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Turkish Press Review, 05-03-01

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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>

01.03.05

Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning


CONTENTS

  • [01] ERDOGAN’S AFRICAN TRIP BEGINS TODAY
  • [02] GUL REJECTS CLAIMS OF TURKEY “DRAGGING ITS FEET” ON EU PREPARATION
  • [03] CICEK: “WE’LL NAME OUR CHIEF EU NEGOTIATOR WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT”
  • [04] AKSU: “WE SHOULD HOLD SEMINARS TO TRAIN PERSONNEL ON THE NEW PENAL CODE”
  • [05] BARROSO: “CYPRUS IS A PROBLEM OF THE EU”
  • [06] FRENCH PARLIAMENT OKAYS REFERENDUM ON TURKEY’S EU MEMBERSHIP
  • [07] EU: “THERE IS NO FATIGUE IN TURKISH-EU RELATIONS”
  • [08] US STATE DEPT REPORT PRAISES TURKEY’S EFFORTS TO IMPROVE HUMAN RIGHTS
  • [09] FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
  • [10] THE NUCLEAR DEBATE BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)
  • [11] OUR EU TIMELINE THIS YEAR

  • [01] ERDOGAN’S AFRICAN TRIP BEGINS TODAY

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due today to travel to Ethiopia to pay an official visit. The premier is expected tomorrow to meet with his Ethiopian counterpart Meles Zenawi as well as President Girma Wolde-Georgis in the capital Addis Ababa to discuss a number of issues, including bilateral relations. During meetings between the two countries’ delegations, a number of agreements are expected to be signed. After completing his contacts in Ethiopia, Erdogan will proceed to South Africa and meet with that nation’s President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Erdogan will hold contacts in Cape Town on Friday and return to Turkey on Saturday. /Aksam/

    [02] GUL REJECTS CLAIMS OF TURKEY “DRAGGING ITS FEET” ON EU PREPARATION

    Visiting European Union Term President Luxembourg’s Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Nicholas Schmit said yesterday that there had been “fatigue” in Turkey after last December’s landmark summit, where EU leaders agreed to open long-delayed accession talks with Turkey this October. After meeting with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Schmit urged Ankara not to lose the momentum in reforms aimed at preparing Turkey for eventual membership. For his part, Gul remarked that Ankara places great importance on its EU process. Stressing that the government is in a process of preparation and its reforms are ongoing, Gul said that EU-related matters were a top priority for the government. Addressing the matter of the appointment of a chief negotiator for Turkey’s talks, Gul said this negotiator would soon be named by the prime minister. /Turkiye/

    [03] CICEK: “WE’LL NAME OUR CHIEF EU NEGOTIATOR WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT”

    Speaking at a press conference following yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Justice Minister and government spokesman Cemil Cicek said that the government would name its chief negotiator for Turkey’s European Union accession talks when the time was right, adding that the issue wasn’t a priority for the government. “This is not very important for us,” said Cicek. He further criticized the EU, saying that it hasn’t yet conveyed documents on the negotiation framework to Ankara. Cicek also denied recent claims that the government hadn’t worked hard enough for the nation’s EU membership bid since last December’s EU summit, when it got a date for talks, reiterating that it was determined on the issue. /Aksam/

    [04] AKSU: “WE SHOULD HOLD SEMINARS TO TRAIN PERSONNEL ON THE NEW PENAL CODE”

    Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu yesterday attended a ceremony marking the 46th anniversary of the Civil Defense Department. Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Aksu said that since there could be confusion in the implementation of the latest penal code reforms, the government should hold training seminars to educate security personnel on the changes. “Our ministry has already held informative sessions for the police chiefs,” he added. Responding to Justice Minister Cemil Cicek’s recent statement that security forces must work in line with the law instead of trying to find excuses, Aksu said that the police were not seeking excuses but were doing their utmost to serve the citizens in the best way possible. “Naturally there might be concerns over the new law, but I believe that state institutions must work to address these,” he added. Some policemen were recently reported to complain of the new legal procedures that whenever they arrest someone the courts order their release, whereupon Cicek urged them to act in line with the new law without “looking for excuses.” /Star/

    [05] BARROSO: “CYPRUS IS A PROBLEM OF THE EU”

    European Union Commission Head Jose Manuel Barroso said yesterday that the Cyprus issue was a problem for the Union, signaling that the commission is ready to play a more active role on the issue. Speaking following his meeting with Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos in Brussels, Barroso said that a new situation for Cyprus arose after Turkey got a date last December from the Union to begin its EU accession talks. “We hope to see new developments for a resolution on the island,” he said. “I believe that Turkey’s EU talks process will help promote a resolution.” Barroso stressed that he had discussed the issue with Turkish officials, saying that a resolution would have a direct effect on the EU acquis communautaire. The commission head added that reaching a resolution required the cooperation of both parties and that both sides would benefit from a positive atmosphere. “An atmosphere of trust is needed in order to reach a resolution,” said Barroso. /Milliyet/

    [06] FRENCH PARLIAMENT OKAYS REFERENDUM ON TURKEY’S EU MEMBERSHIP

    France’s Parliament yesterday approved a constitutional harmonization package to eliminate contradictions between France’s decades-old Constitution and the proposed European Union Constitution. The package stipulates that referenda be held on the accession of all countries to the European Union after 2007, a clear reference to Turkey, the only EU candidate expected to accede after that date. Ankara is due to start accession talks on Oct. 3, but its negotiations are expected to last at least 10 years. /Turkiye/

    [07] EU: “THERE IS NO FATIGUE IN TURKISH-EU RELATIONS”

    In the midst of recent rumors that Ankara is not moving fast enough to prepare for its upcoming European Union membership negotiations, yesterday the EU Commission in Brussels, however, said that it was unaware of any indication of “fatigue” in Turkey. Speaking at a press conference, EU Commission spokeswoman Francoise Le Bail said, “We have not seen any sign of fatigue in Turkish-EU relations. The atmosphere of our ties has not changed.” /Turkiye/

    [08] US STATE DEPT REPORT PRAISES TURKEY’S EFFORTS TO IMPROVE HUMAN RIGHTS

    The US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor yesterday released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. The annual reports are designed to provide a key framework for the US and other countries around the world to use in assessing the state of freedom and marshalling efforts to advance it. The 2004 edition of the report turns the world’s spotlight on nearly 200 countries including Turkey. “The [Turkish] government carried out extensive legal reforms during the year aimed at meeting the requirements for European Union membership,” says the report. “[T]he overall use of torture appeared to decrease during the year. Police and local authorities demonstrated more tolerance for controversial speech and were more flexible in handling nonviolent demonstrations. Kurdish language courses and news and cultural broadcasts began during the year, under tight restrictions.” However, the report also underlines that serious problems remained in such areas as “honor killings” and freedom of the press, although noting that the Turkish government generally respects human rights. “Parliament adopted a new penal code and approved a package of constitutional amendments,” it adds. “Sentences for torture convictions were increased; ‘honor killings’ were defined as aggravated homicides; and actions aimed at preventing free religious expression were defined as a crime punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison … International agreements were given precedence over national law; military and defense expenditures were placed under audit court review; the state was assigned responsibility for ensuring gender equality … [and] legislative amendments abolished the State Security Courts (DGMs).” /Aksam/

    [09] FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...

    [10] THE NUCLEAR DEBATE BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)

    Columnist Sami Kohen comments on a conference on nuclear weapons proliferation organized by the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD). A summary of his column is as follows:

    “The Prospect of Iran using its nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons is a nightmare for the West. There are different views on what could be done to prevent it from going nuclear. While Europe favors a solution via negotiations or compromise, the US believes in considering other alternatives such as a military offensive.

    What is Iran’s nuclear program aimed at? If its goal is to become a nuclear power, could it be blocked? And how? Bogazici University and the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association’s (TUSIAD) tried to find answers to these questions at a recent foreign policy forum conference on the ‘Nuclear Debate.’

    Two Iranian scholars held different views. Tehran University’s Abumohammed Isgarkhani said that the US is putting Iran under ‘heavy pressure’ directly or through Europe, and as a result Tehran doesn’t feel itself bound by its international obligations. Pointing to India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear programs, Isgarkhani stressed that Iran has the right to have a ‘survival strategy’ and to defend its national pride. Another scholar from the same university, Dr. Nassar Hadian, said that Iran could develop its nuclear program without producing nuclear weapons and could reach a compromise with the West. ‘Iran has started to discuss including the US in the negotiations, ’ he explained. ‘The government is remaining silent on this for ideological reasons. Since it is not the EU Iran wants to make a compromise with, but Washington, Tehran has to negotiate with it. This issue is being discussed among scholars and even some government circles.’ This is a quite important statement. Furthermore, that two Iranian scholars have diverging views shows that various opinions are developing in Iran.

    Moving to the Westerners, the Europeans are more for negotiations. According to Angelika Beer from the European Parliament’s Greens group, Europe should convince Iran not to produce nuclear bombs in return for technological and economic support from Europe. Frankfurt Peace Institute Director Bernard Kubbig said that this problem couldn’t be solved only by European efforts, but that the US and even Israel should be included. Los Angeles Times Turkey correspondent Douglas Franz shared this view.

    Turkey could have a role in achieving such a dialogue. Retired Egyptian Gen. Muhammed Kadri Said talked about a regional initiative. Why shouldn’t Turkey lead such an initiative?”

    [11] OUR EU TIMELINE THIS YEAR

    Columnist Sedat Ergin comments on relations between the European Union and Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “After EU Term President Luxemburg’s EU Minister Nicholas Schmit’s visit to Ankara yesterday, relations between the EU and Turkey have again gained momentum. Yesterday’s visit will be followed by the Troika meeting scheduled for next week. The gathering will be attended by Luxemburg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, Britain’s EU Minister Denis MacShane, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

    It’s also probable that the senior EU officials will be welcomed by the chief negotiator for Turkey’s EU talks which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government will soon appoint.

    Talks on the extension of the customs union in order to include the new members of EU are to begin in Brussels tomorrow.

    In light of the recent upsurge in activity, Turkey’s EU schedule for this year can be summarized as follows:

    Accession Partnership Document delayed

    An ‘Accession Partnership Document’ involving Europe’s new political demands from Turkey such as issuing a political code of ethics, implementing judicial reforms and laws concerning minorities had been due to be released in April.

    But the EU has decided to postpone the document’s release to November.

    The postponement is likely to relieve the AKP government, because the political demands contained in the document will be controversial and put the government under pressure.

    Outline of Negotiations to be issued in June

    The second important phase of the negotiations will be left behind when the EU issues an outline for the negotiations through which Turkey’s membership talks will be conducted.

    The EU Commission will present a draft of the outline to the Council of Europe in June. Finalization of the document will have to wait till July, when Britain will take over as term president.

    By the time our membership talks begin on Oct. 3, the document has must have been officially recognized by the Council of Europe.

    Will the Adjustment Protocol catch up?

    The most delicate topic concerning Turkey’s membership talks is the expansion of the customs union in order to include the EU’s new members.

    The adjustment protocol, which puts the issue of recognition of the Greek Cypriot government by Turkey on the front burner, is due to be settled before we start our talks in October. In order to catch up with the schedule, the protocol needs to be completed this summer.

    Should all these be settled in due time, an intergovernmental conference will be assembled, indicating that negotiations between Turkey and Europe for full membership have begun.

    For this reason, we must put the next seven months – a rather short period – to very good use.”


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