|Sunday, 15 December 2019|
Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 03-11-11
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.213/03 11.11.03
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 The Turkish Foreign Minister assesses the EU Progress Report. Details about Turkeyīs efforts to take the paragraph on Cyprus outIstanbul SABAH newspaper (10.11.03) publishes the following interview with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul under the title: "We have made great efforts to change the section on Cyprus, but we were not successful":
Question: How do you feel about the EU's Progress Report if the section about Cyprus is not taken into account? It seems that we have many pluses and minuses.
Answer: It is imperative that we take a cautious approach to the report and make realistic assessments. If we are overwhelmed by anger and make emotional comments, we would fall into a trap set by those who are against Turkey's accession. It is a positive report from the standpoint of the related political criteria.
Question: In fact, it was the most encouraging report issued so far, was not it?
Answer: Yes, everybody closely interested in the EU's affairs can easily see that. It refers to the progress made by Turkey. We are, however, also aware of the fact that we have some shortcomings in implementing our policies.
Question: Besides the section about Cyprus, was there any other conclusion in the report, which surprised you?
Answer: If we do not take Cyprus into consideration, there was actually nothing else that came as a surprise. I found it very encouraging. The report confirmed our government's determination to implement its policies. They know that the government is strongly committed, but say that there is some resistance from the bureaucracy in Turkey.
Question: What is your opinion about the bureaucracy's resistance?
Answer: I think it is very normal. You cannot change everything overnight. We have set up a committee responsible for monitoring the process of implementing reforms and I am serving as its chairman. The Minister of Interior and the Minister of Justice are also among its members. We frequently hold meetings in order to discuss whether the laws we have passed through the National Assembly are implemented smoothly or there are any shortcomings. We also discuss whether the related regulations have been put into force.
Question: Should not those laws be actually aimed at satisfying our own requirements, not only those of the EU?
Answer: You are certainly right. We are going to take those steps even if our accession to the EU drops from the agenda, because we believe that they are necessary as part of our political goals. We are firmly determined to ensure that democratic standards in Turkey match those in the EU member countries. In other words, we are enacting those laws not in order to satisfy the EU's demands, but to grant the Turkish people their rights. Nevertheless, we will never give up our plan to join the EU.
Question: The present picture shows that there are many groups within the EU opposing Turkey's accession.
Answer: It is also very normal, because it has a pluralistic system. Some people oppose Turkey's membership due to ideological considerations. They believe that the EU is a Christian club. Some other groups argue that Turkey should not be admitted because they fear that their economic interests could be affected adversely. Some others do not want to share the EU's funds with Turkey. We should not take any step that would help those groups achieve their goals. Therefore, we have formulated a new strategy. We have a team, which will make intensive efforts in order to influence the European public opinion. Their efforts will not be limited to meetings with MPs, but also include contacts with leading opinion leaders and journalists in order to brief them about Turkey's possible contributions to the EU.
Question: What kind of changes could a Muslim country's admission to the EU bring about?
Answer: It should not be regarded as a matter concerning only Turkey and the EU. A broader perspective is necessary. It is essential to demonstrate that a Muslim and democratic country can ensure maximum respect for human rights, achieve transparency and match European standards in terms of public order. It is also vital for global peace.
Question: How could our eventual accession to the EU affect the Islamic world? In fact, they believe that we have already joined the EU.
Answer: Democratization and human rights are equally important in those countries. We are going to set a good example for them. In my meetings with government officials of other countries, I expound on the benefits to be derived by the international community when we join the EU. I say: "This is a major project which you should not hinder due to the EU's small interests." In fact, some Europeans, who approach the matter from a wider perspective, are aware of that fact.
Question: You have just said that there were some shortcomings in implementing policies. Now, the headscarf issue and debates about the public domain are on our agenda. Another issue, which has captured my interest, is the fact that the headscarf issue was not mentioned in the progress report. What is your assessment about it?
Answer: It is not possible to assert that everything they do is hundred percent correct. Indeed you have a point, because this is an issue concerning personal rights. Their ignorance of such issues lead to the conclusion that the EU criticizes some human rights violations, but turns a blind eye to some others. It is not possible to claim that those criticisms are unjustified. I believe that the problem will be resolved if all the parties concerned take a broad-minded approach.
Question: Now, let us talk about Cyprus. An intensive round of telephone diplomacy is said to have taken place before the progress report was released. It is alleged that you called Solana, Verhaugen and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in order to persuade them to delete the paragraph about Cyprus. Were those reports true?
Answer: Of course, Cyprus is not among the political criteria, which are required to be fulfilled. This fact was also confirmed by Verhaugen. It is, however, not possible to disregard the current mood in Europe. Every official we talk with there speaks about the Cyprus question. Everybody wants the problem to be resolved. Neither the Turkish government nor the Turkish Cypriot side insists that the status quo should be maintained. The prevailing opinion in Europe is that the Turkish side has taken an uncompromising stand.
Question: It is only about the Cyprus question I guess.
Answer: Yes, about Cyprus. Actually, all the previous governments have followed an uncompromising policy. Our policy is clearly different from theirs. We are in favor of finding a solution to that problem. Both sides, however, must take steps in order to resolve their dispute. It would not be fair to expect such steps to be taken only by the Turkish Cypriot side. They should be blamed for only a part of the problem. A mistake was made in the past and the Greek Cypriot side was admitted to the EU before resolving its problems.
Question: Could we revert to the report's conclusions about Cyprus?
Answer: I wished that the paragraph in question was not included in the report and I actually made efforts for that purpose. There were intensive efforts in that context. You will probably recall that the Cyprus question was described as a problem when Turkey's membership status was approved in Helsinki. Verhaugen and Solana came to Turkey to convey a letter from the Finnish Prime Minister, who was then serving as the EU's President.
Question: It was followed by heated debates as to whether it should become a part of the official document.
Answer: Recently, I had to draw attention to that letter. I had frequent conversations with Verhaugen.
Question: Did Berlusconi intervene?
Answer: Yes, he did.
Question: Did Berlusconi use his influence to change that word implying a certainty?
Answer: As you have just said, the first draft of the document included such a definitive word. The original sentence read: "If the Cyprus question is not resolved, it would certainly obstruct Turkey's endeavors on the road to EU membership. After negotiations, the word "would" was replaced with "could." We subsequently exerted efforts in order to replace it with a better word, but...[ellipses as published]
Question: Did you ask them to delete that sentence?
Answer: Yes, I made efforts, but I was not successful.
Question: The Finnish Prime Minister's letter, which you have raised in your talks with EU officials, was received by then Prime Minister Ecevit, who has recently said that your government was not effective and persistent enough.
Answer: Ecevit might have excuses. He probably could not follow the events. Could you please tell me what the previous government could have done if it were still in power? How many prime ministers would have visited Turkey? How many European countries did Ecevit visit and meet with their leaders? Has any other leader toured as many countries as Tayyip Erdogan did and held meetings with their prime ministers? Those who have missed historical opportunities are now criticizing us.
Question: Former Foreign Minister Ismail Cem has said: "Unfortunately, Cyprus has been included in official documents as a precondition for the first time.^‘
Answer: Cem has served as foreign minister. Therefore, I would expect him to make a different assessment. Instead, he has taken a populist approach probably because he is now the leader of a political party.
Question: Although you say that Cyprus is not a prerequisite for Turkey's accession, the section in question could be interpreted that way. Are you sure that it will not be set as a condition in the future? Are we actually deceiving ourselves?
Answer: Resolution of the Cyprus question would have an incredibly positive effect on Turkey's admission to the EU. As the Foreign Minister, I could not deny that fact. We will make every possible effort in good faith.
Question: Speaking of a solution, what will happen in Cyprus? The general ^”election^‘ is drawing closer.
Answer: The Cyprus issue must be assessed very carefully too. We must analyze our past, present and future positions. It is probably difficult to take a step in Cyprus as the ^”elections^‘ will be held pretty soon. It would also reflect an optimistic approach. The ^”TRNC^‘ however, will make sincere efforts in order to find a solution after the ^”election^‘.
Question: It is likely that a coalition ^”government^‘ will be formed after the election. Could there be any change if Denktas keeps his position as the chief negotiator?
Answer: There is a democratic system in Cyprus. Above all, we hope that it will be a fair election. We are confident that no event that could cast a shadow on the election results will take place. Besides, international observers have been invited to watch the election process. I believe that a new approach will be adopted after the election no matter which party comes into power. Denktas and other leaders will make careful assessments at this crucial juncture and take steps accordingly.
Question: If nothing changes, what stance will Turkey take?
Answer: Turkey will do its part too. As I have just said, accession to the EU is a very important project. It is an issue which concerns our future. Of course, we will discuss the matter if things take such a turn.
Question: The EU has raised the Cyprus issue. There is a conviction that it would find other excuses, such as the alphabet issue even if the Cyprus question is resolved.
Answer: That possibility cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, we must overcome such obstacles. There are some Europeans, who are against our admission. Why should we shelve this major project concerning our future simply because some Europeans do not want us? We will maintain our struggle and do not fall into their trap.
Question: Have you ever heard any excuse that you found unfair in any meeting you held as foreign minister? The performance of some other candidates, such as Poland is worse than ours.
Answer: Of course, there were such excuses. Nonetheless, we should not forget that we rejected proposals twice in the past. Turkey made mistakes too.
Question: We are not going to send troops to Iraq. Why has the United States changed its mind and decided not to request troops from us?
Answer: When we sought authorization from the National Assembly, we said that we would assess the prevailing conditions and send troops after making a final decision. As a result of negotiations we conducted amid changing conditions, we came to the conclusion that sending Turkish troops there would hardly contribute to improvement of the situation in line with our vision. We discussed the matter with the United States and made that decision.
Question: Did you set any condition in return for sending troops during the talks held with the United States? For example, did you discuss PKK/KADEK [Workers Party of Kurdistan/Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan]?
Answer: Of course, we did. I had intensive consultations with the US Secretary of State before making that decision. We discussed the need to maintain an unrelenting struggle against the PKK's terror campaign. In fact, the fight against terror would not be effective if the United States does not act with great determination. It was they who raised the issue and assured us that they would take every action against terror without overlooking any possibility. It was extremely important from our standpoint.
Question: According to sources, you also demanded that Turkish companies be awarded more contracts in Iraq.
Answer: It is true. Turkey does not want to contribute to Iraq only by sending its troops. It wants to assume a key economic and political role in its reconstruction. In fact, hundreds of Turkish businessmen are actively involved in economic activities in Iraq. We have confirmed our mutual intentions for our involvement in major projects.
Question: Was there any connection between the $8.5 billion loan and the decision not to send troops?
Answer: There is definitely no relation between this issue and that loan. We have said that at the very beginning and I want to repeat it now. Before our Treasury Minister signed the loan agreement, a provision stating that sending troops was not a precondition was included in the document. We can draw that credit facility within one year if we consider it necessary.
Question: Many people sighed with relief after hearing the statement that Turkey would not send troops. Were you among those people?
Answer: I believe that deployment of our troops would be necessary if conditions permitted. It seems, however, that the conditions are not suitable for doing that for the time being. Resistance and terror has escalated there. Therefore, it is better not to send our soldiers there under the present circumstances.
Question: Could the issue of sending troops come up in the future again? Answer: Some people argue that we should return the authorization vested with us to the National Assembly. There is no such mechanism and it never existed. We were granted a similar authorization during the war, but we did not invoke it.
Question: If you do not return the authorization, you will not approach the National Assembly if you eventually decide to send troops?
Answer: No, we will not go to the National Assembly again. We will invoke the authorization granted to us if such a need arises. I hope that it will not be necessary.
Question: The joint communique issued after the summit meeting in Damascus included a reference to terror organizations in Iraq. It was unprecedented.
Answer: The summit meeting was very successful. The countries neighboring Iraq, which were not able to come together in the past, held four meetings in such a short period. It was an extremely significant event. The joint communique reflected our common concerns, such as preserving Iraq's territorial integrity. In addition, it included a paragraph about the need to struggle against terror organizations and armed groups in that country.
Question: This will be my last question. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recently informed Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office that he wanted to have a meeting with him, but he was told that it was not possible due to Erdogan's busy schedule. Did not telling Sharon not to come here actually constitute a political message in the light of the Damascus meeting, the decision not to send troops and the fact that we are in the holy month of Ramadan now?
Answer: As you know, the Prime Minister is really very busy. He had other meetings arranged beforehand and we had guests to meet on that day. Therefore, it was not possible.
 Reference to Cyprus by the Representative of the EU Commission to Turkey during a visit to AdanaAnkara Anatolia news agency (10.11.03) reported from the Turkish city of Adana that the European Commission's Turkey Representative Hans Joerg Kretschmer said on Monday that ''Cyprus'' would become a member of the EU and that Turkey had to determine its attitude by taking into consideration this fact.
Kretschmer talked about ''Turkey's EU membership and EU policies,'' during his visit to the Adana Trade Chamber.
Noting that in case of Turkey's membership to the EU, Turkey had to fulfill all the EU laws, rules and acquis and it had to give assurances about it before its membership, Kretschmer said that in addition to EU countries which focused on political issues, there were also other EU countries which were concerned about the issue of migration.
Recalling that the Strategy Document referred to the Cyprus issue, Kretschmer said that it was not seen as a political criterion, but it was also assessed with this dimension.
Noting that Cyprus would become a member of the EU on May 1, 2004, Kretschmer said that Turkey had to determine its attitude by taking into consideration this fact because this issue would also be taken up in the full membership negotiations of Turkey. If this was not the case, it would mean non-recognition of one member state by one of the candidates, he said, adding that this had to be solved and the EU hoped that. ''This is important not only for Turkey, but also for Cyprus,'' he said.
Mr Kretschmer also said that the Progress Report covered the reforms that Turkey fulfilled recently and stated that it also underlined that if studies on the issue continued, there could be positive developments regarding the negotiation process of Turkey.
Stating that the Turkish government also accepted that issues in the Progress Report reflected objectively the situation of Turkey, Kretschmer said that arrangements and decisions which were taken on adjustment to political criteria should be felt in daily life.
 The results of the research ^”Women in Cyprus society^‘ will be presented tomorrow at the University of CyprusTurkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (11.11.03) reports that the results of the research ^”Women in Cyprus society^‘ will be presented tomorrow evening at the University of Cyprus, in Nicosia.
As the paper writes this is the first extensive research that refers to the women who live in Cyprus and belong to various communities. The opening speech of the conference will be made by Mr Andrian van der Meer, the EU ambassador to Nicosia. The conference will be in English. The research examines the position of the women in Cyprus society, their special needs, their expectations, the way they view the limited free movement after the 23rd of April and the EU. The research was conducted by the organizations ^”Hands across the divine^‘ and ^”Peace Center^‘ with a sample of two thousand women belonging to the various communities of Cyprus.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Editorial in AFRIKA criticizes the Turkish Cypriot opposition for not reacting to General Ozkokīs statements on CyprusThe main editorial in the local Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (11/11/03) strongly criticizes the local Turkish Cypriot opposition for remaining silent against the open threat of the Turkish Chief of the General Staff, General Hilmi Ozkok who openly stated that even if Turkey is admitted in the EU, Turkey^“s strategic interests in Cyprus are such that Turkey cannot withdraw from the occupied part of Cyprus. (Tr. Note: For Ozkok^“s interview to RADIKAL daily see Turkish Mass Media Bulletin No212/03 dd 10.11.03 News Item 1).
The editorial further says that ^”the hostage policy of Turkey has never so far been so clearly spelled out. And if we really had an effective opposition in our country a strong reaction would have been demonstrated and if necessary raise this issue before the international fora^‘.
The editorial goes on quoting what General Ozkok said and adds: ^”Is there anybody in Cyprus after this statement still dreaming to win elections and become EU member?^‘
^”Do you still believe in those who tell you ^—Put your seal and you will be an EU member?^‘
^”Did you not realize that after this statement we have to struggle against Ankara in order to reach to a solution and become EU member?^‘, the editorial concludes.
 Ignorant Cyprus policies of the status quoUnder the above title, Turkish Daily News (11.11.03) publishes the following article by Cuneyt Ulsever:
^”When the EU' s "Progress Report on Turkey" was released, many people in Turkey said that they were astonished to hear that "solving the Cyprus problem" has become a preliminary condition for Turkey to receive a date from the EU to start membership negotiations.
Many in Turkey said that Cyprus is not a part of the Copenhagen Criteria. Thus, the group of status quo protectors in Turkey has felt once more that the EU has proven to us that they do not want Turkey anyway and thus they are always creating excuses and new conditions for Turkey.
It may well be argued that there are strong forces in Europe which do not want Turkey in the EU. Many people in Europe have already started asking the question "does Turkey belong in Europe?" regardless of the issue whether Turkey will fulfill the Copenhagen Criteria or not.
I myself believe that EU countries need Turkey in the EU for their own sake. But I also believe that the decision procedure will not be easy.
Turkey has a lot more to do without really knowing the final outcome.
But what annoys me in the EU discussion are people who suspect the EU's "real intentions".
As they have the right to suspect the EU' s real intentions, I also have the same right to suspect their "real intentions". Do they, in fact want to keep the status quo that openly serves their benefits?
In reality do they want to stop Turkey's progress? Do they want to deny modernization? I have some questions to ask them:
1- Donīt those who are shocked by the demand to solve "the Cyprus problem" in the Progress Report know that Turkey has promised to solve both the Cyprus and Aegean problems by the end of this year or else have accepted the matters to be brought to the international Court of Hague in the agreement she signed with the EU in 1999 in Helsinki?
2- They also say that "the Annan Plan" is a mutual plot of the U.S. and the EU. Why do they have to become allies on the Cyprus issue? But is it not also affecting Russia, China, all Islamic countries, all Caucasian countries that say that "Turkey's policies are wrong in Cyprus?"
It is perhaps only on the solution to the "Cyprus issue" that the whole countries agree upon in the world.
3- Rauf Denktas says that the EU ignores the rights of Turkish Cypriots given to them by the 1960 Constitution. It is difficult to understand what he means by that as both the Annan Plan and the 1960 Constitution talk about two lower-states and one unique upper-state. Moreover, has not Mr. Denktas turned down all previous agreements when he unilateraly declared his own republic in 1983?
4- Talking about the inescapable reality that the Turkish Army will fall into a position of invading the EU soil after May 2004 when the Republic of Cyprus enters the EU, the Chief of Staff said that the EU will not send her soldiers to Northern Cyprus to fight against the Turkish Army but may apply an economic embargo. He added that if Turkey has a strong economy then there will be no problem for Turkey at all.
It seems like all soldiers who ail when they talk about economics, Mr. Hilmi Ozkok seems to be unaware of the fact that 65 percent of Turkish exports are to EU countries but imports from EU countries to Turkey constitute only 1-2 percent.
Thus, the EU economic embargo on Turkey means disaster for Turkey.
The last castle of the Turkish status quo is Cyprus. They know that if Turkey fails there as well, it will be the final end. Therefore, they will protect Cyprus with their full capacity. ^”