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Turkish Press Review, 08-04-11

Turkish Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

11.04.2008


CONTENTS

  • [01] GUL ATTENDS TURKEY-EU MEETING IN ISTANBUL
  • [02] BARROSO: “NOBODY SHOULD EXPECT THE EU TO BE A PARTY TO DOMESTIC POLITICAL DISPUTES”
  • [03] EU'S BARROSO ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT
  • [04] ATC HEAD: “TURKEY DOESN’T NEED ANY LESSONS FROM ABROAD”
  • [05] POLICE CELEBRATE 163RD ANNIVERSARY
  • [06] TUSIAD PLEDGES TO BACK CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES ON PARTY CLOSURES WHEN MAJOR PARTIES REACH CONSENSUS
  • [07] SIMSEK: “THERE ARE TWO OPTIONS WITH THE IMF”
  • [08] OPEN LETTER TO BARROSO AND REHN

  • [01] GUL ATTENDS TURKEY-EU MEETING IN ISTANBUL

    Attending a Turkey-European Union Joint Consultative Committee meeting in Istanbul yesterday, President Abdullah Gul said that the only way for Turkey to emerge from its current political deadlock is to continue its EU reform process. He added that if these reforms are realized, the concerns of some sectors of society would be dispelled. Gul also said that the principles and institutions of democracy shouldn’t be damaged. In related news, Gul yesterday met with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials to evaluate last week's NATO summit. Turkey’s strategy on a NATO missile defense system dominated the meeting. /Star-Sabah/

    [02] BARROSO: “NOBODY SHOULD EXPECT THE EU TO BE A PARTY TO DOMESTIC POLITICAL DISPUTES”

    European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso and European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn yesterday began their landmark visit to Turkey. They first visited Anitkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey, Ataturk. “I pay respect to the eminent statesman Kemal Atatürk, who had a great vision, served his country with determined reforms, and brought it to modernity,” Barosso wrote in Anitkabir's memorial guestbook. Barroso and Rehn later held separate meetings with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Meeting with Gul at the Çankaya Presidential Palace, Barroso said, “If Turkey meets all the necessary conditions for full EU membership, nobody can prevent it from joining.” In his meeting with the two top EU officials, Erdogan said, “Turkey’s full EU membership will send a message of tolerance,” and stressed that Turkey joining the bloc would be a strategic move with global impact. Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey will continue its reform efforts with determination. At a joint press conference after his meeting with Erdogan, Barroso said, "We hope that the recent closure case (against the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP) will end in line with European democratic standards," and called such a case in a stable, democratic country "baffling." Barroso underlined the importance of democratic implementation of the principle of secularism, saying, "A secular government must respect both freedom of religion and freedom to disbelieve." For his part, Erdogan said, "This high-level visit from the EU shows that the union places great importance on Turkey’s EU membership." He stressed that Turkey is doing its best to enact necessary reforms, adding that Turkey will not accept anything short of full EU membership.

    [03] EU'S BARROSO ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT

    European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, on a visit to Turkey, yesterday delivered an address Parliament. "I am aware of the importance for Turkey of the debates on secularism," he said. "In Europe, various countries have experienced these kinds of debates and found solutions that are compatible with their domestic problems. Nobody should expect the EU to be a party to these debates or to impose any standard on Turkey.” He added that the EU has the same stance on the headscarf debate and sees the choice of wearing a headscarf as a matter of individual choice. He reiterated that the PKK is a terrorist group on the EU's official list of such groups. Barroso also touched on government moves to give more cultural and political rights to Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin, saying, "I believe we will hear the details of these proposals very soon." Barroso hailed the recent opening of the central Lokmaci gate between Turkish and Greek Cyprus as a very positive development. He also urged Turkey to use its energy to realize the reforms required for full EU membership. “Turkey’s efforts will determine the speed of its EU accession talks," said Barroso. Then Barroso and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn held separate meetings with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal and opposition National Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli. When asked by Barroso if the CHP really favors Turkey’s EU membership, Baykal said, “First, the CHP is the party that had Turkey apply for EU membership. The problem lies with the EU itself.” After the meeting, Baykal told reporters that they hadn't discussed the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) or Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Bahceli, during his meeting with Barosso, complained of EU double standards towards Turkey and said that any foreign inference in the AKP closure was unacceptable. In response, Barosso said, “EU comments on the closure case or other issues shouldn’t be seen as interference. They show the EU’s great interest in Turkey.” Barosso and Rehn also met with Democratic Turkey Party (DTP) parliamentary group head Ahmet Turk. /Aksam/

    [04] ATC HEAD: “TURKEY DOESN’T NEED ANY LESSONS FROM ABROAD”

    Turkey doesn’t need to take lessons from outside on the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said American- Turkish Council (ATC) head James H. Holmes yesterday. In an interview with Cumhuriyet daily ahead of an ATC meeting beginning in Washington on Sunday, Holmes said it was wrong for Americans or Europeans to weigh in on the case. “Turkey has institutions, experience, a democratic history and structure, and legal and political system to solve these kinds of issues on its own,” he added. Expressing concern about the economic and political fallout of the case, he said, “Our duty is to put more trust in our partner Turkey.” /Cumhuriyet/

    [05] POLICE CELEBRATE 163RD ANNIVERSARY

    The Turkish Police Organization yesterday celebrated its 163rd anniversary. Speaking at a ceremony in Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised police officers for their recent successful operations. He also warned them to resist any provocations meant to disturb peace and public order. Also addressing the gathering, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said that there was no tolerance for torture or mistreatment. /Hurriyet-Turkiye/

    [06] TUSIAD PLEDGES TO BACK CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES ON PARTY CLOSURES WHEN MAJOR PARTIES REACH CONSENSUS

    Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) head Arzuhan Dogan Yalcindag said yesterday that they would lend support to constitutional changes meant to make party closures harder, but only if Parliament’s three largest parties reach consensus on the changes. Speaking to reporters after meeting with Semsi Bayraktar, co-chair of the Turkey-European Union Joint Consultation Committee and head of the Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB), Yalcindag said that weeks ago TUSIAD had expressed its concern over recent tension in the country. Stressing that acting responsibly, members of the union had held meetings with non- governmental groups and labor and employers’ unions to promote public solidarity, Yalcindag vowed to back the constitutional changes if agreement is reached by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). For his part, Bayraktar said Turkey should concentrate on reforms, the economy and its EU membership process, adding that they were ready to do whatever they could to support that end. /Hurriyet/

    Turkey is set to fulfill all the targets of its current International Monetary Fund program in the coming weeks, said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn yesterday ahead of spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington. “The IMF trusts Turkey will successfully complete the present standby arrangement,” he added. Asked whether the economy will be hurt by the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), he said, “We are watching the situation closely.” /Star/

    [07] SIMSEK: “THERE ARE TWO OPTIONS WITH THE IMF”

    The International Monetary Fund has completed Turkey’s standby review which started last week, said State Minister Mehmet Simsek yesterday before leaving for spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington. Simsek said that there are two options with the IMF, namely a precautionary standby arrangement or post-program monitoring, and that the choice is Ankara's. /Star/

    FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…

    [08] OPEN LETTER TO BARROSO AND REHN

    BY HASAN CEMAL (MILLIYET)

    Columnist Hasan Cemal comments on European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso’s visit to Ankara this week. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso delivered a well-prepared and satisfactory speech to Parliament yesterday. It was clear from the way he spoke that he knows how little trust Turkey has had in the EU in recent years. He didn’t mention the EU’s policies towards Turkey seen by some as double standards, and he called for patience and understanding, reiterating that the EU membership process for any country is difficult. Barroso's messages at Parliament can be summed up as follows:

    1. He defined Turkey correctly: Barroso said that Turkey is a secular and democratic republic located in Europe. In addition, he stressed that in a world where Muslims play a major role, Turkey constitutes an alternative to fundamentalist tendencies thanks to its unique characteristics. These two definitions show that Barroso grasps Turkey’s path and the key role of the principle of secularism for this.

    2. A surprise is unfolding: Barroso avoided using offensive language about the closure case against the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Emphasizing that he respects the Constitutional Court’s decision to hear the case, he said diplomatically that he was surprised by the case being filed to begin with. He said that views which don’t endorse violence shouldn’t be judged. Barroso’s mentioning this shows that he sees the case against the AKP as groundless.

    3. Secularism is a domestic problem: Barroso obviously understands the meaning of secularism for Turkey, whose EU membership talks are underway. He defined it very well, but his words about the headscarf issue conflicted with this stance. While calling Turkey’s secularism a strong alternative to fundamentalist tendencies, he said wearing headscarves or not was women’s free choice, which doesn't cover the problem in Turkey entirely. Most people and especially women in Turkey are concerned about this issue, that is, putting social and public life under pressure in line with religious references, forcing a woman to cover her head, etc. ‘Don’t expect the European Commission to take a stance or develop standards about issues like headscarves, because the EU has no stance or standards on it, ’ said Barroso. He added that the only vital principle is that everybody should tolerate each other’s views and beliefs and that it’s essential that every woman can make her free choice, whatever her views and beliefs. These words show the reason behind his astonishment. Moreover, Barroso should ponder the following question: Do the women who wear headscarves do this in line with their free choices? When he said that all the EU member countries have solved this problem, we hope he wasn’t recommending what was experienced during Europe’s bloody Middle Ages.

    4. It’s our business: Barroso stressed that as Turkey's EU membership talks are underway, it is their duty to follow developments in Turkey. He thus responded to objections that the EU can’t intervene in Turkey’s domestic affairs.

    5. Opportunity on Cyprus: Barroso indicated that a new opportunity had arisen on Cyprus. Stressing the importance of the dialogue between Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias, Barroso said that the wall in Lefkosha is the final wall in Europe and that it should come down. But Barroso didn’t mention the wrongheaded EU policy of rewarding the Greek Cypriot administration while punishing the TRNC.

    6. The terrorist PKK: Barroso reiterated that the PKK is a terrorist group in the EU's eyes as well, and praised Turkey's fight against terrorism, but added that no solution can be found through military methods alone. He mentioned political, social and cultural rights as well.

    If the EU considers Turkey an alternative to fundamentalist tendencies, he shouldn’t forget that it is precisely its secularism that has ensured this. As there is a consensus that secularism is the sine qua non and strongest guarantee of democracy, the EU should be sensitive to anti- secular initiatives in Turkey. They should know that a Turkey whose secularist basis is being shaken will be driven far from the EU. The EU should never forget it that if secularism, the keystone of our democratic, secular Turkey, is removed, the characteristics praised by Barroso will also be removed.”


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