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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 03-12-05
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.231/03 05.12.03
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 "As long as Turkish troops remain in Cyprus, it is very difficult to start discussions"Under the above title, Turkish mainland daily ZAMAN newspaper (04.12.03) publishes an interview with European Union (EU) Commissioner for Enlargement Mr Gunther Verheugen. The questions and the answers are as follows:
Question: From what you say, I gather Cyprus is now a condition, but you never admit to that.
Answer: Cyprus cannot be a condition. It would be very unfair to say it is a condition. Turkey is not the only player, there are other actors as well. Everyone should be constructive about it and contribute to the solution. If I said a solution on the island was a condition or pre-condition for Turkey to get a date for negotiations, it would mean it was up to Greek Cyprus. That cannot be.
Question: But isn't that the case right now?
Answer: I said it to my Turkish friends from the very beginning. Nobody should be surprised. I told them that the problem would not be an obstacle to Cyprus' membership. In the first meeting I had with Denktas in 2000, I said that Cyprus would become a member on March 1, 2004. I said the same thing to Ismail Cem in 1999. I emphasized that the strategic conditions in the EU would be different after May 1, 2004. There is still time; a solution is in Turkey's best interests, above anyone else's.
Question: You say, 'go and solve your border problems with Greece' just to give a negotiation date, while you don't hesitate to accept Cyprus Greek, even though it has very big border problems. Isn't this a serious contradiction?
Answer: My friend, this is a well-known fact. Cyprus is already a candidate country, since 1994.
Question: Turkey also applied to the EU in 1959.
Answer: But Turkey was not an official candidate then. This is a problem I inherited it. This was the political situation when I assumed the office: Cyprus was a candidate and Turkey was not. Certain countries do not approve of Cyprus' membership unless the problem is solved. Another country announced it would block the membership of other candidates without a solution in Cyprus. Everything was deadlocked in 1999. In practice, this meant Cyprus would block the entire integration and prevent all of the other candidates' membership. I decided it could not continue like this. So our priority was to provide stability and security between the Baltic and Black Sea. The Cyprus issue needed to be eliminated as an obstacle to integration. And we did that.
Question: So you agreed to Greek blackmail?
Answer: This is not blackmail, but a political reality. I never made any evaluations or comments on the issue; I accepted it as a reality. If you like, you may criticize, but this is the case. I told Denktas that 105 million Europeans cannot wait for him to agree to find a solution with Clerides. Denktas knew it but did not accept it. He never realized that I would adopt different strategies. I am afraid he still doesn't.
Question: So are you teaching him a lesson now?
Answer: No. I still hope Denktas at this age, he will make the right decisions for his people.
Question: Didn't you contradict yourself in the Lipponen letter and Helsinki decisions with the 'obstacle' clause you appended in the Strategy Document?
Answer: No, I made it clear. Cyprus is not a condition and not a part of accession. It is not a part of Turkey's preparation for European standards. Cyprus is a side issue that you have to take into consideration.
Question: So if the problem is not solved, can Turkey start negotiations?
Answer: Its difficult to say. That's why we have appended the 'obstacle' clause in it.
Question: Then Cyprus is a condition!
Answer: No, it is not a condition either. Cyprus is a political reality. If the situation does not change in Cyprus, I cannot convince 15 or 25 countries to start negotiations with Turkey. The only country that does not accept one of our prospective members is Turkey. Everyone knows that the UN Security Council deems the permanent presence of Turkish soldiers on the island to be illegal. Do you think that we would start negotiations with a country that illegally has soldiers in one of our members' lands? I don't, this is very difficult, and it comes as no surprise. I always expressed this. The only difference is, for the first time, we put it in the report. We had to do it because if Turkey had known about such an obstacle at the last minute, it would have been a bigger surprise.
Question: Then why don't you say that until the Cyprus issue is solved, negotiations with Turkey is impossible?
Answer: I cannot say it is impossible. Finding a solution is not only in Turkey's hand. You give the impression that Turkey can solve the problem in one move.
Question: Didn't you create that impression in the report?
Answer: This is not true. The problem has other aspects as well. We are in constant contact with the Cyprus government to encourage it to start negotiations. We do not have a one-sided policy. We apply pressure on both sides.
Question: What do you think of Denktas as a statesman?
Answer: If you tamper with the voters' roll, then you are not a statesman.
Question: Are you accusing Denktas of tampering with the roll?
Answer: You only need to look at the numbers. This year there are 20,000 more voters than in 1998. The number of voters has increased by 4000 since September. This definitely does not stem from the birth-rate! Everyone knows Denktas gave citizenship to how many Turks. Despite the Turkish government's guarantee, I am still afraid the elections will be overshadowed.
Question: Do you have strong doubts concerning the elections?
Question: Do you think the elections will be rigged?
Answer: It is a bit difficult for me to continue this discussion. As you know, we do not recognize the TRNC as a ruling state. We do not accept its parliament either. We also do not regard its elections as the ones in democratic ruling countries. However, we realize that this election has political significance. We think that if a pro-EU party wins the election, the process in Cyprus could be accelerated. The elections could help Turkey to find a solution. Therefore, the elections should be conducted in a way that no one can claim it is not clear and fair.
Question: The Progress Report was expected to be grey, so to speak, but didn't you put a bit too much black in it?
Answer: If you look at Turkey's reform record in the last four years, I think the grey is a light grey. It is definitely not dark grey. In other words, the glass is more full than empty. The reforms are impressive, indeed.
Question: But the European media did not see the report that way.
Answer: The European media misled public opinion a little. They evaluated the report out of context. Unfortunately, it was leaked to media before our political conviction became clear. I was very upset about it but I was not responsible for that. The media reflected the raw report, without the commission's comment. The report needs political interpretation; it should be evaluated in perspective and context. It is my and the commission's duty to interpret the report. It made me very sad to see the report in the media without a political context. But I think the report is very positive.
Question: There were comments in Europe that the report was a slap in Turkey's face.
Answer: This is definitely not true.
Question: But the perception in Turkey is that the report is not very positive. This is not true.
Answer: The important thing here is the commission's interpretation, which should be considered as a reference. I never interfere in the technical parts of a report, while it is being written. I have never made directives to my staff, saying, 'I want this and that result'. I never do that. If I did that, the report loses all its integrity. Our reports' integrity is very high because everyone knows that the reports are not politically influenced. After the technical writing, the political interpretation phase comes into play and this is my job. And I say Turkey has made impressive progress. The speed and quality of the reforms have seriously increased. This was the best evaluation that you could have gotten.
Question: Some think the commission and you strengthened the anti-EU hand in Turkey with the report.
Answer: That is not true. The report pointed out the deficiencies in Turkey as well. If we did not write this and Turkey learnt about it at the end of the process, would that have been better? We needed to say this now. Perhaps, the problem for Turkey is that now there are no middle or long term priorities anymore, there are only ones that need to be done in the short term. Turkey is running out of time, everything should be done by the end of next year. This is a bit difficult but if you compare the things that have been done so far with the ones are still to be done, then you see the positive things are very strong. And the negative things can be overcome.
Question: Wasn't it a mistake to put the letters q, x, w in the report?
Answer: No, I don't agree that it was a mistake. It was very important to draw attention to implementation problems in Turkey. Question: But everyone thought it was as if you wanted the Turkish alphabet to change.
Answer: Nobody wants Turkey to change its alphabet. The only thing we wanted to say was not to prevent the registering Kurdish names. I cannot interfere in how you do this.
Question: Then 5 million Turkish people living in the EU should be given the right to use Turkish characters in their names, shouldn't they?
Answer: This is a rather technical subject. However, I would like to stress that nobody wants Turkey to change its alphabet. The Turkish alphabet is an expression of Turkish culture and tradition, which we respect so much. The thing that should be done is to find a technical solution for this technical issue. Our impression is many bureaucrats in Ankara - by the way there aren't only bureaucrats in Brussels, you also have many bureaucrats - want to create a political problem by using cultural problems.
Question. While mentioning many issues in the report, you avoid a particular problem. Why didn't you mention the headscarf in your report?
Answer: This is a very very difficult issue. There is no common, clear European standard on this; to create a standard is difficult: In what cases wearing headscarf can be restricted or totally prohibited; or if the headscarf is a symbol of a certain political or religious group. This issue has been discussed in Germany and the Constitutional Court decided that it could be prohibited. The matter is outside our authority. As long as no such standard exists in Europe, we cannot decide whether or not these rules are a violation. I leave this matter to Turkey's discretion.
Question: So this issue will not be mentioned in the future reports either.
Answer: It definitely will not.
 Three Turkish Ministers will illegally visit the occupied areas to reportedly support Denktas one week before the "elections"Turkish mainland NTV television (04.12.03) broadcast that three Ministers of Erdogan's government in Turkey will be illegally visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus this weekend in order to express their political and economic support to the occupation regime. NTV broadcast the following: "The government is landing on the TRNC en masse before the critical elections. Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullatif Sener, Energy Minister, Hilmi Guler and State Minister Kursat Tuzmen will be visiting Cyprus over the weekend.
The first instalment of the loan to the tune of $160 million is expected to be released during the visit of the Ministers.
Sener, Guler, and Tuzmen will visit Cyprus over the weekend to display Turkey's support at the highest level. The Ministers, however, are not going to Cyprus empty-handed. The sleeves have been rolled up to extend the financial help, which will put the present government at ease prior to the elections and constitute a concrete example of Turkey's support. The procedures under way at the Treasury for the loans, which the Turkish Cypriot businessmen have been waiting for, were completed and Turkey will release the first instalment of the loan to the tune of 30 billion Turkish lira as of this week.
The meaning of this loan is as follows: Turkey will provide financial assistance to the tune of $140 million to 17 tourism projects in the TRNC.
The TRNC Development Bank will provide additional financial assistance to the tune of $20 million to be used jointly by Turkish and Cypriot entrepreneurs.
In the meantime, Sener will give the Turkish Cypriots the message that they are not alone by participating in television programs. The visit of Tuzmen, in turn, has another meaning. Some circles believe that Tuzmen's visit is important because it shows that the customs union agreement signed with TRNC is on the table even though there are statements issued to the effect that it will not be submitted to the Assembly. The same circles, however, say that no clear-cut statements will be issued to this end as not to prompt the reaction of the EU, adding that the visit of the Turkish ministers in itself is important.
Guler's statements to the effect that the electricity, water, and communications projects will be launched are being interpreted as a sign that the most important problems of the TRNC will be resolved".
 Denktas reiterates that he considers Cyprus as Turkey's provinceTurkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (05.12.03) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktas admitted yesterday that he considers Cyprus as one of Turkey's provinces.
In statements during a meeting with a delegation from Turkey's Marmara and Bogazlar municipalities, Mr Denktas said: "Cyprus means for Motherland Turkey the same as the cities of Aydin and Bursa". Mr Denktas argued that they know that when Turkey defends the Turkish Cypriots, at the same time it defends its own geopolitical rights.
 PDM reiterates accusations for internal and external interferences in the "elections"Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (05.12.03) reports that Mehmet Davulcu, general secretary of the Communal Liberation Party (CLP) and "MP candidate" with the Peace and Democracy Movement (PDM), has said that there are both internal and external interferences in the 14 December "elections". Mr Davulcu described these interferences as "perturbing" and added that there are circles in Turkey and in the occupied areas, which have the power to interfere. This power, he pointed out, is in the hands of the authorities in Turkey and the occupied areas.
 Yasar Yakis: "Solution in Cyprus is a must"According to local Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (05/12/03), the chairman of the Turkish Grand National Assembly EU Harmonization Committee and former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, speaking at a round table meeting on "Turkey EU relations: Looking Towards Future" at a seminar organized by the Turkish Tourism Investors' Association on "EU and Turkey Tourism Legislation- Policies-Opportunities", referred to the so-called elections in the occupied area on 14 December, and said that Turkey should not intervene in the so-called elections .
Admitting that reaching a solution of the Cyprus problem is not easy Yakis said: "Non solution in Cyprus is not a solution, and this situation is not in favor of Turkey as well. Solution is absolutely necessary."
Speaking at the same meeting another former Turkish Foreign Minister and former ambassador, Ilter Turkmen in his turn said that for Turkey the solution of the Cyprus problem is as important as the Copenhagen criteria and added : "Until 1 May either we have to solve the Cyprus problem or to prove that we are not responsible for the non-solution ,because whoever you ask in Europe they will give the `TRNC's/ and Turkey's addresses as the side responsible for the non-solution .We have to make up clear in our minds whether we want a solution or not , we can not solve this issue by simple statements: 'Are we sacrificing Cyprus for the sake of EU?' "
Journalist Yalcin Dogan in his turn said that he does not think that the opposition in the occupied area will be successful in the so-called elections and urged Turkey to take a brave step until May and recognize, as he put it, "the Greek Cypriot side".
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Mehmet Ali Birand on the Loizidou caseIn his regular column in Turkish Daily News (05.12.03, internet version) Mehmet Ali Birand refers inter alia, to Loizidou case. Under the title "'Religious terror' is a more suitable definition", he writes the following on the issue:
"The Turkish Republic has given a name to the recent attacks: RELIGIOUS TERROR. This is a correct definition.
In fact the description "Islamic terror" bothered all of us. An impression arose that every Muslim favours terrorism and that the Islamic religion provoked terrorism.
Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a wise step by labelling it "Religious Terror." Because religion is the basis of the events we came face to face with. There is no need to conceal it. It may be called 'Islamic terror' but in this description, the emphasis on Islam becomes a matter of primary importance.
Hence, the Government got rid of the pressure on them.
If he had not given it a name, the suspicions would have increased and people would have said, "As you can see, they can not bring themselves to say it. In this way they protect the terrorists." If the government had called the events "Islamic terror," their own base would have revolted.
Thus, we take the middle course.
But this is not enough.
What is expected from the Justice and Development Party (JDP) today is to be the initiator of the fight against terrorism, to raise their voices and try to find the responsible ones by using all the opportunities they have.
The JDP has nothing to gain from these kinds of marginal groups.
Loizidu lawsuit is clearer
The understanding reached between Turkey and Ministers Committee of European Council was not comprehended properly.
Two experts discussed this subject on a MANSET programme (CNN TURK at 17.00) on Monday.
One of them was Daryal Batibay, General Director of Multilateral Works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the other one was Riza Turmen, a judge in the European Court.
I can summarize what they said as follows:
1 - The understanding formula is based on the solution in Cyprus. If a solution is attained there will not be a problem any more. But if this problem continues, the same lawsuits will be filed again and Turkey may come face to face with billions in compensation. In the period until a solution is attained, the Court postponed the decision of "Loizidou's return home." The other decision on "compensation" was paid by Turkey.
2 - Now, the European Court will evaluate the Compensation Commission founded by the TRNC and decide on whether this commission is effective or not. If the Court accepts the existence of this commission, the Cypriot Greeks demanding compensation from Turkey will apply to this commission first. If the Cypriot Greeks does not accept the suggestion of the Commission, they will apply to the European Court and a very long process will begin.
3 - This formula will make Turkey feel relieved until the end of 2005. If a solution is attained in this period, all files will be closed and moreover, in this short period it will be easy for Turkey escape European Council control.
4 - The decision of the Council was reached with a vote of 34-2. This means that Greece and Cyprus were isolated. Thus, Turkey got what it wanted by means of a rationalist and persuasive policy.
Although this result is not regarded as a victory, this will make Turkey feel better.
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