|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 09-03-12
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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: "THE ECO CAN TURN THE GLOBAL CRISIS INTO AN OPPORTUNITY"President Abdullah Gul, along with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan; yesterday attended the 10th summit meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Addressing the meeting, Gul said that the ECO can turn the global economic crisis into an opportunity. Stating that the crisis' effects on commerce, trade and transportation can be lessened by using the member states' rich natural and human resources and coordinated economic policy, he also stressed that energy cooperation among ECO member states is a priority for the organization. Gul urged the ECO member countries to do everything necessary to cut customs tariffs and thus boost trade cooperation between regional states. Gul reiterated that Turkey is striving to strengthen regional economic cooperation as well as ensure peace and stability in the region. He also called for expanded transportation and energy cooperation between ECO members to help bring stability to the region. During his stay in Tehran, Gul also held bilateral talks with Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zerdari. /Star/
 CAMPAIGNING IN ORDU, ERDOGAN CRITICIZES OPPOSITIONSpeaking at a campaign rally in Ordu yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to criticize the opposition parties. Erdogan implicitly criticized promises by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul mayoral candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu and CHP Ankara mayoral candidate Murat Karayalcin to create jobs, saying, "They're going to hire 100 workers as soon as they're elected. Who's going to give them authorization to hire workers? This is the Interior Ministry's area. Thus it's our area." /Cumhuriyet/
 BAYKAL STUMPS FOR ANKARA MAYORAL CANDIDATE WITH SHOPKEEPERSMain opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday visited shopkeepers in Ankara's central Kizilay district to ask them to support Murat Karayalcin, the CHP's greater municipality mayoral candidate. Asked about the prime minister's campaign trail suggestion that Baykal resign from the CHP leadership if the party does poorly in the local elections later this month, Baykal said, "We're doing politics for Turkey, to develop it, but not only to come to power. Politics can be done both in power or the opposition. I can't set any success criteria for any political party." /Sabah/
 BAHCELI: "REGARDLESS OF THEIR PARTY, INCOMPETENTS CAN'T PROVIDE QUALITY MUNICIPAL SERVICES"People shouldn't be confused by ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) claims that its candidates would be better at providing local services because they would work together with the government, but instead should vote for the best candidates in the March 29 local elections, said Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli yesterday. Speaking at a campaign rally in the southern province of Osmaniye, Bahceli said that regardless of what party candidates come from, if they are incompetent or unskilled, they cannot provide good municipal services. Bahceli also urged local election boards to be diligent in protecting the integrity of the voting process. /Turkiye/
 EU'S REHN: "WE'RE CLOSELY WATCHING THE SITUATION OF THE TURKISH MEDIA"During European Parliament debate yesterday over a draft progress report on Turkey by EP Turkey Rapporteur Rita Oomen-Ruijten, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Rehn urged the Turkish authorities to respect press freedom. Rehn added that they are closely monitoring freedom of the press and expression in Turkey. For her part, Oomen-Ruijten said, "We've gotten many reports complaining that press freedom in Turkey is deteriorating." /Milliyet/
 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT HOPEFUL ON TURKEY'S EU REFORMS THIS YEARThis week members of the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council are jointly debating a draft progress report on Turkey by EP Turkey Rapporteur Rita Oomen-Ruijten. Amid praise for recent moves such as expanding the cultural rights of Turkey's Kurds and forming a special commission for women in Parliament, Turkey was urged to speed up EU reform efforts. EP Socialist Group leader Martin Schulz said, "We believe in Turkey, and the accession negotiations with Turkey should be accelerated." For her part, Oomen-Ruijten said that they were getting positive signals from Turkey on its determination to carry out necessary reforms for EU accession this year, adding that 10 years ago, Turkey's new state-run, Kurdish-language TV channel was unimaginable. She said that the EU places great importance on Turkey's role in the Caucasus and normalization of its relations with Armenia. Saying that its main concern is Turkey's continued slow pace of reforms, she called on Ankara to prove its political will for the reform process. Alexander Vondra, the deputy premier of EU Term President the Czech Republic, said work is underway to open the negotiation chapters on taxation and social policy and employment, adding that they also want to open the energy chapter. In its progress report, the EP is expected to call on Turkey to focus on the possible role in unsolved murders of Ergenekon, an illegal crime network vested in the state which has been charged with plotting to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, including the 2007 assassination of Armenian- Turkish journalist Hrant Dink. The draft report says, "The European Parliament welcomes the beginning of the trial against those accused of being members of the Ergenekon criminal organization, encourages the authorities to continue investigations and to fully uncover the organization's networks which reach into the state structures, is concerned about reports regarding the treatment of defendants in this case, urges the Turkish authorities to provide them with a fair trial and to adhere strictly to the principles of the rule of law." /Sabah/
 ISTANBUL HOSTING FIFTH WORLD WATER FORUM NEXT WEEKThe fifth World Water Forum, co-organized by Turkey and the World Water Council, will be held next week in Istanbul. Nearly 20,000 people from 110 countries are expected to attend the meeting. As part of the forum, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Prince Albert II of Monaco are set to attend a summit hosted by President Abdullah Gul. Representatives of attending countries will discuss worldwide causes of drought and the rational consumption of natural resources. /Aksam-Star/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 ROUND ONE IN TEHRANBY CENGIZ CANDAR (RADIKAL)
Columnist Cengiz Candar comments on Turkish-US relations and President Abdullah Gul's visit to Iran. A summary of his column is as follows:
"More than one person who was at the meeting told me that the only person speaking there was Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, who Iranians call the 'guide.' Those who couldn't open their mouths in the presence of the 'guide' were Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, and Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei's advisor. President Abdullah Gul's one-hour meeting with the 'guide' was his most important Tehran meeting, and it was followed with interested by the foreign world, particularly by Washington, due to Khamenei's position as Iran's supreme leader.
From the Turkish delegation, only Gul spoke. His message was simple: a new era has dawned in international politics with the Obama administration, which wants contacts and relations with Iran, and Turkey believes they are sincere. Gul also told us that this is a great opportunity which should be put to good use, and that if Iran can do this, it would benefit peace in our region and everybody else.
So what was the reply from the 'guide's side? As far as the Turkish side conveyed, they listened to these words carefully and it was apparent that they were carefully following the new opening which started with Obama. On the other hand, they want to see more of the US' new initiative to prove that it's truly positive. In a sense, Iran's stance on the US initiative is to wait and see. But what can be expected from this? As the Turkish side said, Gul believes that care and patience are needed to pave the way for better Iranian-US relations. It seems unrealistic to expect any dramatic moves from Iran before its presidential elections this June.
Things shouldn't be left to drift. Turkey has a narrow time frame and just a few venues to conduct active diplomacy vis-a-vis the US and Iran. An official who was at the meeting said that the Iranian side listened but didn't signal that it would make a gesture to the US, but it was also apparent that they left the door half open. One influential Turkish foreign policy official said it was like the first round of a boxing match. Turkey knows both sides directly, but the US and Iran are now just beginning the match.
Gul is talking about the new era, new conditions, new climate and thus new opportunities, and hopes to hear good things from Obama so Turkey can actively help. But this won't be easy. There are a few views in the Obama administration about what should be done on the Iran issue. In addition, there are also powerful figures in both countries and the region opposing rapprochement. For example, Israel clearly doesn't favor better US-Iranian relations.
This process seems set to progress slowly. The problem is the time factor. Sometimes rapid action is necessary. It's here that Turkey's presence as a constructive actor in international politics is very important. Turkey is entering the window of opportunity this way. Can Turkey act as a mediator between Iran and the US? Yes. At this time, there's nobody who can do this better than Turkey, with the consent of both parties. But our role goes beyond this. Turkey is now an active actor on the international stage. This is a role which goes beyond being an intermediary. The weather in Tehran yesterday was beautiful. There were no clouds to be seen; it was a sunny day under blue skies. Nevruz is approaching. The new year also means new hopes and a favorable climate."
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