|Monday, 19 March 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 08-12-25
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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 ISSUES CHRISTMAS MESSAGEIn his annual Christmas message yesterday, President Abdullah Gul expressed his wishes for unity and tolerance in the nation. Gul said that the Christmas season brings peace, love and happiness, underlining, "The Turkish nation's Christian citizens are equal members of our society." Adding that Turkey is a republic and a secular, social democratic state under the rule of law, he stated that Turkish citizens are bound by ties of solidarity and friendship. Reiterating that Turkey has continued to work to solve the problems of its region with its rich history and cultural past, he said, "It will support enhancing cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue." /Milliyet/
 TOPTAN VISITS ALBANIAAfter completing his contacts in Macedonia, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan yesterday began official talks in Albania. He first had a meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha in the capital Tirana, followed by talks with Parliament Speaker Jozefina Topalli. Turkey has very close cultural relations with the Balkans, Toptan said. "Turkish-Albanian relations are very important for us," he added. "Albania has a great influence on the Balkans." For his part, Topalli said that Albania had been pleased to see Turkey's support during hard times in Kosovo, and thanked Turkey for ratifying an agreement on Albania's accession to NATO. The two leaders also expressed their willingness to boost parliamentary ties between the two countries. /Milliyet/
 ERDOGAN WARNS AGAINST FEAR-MONGERS AND CRISIS OPPORTUNISTSTurkey will continue to advance towards its development goals despite the global economic crisis, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. Speaking at a meeting of the Supreme Council of Science and Technology held at Middle East Technical University (ODTU), Erdogan said Turkey must turn the crisis into an opportunity, accusing some circles of intentionally trying to fuel the crisis' psychological impact on Turkey. Turkey, a country which is remarkably integrated with the global economy, can surely turn the crisis into an opportunity despite falling demand, increasing food and commodity prices, and rising inflation, he said. Erdogan also urged the financial sector to continue to loan the country's real sector and warned against crisis opportunists and fear-mongers. "Some are trying to demoralize the country's markets for their own ends," he warned. "We must face down this deceptive, demoralizing atmosphere together. Turkey has all the necessary means and financial resources for this. The main point is being honest." After the meeting, asked about a recent Council of State ruling under which municipalities with populations below 2,000 can take part in local elections next March, Erdogan said those municipalities were dissolved by Parliament on the grounds that providing local services on such a small scale is not productive. Erdogan charged that the council had overstepped its authority, saying that the Constitutional Court had approved Parliament's decision and there is no place for appeals. Constitutional Court Chief Justice Hasim Kilic also released a statement on the issue yesterday, accusing the State Council of overstepping its authority and violating the Constitution. /Turkiye-Sabah/
 IRAQI PM MALIKI: "THE PKK IS TRYING TO HARM RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his accompanying delegation arrived yesterday in Ankara for official talks on the heels of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi's recent visit to Turkey. President Abdullah Gul first received Maliki at the Cankaya Presidential Palace. Condemning the terrorist PKK, Gul said its terrorism has been sowing discord between the two societies. Reiterating Ankara's determination to end PKK terrorism, Gul also expressed his wish to visit Iraq as soon as possible. For his part, Maliki said, "We're sure that the PKK is trying to harm the relations between our neighboring countries," adding, "They'll never be allowed to reach their goal." Afterwards, Maliki met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Prime Ministry. Erdogan said that the Iraqi central government has declared the PKK a terrorist group, and that that is the most important consensus they have reached. Stating that terrorism is both countries' common problem and fight, Erdogan added, "We cannot tolerate an understanding which has declared people and humanity the enemy, and we'll fight terrorism through common solidarity." For his part, Maliki underlined that they should not allow terrorists to harm the Turkish-Iraqi friendship /Milliyet-Aksam/
 TERRORISTS KILL THREE SOLDIERS, WOUND 13Three soldiers were killed and 13 others were injured in an armed attack in southeastern Turkey yesterday. Terrorists opened fire on a military vehicle with long-range weapons in the town of Cizre in the southeastern province of Sirnak. The injured soldiers were rushed to a nearby hospital, and four of them in serious condition were transferred to the military hospital in Diyarbakir. Security forces launched a crackdown to capture the terrorists, who fled the area following the attack. /Cumhuriyet/
 SIMSEK SAYS IMF DEAL NEARLY READYSpeaking at a meeting on the impact of the global economic crisis held by the Antalya Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association yesterday, State Minister for the Economy Mehmet Simsek said the government is close to reaching an agreement on a possible standby deal with the International Monetary Fund, adding that he will invite an IMF delegation to Turkey next month. He said the government had made progress in talks with the Fund on the size of the loan but that they have not yet reached a conclusion. "We need to consider our national priorities first. If we feel that a standby deal with the Fund would ultimately be to Turkey's benefit, we could agree to sign such a deal," he said, adding that this would help Turkey weather the crisis with minimal damage. Stressing that the government has successfully managed the country's economy since the crisis began, he said, "The world is facing a very serious financial crisis. The government foresaw this last year. That's why we made some structural reforms in our economic policy. Thanks to these reforms, Turkey was not caught unaware by the crisis." Simsek also said Turkey will prioritize European Union reforms in the months to come. /Sabah/
 ANTALYA TO HOST WEEKEND SYNERGYTURK-DEFENSE 2008 MEETINGOrganized by the Defense Industry Undersecretariat, the two-day SynergyTurk- Defense 2008 meeting is set to start tomorrow in Antalya with a focus on boosting ties among Turkish defense companies operating both at home and abroad. Attending the meeting will be Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim, Defense Industry Undersecretary Murad Baydar, academics, and defense company representatives. /Turkiye/
 CETIN ALTAN SET TO RECEIVE CULTURE AND ART PRIZEThe Culture and Tourism Ministry will present the Culture and Art Award to journalist and writer Cetin Altan. A Ministry statement said that a council chaired by Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul had decided unanimously to present the award to Altan, in recognition of his democratic stance under all circumstances and his contributions to the country's social and cultural life. /Hurriyet/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 IRAQ'S ERGENEKON AND THE PKKBY SAMIL TAYYAR (STAR)
Columnist Samil Tayyar comments on the US, Iraq and Turkey and the PKK issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
"A security agreement signed last month between the US and Iraq is a harbinger of things to come. As I've written before, it is an important agreement which will have a deep impact on Turkey, particularly on the concept of fighting terrorism and the Middle East policy. What made the agreement important was transferring control of the airspace from the US to the Iraqi government as of January 1 and setting a date for the withdrawal of US soldiers from Iraq by the end of 2011. This development created a historic opportunity for Turkey. The new era which started with the National Security Council's (NSC) statement this April that it would be beneficial to continue consultations with all Iraqi groups and formations was strengthened by this pact.
The new policies, with groundwork laid by Interior Minister Besir Atalay, Prime Ministry Chief Advisor Ahmet Davutoglu and Special Envoy to Iraq Ambassador Murat Ozcelik, gained a new dimension with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's declaration about the establishment of a High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council signed in Baghdad this July. As stated by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Ankara yesterday, a tripartite mechanism is operating between the US, Iraq and Turkey on issues for the establishment of peace, Iraq's political stability, and solving the PKK issue.
The problem has two dimensions for Turkey: Kirkuk, and the elimination of the PKK. There have recently been important developments about Kirkuk in line with Turkey's policies. For example, a flawed referendum was delayed, and Turkey's views were respected in terms of keeping Kirkuk attached to the central Iraqi government and giving its Turkmen more rights to speak. In addition, the Kirkuk Regional Assembly accepted the use of Turkmen as an official language with Roman letters, along with Arabic and Kurdish. There are also proposals for elimination of the PKK which Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani haven't agreed on. They want Turkey to offer a general amnesty so that Kurds with Turkish citizenship who are in the mountains or living as refugees in the Mahmur camp can return and be provided with shelter and job opportunities, and can lay down their weapons.
According to UN data, 13,000 people live in Mahmur right now, and including those living in the mountains and other regions would swell this figure to 20,000. Right now, the problem lies in offering an amnesty to the PKK leadership. Kurdish leaders here have suggested that nearly 100 PKK officials be transferred to Europe or some other countries as political refugees. For these leaders, if a consensus is reached on this issue, the Iraqi administration will declare the PKK a terrorist group, ban all of its activities, and take part in joint operations with Turkey when needed. The US supports this project, whereas Turkey is now making a decision. The process is being conducted by the NSC, as the problem is a big one.
Another dimension of the problem is the PKK's stance. The US wants to see some conclusion between Iraq and Turkey by next spring. The PKK declared a cease-fire, but in fact there are few PKK attacks during winter anyway. It's generally thought that any solution package which wouldn't release convicted PKK head Abdullah Ocalan from Imrali prison would be rejected by the PKK. Some people believe that if this happens, the US and Iraq might step up pressure on the PKK by cutting off the delivery of weapons and food to the Kandil mountains and freezing its assets in European countries and also perhaps extraditing certain PKK terrorists to Turkey.
Signs of this are already being seen. British police raided groups that help the PKK with financing and recruitment. Trucks bringing food and weapons to Kandil were seized. We're entering a very difficult process. There will be certain groups in both Turkey and Iraq which oppose efforts to find a solution. Besides political reactions, those who have been using terrorism as a tool for extracting benefits for the last 24 years will try to hinder these efforts with bloody actions. Iraq's Ergenekon has already started to work. The bloody attack on a restaurant on the Kirkuk-Erbil highway where representatives of the region met just two weeks ago should be seen in this light. At this time, we must work to establish pluralist democracy and social peace without harming Turkey's unitary structure."
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