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Turkish Press Review, 08-09-16

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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

16.09.2008


CONTENTS

  • [01] MULLEN: "THE US HAS NO PLANS TO ASK TURKEY TO CHANGE THE MONTREUX CONVENTION"
  • [02] ZAPATERO: "TURKEY WILL GIVE EUROPE STRATEGIC POWER"
  • [03] EU-TROIKA MEETING HELD IN BRUSSELS
  • [04] WHY IS THE PUBLIC LIKE THIS?

  • [01] MULLEN: "THE US HAS NO PLANS TO ASK TURKEY TO CHANGE THE MONTREUX CONVENTION"

    In Ankara for an official visit at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Gen. Ilker Basbug, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Michael Mullen yesterday met with Gen. Basbug, and was also received by President Abdullah Gul. He also met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul over the weekend. Afterwards, Mullen told reporters that the US ships which last month delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia after going through the Turkish Straits had fully abided by the Montreux Convention, adding that the US would continue to observe the pact. He also said that the US has no plans to ask Turkey to change the convention. Stressing the common interests and military cooperation between the two countries, Mullen said that the US would determinedly continue its cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Turkey against the terrorist PKK. He said that the US has no special requests from Turkey on withdrawing US troops from Iraq or on NATO operations in Afghanistan, adding that the decision on extending an official motion enabling cross-border operations into northern Iraq lies with the Turkish government. Mullen also stressed the importance of peace and stability in northern Iraq, saying that Kirkuk and other issues should be solved by peaceful means that preserve Iraq's stability and territorial integrity. Mullen expressed US gratitude for Turkey's support for Afghanistan, adding that the two countries should continue their cooperation there in the long term. On Georgia's possible NATO membership, Mullen said that Georgia progressing on the path towards the pact, but that this path might be a long one. Mullen also expressed concern over Russia's occupation of Georgian territories, saying he hopes Russia will never cross the border or occupy the territories of any other country. Mullen said that NATO should continue its presence in the Black Sea through holding joint military exercises with the countries around the sea, in line with the Montreux Convention and the Black Sea's international character. He also said that this was his first visit to Turkey as joint chiefs chairman, and added that he was very pleased to be the first foreign guest of recently promoted Chief of General Staff Gen. Başbug. In related news, Parliament is expected to extend the term of the motion enabling cross-border operations into northern Iraq after returning from its summer recess. /Star/

    [02] ZAPATERO: "TURKEY WILL GIVE EUROPE STRATEGIC POWER"

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero yesterday attended a ceremony marking the new school year at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University. Addressing the ceremony, Zapatero stated that speaking about the Alliance of Civilizations in Istanbul doesn't mean he has forgotten Turkey's other ambitions and goals, including its European Union membership bid. "My government extends its resolute support for Turkey's EU bid," he added. "If Europe wants to become an actor with a say in the modern world, an EU member Turkey will give Europe the strategic power and lead role which the continent now lacks at certain occasions." Afterwards, Erdogan and Zapatero attended an iftar dinner held by the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Istanbul branch. Speaking at the dinner, Erdogan said that humanity is tired of wars, violence and hatred. Erdogan characterized Islamophobia as a mental pathology, and said he hopes the world at large declares it a crime against humanity. Calling Turkey not only a geographical bridge but also a cultural, social and political one, Erdogan said this shows how important it is for the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. /All papers/

    [03] EU-TROIKA MEETING HELD IN BRUSSELS

    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday represented Turkey at a semi-annual Turkey-European Union Troika meeting in Brussels, with European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, EU Term President France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the next EU presidency, also in attendance. At the meeting, the EU side reiterated its hope that Turkey continues to make reforms towards EU full membership, and urged Turkey to take steps for those reforms. For his part, Babacan told about Ankara's national program and European Union reforms, and the Foreign Ministry-prepared roadmap for its EU membership process, proposing legal and constitutional changes for harmonization with the EU acquis. Afterwards, Babacan told reporters that the EU is moving slowly on Turkey's talks, opening only about two chapters out of a total of 35 during each six-month presidential term. Rehn called for a renewed focus in Turkey on EU-related reforms, and said that the chance for constitutional reforms should not be missed. Ahead of the Troika meeting, Babacan also spoke with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. /Sabah/

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

    [04] WHY IS THE PUBLIC LIKE THIS?

    BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)

    Columnist Sami Kohen comments on a recent poll of the Turkish public. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "Domestic polls focusing on foreign policy show general public disagreement with government policies, as a recent large poll again demonstrated. The most striking finding of the German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Trends poll, which included Turkey, is that most of the Turkish public believe that their only friends are fellow Turks, and that they don't trust or like foreign countries " including allies " very much. For example, according to the poll, Turkish 'warmth' toward the European Union (on a 100- degree 'thermometer' scale) comes in at a chilly 14, compared to 33 for the European Union, 18 for Russia and 8 for Israel.

    The most interesting finding is that most Turkish people " 48 percent "want Turkey to act alone on foreign policy issues. On the other hand, only 3 percent want it to act in cooperation with the US, compared to 20 percent for the EU, and a rock-bottom 1 percent for Russia. These trends come a time when Turkey is pursuing an active foreign policy, trying to develop its relations with its allies and neighbors, vying for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, and working to help solve regional problems. At a time when the Turkish foreign policy has opened up to the world, why does the public want Ankara to turn its back on countries which are important for its foreign relations and act alone?

    One factor is trust. Most of the public don't trust friendly and allied Western countries and institutions. Turkey's problems with the US and the EU created this crisis of confidence. The poll shows that 48 percent of the public wants Turkey to act alone, which shows that our lack of trust in others has led to self-confidence. This can be explained by the wish to pursue an independent foreign policy. The impression or belief that Turkey acts in line with Western wishes and pressure provokes certain circles to act independently.

    Looking at the poll overall, we can see that the Turks feel considerable antipathy towards the West but also don't feel close to, for example, Russia and certain neighboring countries. This may be how the ordinary Ahmets and Ayses feel, but this can't be the reasonable foreign policy stance of a serious country located in a critical geography. It's natural for Turkey to take the foreign policy initiative, but acting alone would unnecessarily isolate us. Everyone knows what ends up happening to isolated countries.

    The poll also shows that the public needs to be better informed about foreign policy issues. The way sometimes 40 percent or more of the people surveyed answered 'I don't know' proves this. The way to frustrate manipulative demagogues is to foster a well-informed public. Not just politicians, but also civil society and the media bear a great responsibility to do just this."


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