|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Turkish Press Review, 08-07-24
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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
 GUL IN KARS FOR START OF "IRON SILK ROAD" CONSTRUCTIONPresident Abdullah Gul yesterday arrived in Kars to attend a ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the Turkish leg of the Baku- Tbilisi-Kars railway, also known as the "Iron Silk Road." The ceremony will take place today, and the Azerbaijani and Georgian presidents will also be in attendance. Gul yesterday tended to other official duties and visited the ruins of the Medieval-era city of Ani. Asked about the Armenian president's invitation for him to come to the capital Yerevan to witness a World Cup qualifying match between the Turkish and Armenian national soccer teams, Gul said, "I thank my Armenian counterpart for his invitation. We're evaluating his offer. Turkey's foreign policy on relations with its neighbors is very clear: We want good neighborly relations with our neighbors." /Aksam-Turkiye/
 IN NEW YORK, BABACAN LOBBIES FOR TURKEY'S UNSC BIDForeign Minister Ali Babacan, currently in New York, yesterday said that Turkey's chances of winning a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council were good, but like every election, efforts would be needed until the very last minute. He made the remarks at a reception for international ambassadors serving at UN headquarters given by Baki Ilkin, Turkey's ambassador to the UN. Babacan added that over the last 10 months he had met with the foreign ministers of 130 countries and pointed out to them that Turkey hadn't had a seat on the Security Council since 1961. "Turkey's UNSC membership would boost its profile," he said. "It would benefit both Turkey and its region, as well as contribute to world peace." /Star/
 EYEING DIRECT PEACE TALKS, TRNC'S TALAT TO MEET TOMORROW WITH GREEK CYPRIOT LEADERTurkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat will meet with Greek Cypriot administration leader Dimitris Christofias tomorrow. Talat yesterday said that they were planning to announce that direct peace negotiations will start in September. He said that comprehensive negotiations will start a very important new process. Underlining the importance of political equality with the Greek Cypriots, Talat said that this should be the case in all decision-making mechanisms. He added that they would not compromise on the presidential system. Ending the guarantorship of nations such as Turkey is out of the question, he said, as this system rests on international agreements, not pacts between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides. /Star/
 IRAN'S AHMEDINEJAD TO VISIT TURKEYIranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is expected to visit Turkey next month. During Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's recent visit to Ankara, President Abdullah Gul said that he hoped to welcome Ahmedinejad to the Cankaya Presidential Palace in August. The Foreign Ministry later officially told Iranian officials that Gul's August schedule would accommodate such a visit, and they are now evaluating this invitation. Details of the visit are set to be clarified later. /Milliyet/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 IS A NEW TURKEY ON THE WAY?BY CUNEYT ULSEVER (HURRIYET)
Columnist Cuneyt Ulsever comments on democracy, secularism and conservatism in Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows:
"A number of people have taken upon themselves the task of making a new Turkey, along the following lines:
1. Their aim is to turn Turkey into a Middle Eastern country which has a mixture of conservative values and democratic principles. If they succeed, we could become the dominant country in the region.
2. But this doesn't mean breaking off from the West. On the contrary, Turkey would mover closer to the West and act as a bridge. It would also be in US interests to create a Turkey which is a member of the European Union and also conservative.
3. This conservative Turkey would not be expected to break off from secularism. Secularism is in the nation's blood. The aim is to stop Kemalism from acting as a nationalist ideology which issues harsh criticisms and to remake the image of modern Turkey into one where the influence of Islam is seen everywhere.
4. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) acts with the duty of protecting and safeguarding Kemalism as the established order, but its authority of taking roles and duties upon itself would end.
This Turkey would also be expected to solve its problems with its neighbors (Armenia and Greece), find a final solution to the Cyprus issue, take northern Iraq under its protection, work to protect Iraq's territorial integrity, and help Israel solve the Syrian and Palestinian issues. The most important expectation from Turkey is to calm down Iran, and if this doesn't work, to help the West, particularly the US, in case of a possible attack.
The Constitutional Court will start deliberations on the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) next Monday, and the Supreme Military Council (YAS) will meet a few days later. For months we've been arguing over who will stay and who will go. I guess those who support or have adapted themselves to the above model will stay or rise, and those who can't will have to go.
So what do I think about this model prepared for Turkey by foreigners?
1. It will become the dominant country in the Middle East, but I sincerely hope it doesn't break off from the West (the EU and US).
2. I hope the TSK's authority of taking roles onto itself will end.
3. I long for a Turkey which makes peace with its neighbors.
But the concept of a Turkey which has a mixture of conservative values and democratic principles concerns me, for two reasons:
1. Not only certain supporters of Islamic rule, but also some other people suggest that we forsake the principle of secularism so Islamic forces in the West and the Middle East adopt democracy.
2. I don't think the US or the EU has directly suggested that Turkey give up secularism, but I can't guess how far National View and similar groups will go or even if they would go farther than the AKP government.
If a Turkey which has become conservative makes certain concessions from its domestic dynamics, democracy and secularism, the West wouldn't be terribly disturbed by this, because we all know that if you try to mix conservatism and democracy, you have to make concessions from both!"
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