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Turkish Press Review, 09-03-04

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

04.03.2009


CONTENTS

  • [01] ERDOGAN INAUGURATES NEW METROBUS LINE IN ISTANBUL
  • [02] IN EGYPT, BABACAN MEETS WITH SYRIAN FM MOALLEM
  • [03] BAYKAL CRITICIZES ERDOGAN'S STANCE ON UNEMPLOYMENT
  • [04] BAHCELI URGES BIG TURNOUT IN LOCAL ELECTIONS
  • [05] REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: "TURKEY'S ROLE IS CRITICAL FOR THE US"
  • [06] US STATE DEPT'S BRYZA: "WE AREN'T ASKING TURKEY FOR A BASE FOR OUR AFGHAN OPERATIONS"
  • [07] TURKEY'S EXPANDED HORIZONS

  • [01] ERDOGAN INAUGURATES NEW METROBUS LINE IN ISTANBUL

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday attended a ceremony in Istanbul's Kadikoy district marking the launch of a new Metrobus line connecting the European and Asian sides of the city. Speaking at the ceremony, alongside many top officials and Istanbulites, Erdogan said that Istanbul's Metrobus lines now cover over 40 kilometers, with 31 stops, and that $366 million has been spent to build the lines. The extended line, the third phase of a large project to ease Istanbul's traffic problems, can serve nearly 1 million passengers every day, he added. With the new line, the commute from Avcilar to Sogutlucesme, the terminal points on the European and Asian sides, has been cut in half from two hours to just over one. Plans call for the Metrobus lines, where special commuter buses run in a dedicated traffic lane, to be extended throughout the city. Stressing that Istanbul has to address its traffic problems, Erdogan said, against opposition parties and some media outlets that have criticized ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Istanbul Greater Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbas, "You can imagine the extent of the problems in a city where 600 new cars enter traffic every day. It's easy for those who don't have any responsibility to talk." Erdogan also inaugurated a new hospital building in Istanbul's Avcilar district and touted government efforts to improve healthcare. Erdogan yesterday also addressed thousands at an AK Party local election rally in the Aegean province of Isparta. In his speech, Erdogan accused the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) of not being sincere in its outreach towards religion-oriented voters. Erdogan also reiterated the government's determination to bring all public services to every part of the country without any discrimination. Stating that the AK Party has held 24 rallies across Turkey in its current campaign, ahead of month-end elections, Erdogan said, "We're holding not only rallies but also inaugurating new services for the people." /Turkiye/

    [02] IN EGYPT, BABACAN MEETS WITH SYRIAN FM MOALLEM

    In Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday met with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem on the sidelines of an international donors' conference on rebuilding the Gaza Strip. During the gathering, the two top officials discussed reviving recent Israeli-Syrian peace talks under Turkish auspices. Turkey reportedly is waiting for the formation of a new post-election Israeli government. /Aksam/

    [03] BAYKAL CRITICIZES ERDOGAN'S STANCE ON UNEMPLOYMENT

    The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) made several proposals for fighting unemployment to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, but they were all ignored, said CHP leader Deniz Baykal yesterday. Speaking to his party group meeting, Baykal cited Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's words calling on the opposition to make such proposal: "If I don't implement the suggestions by the opposition, I'll quit politics." Baykal then said, "We don't tell you to quit politics, but we want the government to take action against unemployment. Erdogan was disturbed by our proposals." In related news, CHP Istanbul mayoral candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu yesterday spoke to fishermen in Kumkapi about their problems, saying, "After winning the election, I'll first visit here." Afterwards, he met with representatives from various non- governmental organizations, saying, "I prepared the state budget and administered the second-biggest institution after the state. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality budget is much smaller than this." He claimed, "If we improve the situation in Istanbul, I frankly say that we can improve Turkey." /Turkiye/

    [04] BAHCELI URGES BIG TURNOUT IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

    Addressing a crowd of thousands in an election rally in the central Anatolian province of Corum yesterday, opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli called on the people to vote in the local elections scheduled for late this month, saying, "The source of our legitimacy is the nation's will." Stressing that the elections carry great importance for Turkey in light of its current political atmosphere, Bahceli said, "A larger voter turnout will make the coming elections more meaningful and accurately reflect the nation's political will." He added, "This country belongs to the people, and the people have the right to decide." In related news, opposition Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Zeki Sezer said yesterday that religious beliefs should not be exploited for political gain. Campaigning in the Black Sea province of Samsun, Sezer said, "Doing politics through religious beliefs or people's dress style solves nothing, but in fact produces new problems," apparently referring to a recent main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) wooing of religious voters. /Turkiye/

    [05] REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: "TURKEY'S ROLE IS CRITICAL FOR THE US"

    Bill Shuster, a five-term Republican congressman, has sent a letter to his 434 colleague stressing Turkey's critical role. "I wanted to share a (Feb. 18) story from the Christian Science Monitor," said his letter. "Our relationship with Turkey and Turkey's strategic position carries a critical importance for the US goals in Iraq and Afghanistan." /Cumhuriyet/

    [06] US STATE DEPT'S BRYZA: "WE AREN'T ASKING TURKEY FOR A BASE FOR OUR AFGHAN OPERATIONS"

    In an interview with Cumhuriyet daily yesterday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matt Bryza said that the US has not asked Turkey for a base for its Afghan operations, but that Washington does expect military and financial assistance from all NATO allies, including Turkey. Stating that the Obama administration is in contact with Ankara regarding Afghanistan, Bryza said, "We're revising our policy on Afghanistan in coordination with our friends and allies, including Turkey." /Cumhuriyet/

    Speaking to Milliyet daily yesterday, George Friedman, the founder of Stratfor, a US think-tank catering to businesses, said, "I can't think that Turkey would lose its secular character and system; even if it becomes partially an Islamic country it won't lose it, because it has received a historical heritage from the Ottoman Empire. There has never been extremism in Turkey. Turkey will become a huge regional force in the future whether it's a secular or Islamic country." At a meeting in Istanbul, he said, "2009 will be difficult year for everybody, but later, Turkey will pick up where it left off. While European countries are regressing economically, in 2020 Turkey will be a big economic power in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East."

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

    [07] TURKEY'S EXPANDED HORIZONS

    BY ERDAL SAFAK (SABAH)

    Columnist Erdal Safak comments on a new report's projections for Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "When I read the projections made by George Friedman, the founder of the Stratfor think-tank, one of the US' most important strategic research centers, I remembered a recent CIA report. Addressing the question of what the world will look like in 2025, they highlighted the following:

    US power and influence will decrease, and it will give up its bid to remain the only superpower.

    The US position will erode due to its flabby structure and aging population.

    China will become one of the most important players on the world stage.

    Turkey is set to be not only a regional power but also possibly a global power.

    Friedman has similar ideas:

    The US is losing its power and influence.

    The European Union is also on the wane due to the global economic crisis. Turkey will abandon its EU bid.

    Turkey will become a great power in its region in the near future. Then it will become one of the global powers.

    I'm not surprised that at these similarities, as Friedman's Stratfor is seen as the 'private CIA.' His arguments that Turkey will inevitably become a major player first in the region and then in the world are actually known by many, but when they are listed, a very impressive picture emerges:

    Turkey's importance in the Islamic world is gradually rising.

    Its influence in the Balkans is growing stronger.

    It has become an indispensable response to Russia.

    Central Asia has turned into its natural zone of influence.

    It has become a sea power whose presence is felt over the entire Mediterranean.

    Turkey is now the world's 17th-largest economy and it will reach number 10 by 2020. (Even today it's the largest economy in the Islamic world, the seventh-largest in Europe, and the most stable economy in Central Asia.)

    Along with Israel, Turkey has the strongest and most effective army. This army also constitutes the second-largest armed force within NATO.

    It has an extraordinary potential with a young population of 70 million.

    Friedman thinks all these factors will upset current paradigms. From now on people will talk about the US' need for Turkey, rather than the reverse, and soon Turkey won't pursue the EU, but vice versa, he believes. What's more, he considers this an inevitable and irreversible process, because he thinks by its nature Turkey has to become a superpower.

    I agree with him completely. In addition, I see the signs that the dynamics which will carry Turkey to those broad horizons are picking up speed " for example, the special care and importance which were placed on Turkey at the G-20 group, the Turkic republics' efforts to accelerate cultural integration with Turkey by adopting the Roman alphabet, the regimes of certain great countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt which accept Turkey's position as the most important actor in the Middle East particularly due to its stance against the attacks in Gaza, and thus its image as the sole and natural protector in the eyes of Arab nations, and also the fact that the US finally saw the need to redefine relations between the two countries.

    But as Friedman stresses, there's also a risk running in the opposite direction. As he says, the greatest danger for Turkey lies not outside, but inside: domestic tensions and conflicts. So this means that we should strengthen our domestic peace by solving the Kurdish issue and deepening democracy. And we can deepen democracy through bold reforms which would accelerate Turkey's modernization process. That's why we reiterate whenever we can that our priorities must be more democracy, a solution to the Kurdish issue as part of basic human rights, and strengthening national fellowship. I'll keep on saying this, because the rest will come automatically."


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