|Friday, 14 December 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 08-09-08
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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
 GUL: "MY VISIT TO YEREVAN BROKE DOWN PSYCHOLOGICAL BARRIERS"President Abdullah Gul visited Yerevan on Saturday at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to watch a match between the national football teams of the two countries. Afterwards, Gul and Sarkisian attended a reception. Speaking to reporters while traveling back to Turkey , Gul said that he was very pleased in Sarkisian's interest, and added, "My visit had a positive impact in the eyes of the international public. Turkey doesn't deserve a negative image, and this visit will be appreciated and seen as brave." Stating that the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh is a key one for the Caucasus , he added that the two leaders discussed it at length, which he had not expected, and that the visit would help solve the problem. Gul said that during their talks, there was not even a veiled reference to the "genocide" issue. "In contrast, the Armenian president raised the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh," Gul added. Saying that the issue of opening up the Turkish-Armenian border had not come up, he stated, "If this atmosphere is maintained, everything will be back on track, and will be normalized. But that's not the case right now. I believe that my visit broke down psychological barriers in the Caucasus ." Gul also invited Sarkisian to visit Turkey in October 2009 for another football match between the national teams. /Aksam/
 GUL CONGRATULATES NEW PAKISTANI PRESIDENTPresident Abdullah Gul yesterday congratulated Asif Ali Zardari, who was elected Pakistan 's new president on Saturday. "We believe this (election) will enhance the welfare of our two country's peoples, who share important cultural and historic ties," said a statement by Gul. Zardari was also invited to Turkey for an official visit. /Turkish Daily News/
 ERDOGAN ACCUSES DOGAN GROUP NEWSPAPERS OF WAGING "SMEAR CAMPAIGN"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the weekend sharply criticized the Dogan Media Group and its head Aydin Dogan for trying to link him with a fraud case involving a German-based Turkish charity group. Addressing a local congress of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul , Erdogan said Dogan was waging a smear campaign against him and his party in order to pressure the government to make decisions in favor of what he called Dogan's "illegal" private interests, such as changing the zoning of Dogan-owned land. Erdogan said when he and officials of the Greater Istanbul Municipality refused Dogan's zoning request, the media group started to attack him and his party. Calling the claims carried by the group's newspapers "baseless," Erdogan said that freedom of the press doesn't mean freedom to smear with false accusations. He also accused the group's newspapers of tampering with a document in an effort to link him to the case. Erdogan called on Dogan and his newspapers to report the truth, saying that otherwise he would continue to expose the real reason for the smear campaign. /Sabah/
 BABACAN MEETS WITH HIS ARMENIAN COUNTERPART IN YEREVANForeign Minister Ali Babacan on Saturday met with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian in Yerevan . The meeting was reportedly positive and fruitful. The two top diplomats discussed regional issues and problems, the situation in the Caucasus, recent developments in Georgia , and the Nagorno- Karabakh issue. They agreed to meet again in New York , at the meeting of the UN General Assembly later this month. Afterwards, Babacan and his delegation returned to Turkey . /Milliyet/
 BABACAN MEETS WITH PARTY LEADERS TO BRIEF THEM ON DRAFT NATIONAL PROGRAMForeign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday met with Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Muhsin Yazicioglu at Parliament to brief him about the government's draft national program. After their meeting, Babacan told reporters that they had finished the draft last week and would now seek input on it. "We place great importance on broad acceptance of this program by all sectors of society, as we want a consensus on the program," he said. Babacan was turned down by the leaders of Turkey 's two main opposition parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal and Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) Devlet Bahceli, to get similar briefings, but he will meet today with opposition Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Zeki Sezer. /Cumhuriyet/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 THE JOURNEY IS HALFWAY OVERBY HASAN CEMAL (MILLIYET)
Columnist Hasan Cemal comments on President Abdullah Gul's visit to Yerevan to watch a World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia . A summary of his column is as follows:
"Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian started a working lunch we had yesterday by saying that we had witnessed a historic day via 'football diplomacy.' He described the meeting of President Abdullah Gul and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian on Saturday and the national match they watched together as a milestone and a very good beginning.
Nalbandian said that a mentality change had taken place among the peoples of both countries, which he said was raising expectations, adding that from now on positive developments will seen as there is a willingness and determination towards this end. He said that on Saturday he and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan had met for two-and-a-half-hours as directed by their respective presidents and would meet later this month as well (at the UN in New York). Nalbandian added that this showed the determination and seriousness about developing bilateral relations.
Stating that the new process of dialogue opened by their presidents would be continued by the foreign ministers, Nalbandian said that he believed he and Babacan would talk about concrete proposals soon. Radikal daily's Cengiz Candar asked whether 'demons' might derail this dialogue, if it goes on for some time without any tangible fruit. Along these lines, I asked Sarkisian what his most concrete and immediate expectations were. Without hesitation, he said opening the border and establishing diplomatic relations.
When I related this to Nalbandian, he said that the Turkish side also expects the same, as opening the borders and establishing diplomatic relations are obviously in our interest as well. He added that on Saturday the presidents had finished the journey halfway and that the rest of it would be completed by the foreign ministers. Nalbandian also assured us that he was talking about concrete steps with Babacan and that the faster they move forward, the better it would be.
Nalbandian also took issue with analysts who say that Russia doesn't want a rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia , saying that Moscow also favors improved relations. He added that Turkish-Armenian relations should improve for the sake of stability and security in the region. Nalbandian said the two foreign ministers had sketched out an implied 'road map,' but gave no details. He said certain issues wouldn't be shared with the public until they have something concrete to show. He added that previous barriers had been eliminated and that the road was now wide open.
Stating that the entire world had focused its attention in South Ossetia in the wake of the conflict there, Nalbandian then brought up the issue of Upper Karabakh between his country and Azerbaijan , saying that both the region and the world at large want the issue to be solved not through the use of force, but through peaceful means. He added that his country also favors this and that a military solution would solve nothing but only make the situation worse. Nalbandian said that intensive meetings with Azerbaijan on the Karabakh issue were underway and that he thought they were very close to a solution.
On the second national match between Turkey and Armenia set to take place in Istanbul about a year from now, in October 2009, Nalbandian said Sarkisian would go to Istanbul to see the match and that this visit would be a historic one, just like the visit paid by Gul. He added that it wouldn't be right to subject establishing diplomatic relations or opening borders between the two countries to preconditions. Asked if the 'genocide' issue would be raised later, as it wasn't during the meeting on Saturday, Nalbandian said that there shouldn't be any taboo issues and that they should be able to discuss any issue or problem in an open, friendly and free way.
As for other issues discussed yesterday by Nalbanian with journalists from national dailies like Milliyet, Yeni Safak, Star and Sabah, Nalbandian said that they support Turkey's European Union membership, predicted that trade would soar if the borders were opened, and added that he wholly supports our premier's proposal for a Caucasus stability and peace platform."
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