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Turkish Press Review, 07-02-08

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

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

08.02.2007


CONTENTS

  • [01] BAKU-TBILISI-KARS RAILWAY AGREEMENT SIGNED
  • [02] FM GUL: "TURKISH-US TIES WOULD BE SERIOUSLY HURT BY PASSAGE OF ARMENIAN RESOLUTION"
  • [03] ETHIOPIAN PM ARRIVES IN ANKARA
  • [04] SWISS INTERIOR MINISTER VISITS MARDIN
  • [05] SARKOZY: "TURKEY COULD BE THE BACKBONE OF A MEDITERRANEAN UNION"
  • [06] SPECIAL ENVOY BASER: "I COULD MEET WITH IRAQI KURDISH LEADERS"
  • [07] FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
  • [08] THE US MIGHT DISCUSS A CROSS-BORDER OP WITH TURKEY

  • [01] BAKU-TBILISI-KARS RAILWAY AGREEMENT SIGNED

    An agreement for the landmark Baku-Tbilsi-Kars railway project was signed yesterday in Tbilisi, Georgia by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. The railway, which will connect Asia to Europe via Turkey, is scheduled to be completed by 2010 at an estimated price tag of $420 million. A total of 105 kilometers of railway is to be laid for the line, including 76 kilometers in Turkish territory. Following the signing ceremony, Erdogan said the venture would be a model for regional cooperation, and all of its stations would send messages of peace and friendship to the world. Stressing that the finished railway would serve all countries' interests, Saakashvili described it as a kind of revival of the historical Silk Road. Also speaking at the gathering, Aliyev said that the venture would strengthen the stability of the region and promote the resolution of issues. In addition, the three leaders opened the Tbilisi International Airport, as newly renovated by Turkish firms Tepe and Akfen. /Star/

    [02] FM GUL: "TURKISH-US TIES WOULD BE SERIOUSLY HURT BY PASSAGE OF ARMENIAN RESOLUTION"

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday said that passage of a so-called Armenian resolution by the US Congress would seriously damage Turkish-US relations and entangle policy in a historical issue. In a Q&A session at the National Press Club, when asked about Turkey maintaining ties with countries which passed similar resolutions and whether the issue is overblown, Gul said, "Turkey's relations with the US are different from its relations with other countries. We deal with a lot of issues. It's not the same as with other countries." He also said that Turkey had offered its hand to Armenia for more dialogue and that he hoped this would lead to normalized relations with Yerevan. /Turkiye/

    [03] ETHIOPIAN PM ARRIVES IN ANKARA

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi yesterday arrived in Ankara for an official visit. As part of his contacts, Zenawi will be received by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and have talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials. In addition to bilateral relations, regional and international developments are expected to dominate the talks. Furthermore, agreements proposing cooperation in agriculture and tourism will be signed. After completing his contacts in Ankara, the Ethiopian premier will proceed to Istanbul to meet with private sector representatives and businessmen. /Turkiye/

    [04] SWISS INTERIOR MINISTER VISITS MARDIN

    Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin, in Turkey at the invitation of Tourism Minister Atilla Koc, yesterday visited the southeastern province of Mardin. Speaking to reporters, Couchepin said that his country was also fighting the terrorist PKK. "We especially focus on the group's drug and arms trafficking," said the visiting Swiss official. /Hurriyet/

    [05] SARKOZY: "TURKEY COULD BE THE BACKBONE OF A MEDITERRANEAN UNION"

    French Interior Minister and right-wing presidential candidate Nicholas Sarkozy, who has spoken out against Turkey's European Union membership, yesterday said Ankara could assume the leadership of a proposed union of Mediterranean countries. Speaking in Toulon, France, Sarkozy said, "The ambitious project which I will propose to Turkey would be its being the backbone of a new alliance, the Mediterranean countries union." Sarkozy said that this new union would have a council, just like the European Union, consisting of the member countries' leaders. /Milliyet/

    [06] SPECIAL ENVOY BASER: "I COULD MEET WITH IRAQI KURDISH LEADERS"

    Turkey's Special Envoy for countering terrorism retired Gen. Edip Baser yesterday said that if doing so is seen as having promise, he could meet with the Kurdish leaders in Iraq. Speaking to news channel NTV, Baser said, "This isn't a red line. If we could benefit from such a meeting, I could talk with them. But I can't make this decision this alone. The approval of certain high-level officials is required." In related news, US Embassy spokesperson Kathy Schalow said that she hoped that international operations against the terrorist PKK like recent ones in France and Belgium would continue. "We're in close coordination with European countries in order to encourage them to act more aggressively against the PKK network. We hope these raids and arrests will continue." /Sabah-Aksam/

    [07] FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...

    [08] THE US MIGHT DISCUSS A CROSS-BORDER OP WITH TURKEY

    BY ASLI ALTINTASBAS (SABAH)

    Columnist Asli Altintasbas comments on the possibility of a cross-border operation against Iraq. A summary of her column is as follows:

    "The US administration, which is preparing to receive Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit close on the heels of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, has given signals that it's ready to discuss a cross-border operation in northern Iraq against the terrorist PKK. A high-ranking official from the Bush administration, which has put the brakes on cross-border ops in recent years, told Sabah that everybody understood Turkey's concerns and that now certain figures in the administration see this request favorably. The official said that the Bush people might discuss the request for an operation on the condition that it's ‘limited and definite.' He said that some in the administration were open to discussing it, but they should firstly consider all other alternatives. He added that the territory was very rough and it wasn't clear what would be found across the border. American sources are ready to discuss a limited and definite operation against PKK leaders using civilian and military officials from Turkey, instead of a military operation using a large number of soldiers. However, the sources who spoke to Sabah said that US Special Envoy for countering terrorism Joseph Ralston's recent visit and the contacts held by the chief of General Staff had both been successful. ‘Firstly, let's talk about other alternatives,' one added. ‘There's sympathy for Turkey's position, but there are also certain efforts to find a scapegoat in the PKK issue. Yes, the PKK is a large problem for Turkey, but the issue doesn't end with it.'

    The US administration says that the civilian and military sectors in Turkey neglected to try non-military methods against the PKK and also stresses that terrorism is a multidimensional problem with military, economic and social aspects. Officials also emphasize that the recent rise of nationalism in Turkey and the election-year atmosphere brought the military alternative to the forefront and that there have been no concrete steps to solve the Kurdish issue since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's landmark 2005 speech in Diyarbakir and that the issue has been stuck between civilian and military leaders.

    But the US administration, now welcoming a cross-border op against PKK leaders more than in recent years, is only concerned with conventions. Washington is concerned that if the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) enters northern Iraq during hot pursuit or under an air operation, neighboring countries such as Iran and Syria will assert their own right to hot pursuit. The high-ranking official asked Sabah how neighboring countries can be prevented from crossing the border if Turkey enters Iraq. Also, the US government believes passage of the Armenian resolution would make a cross-border op more likely. The strong support received by the US Congress for the resolution spurred the State Department, White House and Pentagon to prepare efforts to head it off. US officials say that even a debate of the resolution on the US House of Representatives floor would damage Turkish-American relations and end Washington's power to deter a cross- border operation."


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