|Saturday, 24 February 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 09-03-25
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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
 PRESIDENT GUL RETURNS FROM HISTORIC IRAQI VISITOn a visit to Iraq, President Abdullah Gul yesterday met with Turkmen deputies of the Iraqi Parliament and also received Nechirvan Barzani of the northern Iraqi regional administration. Afterwards, Barzani told a press conference that Turkey is an important country for the northern Iraqi administration. "We want to establish good relations with Turkey," he added. "We also understand Turkey's concerns very well." Barzani said that under Iraq's Constitution, the regional administration would not tolerate any attacks from its territory against neighboring countries and that he supported Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's call on to the terrorist PKK to either lay down its arms or leave Iraq. After visiting Talabani and his wife Hero, Gul returned Turkey yesterday. /Cumhuriyet/
 GUL TO ATTEND EUROPEAN BUSINESS WORLD SUMMITPresident Abdullah Gul is set to visit Belgium this week to attend a European Business World Summit as an honored guest of Businesseurope and the Turkish Confederation of Employers Unions (TISK). According to TISK, Gul will address a session with European Union Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Term President Czech Republic's Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, and Businesseurope head Ernest-Antoine Seilliere. /Star/
 ERDOGAN CRITICIZES YSK ELECTION DAY DECISIONSCampaigning in both Bartin and Zonguldak yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized a Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) decision requiring voters to have an ID number on their identity card or certified identity documents to cast ballots in Sunday's local elections. On YSK's decision to ban headscarves for election observers, he added, "What kind of a public sphere is this? They (the observers) are representatives of political parties and not working for the state. How could you take away their rights? Unfortunately, this is putting obstacles in front of our democracy." He also lambasted main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, charging that Baykal has no wish to come to power but only to criticize the government. /Star/
 PARLIAMENT SPEAKER TRAVELING TO TUNISIAParliament Speaker Koksal Toptan is scheduled to travel to Tunisia today at the invitation of his Tunisian counterpart Fouad Mebazaa. Toptan will be received by Tunisian President Zein el Abidine Ben Ali tomorrow. He is also expected to meet with Abdullah Kallel, the head of Tunisia's Chamber of Advisers. Toptan will return to Turkey on Friday. /Hurriyet Daily News/
 BAYKAL: "AGRICULTURE IS THE BASIS OF DEVELOPMENT"Campaigning in Bilecik yesterday, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal said that agriculture is the basis of the development. Stating that there can be no development if farmers are ignored, he said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) should support the nation's farmers. /Turkiye/
 BAHCELI: "THE ECONOMIC CRISIS SHOULD NOT BE UNDERESTIMATED"Campaigning in Elazig ahead of Sunday's local elections, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli yesterday called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to lift parliamentary immunity. On the economy and recent factory closings, Bahceli said that the economic crisis should not be underestimated. /Aksam-Turkiye/
 ANKARA TO HOST PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN SUMMITTurkey will host a summit of Afghanistan and Pakistan next Wednesday. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Ali Asif Zardari will meet in Ankara as the guests of President Abdullah Gul. Intelligence officials and chiefs of general staff of both countries will also reportedly attend the summit. Turkey also brought together the presidents of the two countries at tripartite summits in 2007 and 2008. /Turkiye/
 EU'S REHN: "IF OLGAC WAS TELLING THE TRUTH, TURKEY VIOLATED THE GENEVA CONVENTION"European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said yesterday that if Turkish actor Atilla Olgac's comments that he had killed 10 Greek Cypriots during the 1974 Cyprus peace operation were true, this would mean that Turkey had violated the Geneva Convention. /Today's Zaman/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 ISSUES IN BAGHDADBY BERIL DEDEOGLU (STAR)
Columnist Beril Dedeoglu comments on President Abdullah Gul's visit to Baghdad this week. A summary of her column is as follows:
"Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was in Turkey to attend last week's Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul, and a number of problems were discussed. It seems some ground was covered in these meetings, and President Abdullah Gul decided to visit Baghdad. Gul's visit to Iraq was important in many respects. There are a great many issues between our countries worth discussing and which need mutual trust. The water issue is one of them, but it's been pushed back for now, because it's complicated and also concerns Syria and other countries and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Even if Iraq is water-rich compared to Turkey and Iraq, Syria knows that its requests are mostly directed towards Turkey.
The issues which can't be put off concern security. It seems that after many years, common ground has been found on security issues concerning both countries. One side of this is the PKK laying down its weapons, but also preventing the emergence of another such group after this happens. Accordingly, it seems an agreement has been reached about including the PKK in the political process, but it's unknown how this will be arranged on Turkey's side. Turkey's policies are mostly dependent on the stance of the northern Iraqi Kurdish regional government. Thus the outcome of an impending Kurdish conference to be held in Erbil will weigh large on Turkey's stance.
On the other side of this common ground is the status of the province of Kirkuk. Any disagreement around Kirkuk might threaten Iraq's federal structure, but there's also great disagreement between Baghdad and the northern Iraqi regional government about a solution. Turkey doesn't want Kirkuk to belong to the Kurdish region and it seems to place more emphasis on Baghdad, but this approach supports the willingness of politicians in the north to separate from the center. Thus Kirkuk is now a bargaining chip at the center of meetings between Talabani and Gul.
Another security issue which often brings together the Iraqi and Turkish presidents is US withdrawal from the region. The method of withdrawal is also being discussed by Ankara and Washington. Moreover, post-withdrawal developments are another potential problem. Thus both Talabani and Gul want to solve the issues of Barzani, the PKK and Kirkuk before the withdrawal starts. In other words, neither party wants the US to withdraw and leave the parties face to face with each other, but instead want the US to get involved in these problems. Maybe they hope the US will act in their favor and decrease the political pressure.
If there's any hope of this, the expectations of both Talabani and Turkey might intersect. If there was any doubt about it, Gul wouldn't have taken the risk and accepted Talabani's invitation. The search for common ground comes from how we're talking about two countries in the same region with common destinies. The stability of one influences the other, and the development of one of them influences the other. Thus there's reciprocity in the parties' security needs as well as economic needs. So meetings on economic issues held during mutual visits establish the fundamentals of efforts for security to be made in the future."
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