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Turkish Press Review, 07-08-20
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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
 FIRST ROUND OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION TO BE HELD TODAYRound one of Turkey’s second presidential election this year is due to be held today. To win the post, a candidate needs to get at least 367 votes of the deputies in Parliament, which proved impossible in the April-May election. The leading candidate for the post is Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), whose aborted run in April sparked early general elections and a landslide victory for his party. Sabahattin Cakmakoglu from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Tayfun Icli from the Democratic Left Party (DSP) are also running. The second round is scheduled for Friday. If no candidate gets 367 votes, then a third round will be necessary. Gul is expected to be elected president in the third round at the latest, which would be held on next Tuesday, Aug. 28. As part of his visits to various figures and groups to seek support for his presidential bid, today Gul will meet with independent Deputies Mesut Yilmaz, Ufuk Uras, Kamer Genc, and Erdogan Yetenc. In related news, DSP dark horse candidate Cakmakoglu said in a written statement that it was an honor for him to run for president. /Turkiye/
 YAZICIOGLU REELECTED BBP LEADERMuhsin Yazicioglu was reelected leader of the Great Union Party (BBP) at an extraordinary congress held over the weekend. He won the post after resigning from it earlier this year. Addressing party members, Yazicioglu said that he would be in Parliament during the presidential election set to start today, adding that he would vote for Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul from the start. /Milliyet/
 TURKEY, IRAN TAKE NEW STEPS FOR NATURAL GAS COOPERATIONIn spite of US criticism, new steps have been taken between Turkey and Iran in cooperation over natural gas. Iran’s acting Petroleum Minister Gulam Hussein Nozeri said yesterday that an agreement has been reached on establishing a company to lay a natural gas pipeline from Asaluye, Iran to the Turkish border, and then to Europe. In addition, Turkey and Iran reached a consensus to establish three thermal power plants. After a meeting between Nozeri and Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler, it was stated that Turkey had given Iran permission to use its territory to transport Iranian natural gas to Europe, and that 35 billion cubic meters of gas would be moved through this pipeline. In return, Iran gave permission for Turkmen gas to be brought to Turkey from Iranian territory. /Cumhuriyet/
 ZEKI SEZER RETAINS DSP HELMDemocratic Left Party (DSP) leader Zeki Sezer was reelected to the party helm at a congress held over the weekend. Addressing the gathering, Sezer said that he was saddened to hold a congress without longtime DSP leader Bulent Ecevit, who passed away last year. He stated that the DSP would never forsake universality or nationalism. Rebuffing criticisms that Turkey’s left wing is ailing, Sezer said Turkey needs a democratic left, as it has to tackle unemployment and work to improve human rights. /Sabah/
 EP HEAD: “A MAJORITY OF MEPs FAVOR TURKEY’S EU MEMBERSHIP BID, PROVIDED IT MEETS THE CRITERIA”European Union Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering yesterday said that a majority in the EP favors Turkey’s European Union membership so long as it fulfills the Union’s criteria, adding, however, that he personally favors a “privileged partnership” in lieu of membership. “We should also consider privileged partnerships with Ukraine and the Arab world,” he said. He further stressed that membership negotiations with Turkey should continue along with the reform process initiated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The only assurance for the continuation of Ankara’s talks is dependent on Turkey’s adoption of EU values and the continuation of reforms,” he added. /Hurriyet/
FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS...
 SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW APPROACHESBY FERAI TINC (HURRIYET)
Columnist Ferai Tinc comments on possible new approaches for the US and EU towards Turkey. A summary of her column is as follows:
“Jonathan Adiri, a leading member of Israeli think-tank the Reut Institute, has called on the US and European Union to reevaluate their approaches towards Turkey. Not only Adiri, but also international lobbies have started to adjust their stances on Turkey, as the summer is about to end and Turkey’s post-election profile is taking shape. A report prepared by the International Crisis Group, based in the US, is another indicator of this situation.
Firstly, let me address Adiri’s article called ‘Turkey’s regional ascension.’ In the piece, Adiri called on Washington and the EU to change their diplomatic stance on Turkey. ‘A new approach must reflect a recognition of Turkey’s growing influence,’ he wrote. ‘The west should work to keep Turkey as the Middle in the East and not push it towards the extremist end of the regional map. Two immediate steps are easy to perform in this regard, in conjunction with re-framing the EU negotiation, while it is still considered a carrot and not a stick. Washington should seriously consider inviting Turkey to the planned Israeli- Palestinian conference as a major stakeholder in the potential re-shaping of the Middle East. In addition, as a "grand-bargain" between the international community and the local actors surrounding Iraq seems to be forming, Turkey should be given a seat at the table, recognizing its worries regarding the Kurds, which is one of the joint-interests gravitating it towards Iran.’
Both the International Crisis Group report and Adiri’s piece mention the negative effects of the EU’s vacillation on Turkey, putting the Cyprus issue as an obstacle in front of Turkey, the US failure to tackle the terrorist PKK issue, and how Turkey was left alone in its fight against terrorism. It’s clear that relations with Turkey won’t be fixed unless steps are taken on these issues. The International Crisis Group, which is a very influential think-tank both in Washington and Brussels, also says that if Europe extends its hand to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to help revive Turkey’s EU membership bid, this will entail no losses for the EU, but rather gains.
We should elect a president as soon as possible, form a government and start working in order to influence developments and revive our EU membership talks at a time when Iraq’s destiny is forming and the region is being restructured.”
 AN EMBRACE HOW FAR?BY YASEMIN CONGAR (MILLIYET)
Columnist Yasemin Congar comments on Turkey’s EU bid in the wake of last month’s general elections and on the eve of the presidential election. A summary of his column is as follows:
“I was speaking with two European diplomats at a cocktail party at the US State Department. While talking about last month’s general elections and what Abdullah Gul’s presidency will mean for the European Union, the two diplomats said that they were amazed at our society’s pace of change. In the first stages of the reform process which started in 2001 and stalled in 2005 after making swift progress in the first two years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, the EU and the US wondered if the Turkish people would digest these rapid reforms. Today, as the AKP starts its second term, they wonder if the AKP will be able to bear this process properly. They no longer question if our society wants reforms or not. They wonder how far Parliament will go and if the bureaucracy will adopt it. So we can say that those looking at Turkey from abroad see a country whose base is changing even as its upper levels resist this change. The April 27 General Staff statement (just before the last presidential election was aborted) and last month’s general elections crystallized this picture and reflected the difference between the pulse of society and statist circles, showing that neo-nationalism prevails among statist circles, but not society at large.
The difference between the habits of our state and the desires of our society is directly related to the EU process. The pause in 2005 was partially a result of this difference, and a new International Crisis Group report on Europe and Turkey blames it on both Europe’s enlargement exhaustion and a neo-nationalist wave in Turkey. Analysts from both the EU and the US relate this neo-nationalist reaction to the state rather than society. They think that the voters gave a mandate to the AKP to continue with the reforms. They expect the AKP, which stumbled to a statist stagnancy in 2005, fearing the possible effects of transforming steps ahead, to go ahead and take these steps. Abdullah Gul’s upcoming presidency comes out of the victory of society’s choice over statism. It’s very positive that Gul said he would embrace all walks of society, but we shouldn’t overlook what the Financial Times urged a few days ago: In this balance, he shouldn’t go to the extremes. Surrendering to anti-democrats makes Turkey stumble. A government continuing our EU bid along with a president supporting this is a great opportunity. We should be aware of this.”
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