|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 08-08-12
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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
 ERDOGAN CALLS FOR "CAUCASUS ALLIANCE" TO RESTORE PEACE AND STABILITY TO THE REGIONSpeaking yesterday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the UN to take initiatives to end the conflict to restore peace and stability to the Caucasus. After meeting with Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Hasan Gerceker, Erdogan also reiterated that there should be an immediate cease-fire between the two countries, stressing his concern over the conflict. "What we've been urging from the very start of the clashes is an immediate cease-fire," he said. "Russia and Georgia should immediately begin direct talks to solve the issue." He added, "The Caucasus is a very vulnerable region. The parties should together pursue diplomatic measures, with an immediate cease-fire for peace." Erdogan also proposed establishing a Caucasus alliance to ensure peace and stability in the region, one bringing together countries of the Caucasus along with the US, the EU and Russia. "Turkey is ready to play a key role to make this alliance a reality," he said. "But this idea needs to be discussed under UN auspices to become practicable." Asked about Russian news reports claiming that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had refused a phone call from Erdogan due to Turkish weapons sales to Georgia, Erdogan said, "These reports are baseless and don't reflect the truth. But I'm thinking about speaking with Mr. Putin. I will call him." On the issue of weapons sales to Georgia, Erdogan said, "All countries do that. Today the Russian Federation sells arms, and so do we. Such things are normal." He added, "We have been selling arms, from heavy weapons to armored vehicles, to several countries, and buying arms from various countries, including Russia." In related news, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili telephoned Erdogan and told him about his country's humanitarian needs. /Turkiye-Sabah/
 GEORGIA'S SAAKASHVILI TELEPHONES PM ERDOGANGeorgian President Mikhail Saakashvili yesterday telephoned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ask for his help in ending the current armed conflict between Russia and Georgia. The two leaders discussed the need for starting negotiation as soon as possible, and Saakashvili also spoke about his country's need for humanitarian aid. /Hurriyet/
 CHIEF OF STAFF BUYUKANIT PAYS FAREWELL VISIT TO ERDOGANChief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, who is set to step down on August 30 due to his reaching the mandatory retirement age, yesterday paid a nearly five-hour farewell visit to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The gathering mainly focused on nine soldiers who lost their lives yesterday in a terrorist PKK attack in Erzincan as well as developments in the Caucasus, where fighting broke out began last week between Georgia and Russia. /Aksam/
 PM ERDOGAN VISITS TWO HIGH COURT HEADSPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday paid separate visits to Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Hasan Gerceker and Council of State head Mustafa Birden. After first seeing Gerceker along with Deputy Prime Minister Hayati Yazici, Erdogan said he had been paying a return visit and that that it had gone well. Speaking to Gerceker, Erdogan reportedly said that the uncertainty of the last five months had not been good for Turkey, referring to an unsuccessful prosecutor's bid to close down his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). For his part, Gerceker spoke about their heavy work load as well as the matter of land where a new building is to be built for the court. Afterwards, Erdogan also spoke with State Birden about similar matters. /Milliyet/
 ROADSIDE BOMB KILLS 9 SOLDIERS IN EASTERN TURKEYA roadside bomb exploded yesterday in the eastern province of Erzincan, killing nine soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, two specialist sergeants, and six privates. The terrorist PKK detonated the land mine near a road via remote control while a military vehicle was passing by, according to Erzincan Governor Ali Gungor. The soldiers had been returning from an operation in a rural part of the province, and a captain and another private were wounded in the blast. In response, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has started a sweeping operation to capture the terrorists. In related news, security forces killed a terrorist trying to enter a special forces building in the southern province of Hatay. /All Papers/
 SIMSEK: "TURKEY DOESN'T NEED IMF FINANCING BUT WOULD BENEFIT FROM A PRECAUTIONARY DEAL WITH THE FUND"In a televised interview, State Minister for the Economy Mehmet Simsek said yesterday that thanks to the great financial progress it has made in recent years, Turkey does not need more money from the International Monetary Fund. But, he added, it would benefit from a precautionary standby deal with the Fund. "The Turkish public sector's need for external financing is very low, so that it doesn't need the IMF," he said. "What I want to say is that Turkey does not need IMF financing at this level." Touching on Turkey's ongoing technical talks with the IMF, he said the details of a possible agreement would be finalized by October. He also said that Turkey's inflation performance was good, despite recent rises in energy and food prices. /Aksam/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 SUPERPOWER RUSSIABY TAHA AKYOL (MILLIYET)
Columnist Taha Akyol comments on the crisis in the Caucasus. A summary of his column is as follows:
"Last week South Ossetia unilaterally declared it was seceding from Georgia, and Russia, which supports the Ossetian people so as to divide Georgia, attacked Georgia. Russia has 23,000 tanks, and Georgia has only 128! Russia has 1,080 warplanes, but Georgia has only eight! All Russia had to do for its ends was to put its army into little South Ossetia, but instead it started a terrible war. Although Georgia withdrew from South Ossetia, Russia continued the fighting, and turned the Georgian city of Gori (outside South Ossetia) into a wreck, bombed the Black Sea port of Poti, and refused to reciprocate Georgia's cease-fire. Georgia now faces a terrible humanitarian disaster. As I was writing this, Russia just entered Abkhazia! Russia is clearly attacking Georgia without constraints and thus intimidating all the nations of the Caucasus!
Of course the first factors that come to mind are Caucasian oil, Azerbaijan's security and stability, the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi pipeline, and how this pipeline connects these three countries and the West. Russia started this war last Thursday, and two days earlier, in Refahiye, Erzincan in eastern Turkey, the Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi pipeline was sabotaged, an attack the terrorist PKK claimed responsibility for. This act of sabotage could push up world oil prices. In addition, the PKK killed nine Turkish soldiers in Erzincan yesterday. Of course the timing isn't enough to claim that there's a relationship between Russia's offensive and the PKK attacks, but the PKK's political aims in committing this sabotage and the attack are interesting. The PKK wants to enter the equation in great strategies in the region. In our era, energy resources and their transportation constitute a very strategic factor! Considering the strategic importance of the Caucasus, Russia's use of excessive force against Georgia is causing concerns that Moscow is again pursuing superpower-type policies.
During the Turkish War of Independence, Ataturk and his colleagues got a great deal of material and political support from both Bolshevik Russia and the Islamic world. Bolshevik Russia was supporting the establishment of full Turkish sovereignty over the Straits and a complete British withdrawal. But as historian Stefan Yerasimos said, Turkey disappointed Russia at Lausanne by agreeing with Western forces and coming close to the British view on the Straits! Ankara was right to agree with Britain at Lausanne, instead of confronting Russia alone in the Straits and the Black Sea. Later, we joined NATO. History shows that if Russia pursues superpower policies which raise concern in the region, this will lead to the formation of alliances against it! Turkey and Ukraine sending immediate humanitarian aid to Georgia demonstrates this. The West should make it clear that if Russia follows such policies, it will face economic repurcussions. Russia should instead pursue policies of friendship and cooperation. Of course, this is what Turkey wants."
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