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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 03-10-31

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.206/03 31.10.03

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Contradicting response from government to the EU-Turkey progress report.
  • [02] Ahmet Necdet Sezer: Question over sending troops to Iraq closed.
  • [03] A fire that broke out at Karpass peninsula destroyed 300 donums of forest land.
  • [04] The occupation regime put obstacles to the realization of a common art exhibition between Turkish and Greek Cypriot artists.
  • [05] Turkey continues to refuse to allow the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [06] The stance of the Council of Europe on the issue of Titina Loizidou relieves Turkey and encourages it to keep the Cyprus problem unsolved, notes AFRIKA.
  • [07] Views exchanged on Cyprus by the British Ambassador to Ankara and Prime Minister Erdogan.
  • [08] Views expressed by the military during the reception by Sezer on the 80th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Contradicting response from government to the EU-Turkey progress report

    NTV Television (30.10.03) broadcast that even though it has yet to be officially released, the Turkish government is sending out mixed messages on the latest European Union report on Turkey's progress towards meeting the bloc's membership criteria.

    The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists that Turkey had taken all the necessary steps to harmonize its laws and regulations with those of the EU as was required.

    The European Union is to officially release its progress report on candidate country Turkey on November 5 but the report has already been leaked to the media.

    Criticizing the report Erdogan said that comments accusing Turkey of not having implemented the legislated reforms were just "making excuses" for not further advancing Turkey's accession process.

    However, the Prime Minister of Turkey did not deny that Turkey still had more to do prior to December 2004, when the EU will consider setting a date for Turkey to begin formal accession negotiations. "If all is not completed they will not make us a member," he said.

    However, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that the contents of the report were as expected and that the document was "objective" in its findings. The report only repeated what the government had said that more had to be done to ensure the reforms enacted by parliament were implemented in practice, Gul said. It was for this reason that the government had set up its reform monitoring group in the first place, he said.

    [02] Ahmet Necdet Sezer: Question over sending troops to Iraq closed

    Turkish NTV Television Station (30.10.03) broadcast that the Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said on Wednesday night that the debate over whether Turkey is to deploy troops in Iraq as part of a US lead stability force is closed.

    After months of wrangling between the US and Turkey over the possible deployment, and even though the Turkish parliament voted to authorize the government to send troops, the matter is closed, the Turkish President said at a reception to mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.

    "The issue of the dispatch of Turkish soldiers to Iraq has come to an end for me," Mr Sezer told reporters. "The settlement of the necessary conditions is henceforth quite difficult."

    In the past week, Washington has backed off from its request for Turkey to send up to 10,000 troops to Iraq to serve as peace keepers due to increasing opposition from Iraqi leaders. A further stumbling block has been the conditions Ankara set for the deployment, including having control of its own discrete zone of operations, and for its troops to be under direct Turkish command.

    [03] A fire that broke out at Karpass peninsula destroyed 300 donums of forest land

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (31.10.03) reports that a fire broke out yesterday at occupied Karpass region.

    The fire started around noon and was put under control three hours later. It broke out between the occupied villages of Lythrangomi and Vasili and destroyed around 300 donums of forest land. The fire destroyed totally 300 olive tress and 80 carob trees. In addition around 200 olive trees were partly burned.

    The so-called police of the pseudostate is still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

    [04] The occupation regime put obstacles to the realization of a common art exhibition between Turkish and Greek Cypriot artists

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (31.10.03) reports that the so-called Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defence of the pseudostate continues to prohibit the rapprochement between the Turkish and the Greek Cypriots. This time it put obstacles to the realization of a common art exhibition between Turkish and Greek Cypriot artists.

    As the paper writes, the Association of Cypriot Artists planned to organize a common art exhibition with 65 works of art (paintings, caricatures, photographs, statues and ceramic objects) of both Turkish and Greek Cypriot artists.

    The exhibition would have been opened yesterday in Aglantzia in the free areas of Cyprus and in a week's time it would have been transferred to occupied Famagusta. However the pseudoministry did not allow the Turkish Cypriot artists to participate in the exhibition. In addition it did not give permission for the art works of the Turkish Cypriots to be transferred to the free areas of the Cyprus Republic and for the art works of the Greek Cypriot artists to be transferred to the occupied areas.

    The paper writes that the Turkish Cypriot artists decided to react against this decision.

    [05] Turkey continues to refuse to allow the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki

    Turkish Daily News (31.10.03) reports that the Turkish Education Minister Huseyin Celik promised Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Thursday that he will establish a special commission to study the possibility of reopening the Halki Theological School which was closed in 1971 when the Partiarchate refused to accept affiliation with the Education Ministry in accordance with the "Uniformity in Education Law."

    Meeting with Phanar Patriarch Bartholomew, Celik stressed that he believed free education in Christian religious affairs is a requirement for democratic structure in the Turkish Republic. He said a special commission will look into the possibility of reopening the theological school and pledged to make public the findings of the special commission.

    The Patriarch stressed that his visit to the education minister was aimed at conveying the problems of the Greek schools in Istanbul and to demand the reopening of the theological school. He said the minister listened to him with "understanding and patience" and pledged to speedily provide solutions to the existing problems "under the laws of the country."

    Celik said, apart from a verbal explanation, the Patriarch presented a written petition also. He said according to the Turkish Constitution education in Islam and all other religions, including Judaism and Christianity ought to be done under the supervision of the state--a legal requirement that the patriarchate has been opposing for decades.

    The minister said if there is a demand to open a school where Chistianity and Christian religious affairs will be taught, provided that the laws of the country are respected the government will have no objection to that.

    He said there are 24 faculties in Turkey providing education in Islam and Islamic religious affairs and the government will have no objection to the opening of a school where Christian theology and religious affairs will be taught under the same laws and regulations applied to those Islamic schools.

    Celik said reopening the Halki Theological School has been on the agenda of the country for the past 32 years but has not been resolved. He said he will instruct the Vocational Education General Directorate and the Education Council of his ministry to establish a special committee and to study the issue. He said the findings of the committee will be shared by the public.

    The Halki Theological School was closed down by the Phanar Patriarchate in 1971 when it did not accept a place under the authority of the Education Ministry in line with the "Uniformity in Education law." Besides the Halki Theological School, many other Turkish private education institutions were closed by the same law or brought under the supervision of the Education Ministry.

    Since then, various Turkish governments indicated that the school could be re-opened if the Patriarchate accepted affiliation with the Education Ministry or the Higher Education Council (HEC). All such efforts, however, failed as the Phanar Patriarchate has been insisting that the school must have autonomy.

    The building is currently used for conferences, most notably, the International Environmental Symposium sponsored annually by the Phanar Patriarchate and various world renowned dignitaries. The school was founded in the nineteenth century on the grounds of the Patriarchal Monastery of the Holy Trinity that has occupied the site for over 1,000 years.

    The Patriarchate and supporters of the re-opening of the Halki Theological school have been claiming that its closure constitutes a breach of Article 40 of the Lausanne Treaty and Article 24 of the Turkish Constitution which both guarantee religious freedom and education. According to the supporters of the re-opening, the provisions of both Lousanne and the Turkish Constitution are also embodied in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights and charge that "the closure of the Halki Seminary can only be viewed as an illegal abuse of human rights and a violation of democracy and international law."

    Over the past decades, Turkey has been stressing that the Halki Theological School can be opened if it is placed under the supervision of the Higher Education Council (HEC) very much like all the higher education institutions where Islamic theology is thought.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [06] The stance of the Council of Europe on the issue of Titina Loizidou relieves Turkey and encourages it to keep the Cyprus problem unsolved, notes AFRIKA

    Under the title "The Loizidou case shows where we are heading to on the Cyprus problem", Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (31.10.03) writes the following in its regular "Letter from AFRIKA" column:

    "The stance of the Council of Europe on the Loizidou case surprised everybody. There is a court decision and a decision taken not by any court. This is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the last shelter where all of us look for justice, and the authority we trust the most. However, the Loizidou case has given a shock to this trust. It has disappointed everybody. The fact that a decision is not applied yet due to the preconditions set forward by the defendant, is discouraging those who are getting ready to appeal to this court. The Council of Europe, which for weeks now is deciding the postponement of this case, decided the day before to postpone it once more. And this time it decided to postpone it not for one but for two weeks.

    According to the acquired information, Turkey now wants to extend the use of the right of (Mrs Loizidou) to return to (her) property until the year 2005. Countries like Britain, Italy and Holland are said to have supported Turkey on the postponement issue.

    The Loizidou case shows in reality that Europe will not corner Turkey a lot on the issue of reaching a solution in Cyprus. We could even say that it relieves Turkey and encourages it on the non-solution issue. It gives the message that even if a solution is not reached by 1 May 2004, this will not be the end of the world and that Turkey will not have much trouble after this date. If so much understanding is shown towards Turkey even regarding the Loizidou case, why could they not show the same understanding after the accession of Cyprus to the EU? Why would they not acknowledge that (Turkey's) objection that 'northern Cyprus could not accede to the EU before me' is right? At the stage the Loizidou case is, Turkey is encouraged to insist on its preconditions regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem and on not making any concessions.

    As you can see, there is no obstacle before Turkey because of Cyprus. That is, the road for Turkey is open! So it seems that there is not much job left for those who allege that they will 'open the way of Turkey'. Do these advantages ensured on the Loizidou case not show that Turkey is going forward 'with firm steps'?

    Accept it or not, the postponements on the Loizidou case are really a big success for Turkey! The Greek Cypriots, in spite of the fact that they have a decision of a court like the ECHR, cannot reach the conclusion they want against Turkey.

    The stance of the Council of Europe on the Loizidou case shows us which course the Cyprus problem will follow from now on. As long as Turkey does not decide by its own will to leave northern Cyprus, no one can easily force it to do this. And we shall continue to live here, as hostages without will, for many more years. However, no one would care about this!"

    [07] Views exchanged on Cyprus by the British Ambassador to Ankara and Prime Minister Erdogan

    Istanbul RADIKAL newspaper (Internet Version, 30.10.03) publishes the following commentary by Murat Yetkin under the title: "Military behind Sezer:

    The four-star general said, "It is a mistake to criticize Sezer." The other four-star commanders team approved. Meanwhile, President Sezer was standing in another corner of the Presidential Mansion's reception hall issuing a statement saying: "I will never allow anti-secular attitudes. This is not my invitation, it is the State's." Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok backed him up saying, "Whatever the President does is right."

    The other commanders for their part maintained: "We were not told in advance of Sezer's decision. However, when we found out we called, offered our respects and our support. We are in agreement on this point. Sezer's decision marks a turning point. You cannot simply ignore 65 percent of the electorate. Besides, not all of the remaining 35 percent are supportive of this tension. You have to solve the cloaks and headscarves in their heads in order for there to be no tension and to reach a solution. Write this because most of the people want someone to write it.They want to hear them. Nobody can divert the Turkish Republic off course."

    The topic turned to Cyprus: "I came, I let the headscarf issue go and I gave up Cyprus. It is not that simple." Another commander spoke up: "I hope that the Turkish Cypriot people do not make a mistake at the elections that might be hard to rectify because only if those parties supportive of Denktas win the elections will our hand against the EU be made stronger. If support for Denktas continues the EU will arrange its policy accordingly. No solution can be achieved by ignoring the legal rights stemming from the 1960 agreements or by adopting a submissive attitude. A solution will come through equality. Yet, the EU wants us to accept the Annan Plan, which was draw up closer to Greek Cypriot notions. They should see this is going to be impossible." Another officer steps in: "It must be seen that a solution on Cyprus can only be found through Denktas and by recognition of the rights of the Turkish side. Solution does not mean surrender."

    While we were discussing this, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had been forced to attend without his wife, has long since made a statement saying: "The gap between democracy and the Republic must be closed. I do not want to say too much about this. If necessary, I will take it up with Sezer during one of our weekly meetings. I do not want tension."

    Erdogan: "Don't try to pull a fast one on me!"

    Cyprus had fallen onto Erdogan's plate quite unexpectedly. Steadfastly avoiding questions on the headscarf issue, Erdogan was joined by the United Kingdom's Ambassador Peter Westmacott and Denmark's Ambassador Christian Hoppe. "We are following developments closely," said Hoppe. Egemen Bagis translated remaining faithful to all the details.

    Erdogan replied, "You might be following but there is only a year to go." Hoppe then said, "You probably do not mean one year until membership. "Erdogan replied: "No, but accession talks must start in a year's time. We are fulfilling all the criteria."

    At that point Westmacott joined in: "But a solution on Cyprus must be found before membership."

    Up until that moment Erdogan had been trying to speak in coded diplomatic terms, but the veins of the man from Kasimpasa filled up. He took one of the British ambassador's hands and raised his other hand saying, "Do not try to pull a fast one on me."

    Egemen Bagis translated in full street language.

    Westmacott both went red and laughed. Erdogan continued: "Do not try it. You said the Copenhagen Criteria. We are fulfilling them and rapidly putting them into practice. The Criteria make no mention of Cyprus whatsoever. Do not throw obstacles at us."

    Bagis had a tough job but translated this.

    Westmacott said: "But you know you have to solve it."

    Erdogan replied: "That is a different issue; do not use it as an excuse."

    The British ambassador said: "I am not making it an excuse." He then added teasingly: "You probably listened too much to Denktas during the Turkey-England football match and got influenced by him."

    Erdogan said: "We respect Denktas. However, if we had listened to him too much then we would have won the match. Denktas came to the match to watch us beat you, to see a victory."

    Westmacott then said: "But everybody won." Erdogan continued the verbal duel saying: "No, nobody has won yet." The British envoy said: "Inshallah [God willing], everybody will win."

    Erdogan turned to us and said: "At least he has learnt 'Inshallah'."

    Let us finish with a word from a commander: "Tomorrow is 30 October. Everything being argued today shall stay here. Tomorrow is a new day."

    [08] Views expressed by the military during the reception by Sezer on the 80th anniversary of the Turkish Republic

    Istanbul MILLIYET (Internet Version, 30.10.30) publishes the following commentary by Fikret Bila under the title: "Observations on the Cankaya reception":

    President Sezer has ended the controversy he created by deciding to invite dignitaries without their spouses to the reception at the Cankaya Mansion on the occasion of the Republic's 80th anniversary. The journalists recalled that the Justice and Development Party deputies, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Eredogan, and various circles were offended by the invitations that did not apply to spouses who wore Islamic headscarves and asked President Sezer to explain whether he would consider their reaction and change his approach in the future.

    Sezer's remarks indicated that the Cankaya Mansion ended the controversy and that the President will not invite spouses who wear headscarves to attend his receptions. President Sezer believes that his approach complies with the Republic's basic principles, which have to be respected. According to Sezer, his approach sets an example for the future.

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdogan reiterated several times during the reception that they do not want the matter to create tension. However, he conveyed the message that they do not approve of the Cankaya Mansion's approach by saying that a difference of opinion exists on democracy and the Republic and noted that they will try to narrow the gap. He asserted that he will discuss the matter with President Sezer when he finds an opportunity to do so.

    Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok said that he will not comment on President Sezer's decision. However, he indirectly supported Sezer by saying: "The highest official is always right."

    We had an opportunity to talk to President Sezer during the reception. We discussed the controversy over the dispatch of Turkish troops to Iraq. He said: "I0 believe that as far as Turkey is concerned, the question of Iraq is a closed subject." That was a message that the possibility of Turkey deploying troops in that country does not exist anymore.

    On his part, General Ozkok said that Turkish and US military officials at lower levels continue to exchange written messages on Iraq. However, he added that political decisions have to be made. He noted that Turkey preferred to deploy troops in Salah al-Din, which was said to be the first choice, but he recalled the reaction to that caused by various sensitivities. He said that the Turkish military forces preferred the area because it would facilitate logistics support. The journalists recalled the reports that the provisional administration might call for the withdrawal of Turkish troops in northern Iraq and asked him to comment. General Ozkok said: "The provisional administration demanding the withdrawal of the Turkish troops when the PKK [Workers Party of Kurdistan] threat continues to exist is illogical. However, there will not be a need for us to maintain our presence there when the PKK threat is removed."

    Ground Forces Commander Gen. Aytac Yalman also said that the political authorities have not made a decision on Iraq. Stressing that no decision has yet been made on where the Turkish troops might be deployed and the task to be assigned to them, he asserted that the political authorities should make a decision and instruct the military forces accordingly before the matter can be considered.

    General Yalman was asked to comment on the reports on what might happen after the elections in the "TRNC". He said: "What I would say is:The "TRNC" citizens must not make a decision they would regret later. They must not say in the future that they made the wrong decision. Carefully considering the situation and deciding accordingly will be useful."

    Commander of the Gendarmerie Forces Gen. Sener Eruygur also commented on the Cyprus problem. He said: "Every State has to deal with problems as long as it exists. The task of solving our country's problems in accordance with its interests is a matter of honor for us and for all our citizens. Saying 'give Cyprus away and be obedient to get rid of the problem' will be treachery. The Cyprus problem should be viewed from that viewpoint. We are shocked by the behavior of those who collaborate with the enemies of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots."

    Gen. Sener Eruygur took a firm stand on the criticisms leveled against the pro-Ataturkist trend, particularly the view that the trend does not want any change in the status quo. He asserted: "Kemalism is guided by reason and science. It would be stupid to view Kemalism as an ideology that has not changed for 70 years. Should we abandon the ideology that is aimed at modernizing Turkey? Should we go back a thousand years? Our Constitution is based on Ataturkist thought. Those who think otherwise are not in step with our Constitution and laws."

    Regarding the conviction that corruption is due to the secular system, General Eruygur said: "Those who blame Kemalism for immoral behaviour, including corruption, actually want to say that the ideology creates problems. The supporters of Ataturk are well-aware of the design. They will expose them. They will inform the people on what they plan to achieve. No one should doubt that. Those who plan to divide Turkey and put the clock back in the country will gradually fade away and Kemalism and the Republic will continue to exist in unity forever."

    General Eruygur asserted that the pro-Ataturkist trend is intentionally accused of being opposed to religion. He said: "An effort is made to accuse the pro-Ataturkist trend of being opposed to religion. Ataturk and his colleagues saved our national honor and the Islamic faith. Those who criticize Ataturk are upset because he saved our religion from those who tried to exploit it. That is why they are against Kemalism. Those who exploit the sincere religious feelings of our citizens to fill their pockets do not like Kemalism."

    The reception at the Cankaya Mansion seemed like a large platform on which President Sezer, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, General Ozkok, and the ministers and commanders outlined their views on topical issues.

    The outcome of the reception brought to light the fact that supporting the Republic and sharing its qualities is the primary condition and main factor for harmony among all the State organs.

    /SK


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