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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 04-01-02
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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.01/04 01-02.01.04
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Statements on Cyprus by the Turkish Prime MinisterAnkara Anatolia news agency (01.01.04) reported that the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Thursday replied to questions of reporters whether Turkey would solve the Cyprus issue in 2004 and if Turkey could get a date to open negotiations with the EU in 2004.
Prime Minister Erdogan said: "The first thing to be done about the Cyprus issue is to form a `government in the TRNC'. We hope that Mr Talat can form the `government'. After the `government' is formed in `TRNC', there is the May 1 process in front of us. There is an Annan plan on the table in this May 1 process. We hope that the Cyprus problem will be solved and a fair and lasting solution by which the two sides reach compromise can be found by initiatives to be carried out within the scope of the Annan plan on May 1.
The Foreign Ministry and General Staff officials have worked on this issue. They have prepared a draft at the end of their initiatives. They briefed us on their initiatives. We asked them questions about their work. They will now work on these questions. We will evaluate this issue in the new year. We have passed reform packages because we believe we can get a date to start negotiations with the EU in December. We will put these packages into practice. We will fulfil our duties."
Turkey was determined to make the necessary preparations for the negotiation process in December 2004, Erdogan added and went on:
"But, we always say that this is not the end of the world. Our country doesn't lose anything with the initiatives we are exerting. Our people gain from our efforts. As to how we wish to join the EU, the EU should also wish that Turkey will be its member. Not only Turkey but also the EU would gain from Turkey's membership." Prime Minister Erdogan concluded by saying that the Foreign Ministry and the General Staff worked on the Cyprus issue in conformity and that nobody should try to cause a row between the government and the army at a time when the world was welcoming 2004.
 Extract on Cyprus from the Turkish President's new year messageAnkara Anatolia news agency (31.12.03) reported from Ankara that President Ahmet Necdet Sezer issued a New Year message on Wednesday.
Referring to the Cyprus problem President Ahmet Necdet Sezer expressed the wish the year 2004 to be one in which the Cyprus issue would reach a lasting and fair solution and the security and prosperity of the Turkish Cypriots would be taken under guarantee.
"Our country which wishes sincerely a solution in Cyprus, also has the political will about this issue," said Sezer.
In his new year message, President Sezer alleged that "the established democratic institutional structures and legal system of the "TRNC" were confirmed once again by the general "elections" which were held in "TRNC" on December 14, 2003. Sezer said that "the international society should accept this reality and assess correctly the results of the elections." President Sezer said that efforts regarding the formation of the new "government" started in "TRNC", he hoped the effort will be concluded in a short time, and added:
"We think that a compromise and comprehensive solution in Cyprus could be provided on the basis of the existing realities on the island also by benefiting from the steps taken by the Turkish Cypriot side and the confidence building measures it proposed in Cyprus. Everybody should know that we are ready to do our mission in that regard. Turkey will continue to support `TRNC' and the Turkish Cypriot people. We want our Turkish Cypriot friends to save themselves from unjust embargoes which caused them to suffer for long years and we want them to integrate with the international society and Europe".
Sezer noted that the installation of peace and stability in the region where Turkey was situated and benefiting from economic development and cooperation opportunities in a way that was to the interest of all regional countries was among the basic priorities of Turkish foreign policy.
"Turkey will continue to develop its relations with all of its neighbours on the basis of mutual interest and respect for their internal affairs also in the year 2004," said Sezer.
 Turks optimistic for new year. Opinion poll shows increase in public support for JDPTurkish Daily News (01.01.04) reports that the majority of Turks are hopeful that 2004 will be a better year as compared to 2003, and only a small part of society feels that worse days are on the way, a public opinion poll revealed.
The poll, conducted by the respected pollster, the Ankara-based ANAR, has shown that 60 percent of Turks believe 2004 will be better than 2003 and that 19.6 percent expect no change, while 13.4 percent said they were pessimistic about the new year.
That optimism is apparently fed by and coincides with growing support for the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) and a positive feeling about improvements in the economic area.
According to the poll, conducted in 12 different provinces, Turks welcomed the decrease in inflation and general improvements in the economic field as the most positive developments of 2003.
Approximately 40 percent of respondents cited the economy as the area where the most positive developments of 2003 took place. Other favorable developments included parliamentary rejection of a government motion to allow deployment of U.S. troops on Turkish soil to open a northern front on Iraq, a rise in the minimum wage and reform laws enacted to achieve harmonization with EU standards.
Turks appeared to be unmoved by the capture of Iraq's toppled leader, Saddam Hussein, after a months-long manhunt: Only 1.9 percent of those surveyed cited the capture as the most positive development of 2003.
Car bomb attacks blamed on local accomplices of the global al-Qaeda terrorist network were cited by more than 40 percent of participants as the most important event of 2003. A total of 24 percent said Recep Tayyip Erdogan's becoming prime minister was the most important development of the last year.
The ANAR poll revealed growing public support for the ruling JDP, as 41.3 percent of the poll's 2,086 participants said they would vote for the ruling party if parliamentary elections were to be held today.
The JDP won 34.1 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections held on November 3, 2002.
A majority of participants -- 59.1 percent -- also said that the government's performance in December had been successful. That figure was 43.5 percent in October and 45.1 percent in November.
The opposition Republican People's Party (RPP) follows the JDP with 11.7 percent, demonstrating a slight decrease in the rate of support for the pro- secularist party since the November 3 polls.
The RPP became the second party to be represented in Parliament by winning 14.8 percent of vote in the latest elections.
According to the ANAR poll, pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DEHAP) would become the third-largest party in an election, with 5.1 percent of the vote. That figure represents a slight increase as compared to the party's 4.7-percent vote in the November polls but is still not enough to give a seat in the 550-member Parliament to the party due to the 10 percent threshold.
Others are controversial businessman-turned-politician Cem Uzan's Young Party (YP), with 4.7 percent; the True Path Party (TPP) with 4.6 percent, and the conservative Nationalist Action Party (NAP) with 4.1 percent.
The poll obtained a similar list of preferred parties when the participants were asked to say which party they would vote for in the upcoming local elections. Accordingly, the JDP appears to be taking the lead with 37.7 percent of the vote, followed by the RPP with 11.7 percent; DEHAP with 5.1 percent; the NAP with 4.3 percent and the TPP with 2.5 percent.
But the results of the elections, scheduled to take place on March 28, may differ significantly given that 18.4 percent of participants were still undecided as to which party to vote for.
 Twenty-one mukhtars in Morphou area are preparing to organize protest actions against the possible return of Morphou to its Greek Cypriot legal ownersTurkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (02.01.04) reports that the information published in the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot Press regarding some provisions of the new solution package prepared in Ankara, according to which the Morphou area will be returned to its Greek Cypriot legal owners, created unrest in the above-mentioned area.
According to KIBRIS, twenty-one heads of villages (mukhtars) in Morphou area have gotten into action "against the concessions". Mr Yasar Cahitoglu, chairman of the Morphou Mukhtars' Association issued a statement yesterday noting that today they would inform the public for their action plan during a press conference.
 Twenty one parties to contest local electionsNTV television (31.12.03) broadcast that twenty one parties out of the 23 which applied to contest the March 28 local elections have been approved by the Supreme Electoral Board (SEB) to stand.
The SEB announced the names of the parties that had met all of the requirements to contest the election on Tuesday. They include the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) and the opposition Republican People's Party (RPP).
However, the Social Democratic People's Party (SDPP) and the Democratic Turkey Party (DPP) will not contest the ballot as neither have held their general congress on time or opened branches in all of Turkey's regions, both criteria for parties wishing to take part in the election, the SEB announced.
The other parties to have candidates in the municipal elections will be the Motherland Party (MP), the Brilliant Turkey Party (BTP), the Independent Turkey Party (ITP), the Grand Unity Party (GUP), the Democratic Party (DP), the Democratic People's Party (DEHAP), the Democratic Left Party (DLP), the True Path Party (TPP), the Workers' Party (EMEP), the Youth Party (YP), the Labour Party (LP), the Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), the Nation Party (NP), the Nationalist Action Party (NAP), the Free Society Party (FSP), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (FSP), the Felicity Party (FP), the Turkish Communist Party (TCP) and the Liberal Democrat Party (LDP).
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Columnist in MILLIYET supports that Turkey is preparing to put preconditions to the EU before accepting the Annan plan as basis for negotiationsIstanbul MILLIYET newspaper (27.12.03) publishes the following commentary by Fikret Bila under the title: "Counter preconditions":
"The EU has set the solution to the Cyprus question as a precondition for Turkey's accession. If the Cyprus question is resolved in accordance with the Annan plan until 1 May 2004, it will be regarded as a positive contribution that could enable Turkey to get a timetable for commencement of accession talks after a EU summit to be held in December 2004. Otherwise, Turkey will not be given a timetable.
Fulfillment of that precondition does not guarantee the anticipated result. Even if the Cyprus problem is resolved in a manner consistent with the Annan plan, it would not guarantee that the EU will set a timetable for negotiatio ns. It is, however, certain that there will be no timetable if the contrary happens.
This is an approach completely designed to put pressure and take advantage of Turkey's existing handicaps.
Turkey has accepted that precondition set by the EU, which is mirrored by Ankara's plan aimed at ensuring that a settlement is negotiated based on the Annan plan. The Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas opposes the idea, but the Erdogan Government seems to be inclined to take steps in that direction. Ankara is also preparing to propose some revisions to the Annan plan as it is in favor of its use as a framework during the negotiations.
According to well-informed sources, Ankara plans to set its own preconditions it wants to be fulfilled by the EU. It will tell the EU that some items in the Annan plan and proposed revisions can be accepted only if Turkey gets a timetable from the EU for starting accession talks. In addition, some arrangements set forth in the plan will come into effect after commencement of negotiations with the EU.
The revisions that Turkey contemplates proposing include a reduction in the number of Greek Cypriots to be resettled in north Cyprus and inclusion of Greek Cypriots older than 65, who want to move to Karpass peninsula, in the total number of Greek Cypriots to be permitted to migrate to the north, sources say.
It seems that Ankara lays greater emphasis on the condition that a timetable for accession talks be set than the proposed revisions. If the EU and the Greek Cypriot Administration accept Turkey's condition relating to timetable, the general expectation is that Turkey will throw its weight behind the Annan plan in order to ensure that it is accepted by both sides without any major change.
Turkey has accepted the EU's precondition about Cyprus. Is it, however, realistic to expect that the Greek Cypriot side and the EU will accept the condition set by Turkey?
The latest messages received from EU spokespersons and the Greek Cypriot Administration indicate that it is not a realistic expectation at least for the time being.
Given that Turkey and the `TRNC' have been forced into a corner, Ankara does not have the power to set conditions and force the other side to accept them. It is possible to say that its leverage is further weakened due to the fact that Ankara is also putting pressure on the `TRNC', which is already coming under pressure from the EU and the Greek Cypriot administration.
Turkey and the `TRNC' would hardly be able to exert influence on the Greek Cypriot Administration and the EU unless they formulate a common policy.
The other side has already adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach.
In the light of those facts, expecting the EU to accept Turkey's conditions would only be an illusion.
It seems highly unlikely that Ankara's insistence on a timetable for accession talks will eventually overcome their take-it-or-leave-it approach."
 Columnist in RADIKAL says the Turkish army has halted the Turkish government regarding CyprusIstanbul RADIKAL newspaper (31.12.03) publishes the following article by Murat Yetkin under the title: "The Cyprus 'Brake' from Gen. Ozkok to the Government":
"The government downshifted the decision process for the Cyprus solution with the warning of the military.
It was learned that the Chief of General Staff Gen Hilmi Ozkok asked the objectives of the government on the subjects of Cyprus and partisan appointments to the bureaucracy in the talks he held with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 29 December [Monday]. The sources, which gave information to the Radikal newspaper, set forth that in the face-to-face talks, Gen Ozkok asked questions to Prime Minister Erdogan of the type, "What do you want to do on Cyprus? Why are you taking such hasty steps?" Iwas stated by the same sources that in response to this, Prime Minister Erdogan said: "We made a promise that we would wait for the `TRNC' election results and then we would take action on the subject of Cyprus. We do not have a different thought on the subject of Cyprus being a national cause. Everything is being carried out openly and according to procedures".
Despite the fact that yesterday [Tuesday, 30 December] the Foreign Ministry denied the news that there is a difference of opinion among the state institutions, it was also indirectly accepted by Prime Minister Erdogan that there is a difference of approach on the subject of Cyprus between the government and the General Staff. Yesterday, Prime Minister Erdogan's statement, "There is no different policy on the subject of Cyprus. There could be differences from time to time on the procedures, but there is no difference in essence", before entering the Cyprus meeting he held at the Prime Ministry Residence with the Foreign Ministry team shows this.
It has been discussed for some time in the Ankara backstages that in the military circles there is a conviction in the direction that the recent statements and initiatives on the subject of Cyprus of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan have given a hasty appearance and have weakened the negotiation position of the Turkish Cypriot side against the Greek Cypriot side. The military wants that the 1 May 2004 date, on which the EU will officially accept the Greek Cypriot Republic as a member, should not have a "hypnotic effect" on the decision mechanisms of the government and should not pave the way to a panic, which would lead to mistakes. Another request is that those who were elected in the `TRNC' should also be included in Ankara's Cyprus decision process. Interpretations are being made in Ankara that the talks the Chief of General Staff held with Prime Minister Erdogan, without being planned in advance and by requesting an appointment, could be considered to be a warning in this direction.
It appears that Prime Minister Erdogan has taken this warning seriously. The statement of the Foreign Ministry that it would invite the `TRNC President' Rauf Denktas and "the related persons" to Ankara shows this. It will not be a surprise for the RTP [Republican Turkish Party] leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who said after he was given the duty of forming the `TRNC government', "I want to hear what Ankara will say", to be among the related persons. It is stated that Prime Minister Erdogan spoke with the Foreign Ministry advisers at noon yesterday and said that it is necessary to consider the meeting he held with the Foreign Ministry team as a beginning not an end of the Cyprus decision process.
Foreign Minister Gul said to the journalists when leaving the Foreign Ministry to attend the meeting, "Naturally, this is a process. It will take time, but our objective is to reach a conclusion as soon as possible".
Prime Minister Erdogan, however, said at the meeting, "You say let us solve it as soon as possible, but the military is in favor of spreading it over time".
That is, upon the question of Gen. Ozkok, "What is your hurry?", Prime Minister Erdogan is putting on the brakes in the Cyprus solution process.
The fact that the subjects, which could be solved this week, are postponed until after the Council of Ministers meeting next Monday [5 January], confirms this. The sources believe that three developments will be of importance in the Cyprus decision process: The state summit, at which President Ahmet Necdet Sezer will preside and it is expected that Mr Denktas would also participate in a part of it; the National Security Council meeting, which is expected to convene towards the end of January; and Prime Minister Erdogan's talks with the US President George Bush.
It is also stated that among the questions the Chief of General Staff Ozkok asked to Prime Minister Erdogan included the concern about the appointments of Islamists to positions in the state bureaucracy. Within this framework, it is claimed that just as the addresses made in the past by the Prime Ministry Undersecretary Omer Dincer have made the civilian society uneasy, it was also conveyed to the Prime Minister that it paves the way for uneasiness in the military circles. Undersecretary Dincer, besides being the head of the state bureaucracy, is also managing the Prime Ministry Monitoring Board, which has also assumed the duty of the fight against political Islamism.
It was expressed by the Prime Minister's close circle that Prime Minister Erdogan "assured" the Chief of General Staff on the subject of Undersecretary Dincer and the appointments of Islamists to positions in the state bureaucracy and that there is nothing to worry about.
The Prime Minister's close circle said that in the talks with the Chief of General Staff, which lasted for one and a half hours, "the problems were expressed, but it was not a talk, which caused problems". It will be necessary to monitor the developments during the next few weeks in order to understand this."
 Murat Yetkin assesses the letter sent by President Bush to the Turkish Prime MinisterIstanbul RADIKAL newspaper (01.01.04) publishes the following article by Murat Yetkin under the title: "2003 was the year of Iraq, 2004 will be the year of Cyprus":
"The letter Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received from the US President George Bush on the last day of 2003 was also determining the subjects on Turkey's 2004 foreign policy agenda: Cyprus and the EU.
Naturally, in the letter personally delivered by the US Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman, President Bush was not only congratulating Prime Minister Erdogan's new year. In this letter, Prime Minister Erdogan's talk to be held with President Bush on 28 January  combined with the wish to solve the Cyprus problem in 2004 was an important development.
For some time, a conviction has emerged in the Ankara political backstages that actually the United States has been insisting on the Cyprus issue only for show. According to the interpretations finding proponents in the groups, which look at Turkey's EU membership target with suspicion, the efforts of the US Cyprus Special Representative Thomas Weston should not be exaggerated that much. What the US President would say was important. And the signs were showing that President Bush would not open this subject during his talks with Prime Minister Erdogan. At the moment, when the United States has a giant problem, such as Iraq and the Middle East, it was probable that it would contract Cyprus to the EU.
These interpretations and estimates were negated with the letter coming yesterday.
It is understood that President Bush will open the subject of the Cyprus problem on 28 January and will ask Prime Minister Erdogan what kind of a solution Turkey (not the government) envisages for Cyprus.
At that point, the views and positions previously leaked to the US administration circles by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and General Staff or by the alternative diplomatic channels preferred by Prime Minister Erdogan, will not be that important. The US President will want to learn the answer directly from the Prime Minister. In this situation, there is definitely a share as well in the lessons learned by the American side from the talks they held on 10 December 2002 with Mr Erdogan before he became the Prime Minister. That day, despite the fact that Mr Erdogan did not give a promise that would commit himself and Turkey on the subject of Iraq, President Bush heard what he wanted to hear and assumed the complete support of Turkey. It emerged with the draft permission vote on 1 March 2003 that relying on the second hand information he had received prior to the talks was misleading and it was harmful from the aspect of Turkish-US relations.
It can be said that President Bush's Cyprus letter will pave the way for a certain problem in Ankara.
The letter came to the US Embassy in Ankara on 30 December and it is possible that it could have been written one day before. When the letter reached Amb Edelman, he requested an appointment from Prime Minister Erdogan and met with him and delivered the letter yesterday.
On 29 December [Monday], the Chief of General Staff Gen Hilmi Ozkok went to see Prime Minister Erdogan, which was a visit not previously planned. He said that acting too hastily for the solution on Cyprus could strengthen the opposite side. Upon this, Prime Minister Erdogan, who convened with the Foreign Ministry team on 30 December said, "You said to take a step as soon as possible, but the military is in favor of spreading it over time" and summarized to his colleagues the contents of his talks with Gen Ozkok. In this manner, the government and the Foreign Ministry downshifted the steps with the instructions of Prime Minister Erdogan.
To postpone the final decision until after shaping it at the National Security Council [NSC] meeting at the end of January and after the talks with President Bush was within the plans for downshifting the gears.
The letter, which came yesterday, will lead to this problem.
Naturally, just because the US President wanted it that way, Turkey is not obliged to finalize its view prior to 28 January.
But it is obvious that the White House has said in the letter yesterday what it would say on 28 January:
It is necessary to orient towards a solution for the Cyprus problem by 1 May 2004.
The Foreign Ministry has understood this to a great extent. (I am saying to a great extent, because it is no longer a secret that some of the high-level Foreign Ministry officials think differently, that they have established short circuits outside of the Foreign Ministry and that they have started to express this to the Ministry administration as well. The same situation is also valid for the Armed Forces. It is also no secret that all of the command levels are not in favor of reconciliation, like Gen. Ozkok, and for this reason, they prefer the NSC meeting, in which all the force commanders would participate, rather than a summit presided over by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, in which Gen. Ozkok would participate as the representative of the military.)
The Foreign Ministry's plan is to take an important step prior to 1 May 2004 that would be sufficient to show that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side are not irreconcilable and to bring the solution to a distance, which can be reached easily.
For the final move, Turkey would wait for the negotiation date to be given by the EU.
It would be beneficial for all parties in Ankara to accept this situation and for it to be explained by Prime Minister Erdogan to President Bush in two to three very clear sentences.
The year 2003 has been a year when what should have been done on the subject of Iraq was not done when necessary. Let us hope that we do not say the same thing at the end of 2004 for Cyprus and the EU."