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Turkish Press Review, 09-05-08
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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
08.05.2009FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS ...
 PRESIDENT GUL ATTENDS FIRST EASTERN PARTNERSHIP SUMMIT IN PRAGUEPresident Abdullah Gul yesterday attended the first Eastern Partnership summit in Prague, the Czech Republic, which holds the EU's rotating term presidency. On the sidelines of the summit, which sought ways to improve the European Union's political and economic ties with six ex-Soviet republics, including Azerbaijan and Armenia, Azeri and Armenian Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan met at the residence of the US Embassy in Prague to discuss ways to solve the two-decade conflict between their countries over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is also complicating ongoing reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia. The US Embassy said in a statement that the two leaders discussed the issue as part of international mediation efforts led by the United States, Russia and France, the co- chairs of the Minsk Group, which works under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Representatives of the three countries were also present during the talks, which were closed to the press. Speaking to reporters afterwards, representatives of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, led by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza, said that the Azeri and Armenian presidents had made "serious progress" towards resolving the longstanding Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. The presidents were able to narrow their differences on the basic principles and agree on the basic ideas that they came to discuss, said Bryza. "They do agree on a basic approach," he added. "It's now up to us to work actively with the foreign ministers as requested by both presidents to work through the details and finalize these concepts that were discussed today. That's a positive sign. Today showed us that we are making serious progress." Bryza declined to give details about the talks, which also were attended by the foreign ministers of the two countries. US officials later told their Turkish counterparts of common ground reached by the Azeri and Armenian leader during the meeting. Gul also held separate talks with Aliyev and Sarkisian. During his meeting with Aliyev, Gul reassured his Azeri counterpart that Turkey would never do anything that would harm Azerbaijan's interests. Gul also heard from Aliyev about his meeting with Sargsyan. During his meeting with Sargsyan, Gul stressed the importance of the two leaders' meeting in Prague and invited him to visit Turkey to see a 2010 World Cup qualifying match. Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave inside Azerbaijan, has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since a six-year conflict that killed about 30,000 and displaced 1 million people before a truce was reached in 1994. Turkey closed the border in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan. Speaking to reporters en route to Prague, Gul said this year offers an important window of opportunity to solve problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia which should not be missed. Today Gul will also attend the South Corridor summit, focusing on the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project, in Prague. /Sabah/
 GUL RECEIVES DTP'S TURKPresident Abdullah Gul yesterday received Democratic Society Party (DTP) leader Ahmet Turk at the Cankaya Presidential Palace as part of his meetings with opposition leaders. "We have to focus on all problems, including the Kurdish issue," he said during the meeting, which lasted about an hour. Stating that terrorism complicates democratization efforts, he added, "That's why we have to eliminate terrorism." He also stressed to Turk that he represents not merely his own constituencies, but the nation as a whole. /Aksam/
 NORWAY'S KING HARALD RECEIVES TOPTANKing Harald V of Norway yesterday received Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan in Oslo. During the meeting, Toptan reportedly said that after being a "wing" country during the Cold War, Turkey became a bridge between the East and West, as well as the North and South. Saying that Turkey had recently become a major focal point, he added, "So it is affected by developments in its region, and moreover has an influence on other countries. In this context, we're trying to contribute to the Turkish government's diplomatic efforts by improving parliamentary diplomacy." For his part, Harald reportedly said that Turkey's importance in its region had recently risen. Harald also praised the Turks who live and work in Norway. During the meeting, the impact of the recent global economic crisis on both countries was also discussed. /Turkiye/
 ERDOGAN COMPLAINS OF OPPOSITION STATEMENTS ABOUT ERGENEKON TRIALCertain political party leaders continue to make statements about an ongoing case in order to "insult and influence" the judiciary, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. On many occasions, opposition leaders, such as the Republican People's Party's (CHP) Deniz Baykal, have criticized the ongoing Ergenekon trial, in which dozens of suspects, including former generals, journalists, businessmen and politicians, are accused of involvement in a shadowy crime network with alleged links within the state which is suspected of plotting to topple the government. Opposition leaders have claimed the trial is an attempt by the government to crack down on its critics. Speaking at the opening of a new Ankara Greater Municipality building, Erdogan said, "Despite all our warnings and requests, some party leaders are continuing to make statements about an ongoing judicial case that aim to influence and insult the judiciary and politicians. I've never given any credit to this provocation and this policy of causing tension and will never do so. I am in no way involved in this judicial case, but there is something that our nation obviously sees. Some circles are doing their best to hinder the progress of this case. Some circles continue to try to keep Turkey from learning and exposing shady links and illegal formations. Regardless of who does what, we believe in the judiciary; we have confidence in it, and we value the rule of law." /Turkiye/
 BAGIS: "TURKEY WON'T ACCEPT ANY ALTERNATIVE TO FULL EU MEMBERSHIP"Turkey will not accept any alternative to full European Union membership, said State Minister and chief negotiator for Turkey's talks Egemen Bagis yesterday. Speaking at the London School of Economics during a two-day visit to Britain, he said that Turkey will keep it promises when the EU does the same, in an apparent reference to the Ankara Protocol, under which Turkey is supposed to open its harbors and airports to Greek Cypriot vessels and planes. "The EU should keep its promises to end the isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)," he added. /Star/
 FM SPOKESPERSON: "THE UN REPORT ON KIRKUK IS IN LINE WITH TURKEY'S VIEWS"A new report prepared by the UN Special Representative to Iraq Staffan de Mistura is largely compatible with Turkey's views on Kirkuk, Iraq and other controversial regions, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin yesterday. "If all goes well, we hope that the report will make a contribution to resolving the issue," he told reporters. Asked about Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's visit to Turkey last week, Ozuergin said that he visited Turkey on the sidelines of a conference held in Istanbul. "We met with each group, as it was appropriate to hold the meeting in this context," he added. "Why do we hold such meetings? We take this stance because we believe they can contribute to peace and stability in Iraq." Touching on French President Nicholas Sarkozy's proposal for a common economic and security space between Turkey and the European Union, Ozugergin said European leaders occasionally suggest such ideas. Ozugergin reiterated Turkey's stance on the EU, stressing that EU accession is a strategic goal for Turkey. /Cumhuriyet/
FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS ... FROM THE COLUMNS ...
 FAMOUS FIGURES AT THE SABANCI CONFERENCEBY GILA BENMAYOR (HURRIYET)
Columnist Gila Benmayor comments on the Sakip Sabanci Conference held at the Brookings Institution. A summary of her column is as follows:
"Speaking at the opening of the recent Fifth Sakip Sabanci Conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Guler Sabanci said that one aim of the gathering is to provide students with the opportunity to better understand the world's complexities. This conference, which has been featuring famous speakers for the last five years at this leading US think- tank, is watched by Sabanci University students in Istanbul via interactive video link, which allows them to ask the speakers questions.
This year Chris Patten, the Oxford University rector and former Hong Kong governor, spoke to the students. His speech on the challenges of multilateralism for Turkey, Europe and the US had messages for the young people, as it sought to answer the question 'What is today's Europe?' at a time when everybody is very confused about Turkey's EU membership bid. I sometimes hear young people asking why Turkey is working so hard for membership, as the EU will soon be a thing of the past. Patten said that even if the EU has certain weaknesses, it carries a visionary and even a revolutionary torch. He added that he has always been outspoken in his support for Turkey's membership, which would contribute to Europe both economically and politically.
'Turkey clearly has to choose what kind of country it wants to be â€" to move forward or go back,' he added. 'I hope it will choose to continue along the road to becoming a more successful, more daring country building on the successes of recent years.' I won't go into all the details of his speech, but political scientist Francis Fukuyama also suggested that Turkey should decide what path it will take. So there are a lot of question marks in the minds of people about Turkey's future.
Let's see who attended the lunch at Brookings following the Sabanci Conference: Guler Sabanci, Former Economy Minister Kemal Dervis, Fukuyama, Patten, former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and former US Ambassadors to Ankara Mark Grossman and Morton Abramowitz. Fukuyama also said that the ambiguities about Turkey's EU membership are gradually mounting. Fukuyama believes that speaking clearly about such issues as identity and ethnic origin would contribute to our EU process.
Dervis, a new Brookings vice president and also a member of Sabanci University's International Consultancy Council, said that the mechanism of joining the EU by meeting its conditions is no longer operational. He added that Turkey is stronger now than it was 10 years ago and that in the wake of a paradigm shift, Turkey now has to enter a process in which it will be more active. This is what they said about Turkish-EU relations in Washington."
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