogue and relations. During yesterday’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in Ankara, Erdogan’s remarks echoed those of Bagis.
Discussions of Turkey’s anti-American stance have ruffled feathers in both Washington and Ankara. Now officials are trying to use soothing words to solve this problem. Of course everybody believing in the importance and benefits of Turkish-US relations will find this approach appropriate. However, this anti-US atmosphere can’t be dissipated overnight. It has various roots. Except for marginal circles who see the US as the enemy due to their ideological obsessions and prejudices, it will take time to reduce anti-Americanism within the general public. Leaders, politicians, and non- governmental organizations (NGOs) all have great tasks and responsibilities in this. It’s relatively easier for leaders and governments in both capitals to take steps towards this end. Now they are determined to do this. As Bagis stated, both sides’ leaders should watch what they say. From now on, both should avoid provocative remarks and instead try to solve their disagreements through normal diplomatic channels. Obviously there is the public’s expectations and anger concerning northern Iraq and the PKK, along with frustration from being unable to fulfill their hopes. These factors play an important role in our anti-Americanism. However, these problems can’t be solved by fomenting enmity or raising tensions. The only way is to behave coolly and with common sense and continue cooperation in order to solve these problems.”
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