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Turkish Press Review, 05-03-29
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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
29.03.2005FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 ERDOGAN TRAVELS TO TUNISIAPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accompanied by a delegation of ministers, deputies, bureaucrats and businessmen last evening traveled to Tunisia, the first stop of his four-day tour of North Africa including Morocco. Before his departure, Erdogan told reporters at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport that his visit, in particular, aimed at developing Turkey’s economic ties with African countries. /Turkiye/
 GUL: “WE’VE RECEIVED THE ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL OF THE ANKARA AGREEMENT”Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Rafael Biesla, Argentina’s minister of foreign relations, international trade & worship, who is currently in Ankara on an official visit, yesterday signed agreements envisaging cooperation between the two countries in cultural exchange, protection of plants and veterinary medicine. At a joint news conference, Gul said that Turkey was determined to further improve its bilateral relations with Argentina. Stating that the Cyprus issue had also been discussed at the meeting, Bielsa characterized Turkey’s thesis about Cyprus as correct, stressing that Argentina would do everything in its power to spur the United Nations Security Council to take action. Gul said that Ankara had received the text of an additional European Union Customs protocol over the weekend. “We will fulfill the requirements of international law,” added Gul. “Turkey’s signing the protocol will not mean recognition of the Greek Cypriot side.” Gul said that such recognition was completely out of the question before a lasting solution is reached for the island and that all legal measures have been taken to this end. /Star/
 CICEK. “THE NEW TCK WILL NOT BE POSTPONED”Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said that any postponement of the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK) was out of the question. Commenting on rumors that application of the new TCK might be put off for six months, with new arrangements to be done in that period, Cicek said, “We can discuss certain articles, but the law will be put into effect on time.” He added that no one should expect the new TCK to suddenly end all social problems. /Turkiye/
 ONE AKP, FIVE CHP DEPUTIES RESIGN FROM THEIR PARTIESParliament yesterday saw several deputies’ resignations from their parties. The first such resignation was ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Malatya Deputy Mirac Akdogan. Then came the resignations of Ersoy Bulut, Ahmet Guryuz Ketenci, Mustafa Sayar, Zubeyir Amber and Hakki Akalin, all opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) supporters of Mustafa Sarigul, who challenged party leader Deniz Baykal at a recent party congress. The deputies claimed that the CHP Executive Board had been turned into a company headed by Baykal. Afterwards, the five deputies joined the Social Democrat People’s Party (SHP) at a ceremony held at party headquarters. On the other hand, Akdogan is expected to join the ranks of the Motherland Party (ANAP) today. Meanwhile, following the joining of several former AKP deputies – Erkan Mumcu, Muharrem Saribas, Mehmet Erdemir and Said Armagan – yesterday former CHP Mardin Deputy Muharrem Dogan also joined ANAP, which is trying to renew itself under prospective leader Mumcu. The SHP has become the latest parliamentary party represented with five seats. After the membership switches, the SHP and ANAP are both expected to benefit from state aid as they have the necessary deputies in Parliament. /Turkiye/
 AGAR: “THE NEW TCK AIMS AT MUZZLING THE PRESS”Speaking at a meeting of his party in Diyarbakir yesterday, True Path Party (DYP) leader Mehmet Agar criticized the domestic, foreign and economic policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Further criticizing the new Turkish Penal Code, which is due to take effect this Friday, Agar charged that with the code the government wanted to muzzle the press. Also present at the meeting were representatives from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and chambers of trade and industry. Agar further stressed that the presence of the Kurdish people boosted the power of the Turkish Republic. /Cumhuriyet/
 YASAR TOPCU’S TRIAL AT SUPREME COURT CONTINUESThe trial of Former Public Works and Housing Minister Yasar Topcu yesterday continued at the Supreme Court. In testimony to the court, Topcu asserted his innocence, adding that Turkey had become a “haven for baseless allegations.” Chief Justice Mustafa Bumin decided to listen to testimony from 10 witnesses and scheduled the next hearing for April 21. /Cumhuriyet/
 NEW TCK COULD DERAIL TRIALS OF FORMER MINISTERSThe current trials of former ministers at the Supreme Court could be jeopardized by the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK) set to come into force this Friday. The new TCK’s omission of articles addressing construction tenders could derail the trials of former Public Works and Housing Ministers Koray Aydin and Yasar Topcu and former Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer. A corrective regulation concerning the issue could soon be discussed by Parliament. /Cumhuriyet/
 EU LEGAL ADVISOR: “SIGNING THE ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL DOESN’T MEAN RECOGNIZING GREEK CYPRUS”Dr. Frank Hoffmeister, an advisor to the European Union Commission’s Legal Affairs Department, said yesterday that Turkey signing the Ankara agreement additional protocol would not mean recognition of Greek Cyprus. Addressing a conference at Ankara’s TOBB University, Hoffmeister stated that the additional protocol was a technical matter whose signing was required for EU membership. “While signing the protocol, Turkey can declare that it doesn’t recognize Greek Cyprus,” he said, adding that the two were separate issues. /Turkiye/
 GREEK CYPRIOTS THREATEN TO VETO TURKEY’S EU BIDGreek Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou yesterday said that if Ankara signed the additional Customs Union protocol, which is designed to cover the 10 new members of the European Union, but did not implement it, his administration would exercise its veto over Turkey’s EU bid. “If Turkey continues to make a show of saying that it would sign the Customs Protocol but would not implement it, Ankara will face southern Cyprus’ veto,” Iacovou warned. /Sabah/
 PRESS COUNCIL: “ERRORS IN THE TCK SHOULD BE RECTIFIED”Press Council President Oktay Eksi at a press conference yesterday stated that errors in the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which will come into force this Friday, should be rectified. Eksi said that the Press Council had asked for an appointment with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but had not received a response. Press groups are to discuss the new TCK with Justice Minister Cemil Cicek. /Hurriyet/
 STRAITS PILOTING SHIPS NOT TO BE PRIVATIZEDThe Prime Ministry’s High Inspection Committee (YDK) stated yesterday that pilot ship services for foreign ships in the Turkish Straits and the Straits trafficking system would not be included in the privatization program of Turkish Maritime Enterprises. Meanwhile, Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said that the oil tanker traffic in the Straits had doubled over the last three years. Warning of the potential threat that Istanbul faces, Guler underlined the need for new routes for oil trafficking. /Hurriyet, Sabah/
 FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 CAN ANKARA RECOGNIZE THE GREEK CYPRIOTS? BY MUSTAFA KARAALIOGLU (YENI SAFAK)Columnist Mustafa Karaalioglu comments on Turkey’s European Union membership bid and the Cyprus issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Brussels sent a letter to Ankara last week initiating the process of Turkey signing an additional protocol of the Ankara Agreement extending the country’s Customs Union to 10 new European Union members, including the Greek Cypriot administration. Our Foreign Ministry pledged to sign it and must have sent a letter to Brussels by now, expressing its commitment.
The correspondence between Ankara and Brussels is shaping our path towards EU membership. Brussels will translate the final version of the text into all relevant languages and then send it to its commissioners. It will probably take about two months for the text to be ready for Ankara’s signature. The exchange of letters has kicked off this process.
If everything goes as planned, our government will probably sign the protocol in the first weeks of Britain’s term presidency come July. Then our Parliament will have to sign it too. Thus, Turkey does not object to signing the text in its current form. Discussions on Turkey’s probable official stance on the issue are over now. As a matter of fact, we didn’t have much choice anyway – besides signing it.
Concerning the additional protocol, one of the most important problems for Ankara has been Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadapoulos’ recent statements on the issue. The Greek Cypriots were threatening to block Ankara’s accession talks, if it fails to sign the protocol. However, as Turkey has pledged to sign it, now they have to go further. We must expect them to seize on all possible means against Turkey’s membership bid, including April’s Partnership Council meeting.
The problem for the Greek Cypriots is that Turkey denies officially recognizing them without there being a permanent solution on the island. In addition, Ankara will also issue a declaration simultaneously with its signing of the protocol, making sure everybody understands that its official position on the Greek Cypriot issue has not changed.
‘Our signing of the protocol does not mean that we recognize the Greek Cypriot administration,’ the declaration will probably say. ‘Turkey will retain its relations with the Turkish Cypriots and will remain committed to efforts aimed at finding a permanent, comprehensive solution.’
After Ankara declares this, we won’t have to worry about the issue again because nothing that our government could do would ever amount to official recognition. To put it more clearly, without a permanent solution, Turkey will never recognize Greek Cyprus.”
 WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR PARLIAMENT? BY MURAT YETKIN (RADIKAL)Columnist Murat Yetkin comments on the recent resignations of several Turkish Parliament members. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The total number of Parliament deputies who resigned from their parties yesterday climbed to 23. While 14 of these resignations came from the opposition Republican People’s Party, (CHP) the other nine were from the ruling Justice and Development Party. (AKP) Now the Parliament has 365 members of the AKP and 163 of the CHP.
There are currently five political parties in the Parliament, but the sixth party will likely be established when Mustafa Sarigul, once a member of the CHP, joins the Socialist Democrat People’s Party (SHP). Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Felicity Party (SP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and a Kurdish party also found deputies in Parliament. Although it was announced that it had nothing to do with the recent upsurge in resignations from both the AKP and the CHP, a soon-to-be-passed bill that abolishes financial aid for political parties with fewer than 10 members in Parliament clearly aims at discouraging deputies from leaving their current parties.
New political parties are being established, deputies are one by one quitting their parties, but none of these cause great turmoil or create new expectations. Even our fragile stock market doesn’t seem to take notice. Why?
There are a few reasons why these resignations haven’t had serious consequences. First of all, the AKP is at ease, now that it has come to see the only way to bring about a change in our Constitution is to reach a compromise with the CHP. And the CHP has noticed that the only way to shake the AKP’s dominance in Parliament is to hold another series of national elections, and that’s something that only the AKP has the authority to decide on. Therefore, both CHP leader Deniz Baykal and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan are acting with confidence that a few group members’ resignations won’t change the current equilibrium in Parliament.
AKP and CHP members can’t affect their parties by threatening to resign. Neither do they have much influence on other parties in Parliament. So they aren’t seen as heroes or saviors by the parties they join after they resign. Instead, they are viewed as a mere voice in the Parliament, or even a refugee. Former AKP member Erkan Mumcu’s case might be an exception, since he’s been embraced by the Motherland Party (ANAP) as a savior.
In any case, these new parties don’t have innovative new policies to offer. Notice that the AKP and the CHP owe their success to their detachment from political corruption.
All these reasons spell out why a series of resignations no longer have a great impact in the political arena.”
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