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Turkish Press Review, 07-02-27

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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

27.02.2007


CONTENTS

  • [01] ERDOGAN: "KIRKUK IS A MINI-IRAQ"
  • [02] FM GUL VISITS AFGHANISTAN
  • [03] DUTCH QUEEN BEATRIX TO ARRIVE IN ANKARA TODAY
  • [04] SPECIAL ANTI-TERROR ENVOY BASER: "IF I DON'T THINK HOLDING MEETINGS WOULD HELP, I WOULD RESIGN RATHER THAN DO SO"
  • [05] POLISH FM FOTYGA: "WE COULD MEDIATE BETWEEN ANKARA AND YEREVAN"
  • [06] AKP DEPUTY SENDS LETTER TO US CONGRESSMEN URGING AGAINST ARMENIAN RESOLUTION
  • [07] MINORITY RIGHTS GROUP REPORT: "IRAQ'S TURKMEN ARE BEING DECIMATED"
  • [00]

  • [01] ERDOGAN: "KIRKUK IS A MINI-IRAQ"

    After yesterday's Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Central Executive Board meeting. Speaking to reporters beforehand, the premier commented on Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's recent claims that "Kirkuk is a Kurdish city." Stressing that the city was like a mini-Iraq and had never been the property of any one ethnic group, Erdogan said that such a stance bodes badly for Iraq's future. He also warned officials to use care in their statements on the matter. He added that currently he has no plans to visit Iraq, but technical delegations might make efforts. /Turkiye/

    [02] FM GUL VISITS AFGHANISTAN

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday visited the Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) working in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. Gul also met with the governor of the province, Abd-al Cebbar Naeemi, and attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a police training center to be built by the PRT. He also met separately with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Afghan counterpart Rengin Dadfar Spanta. Afterwards, Gul told a press conference that Turkey would take over the command of NATO forces in the Kabul region in April for the third time and raise the number of soldiers to 1,000. /Aksam/

    [03] DUTCH QUEEN BEATRIX TO ARRIVE IN ANKARA TODAY

    For the first time, Turkey will host members of the Dutch royal family this week. Dutch Queen Beatrix, accompanied by Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima, are set to arrive in Ankara at the invitation of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. During their four-day stay, the family will also visit Istanbul and Kayseri. /Milliyet/

    [04] SPECIAL ANTI-TERROR ENVOY BASER: "IF I DON'T THINK HOLDING MEETINGS WOULD HELP, I WOULD RESIGN RATHER THAN DO SO"

    Speaking to news channel NTV, Turkey's Special Envoy for Countering Terrorism Edip Baser yesterday spoke about debates over whether Turkish officials should meet with Kurdish leaders and also Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's recent statements. He said he could meet with Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq if the government wants it, so long as he is convinced doing so would be beneficial. Baser stated that if he were not so convinced, he would resign even if the government asked him to hold such meetings. Commenting on Barzani's statements, Baser said, "He speaks as if he were a head of state," and on Barzani's claim that Kirkuk is a Kurdish city, Baser said, "I have no proof of this." /Hurriyet/

    [05] POLISH FM FOTYGA: "WE COULD MEDIATE BETWEEN ANKARA AND YEREVAN"

    Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga yesterday said that her country has historically had good relations with both Turkey and Armenia and that they were ready to serve as a mediator for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. At a joint press conference with her Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian in Yerevan, Fotyga said that owing to Poland's good relations with these two countries, they would like to help the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia. /Hurriyet/

    [06] AKP DEPUTY SENDS LETTER TO US CONGRESSMEN URGING AGAINST ARMENIAN RESOLUTION

    Turkish officials are continuing their intense efforts to prevent passage of the Armenian resolution by the US House of Representatives. As part of those efforts, Justice and Development Party (AKP) Kirikkale Deputy Vahit Erdem, who is also head of the NATO Parliamentarians Assembly Turkish Group, wrote a letter to US congressmen warning that passage of the resolution would damage ties between Turkey and the US. Stressing that the resolution is based on exaggerated, one-sided Armenian allegations, Erdem said not parliaments but scholars and historians should study the issue. He added that the resolution on the so-called genocide would not contribute to efforts to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations, but would on the contrary hinder them. /Turkiye/

    [07] MINORITY RIGHTS GROUP REPORT: "IRAQ'S TURKMEN ARE BEING DECIMATED"

    A report prepared by the Minority Rights Group said that Iraq's minorities, which make up 10 percent of its population, face the danger of vanishing. The report said that through assimilation, migration and killings, ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq are at risk of entirely vanishing in the country. It also noted that among Iraq's minorities, Turkmen have lived there for more than 2,000 years, and their numbers have dropped from 800, 000 in 2003 to just 200,000 now. It added that some 1,350 Turkmen have been killed since 2003. /Milliyet/

    FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS

    [00]

    Columnist Fikret Bila comments on Kirkuk and the terrorist PKK. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "While arguments continue over Turkish officials possibly holding meetings with northern Iraqi officials, Mete Cubukcu of news channel NVT met this week with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. Barzani had this to say about three top issues:

    1. An Independent ‘Kurdistan': Independence is the most natural right of the Kurds. Our neighbors need to get used to this idea.

    2. Kirkuk: This city is Kurdistan's heart. It's an Iraqi province and part of Kurdistan. It's a Kurdish province.

    3. The PKK: Turkey shouldn't expect us to go against the PKK. Political steps should be taken on the issue. We won't allow a possible Turkish cross- border operation and won't just stand by and watch this.

    These views of Barzani are known. He suggests that political steps be taken on the issue, and wants Ankara to accept political demands which are PKK- oriented. It's natural for Barzani, who is trying to gain influence in southeastern Anatolia and form political alternatives in Turkey's domestic policy, to give such messages.

    Turkey's three northern Iraq-oriented problems are the possible declaration of an independent Kurdish state, Kirkuk and the PKK. We have already discussed the first, so now let's discuss Kirkuk and the PKK. Why is Kirkuk important for Turkey?

    Turkey considers the possible declaration of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq a risk for Turkey's future. Along these lines, Kirkuk carries a special importance. If Kirkuk is under Kurdish administration, this will be a milestone in their quest for an independent Kurdish state. The second aspect of the Kurdish problem is Iraq's ethnic Turkmen. Turkey is concerned about their safety if a conflict breaks out in Kirkuk.

    There's no need to summarize the PKK problem. The terrorist PKK's presence in Turkey has lessened, but now it's more present in northern Iraq. The PKK's representatives in Turkish politics keep pushing their requests. These requests are moving Turkey to become two nations with a general amnesty and Kurdish as an official language of education.

    While discussing Kirkuk and the PKK, it would be wrong to try to link the two. Presenting these two problems to Turkey as bargaining chips would be a mistake. All three problems are very important for Turkey…

    Since meeting with Iraqi officials would be a means, not an end, Turkey needs to make clear the aim of such meetings."


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