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Turkish Press Review, 08-02-08

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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

08.02.2008


CONTENTS

  • [01] PM ERDOGAN VISITS SITE OF GERMAN FIRE, URGES THOROUGH INVESTIGATION
  • [02] ERDOGAN: “THE INFORMAL ECONOMY IS ALSO A KIND OF CORRUPTION”
  • [03] EU: “THE HEADSCARF IS TURKEY ’S OWN ISSUE”
  • [04] US AMBASSADOR WILSON: “THE US DOESN’T PROVIDE WEAPONS TO THE PKK”
  • [05] US JOIN CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: “US-TURKISH MILITARY COOPERATION HAS REACHED AN UNPRECEDENTED LEVEL”
  • [06] SPEAKING TO THE WEST

  • [01] PM ERDOGAN VISITS SITE OF GERMAN FIRE, URGES THOROUGH INVESTIGATION

    Primer Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday traveled to Germany to hold a series of talks and to attend the Munich Conference on Security Policy, as well as to visit the scene of a deadly fire from earlier this week. Before leaving, when asked about statements by the Intercollegiate Board (UAK) and Turkish Bar Association on the controversial headscarf issue, Erdogan said those groups do not represent all academics or all lawyers, adding that only Parliament has the authority to speak for the people. At the scene of the fire, Erdogan was accompanied by State Minister Said Yazicioglu and Kurt Beck, the premier of Germany ’s state of Rhineland- Palatinate. During his visit, a group of local Turks held a protest of the fire, which some suspect was caused by arson. German authorities told Erdogan about the investigation of the blaze. “Both the German police and the firefighters did their best to save lives in the disaster, but we are expecting a thorough investigation,” Erdogan told a crowd gathered outside the apartment building after meeting the victims’ families. “The grief of our nation is great. But our German friends I spoke to are also grieving.” He added, “We hope that our grief will lead towards a fresh beginning." Erdogan also visited the Turks who were injured in the fire. /Star/

    [02] ERDOGAN: “THE INFORMAL ECONOMY IS ALSO A KIND OF CORRUPTION”

    There has never even been the smallest question that Turkey ’s current government would show the slightest tolerance towards corruption in either the public or private sector, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. “Corruption is as old as human history, and as the economy has gone global, so has corruption,” Erdogan told a meeting in Ankara on a new anti-corruption initiative. Erdogan also criticized the private sector over the informal economy, calling this another kind of corruption. /Star/

    [03] EU: “THE HEADSCARF IS TURKEY ’S OWN ISSUE”

    The headscarf issue is Turkey’s own issue, to be discussed by the Turkish people, and does not concern the European Union, said a European Commission spokesperson yesterday. Asked about Foreign Minister Ali Babacan’s remark that the headscarf controversy is harming Turkey’s international image and that it needs progress in rights and freedoms and political reforms to achieve EU membership, Krisztina Nagy, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn’s spokesperson, said, “This is a multidimensional issue. There is no standard in EU law regarding headscarves. The Turkish people will discuss this issue. The EU hasn’t asked to Turkey to make any change on this issue, and the EU has no position on it.” /Hurriyet/

    [04] US AMBASSADOR WILSON: “THE US DOESN’T PROVIDE WEAPONS TO THE PKK”

    The US does not provide weapons to the terrorist PKK or to any other terrorist group, reiterated US Ambassador to Ankara Ross Wilson yesterday. During a visit to Hatay Governor Ahmet Kayhan, he added, “Weapon traffickers in the region have been selling weapons from the US without knowing how these were acquired.” /Turkiye/

    [05] US JOIN CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: “US-TURKISH MILITARY COOPERATION HAS REACHED AN UNPRECEDENTED LEVEL”

    Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen yesterday said that over the past few months US-Turkish military cooperation has reached an unprecedented degree. Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee on next year’s proposed military budget, Mullen said that he had recently met with Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ergin Saygun. “There’s a delicate balance,” he said. “I think not only the military but the leaders of the two countries understand that we reached a balance and it should continue.” /Sabah/

    FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...

    [06] SPEAKING TO THE WEST

    BY MURAT YETKIN (RADIKAL)

    Columnist Murat Yetkin comments on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech to the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make the opening speech today at the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy. This should be considered a mark of Turkey ’s rising international importance. The conference is well-known for its speeches and how they set the stage for international security. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech last year, which got the Turkish General Staff’s attention, made a big splash, as it was seen as Russia ’s return to global politics. The General Staff showed so much interest that it took the unprecedented step of posting the speech on its website. So Erdogan’s speech on ‘ Turkey ’s Foreign Policy and Security Policies’ is very important. Beyond political chatter, people on the international level have started to be very interested in what Turkey has to say about security issues. At the same conference, special importance will also be paid to Afghanistan ’s future.

    As Erdogan is about to give his speech, Turkey is on the threshold of a breakthrough. For example, following years of strenuous efforts, Turkish diplomats and the military have finally been able to make the US understand " and the European Union, to some extent " that the terrorist PKK is a threat and element sowing instability not only for itself, but also for the future of Iraq and the region. Erdogan will speak on foreign policy and security only a few days after Turkish planes carried out operations deep in Iraqi airspace. Responding to requests from the US and NATO that Turkey send combat troops to Afghanistan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said that it wouldn’t do this as long as its own fight against terrorism is still ongoing. We learned from Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ergin Saygun’s recent US visit that certain vehicles, equipment and personnel moved by the US from Afghanistan were used in anti-PKK operations in Iraq . As the Turkish government and people are starting to get some satisfaction with successes in the fight against the PKK, Ankara has changed its stance on Afghanistan , which should come as no surprise. All these developments should be seen as part of Ankara ’s security policy focused on energy routes. Similarly, we see that the General Staff will pay special importance to energy and transportation issues during an international symposium on terrorism in Ankara next month.

    As for the political dimension of the issue, the tragic death of nine Turks in a fire which started in a Turkish family’s apartment in Germany last Sunday, ahead of Erdogan’s visit, must have a symbolic meaning. There are still suspicions the fire was the result of terrorist arson, due to racist- based xenophobia in Europe . Its symbolic meaning comes from how Turkey ’s EU bid is facing exclusionary obstacles erected by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Some people say recent developments in Turkey provide extra ammunition to arguments that there’s no place for Turkey in Europe . At this point, I won’t consider the issue with such shallowness to ask how Europeans would consider us if everybody wears a headscarf. But if Turkey lets our state absorb a Middle Eastern way of life, our gains of recent years would be quickly lost. Turkey has a special character that distinguishes it from other countries in the Islamic world and earns it full and unconditional support from the West. This also comes from its pluralist and parliamentary structure, and its legal structure and free economy, which are approaching the Western level. But some of these characteristics also exist in some Islam countries. The only feature that truly distinguishes Turkey and makes it very different is its secularism. This secular, democratic legal order provides Erdogan with the opportunity to explain Turkey to global decision-makers in Munich . He should know the value of this and not misuse it.”


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