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Turkish Press Review, 08-01-08

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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

08.01.2008

FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS

CONTENTS

  • [01] GUL TO MEET WITH BUSH AT WHITE HOUSE
  • [02] CABINET CONVENES
  • [03] ERDOGAN RECEIVES DELEGATION OF US SENATORS
  • [04] GUL, ERDOGAN CONGRAGULATE GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ON REELECTION
  • [05] PARLIAMENT SPEAKER TOPTAN: “THE DTP’S STATEMENTS WORRY ME”
  • [06] JUSTICE MINISTER: “2008 WILL BE A YEAR OF REFORMS”
  • [07] NEW YOK HEAD CALLS FOR TUITION AT UNIVERSITES
  • [08] IRAN HALTS GAS SHIPMENTS TO TURKEY DUE TO COLD WEATHER
  • [09] WASHINGTON CONFESSES ITS SINS

  • [01] GUL TO MEET WITH BUSH AT WHITE HOUSE

    President Abdullah Gul, who is currently in the US for official talks, will meet at the White House today with his US counterpart George W. Bush. After their meeting, Gul will attend a luncheon hosted by Bush. He will also have separate talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney. The president is also expected to speak to members of the Turkish press about his meetings. In addition, Gul will deliver a speech to the Woodrow Wilson Center think-tank. Then he will head for New York to discuss the Cyprus issue with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek and Energy Minister Hilmi Guler are accompanying Gul on his trip. /Sabah/

    [02] CABINET CONVENES

    The Cabinet ministers chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened yesterday. Afterwards, speaking to reporters, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said that a bill was in the works to enable Turkish citizens living abroad to vote in elections, including referendums. He added that in future elections, voters’ fingers will be no longer be marked with ink after they cast their ballots. /Turkiye/

    [03] ERDOGAN RECEIVES DELEGATION OF US SENATORS

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday received a US senatorial delegation led by Florida Senator Mel Martinez. After the meeting, Martinez said that they had discussed issues concerning both countries, including the common threat of terrorism. He said that last November’s meeting between Erdogan and US President George W. Bush had been a very important step in this respect. Martinez added that such efforts would be furthered this week when Bush meets with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul at the White House. /Star/

    [04] GUL, ERDOGAN CONGRAGULATE GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ON REELECTION

    President Abdullah Gul yesterday telephoned Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to congratulate him on his reelection last week. Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan also sent a congratulatory message to the president on his victory. Wishing Saakashvili success, Erdogan said that close cooperation between the two countries will continue in his new term. /Turkiye-Turkish Daily News/

    [05] PARLIAMENT SPEAKER TOPTAN: “THE DTP’S STATEMENTS WORRY ME”

    In its recent anti-terror operations in northern Iraq, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has been carrying out its duty, said Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan yesterday. “For the first time, the whole world is standing by Turkey’s side in its fight against terrorism,” he told CNN Turk. “The terrorist group (PKK) wants to divide Turkey, but it can’t do it. Let me stress the point we’re at now. Now, as a result of its desperation, the terrorist group has started a type of action which is more difficult to control.” Asked about the Democratic Society Party’s (DTP) failure to call the PKK a terrorist group, he said, “Their work in Parliament didn’t bother me up to now. But their statements and actions outside Parliament worry me. They shouldn’t act this way.” /Aksam/

    [06] JUSTICE MINISTER: “2008 WILL BE A YEAR OF REFORMS”

    Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin yesterday stated that stronger steps will be taken for European Union harmonization and legal reforms this year, adding that there will be changes in over 170 laws. Speaking to the press about 2007 and the year ahead before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, he was asked if Article 221 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on penitence would be expanded. “No work is being done on this article,” he replied. He added that a bill to amend controversial Article 301 of the TCK will be sent to Parliament this week. /Star/

    [07] NEW YOK HEAD CALLS FOR TUITION AT UNIVERSITES

    Free state universities don’t exist anywhere else in the world, said the new head of the Board of Higher Education (YOK), Yusuf Ziya Ozcan, yesterday, calling for tuition to be charged at state-owned post-secondary educational institutions. He said that not everybody needs to be a university graduate. “Let’s admit students on a tuition-paying basis and provide scholarships for those who need it,” said Ozcan. Students at state universities pay an annual admission fee, but the money they pay is low compared to private universities. /Turkish Daily News/

    [08] IRAN HALTS GAS SHIPMENTS TO TURKEY DUE TO COLD WEATHER

    Iran cut its natural gas supply to Turkey yesterday over weather worries, but officials said there was cause for concern as yet. Iran last week significantly reduced gas exports to Turkey due to persistent cold weather across the country, reduced pressure in the pipelines, and as a halt in supplies from Turkmenistan left some northern Iranian towns without gas in freezing weather. Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler told reporters that besides Iran, Ukraine has also reduced the amount of natural gas it sends to Turkey. /The New Anatolian/

    FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS

    [09] WASHINGTON CONFESSES ITS SINS

    BY RUSEN CAKIR (VATAN)

    Columnist Rusen Cakir comments on President Abdullah Gul’s visit this week to the US. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “In recent years, whenever a Turkish political leader prepares himself to visit Washington, its timing, duration, meaning and the interest (or lack thereof) by the US president become subjects of speculation. Nobody expected that President Abdullah Gul’s visit this week would be an exception, and it isn’t. Critics of the timing and content of the visit and even those who argued that Gul shouldn’t visit lame duck US President George W. Bush are right on many points. But none of these issues overshadow the symbolic meaning of the visit, because it amounts to an admission of failure by those who decided nearly five years ago to try and hang Gul. This visit is evidence of the fact that the Bush administration has once again misunderstood Turkey and Turkish politics.

    Let’s review: When Parliament rejected the deployment of US soldiers in Turkey back in March 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, the US administration held Prime Minister Abdullah Gul primarily responsible for this. At that time, Washington’s influential neocons started a sometimes covert but usually open campaign against Gul and Foreign Ministry advisor Ahmet Davutoglu, and found a great many Turkish allies in this. (It’s another issue that some of them became defenders of Gul and the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, just before last summer’s elections.) We don’t know if Bush was told about the campaign carried out by Vice President Dick Cheney and others in his office, and it’s not so important. But Cheney welcoming Gul into his office is a kind of confession. This meeting alone makes Gul’s visit very meaningful, symbolically.

    In the wake of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the US last fall, which was later seen to have been successful, Gul and Bush won’t have so much to talk about. But Gul’s meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates may be more important. Today Gul will give a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center, an important liberal think-tank. As the Democratic Party is very likely to win the presidency this fall, such appearances have added importance. Another interesting point is that Gul played an active role in obtaining the release from Iran of Haleh Esfandiari, the head of the center’s Middle East department, after he had been held prisoner for some time.

    During his US visit, Gul will give interviews with influential media outlets such as the Washington Post, CNN and Newsweek and make a speech at perhaps the world’s most influential think-tank, the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Gul will also meet with Jewish groups and representatives of the Turkish community in Washington and New York. Finally, it’s interesting that Gul also sent some people from the delegation to the US on regular airlines while taking eight reporters " this number is a little higher than usual " on his plane. In addition, Gul also took Sedat Ergin, who has been all but blacklisted by the AKP government and who has been keeping track of the journalists taken by AKP leaders on their planes " on his plane as well. Through this action, Gul seems to be trying to shake off criticisms that he takes only friendly reporters along on his trips.”


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