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Turkish Press Review, 09-01-21

Turkish Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

21.01.2009


CONTENTS

  • [01] PRESIDENT GUL TO HOST LUNCHEON FOR TOP STATE OFFICIALS
  • [02] ERDOGAN: "TURKEY'S FULL EU MEMBERSHIP IS OUR MAIN STRATEGIC GOAL"
  • [03] GENERAL STAFF CALLS ON MEDIA TO ACT RESPONSIBLY
  • [04] OBAMA PLEDGES A NEW START WITH MUSLIM WORLD
  • [05] BAGIS HOLDS MEETINGS IN BRUSSELS
  • [06] EU'S REHN: "ERDOGAN SHOULD VISIT BRUSSELS MORE OFTEN"
  • [07] CHP'S BAYKAL CALLS ON PARLIAMENT TO LOOK INTO ERGENEKON PROBE
  • [08] SO WHO WILL BRING SOCIETY TOGETHER?
  • [09] THE PM CONVINCED BRUSSELS, BUT…

  • [01] PRESIDENT GUL TO HOST LUNCHEON FOR TOP STATE OFFICIALS

    At the Cankaya Palace today, President Abdullah Gul will hold a luncheon for Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Constitutional Court head Hasim Kilic, Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Hasan Gerceker, Council of State head Mustafa Birden and Court of Accounts head Mehmet Damar. During the luncheon, the top officials will exchange views about the ongoing Ergenekon probe and also discuss recent disharmony and controversies between institutions. /Star/

    [02] ERDOGAN: "TURKEY'S FULL EU MEMBERSHIP IS OUR MAIN STRATEGIC GOAL"

    Turkey's full European Union membership is our main strategic goal, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. After completing three days of contacts in Brussels, in his first visit in four years, Erdogan reiterated that Turkey is not interested in anything besides full membership. Stating that the EU accession process will gain momentum after Turkey's local elections in March, he added that he and EU officials had also discussed the Cyprus issue. /Star/

    [03] GENERAL STAFF CALLS ON MEDIA TO ACT RESPONSIBLY

    In its coverage, the media should act responsibly and with common sense, said the General Staff in a statement yesterday. The statement was issued in response to media coverage of Abdulkerim Kirca, a retired colonel who committed suicide on Monday after media stories accusing him of involvement in illegal activities when he headed the gendarmerie intelligence unit JITEM, an alleged secret military intelligence organization whose existence was consistently denied by officials. Blasting news coverage of Kirca as "extrajudicial execution," the statement said such stories are immoral and violate human rights. "In recent days, some media outlets have carried inflammatory news stories based on a so-called informant's testimony about Col. Abdulkerim Kirca, who was permanently disabled in clashes with terrorists on April 19, 1998," said the statement. It accused the media of finding people and institutions guilty based on unsubstantiated claims. Kirca's funeral at Ankara Kocatepe Mosque yesterday was attended by many officers, including Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug and the four force commanders, along with Interior Minister Besir Atalay. As part of the ongoing Ergenekon probe, an alleged PKK informant who lives abroad, Abdulkadir Aygan, has claimed that JITEM was involved in illegal activities during the 1990s, at the height of the fight against the terrorist PKK in southeastern Anatolia. Aygan also claimed that former Gen. Veli Kucuk, who is currently on trial under the Ergenekon probe, served as a group commander of the secret intelligence unit in the early 1990s /Sabah/

    [04] OBAMA PLEDGES A NEW START WITH MUSLIM WORLD

    Barack Obama yesterday was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States in a landmark inauguration ceremony in Washington, attended by nearly 2 million Americans. As the first African-American US president, Obama broke a key racial barrier in the US politics. Devoting large parts of his inaugural speech to the world economic crisis and its impact, Obama called on Americans to join him in taking responsibility for the country's future in a new age of accountability. Obama also outlined a new course for the US in the coming years, raising hopes that the new American administration would be more inclusive, open to the needs of people and governments worldwide, more collaborative and more inclined to deal with problems through diplomacy than military power. Obama said the American people don't have to choose between security and democracy. "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals," he said. He also pledged to improve US ties with the Muslim world, saying, "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect." In related news, asked about the change in US power, Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said there are great expectations that the Obama administration will act to tackle great challenges such as the global economic crisis and the Middle East issue. He said that he expected Obama to become the voice of the silent masses and to lend a helping hand to people in trouble worldwide. /Sabah/

    [05] BAGIS HOLDS MEETINGS IN BRUSSELS

    For the first time in his new post, Chief European Union negotiator Egemen Bagis yesterday held separate meetings with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, Commissioner for Taxation and the Customs Union Laszlo Kovacs, and Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Vladimir Spidla. Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht Bagis is also set to receive Bagis today. /Turkiye/

    [06] EU'S REHN: "ERDOGAN SHOULD VISIT BRUSSELS MORE OFTEN"

    Recent crises such as the war in Georgia, conflict in the Middle East, and the energy standoff between Russia and Ukraine have increased Turkey's importance for the European Union, said EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn yesterday. Meeting with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and chief European Union talks negotiator Egemen Bagis in Brussels, Rehn said that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan should visit Brussels more often. "There are solid foundations between the EU and Turkey to establish close cooperation," he added. For his part, Babacan said that Turkey has historical and cultural ties with a very large region, adding, "That's why it can open new doors to the EU." Bagis also said that with Turkey's accession to the Union, the EU can become an alliance and union of civilizations. "Turkey will continue to implement EU reforms for the nation's own good," he said. /Star/

    [07] CHP'S BAYKAL CALLS ON PARLIAMENT TO LOOK INTO ERGENEKON PROBE

    Speaking at his Parliamentary group meeting yesterday, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal criticized the ongoing Ergenekon probe, saying that it existed to settle political scores. Commenting on weapons seizures under the probe, Baykal said that the Parliament should take immediate action to look into this. In related news, opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said that demonstrations against Israel's recent attacks in Gaza had started to overstep their purpose. He also criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's handling of the issue. /Milliyet/

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

    [08] SO WHO WILL BRING SOCIETY TOGETHER?

    BY RUSEN CAKIR (VATAN)

    Columnist Rusen Cakir comments on President Abdullah Gul's luncheon for top state officials today. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "President Abdullah Gul likes to take steps to highlight his title as head of state. I believe his bringing together the heads of the judicial, legislative and executive branches in a luncheon at the Presidential Palace serves this purpose. This idea for this took shape in Gul's mind last December, but holding it at such a critical time raises its symbolic and actual meanings.

    Obviously, today's luncheon takes place under the shadow of the Ergenekon probe, which will certainly be discussed, because the questioning of suspects and the way the public has learned of this and feels about it have caused a series of problems and conflicts.

    In the wake of the latest wave of Ergenekon detentions, more figures have expressed their concern. Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug first met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and then Gul. The Supreme Court of Appeals' top judges convened extraordinarily. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said in a statement that everybody is innocent until proven guilty, thus trying to protect their retired and active duty officers under suspicion. Then Gul's short warning after state broadcaster TRT reported on Tuncay Guney got everybody's attention. Finally, retired Col. Abdulkerim Kirca's suicide led the TSK to point an accusing finger at the media's 'extrajudicial execution.'

    Obviously, Ergenekon can be considered a direct result of the power struggle between the traditional ruling party elites and those who recently moved to the center. But recent developments show that power centers that often disagree with each other are concerned that the process might be getting out of control. In other words, the Ergenekon probe, which some see as serving to reform the system, might actually dissolve the old system without replacing it, or the new system might be worse than the old one. These risks might have caused the ruling party elites to think that if the ship sinks, they will all drown altogether, and this might lead to a new collective power sharing.

    Of course, I'm not ascribing such deep meanings to a luncheon. But if today's lunch is successful, it might lead to a new consensus between various state organs. On the other hand, it might be just pro forma or deepen current disagreements.

    Yes Gul's initiative might have very good results. Ideally, a full consensus among government institutions would have a positive impact on society. But I don't think this will be enough, because Turkey has been facing deep divides for some years now, and society has been splitting into opposed camps. We know this polarization is getting worse due to Ergenekon. The trouble is that efforts and chances to bring together sides which work in the heart of society diminish every day. Even if there are efforts for a social consensus, the persons and institutions behind it are nowhere to be seen. For example, political parties both inside and outside Parliament aren't trying to do this.

    As someone who believes that consensus should be first sought within society, I don't think that this luncheon, held at a time lacking the basis for this, will lead to great changes."

    [09] THE PM CONVINCED BRUSSELS, BUT…

    BY MEHMET ALI BIRAND (MILLIYET)

    Columnist Mehmet Ali Birand comments on the premier's recent visit to Brussels. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "From news coverage of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Brussels early this week, I got a very negative impression.

    The impression was of Erdogan pushing the Gaza issue rather than Turkish- European Union relations, praising Hamas and harshly criticizing Europeans.

    Wondering what had happened, I asked officials who attended the talks: What kind of impression did you get from Erdogan? Did he allay your doubts? Did he argue for Hamas?

    Their answers were quite different from the media reports.

    EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said: 'If all visits like this produced such a boost in Turkish-EU relations, Erdogan should come here more often…'

    The EU Commission stated that Hamas and the Gaza issue didn't dominate the talks, as the main topic was bilateral relations. An official said, 'Erdogan touched on the issue during his speech at a non-governmental organization meeting on the first day of his visit, but later didn't bring it up.' He added, 'Erdogan came here to convince the Commission and European Parliament, and he succeeded. In other words, he showed that Ankara hasn't suspended or given up its EU bid, and the recent slowdown has ended, and he satisfied the Commission. Now the premier's decision on the Nabucco venture is expected and whether or not any development on chapters is anticipated. That is to say, we see the visit as fruitful and ushering in a new era.'

    All observers in Brussels made a common point: Russia's cutting off gas supplies to Ukraine increased Europe's willingness to diversify its energy supplies, and Turkey is seen as important for this. Its star is rising. Ankara should make good use of this opportunity.

    Whether or not it does, will be evident during technical negotiations in Brussels in the coming days.

    If Turkey says, 'If you convince the Greek Cypriots and ensure the opening of the energy chapter, then Ankara will welcomes Nabucco' " in other words, if Ankara tries to horse trade or blackmail " then the situation will be changed.

    One EU Commission official said; 'We see the Greek Cypriot veto as needless. But if Turkey makes it an explicit condition, we can't do it. Let us solve it,' and added that if Ankara signs onto Nabucco and two chapters opening, a brand new era can begin.

    In a nutshell, the premier announced his intentions. Now let's see whether concrete steps will be taken to revive this policy."


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