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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 04-02-16
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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.31/04 14-15-16.02.04
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after the New York agreement for the resumption of talks for a solution to the Cyprus problemIllegal Bayrak television (13.02.04) broadcast the following telephone interview with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas in New York.
Question: What happened, what is the result? We want to take a message from you.
Answer: There were a number of issues on which we were insisting when we came here. Let me first mention them. One of them had to do with the Secretary-General completing the blanks [in the Annan plan] on his own in case of disagreements between the sides. We insisted that Turkey and Greece too should get involved in this process. Thus, in case of disagreement, or where the filling up of the blanks are involved, we would have a weighty say over matters that we, together with Turkey, would want to shape in a certain manner. For, Turkey has influence, agreements, and cooperation with other involved states. So, in a way we have guaranteed this, and I think it was beneficial.
The other issue was the submission of the agreement to be concluded to referendum. On that issue too we have been satisfied. It could not have been otherwise. There cannot be a referendum before an agreement. This becomes clear when you consider Secretary-General's letters, our communications with him, and his latest statement as a whole.
The basic point now is this: We did not act on our own here. We worked in constant communication with Turkey and the Turkish delegation. And when all our reservations and concerns were conveyed to Ankara at the final stage of the talks, Ankara found the concord [in New York] appropriate after evaluating the situation with the competent authorities. Therefore, we too gave our consent this morning.
The most important issue for us, and we put this on record, is that we need permanent and durable delegation of authority [to the Turkish side] for the protection of our rights, the bizonality, and for security. So as not to allow the erosion of these rights under the EU laws and the European court, this delegation of authority must first be taken into consideration in agreements to be concluded with the Greek Cypriots. These should also be incorporated into the EU acquis and basic laws and transformed into fundamental EU laws, so that we can be sure of things. We therefore insisted on this matter too.
The others were economic issues. So as not to be annihilated by a strong economic power, we must be protected under very special conditions for a transitional period. We put this on record too. An economic commission will be set up. This did not exist in the Annan plan. This suggestion too was accepted.
As such, we did all we could do. This is the start of a process. As such, we will see what can be done with goodwill. If it could be done, fine, if not we will again remain united and go on protecting our rights. The essential thing is to trust ourselves and the motherland. I know many people will be skeptical [of an agreement]. But we say, let's see, God willing things will turn out good. We will proceed on this path by trusting God and by standing up for our rights. Let everybody be sure of this.
Question: How will the process continue after this stage? You will probably leave New York.
Answer: Because there was no plane today we have been condemned to remain here. The plane did not arrive from Istanbul. God willing, we will depart tomorrow, if weather permits and the plane arrives. We have already booked our seats. And on Thursday [19 February], the first contacts will start in Cyprus. Effort will be made to set up the commissions. In short, the work will start under a heavy schedule. I repeat: No concession has been made from our equality, sovereignty, of our status as being one of the two peoples, and from our new approach that precludes large displacement of our people. We will protect these rights as much as we can. An agreement is possible once these rights are secured.
And why did we postpone the departure? We were going to board the plane yesterday, when suddenly the Greek Cypriots suggested that the EU too should join the referee group into which we included Turkey and Greece together with the Secretary-General. They wanted the inclusion of the EU too. That was unacceptable. We could not have allowed the EU to get involved in this. We insisted on our position, and on that issue too the Secretary-General found a very soft formula. The EU is not going to join the referee group, but would be free to hold contacts to render help on economic and other issues. That is how this issue was eventually shaped, but to achieve that we remained on our chairs for 11 hours at night. They shuttled between us for 11 hours only to formulate this one single paragraph. Only at the end of 11 hours a new formula was found. This means that we should foresee the difficulties and hardships, we should anticipate what we might encounter, so as not to end up with unexpected and painful developments. Our struggle and cause is continuing. This cause is to work for a solution acceptable to both sides. If we manage, fine, if not we might be losing many things but we will not lose our state and people and will not forgo the guarantee agreement. This is all too clear.
Question: You did place all these matters on the table. We followed the talks from here.
Answer: Yes, all these have been discussed. We did not open up to the press too much here. Even today I did not open up to the press. But I feel the need to tell these to our people. We will do all we can to bring this process to success through mutual trust, but not by surrendering or ceding our rights, rather by protecting our rights.
Question: what sort of a formality will there be on Thursday's meeting? Who will participate? Will these talks be between you and Papadopoulos, or is there any other formula?
Answer: Probably each side's principal delegations will take part. Then commissions will be set up.
Question: And will it be done according to the determined timetable, the one proposed by Turkey and you?
Answer: Yes, yes.
Question: Do you have anything to add?
Answer: I convey my greetings and respect. As I said, the final phase of a great cause is about to start. We are all duty bound to help each other. Specially, as I said, we are giving the greatest role to Turkey. It already had that role. But you should know that we obtained a promise that Turkey would join us in defending our essential and indispensable demands.
Question: It means, our people should rest assured, we will walk this path in unity and by trusting Turkey and by protecting our rights.
Answer: Yes, yes.
Istanbul NTV (14.02.04) broadcast that Rauf Denktas in a statement to NTV, has said that they accepted the text submitted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the consent of the Turkish General Staff and the President. He further drew attention to the role Turkey will be playing in the new negotiations that are to be held.
Denktas, in a statement after an agreement was reached in New York, said that they will definitely safeguard the rights and sovereignty of the Turkish Cypriots. Assessing the role of the EU, Denktas said that any agreement to be concluded with the Greek Cypriots should be incorporated in the EU acquis and the accession agreement as one of their laws. Pointing out that this is a vital issue, Denktas said that this point was dwelt on during the talks. Recalling the difficulties experienced in the talks, Denktas said that the process ahead will not be easy.
In an assessment he made to NTV, Denktas noted the importance of the role Turkey will be assuming in the new negotiations.
"Actually, we have given the primary role to Turkey now. We have ensured that Turkey has a role and rights on the issues the UN Secretary-General will be filling in and arbitrating. We hope and believe that on these main issues Turkey will support us to the very end. This promise was repeatedly made by the honorable prime minister and the honorable Gul. We gave our consent to the document today after having consulted with and received the consent of the government, the General Staff, and the President's Office. We will do all we can in full cooperation with Turkey in this process," he said.
Moreover Ankara TRT 2 Television (14.02.04) broadcast that Rauf Denktas has said that preparations have been started for the direct Cyprus talks that will resume on Thursday [19 February]. In a statement in New York before he left for Turkey, Denktas said that the Turkish Cypriot side has started to prepare for the talks to be held under UN auspices.
Diplomatic sources have said that this is the first time that the Turkish Cypriot side is involved in such intensive work in the quest for a settlement. The same sources add that a modern bank building that is currently unused in Nicosia has been placed at the disposal of the committee that will work for the settlement.
UN sources are saying that Alvaro de Soto, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special Cyprus representative, and his team of experts will leave for the island at the beginning of the week. Before Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto will go to Dublin, the capital of Ireland which is the EU's term president, in order to brief the authorities there on the Cyprus talks process. From there he will make a stopover in Brussels to discuss the technical aid to be extended by the EU authorities for the settlement of the Cyprus issue.
Finally Istanbul NTV television (15.02.04) broasdcast that Rauf Denktas has arrived in Istanbul from New York. In statements he said these talks foiled a ploy by Greece which wanted to involve the EU in the Cyprus talks. The Turkish side countered this proposal with its own proposals, he noted, and at the end of this process Greece will have to take part in the talks and assume responsibility for better or worse.
Denktas said: "If we work with goodwill we will able to get results. There are two security valves. We will submit to a referendum any agreement we may reach. The decision will be reached by the people of the `TRNC' and of south Cyprus. That is a security valve."
According to Denktas, the second security valve is the Turkish Grand National Assembly [TGNA]. He pointed out that the TGNA will have to approve the agreement. Therefore the agreement must be balanced and lasting.
To a question on Annan, Denktas said: Annan will act as a referee during the talks, and we see that he will do that with goodwill.
Mehmet Ali Talat was asked a question on the fact that he had a different stand than Denktas' before the talks and on the fact that he attended the talks for the first time. Talat answered: We were there as one whole. When we left the talks we discussed and argued the issues among ourselves, but we no longer look to the past, we look to the future. What we want is to reach a lasting agreement for our people.
Denktas pointed out that in New York, the Turkish Cypriot team was faced with pressure, but that it managed to persuade the others on its proposals for changes.
On the issue of referendum, Denktas said: "We will do all we can until the referendum. We will continue to work and try to make it by 1 May. Nevertheless, if we cannot make it on time, they will not squeeze our throat."
We asked Denktas about the US role. The United States adopted an effective role in this process. Denktas said: That is not strange because the US stand on the Annan plan was known beforehand. It wanted the Annan plan accepted. Therefore the US role should not be considered exaggerated or strange.
Denktas noted that there is contact between the United States and Turkey, and between the United States and the Turkish Cypriots.
Finally the question of bases. The Turkish press reported that the United States may set up a base in return for its effective role. Denktas said that this issue was not raised during the talks, adding: There is no such thing.
Denktas stated: The Greek Cypriots left the talks disappointed. From now on they should stop seeing themselves as the only owners of the island. They must give up their obstinate stand if we are to reach an agreement.
In general terms, Denktas stated that the Turkish diplomacy took an important step in New York, and he displayed a hopeful attitude regarding the talks.
 Gul explains why Turkey considers unacceptable the participation of the EU in the talks for a solution to the problems created in Cyprus by the Turkish invasion and continuing illegal occupationAnkara TRT 2 Television (13.02.04) broadcast live a press conference by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in Ankara.
Following are Mr Gul's statements and his replies to questions:
"As you know the New York talks were concluded. The UN Secretary-General will summarize everything at 0830 New York time and submit a proposal. Everything is very clear.
A solution was proposed and it is very reasonable to have a bottleneck. It is time, however, for the sides to be prepared to take risks when they return. We do not want to give an opportunity for a misunderstanding on the issues concerning the EU. It goes without saying that we have relations with the EU. We have technical work under way with the EU. As you know, the prime minister asked Mr Prodi several questions on the Cyprus issue when he was in Ankara. There was such a process under way anyhow. The EU, however, cannot be neutral on the Cyprus issue. Consequently, it is not acceptable for the EU to take part in the talks. Technical information concerning the EU are constantly being reported. The UN Secretary-General is receiving information as well. Greece and the Greek Cypriot side are members of the EU. It is just for other organizations to take part in the talks if the EU is included. This will be tantamount to reaching a deadlock on the issue. We hope that careful thought will be given to this and what is right will be done.
I would like to say here that we are in no way against the EU. There are consultations under way on several issues. The negotiations, however, are something else altogether. It will be against the UN parameters. Everything is evident and all this was discussed in detail in New York. We hope that this process continues without any bottlenecks and talks start on the island.
Question: The EU announced that it does not want to be part of the process.
Answer: Of course, of course. The European Commission is anyway aware of this. The European Commission is in New York at present and the UN Secretary-General is holding continuous consultations with them. The European Commission, in turn, knows very well that it is not right to assume a role in the process because other organizations and institutions will want the same thing. Everything is out in the open and we hope that everything continues smoothly.
Question: Is there hope that all these issues will be settled before 1 May?
Answer: Yes, we all have hope because all these talks could have broken off from the first day. We said from the beginning that both sides should work hard and display goodwill, patience, and political will.
Moreover, Ankara Anatolia (14.02.04) reported from Kuwait that Mr Gul replied to the questions of reporters aboard the plane on his way to Kuwait to attend a meeting of neighbor countries to Iraq.
Gul said Annan wanted assurances to bring the agreement, which will be obtained as a result of negotiations that would start on February 19, to the Parliament and that they gave a positive response. Gul said: ''In case an agreement can be reached, the issue will be presented to the Parliament following referenda on the Island.''
Gul said nobody could give assurances for the decision that would be passed from the parliament.
The Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul also said that European Union (EU) Commission President Romano Prodi assured the Turkish government that an agreement to be reached in Cyprus would be made in compliance with EU acquis.
Gul, aboard the plane from Turkey to Kuwait to attend the meeting of neighbour countries to Iraq, told reporters that he and Prodi took up the ways to make an agreement to be reached in Cyprus in compliance with EU acquis during Prodi's visit to Ankara.
Prodi gave him the necessary assurances, Gul stated.
Thanking EU for its stance during the consultations in New York, Gul said, ''EU has really behaved like a European. It acted like the objective Europe image in everybody's mind.''
Gul stated that Turkey's preference was a compromise of the two sides in the island at first stage without any need for intervention of the guarantor states and stressed that it would be the best.
When a reporter pointed out to the possibility that the Greek Cypriots would again try to delay the process, Gul said that a certain mechanism was formed in New York and noted that ''a referendum would be held in any case.''
Gul said: ''We have always preferred a solution before May 1.''
They analyzed the process in every respect, Gul pointed out.
Gul noted that they reached the conclusion that accession of Cyprus to EU as a new partnership on May 1 would be for everybody's benefit.
Asked about possible reflections of the solution of the Cyprus issue to the solution of other problems in the region, Gul said: ''We should consider the alternatives. Look at the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Opportunities were not seized there. If a result is taken in Cyprus, this will bring Turkey to an encouraging position in solution of other problems like Azerbaijan, Iraq.''
When recalled about the comments that the two leaders behind the compromise reached in Cyprus and leaders behind the backstage efforts could be presented with Nobel Peace Award, Gul said: ''There is still a long path to walk and many things to do.''
Asked if Turkey was assured to start EU full membership negotiations in case of settlement of the Cyprus issue, Gul said that nobody would call them and give assurances.
Gul said: ''The expectation is obvious. There are a few more things. Nobody can say no to starting negotiations after we have done everything and solved Cyprus issue.''
Finally, Ankara TRT 2 Television (15.02.04) broadcast the following statements by Abdullah Gul at Ankara's Esenboga Airport, after his return from Kuwait.
"The Turkish Cypriot delegation and the Turkish delegation, which is extending support, have already started the necessary preparations for the talks on the island.
There are legal preparations, particularly with regard to issues concerning the EU. As I said earlier, there is a lot of work to be carried out and hard work is needed. The talks will be really tough. The preparations, therefore, started a long time ago."
 Statements by Erdogan after the New York agreement for the resumption of talks on CyprusAnkara TRT 2 Television (14.02.04) broadcast that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a beautiful step has been taken with the start of the negotiation process in Cyprus, and expressed the hope that this will be echoed in the same way in the final outcome. Erdogan stated: "We hope that a just and lasting solution is attained on the basis of a win-win situation for both sides, and that these problems are eliminated in Cyprus."
Emerging from his party headquarters, Erdogan answered journalists' questions on whether the current point in the Cyprus negotiations can be termed a success.
He said: "In my view, the assessments that are currently being made to that effect are premature. A beautiful step was taken. The negotiation process has begun. I hope that these initial beautiful things will be echoed in the same way in the final outcome. I also hope that a just and lasting solution is attained on the basis of a win-win situation for both sides, and that these problems are eliminated in Cyprus. This is what we are striving for."
The prime minister thanked the Greek Cypriot side, Greece, other countries, and international organizations for their positive contribution to the process.
Mr Erdogan concluded: "We are expecting this process to be concluded in a positive manner, and our struggle is aimed toward this. We will exert efforts to conclude this matter without causing any kind of speculation. We have appreciated the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General in this regard from the beginning. We are also trying to contribute to this process and we hope that this will also be echoed in the final outcome."
 Statements by Mr Ugur Ziyal after the New York agreementAnkara TRT 2 Television (13.02.04) broadcast live the statements made by Turkish Foreign Ministry Under Secretary Ugur Ziyal at UN headquarters in New York.
Following is Mr Ziyal's opening statement and his replies to questions:
"As you know, the sides accepted the framework put forward by the UN Secretary-General. We will embark on a serious working process on Cyprus now. A process has started. It is our goal to conclude this process in a win-win situation. We will work in goodwill here and make every effort possible. I believe that we, as Turkey, displayed our goodwill and political will. We will proceed on this road in order to achieve a successful result. It is our goal to conclude this issue by undertaking the necessary initiatives. This is all I have to say now. Turkey's political will and goodwill is evident. All work will be pursued in close cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots. The existence and security of the Turkish Cypriots there are extremely important for Turkey. We will try to conclude this issue in close cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots and in a positive and productive atmosphere.
Question: What is the final result on the issue of the EU?
Answer: As you know, there is a text issued by the UN Secretary-General. The UN Secretary-General said, in this text, that the guarantor powers will make contributions to this process. In the same way, the document assures that the EU will welcome a solution, which will emerge and which will be applied to the EU, in the wake of the commitments of the guarantor countries. The document says that the European Commission can give technical assistance and notes determination to achieve success with this assistance and the help from all the other relevant sides.
Question: Will the meetings be held on the island?
Answer: As far as I know, the meetings will be held on the island and will continue there. I believe 19 February is the date noted in the document.
Question: What is the status? Have the parties reached an agreement?
Answer: The parties have reached an agreement within the framework that the UN Secretary-General has put out. As you know, we came here upon the invitation of the UN Secretary-General. There was a certain amount of discussions. During the discussions, the Turkish side put forward a very positive view and the first text, which was presented by the UN Secretary-General to the sides, was accepted in its entirety by the Turkish Cypriots and by Turkey. Then, there was some request of Greece for some modifications in the text. I do not know which one asked, Greece or the Greek Cypriots, but some modifications were presented to us. There were two modifications and one addition. The two modifications were separate. In addition, we discussed a long time and then the UN Secretary-General put forward a new text. We said that we accepted the new text we received and our resolve and wish is to solve this issue by 1 May.
I believe that the work we started will end in a win-win situation as my prime minister stated. This will be our objective. We have a resolution on this issue that two sides live in peace within a common state.
Question: At the beginning, the Turkish side said that it will not accept the involvement of the EU in the process. What made you change your mind?
Answer: This is a misrepresentation. There was nothing in the UN Secretary-General's text regarding the EU participation. As you will see the UN Secretary-General does not talk about an EU participation. This is a mission of the UN Secretary-General and the parties to this mission are the two peoples on the island as well as the two motherland and the guarantor powers. We always said that the issue is to reach a solution within this framework and particularly with the help of the UN Secretary-General. The inclusion of another party as a party will probably lead to future ramifications of other parties' requests to participate as well. This was anyway not included in the UN Secretary-General's proposal. The framework first proposed to us was perfectly acceptable to us. If the other side had also accepted it, we would have probably concluded the talks before and came out with a clean text. If not for the two other requests the Greeks made, as I said I do not know if it was the Greeks or the Greek Cypriots, we had accepted it immediately. There were modifications to the text, within the text. This is something that was not in the text and was included later and I think it was beyond the parameters of the plan.
Question: Do you think that after these talks, Cyprus is well on its way to being united?
Answer: This is our hope and expectation. We have a process, which we will be working on. Both the Turkish side and the Turkish Cypriots will be working together on this process so that it succeeds. This, however, does not depend on the Turkish side only. Both sides should accept it together. As my prime minister said, we have to achieve a win-win situation, which will help not only our integration with Europe but at same time the friendly relations we reached with Greece now.
Question: What is the view of the Turkish military on reaching an agreement on unification?
Answer: This is a decision taken by the Turkish government and, I think, that the Turkish government like all democratic governments, will listen to the views of all the other institutions, which are involved in this.
Question: You say that the Cyprus problem is coming to an end, now?
Answer: I can only comment on the Turkish position on this. We would like to have the Turkish-Cyprus issue resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned."
 Deniz Baykal says Turkey will not lose if no agreement is reached by May 1 in Cyprus as after March 1 when the motion for American troops was not approved.Ankara TRT 2 Television (15.02.04) broadcast that Mr Deniz Baykal, leader of the Republican People's Party [RPP], made the following statements on TRT's "Television Newspaper" program:
"If you talk about rights and justice there and you are not given your rights and justice by 1 May, then south Cyprus will join the EU. What will happen then? What will happen after 1 May? I will tell you what will happen -- 2 May will happen. Just as 2 March came after 1 March. As you remember, they had submitted the petition on 1 March. Certain circles had said: If this motion is rejected on 1 March, in other words, if Turkey does not agree to the settlement of 80,000 US troops in southeast Anatolia, Turkey will collapse, its economy will go topsy turvy, and the US dollar will go up to four million Turkish Lira.
Nevertheless, the Turkish Grand National Assembly rejected the motion, and what happened? 2 March came.
Question: Turkey showed an honorable stand.
Answer: What will happen if Turkey does not give up its rights on 1 May? 2 May will come. We have lived through 2003 2 May's since Christ. We will live through the 2004th one and the ones after it too. Nothing will happen."
 The leader of the Turkish Cypriot opposition assesses the New York agreementIllegal Bayrak Television (14.02.04) broadcast that the Party Assembly of the main opposition National Unity Party met under its leader Dervis Eroglu to assess the New York talks.
In a statement before the meeting, Dervis Eroglu said:
"The text on which the sides agreed yesterday was announced to the world by the UN Secretary-General. In his news conference yesterday, the Secretary-General announced that the sides have come to an agreement, that he himself will fill in the contentious points, and that referenda will be held.
We, of course, do not fully know what were discussed or debated at the talks. But we will be informed if the delegation conducting the talks brief us after returning from New York. What is clear, however, is that the Annan plan is being taken as the basis for the negotiations and the sides have endorsed all the conditions mentioned in Annan's letter of invitation. What we are discussing or will be discussing, therefore, is if any result could be achieved under these conditions. This is what we are also going to assess in our parliamentary group meeting today, for the recommendations adopted at the Turkish National Security Council, the occasional statements issued by the Turkish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and the pronouncements made to date by our esteemed Mr Rauf Denktas seem to be incongruent with the decisions adopted at New York yesterday. That is, in the final analysis, the Secretary-General is having his way. And we are learning from the Greek Cypriot and Greek press that the Greek Cypriots have pursued a successful tactic and achieved their desired goal. But, as I said, in light of information to be provided to us by the esteemed Mr Rauf Denktas upon return to Cyprus, we would hold further meetings to better assess all these and inform our public accordingly. What we have in our hands for now are talks held behind closed doors and an end result. And there are people who depict this result as a victory and celebrate it. But as NUP (National Unity Party), it is our noble duty to know what would the people of the `TRNC' gain or lose from such an agreement and inform them about it. This is what we are assessing."
 The headquarters of the Peace and Democracy Movement came under attackIllegal Bayrak television (13.02.04) broadcast that the headquarters of the Peace and Democracy Movement, (PDM), came under arson attack. Unidentified persons set fire to the door and the surrounding area and threw a gas tube into the flames after breaking into the backyard of the building at around 02:00 hours. Alerted by citizens, the fire brigade arrived and rapidly put out the fire, thus averting a possible tragedy. The police are investigating the incident.
PDM Secretary General Izzet Izcan went to the headquarters to investigate the incident, and in a statement to the press described it as a sabotage and provocation. Izcan said that this and similar attacks are the work of those who cannot tolerate a system based on peace, democracy, and human rights from making inroads into our country. Claiming that those who are uneasy with PDM's steadfast policies have chosen the path of aggression, Izcan said: "They will not be able to intimidate us, we strongly condemn those who resort to such attacks."
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Columnist in RADIKAL analyses how Turkey prepared for the New York talksIstanbul RADIKAL newspaper (15.02.04) publishes the following commentary by Murat Yetkin under the title: "The secrets opening the path to a settlement on Cyprus":
"Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was correct in saying yesterday that it is "too early" to make assessments of "success on Cyprus". Everything depends on the course of the negotiations that began on 10 February in New York and will continue in Cyprus starting on 19 February. But neither the international situation nor the stage reached in the domestic political balances on the two sides seems conducive to either Mr Rauf Denktas or his tough rival Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos walking away from the negotiations very easily. They are aware that, from now on, the side that leaves the table, other than for clear situations that would be seen as justified by the international community, will lose its legitimacy by being stamped "unwilling to compromise".
Subtitle: Denktas deserves much credit
Here we come to the crux of the matter. Since the Greek Cypriot side will get European Union membership on 1 May 2004 whether the Turks take steps to bring about a settlement or not, how did they come from a line in which they did not have to do anything at all to the point of being condemned to a [negotiating] table and a referendum for an agreement with a condition that they also accept the political sovereignty of the [Cypriot] Turks? How did the Greek Cypriots, who had been preparing to be taken into the EU on 1 May representing the Turks, against their wishes, as well, suddenly find themselves in a situation of being forced by the EU into compromising?
Rauf Denktas, who even if rather late in the game saw before it was too late that the interests of the Cypriot Turkish people were best served by compromise and used his political experience in a positive way, had a large role in this. While those who, without noting that Denktas is above all a politician, had been throwing themselves into refusal to compromise are now seeking ways to hold him back, Denktas has already gone through the turn and has begun to make progress toward a settlement. Will he change once again? He can indeed change, for this is politics, but it will be very difficult now. Denktas is now going to want, rather than being remembered as the person who blocked both the island's and Turkey's opening to Europe, that his statue be erected as the one who brought that opening about.
But at the current point, if there is anyone who has played an even greater role than Denktas, that person is Erdogan. Erdogan showed as well that, in fact, the various Turkish governments also share in the responsibility for the Cyprus issue's not having been resolved over the past 30 years. Erdogan had not made his final decision until the moment when he saw the results of the 14 December elections in the `TRNC'.
In fact, though, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who played one of the greatest roles in the shift of the center of gravity in Ankara towards a settlement, had been having his ministry do work on the issue for months. At the head of this effort was Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal.
Subtitle: Three dossiers in the Foreign Ministry
Ziyal, who clearly is going to be remembered as one of the boldest diplomats that Turkish diplomacy has ever seen, took on, as a diplomat with good relations both with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and with the military, as well as with the various European capitals and Washington, the role of an orchestra conductor. Under Ziyal's direction, the diplomats began to work on two fronts. The first dossier comprised the path to be followed if the government should decide not to negotiate on the basis of the Annan Plan. This in fact could be seen as a new version of the policy that Turkey has followed from 1974 until the present. The second dossier detailed the path to be followed if the government should make the decision to negotiate on the basis of the Annan Plan. There was in fact a third dossier as well, which was for the worst-case scenario.
Subtitle: Worst-Case scenario
The worst case was defined in terms of the government's agreeing to negotiate on the basis of the Annan Plan, but the negotiations being ended by the Turkish side and the Turkish side's being declared unwilling to compromise. As a result of this, the Greek Cypriots would become EU members with full rights, and the chances of Turkey's getting a date [to begin full membership negotiations] from the EU might be dashed.
In preparing these dossiers, Ziyal had an experienced staff. Deputy Undersecretary Ambassador Baki Ilkin, in addition to having served as Ambassador in Washington, was a diplomat familiar with the approach followed on Cyprus for the past 30 years, and was known to have good relations with the military since the days in which he served as the Special Aide to Kenan Evren [leader of the military coup d'etat of 1980 and later President].Ambassador Deniz Bolukbasi, the head of the Legal Department, was a daunting negotiator. He was also considered to be an expert in aviation and maritime law. And Ertugrul Apakan, General Director of the Ministry's Bilateral Political Relations Department, had spent virtually his entire career working on Cyprus.
The way he, while earlier serving as Ambassador in Nicosia, had in just a few months cowed and neutralized the United States' super diplomat Richard Holbrooke, was legendary in the corridors of the Foreign Ministry.
Washington Ambassador Faruk Logoglu and London Ambassador Akin Alptuna took up quiet but important tasks. In fact, the dialogue on Cyprus with both the United States and Great Britain had begun months earlier.
Subtitle: Cooperation between the diplomats and the military
The Foreign Ministry, just as in every important affair, was in contact with the General Staff from the outset this time as well. Relations with the General Staff were managed on a number of fronts. General Hilmi Ozkok, the Chief of the General Staff, met with Prime Minister Erdogan and from time to time with Foreign Minister Gul. In fact, in this process, that is, in the shifting of Ankara's center of political gravity toward a settlement, Ozkok played the most important role, along with President Sezer. Ozkok's most important contribution was to persuade, through his leadership, those in the Armed Forces who were opposed to the goals of a solution on Cyprus and EU membership for Turkey, or those who were lukewarm toward these goals.
In particular, if Ozkok had not, at the Cyprus summit meeting held at Cankaya [Presidential Palace in Ankara] on 8 January, supported the government's desire for a settlement, and if President Sezer had not taken a clear stance by saying "Let us not be the ones to abandon the [negotiating] table", Erdogan would not have been able to implement his policy decision so easily. In addition to Erdogan, both Sezer and Ozkok have to date acquitted themselves well in terms of leadership on the Cyprus issue.
At the head of the Foreign Ministry's counterparts within the General Staff came Deputy Chairman General Ilker Basbug. Basbug played a primary role in the preparation of the dossiers for a settlement on Cyprus. He also had one-on-one meetings, not just with Ziyal, but with foreign diplomats engaged in behind-the-scenes contacts dealing with Cyprus.
Yet another of Ziyal's, and from time to time Ilkin's, meeting partners in the General Staff was Air Force Lieutenant General Aydogan Baboglu, the Chairman of the Department of Plans and Principles. And included among the contacts in discussions at more technical levels was Junior Rear Admiral Mucahit Sislioglu, the Chairman of the General Staff's Greece and Cyprus Department. While the technical work was going ahead, preparation of the political groundwork was also underway.
Prime Ministry Consultant Ahmet Davutoglu, who gained ambassadorial status during the period when [current] Foreign Minister Gul was serving as Prime Minister, was involved in the political groundwork efforts.
Subtitle: And the decision comes
Erdogan made his own political decision following the 14 December 2003 elections in North Cyprus.
The people of [Turkish] Cyprus (even despite the covert support that Erdogan had given to the NUP [National Unity Party], which opposed an agreement) had exercised its choice in favor of a solution. The line of Denktas and [Dervis] Eroglu had lost. The time had come for him to act upon the messages that had been coming via the US Ambassador in Ankara, Eric Edelman, and the British Ambassador, Peter Westmacott, that "If you want a settlement, be careful not to wait too long."
In fact, since the elections had already taken place, there was no time left to engage in maneuvers without being vulnerable to accusations of playing for time. The time had come to make this decision the common decision of Ankara; even if this was not a constitutional requirement, it was considered necessary in terms of the "facts of life". The way to achieve this was to convince the President and the military. Erdogan began by forming an "inner cabinet" on the Cyprus issue from within the Council of Ministers.
The inner cabinet was composed of the following individuals: Foreign Minister Gul, National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, and Deputy Prime Ministers Abdullatif Sener and Mehmet Ali Sahin. These were, at the same time, the ministers who were members of the National Security Council.
In the decision-making process, Erdogan utilized private channels in addition to these official channels. At the head of these came Cuneyd Zapsu. Zapsu, thanks to the private channels that he had established with UN General-Secretary [as published; in fact the General-Secretary's Special Representative for Cyprus] Alvaro de Soto and US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, became involved in order to ensure that unanticipated obstacles would not be encountered after Ankara took its joint decision. JDP [Justice and Development Party] Istanbul Parliamentarian Egemen Bagis also used private channels in the United States, in particular with various lobbies. Likewise, JDP Deputy Chairman Saban Disli engaged in intensive contacts in the capitals of Europe.
Subtitle: The final stage
All of these preparations reached their final stage with the establishment of a coalition in the `TRNC' between RTP [Republican Turkish Party] leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who won the election, and DP [Democratic Party] leader Serdar Denktas; the cast was thus assembled. The first step towards a settlement was taken at the 8 January Cankaya summit.
Subtitle: Sezer exerts his influence
The policy of the government to resume the negotiations obtained its first victory when President Sezer exerted his influence. Yet the "Annan Plan" could still not be mentioned. It was clear, from the fact that General Basbug did not want to mention the name of Annan in his press conference held at the General Staff on 16 January, that the balances had still not been completely established.
Reports coming from the United States and Great Britain, however, indicated that if a real effort was going to be shown, this would have to be on the basis of the Annan Plan, as stated in UN Security Council Resolution Number 1475.
This balance was established at the 23 January NSC [National Security Council] meeting. When at this meeting Foreign Minister Gul explained very effectively the necessity of taking the Annan Plan as a basis, and when Sezer provided support, the taboo expression of the "Annan Plan" was included in the final communique.
This result suddenly accelerated the process.
Erdogan, who met with UN General-Secretary Annan at Davos [Switzerland] on 24 December [as published; actually 24 January], said that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots were prepared to resume negotiations.
First the reference to the Annan Plan in the NSC communique, and then the call for negotiations, was a bit too much for Denktas. He met in Ankara with both Sezer and Erdogan, and learned of Turkey's will directly from them, which must have been the reason that Erdogan departed on his US trip the next day 2 ½ hours late. Thereafter, he [Denktas] asked General Staff Chief Ozkok on 26 January and got the response that "This is our shared position" from him as well. Those three days were the first concrete indication for Denktas that the center of gravity in Ankara had finally shifted. Turkish diplomats who traveled on the US visit [with Erdogan] took along with them the dossier on "a settlement with the Annan Plan" and left the others in Ankara. The fact that, with the 14 December elections, the Turks of Cyprus had produced an alternative to him [Denktas] would perhaps make it necessary for him to put his weight toward a settlement.
Subtitle: Erdogan's initiative
Erdogan's citing his desire for a Cyprus settlement to [US President George W.] Bush on 28 January, and even more importantly his invitation for the United States to become involved in this, and Bush's assigning Secretary of State [Colin] Powell and his staff to this, ensured that both Greek Cypriot President Papadopoulos and Denktas understood the seriousness of the situation. Denktas began to be convinced that the new policy in Ankara might be able to produce results when he saw, in the first round of negotiations in New York on 10 January, how helpless Papadopoulos was. The intervention made by Annan to the statements of the Greek Cypriot leader, which were clearly aimed at provoking Denktas and getting him to leave the negotiations, showed that the psychological balance had changed as well. And perhaps this was the chance to obtain results in his forty-year effort to cope with the Greek Cypriots. This was the way that Erdogan's political initiative to get the support of Denktas (at least for the time being) came about."
 Silent diplomacy to be followed by Turkey during the talks on CyprusTurkish Daily News (15.02.04) publishes the following commentary by Kemal Balci:
"No one can ignore the influence of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's silent diplomacy at the start of the negotiations. However, this "silent diplomacy" has got out of hand and no one besides Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Gul know anything about the issues.
Erdogan asked no one besides himself and Gul to speak about the matter. This ban on speaking is so effective that even Erdogan himself is criticizing journalists when they ask something about Cyprus.
Gul, when called by journalists, says: "Don't ask me about Cyprus. I won't talk." He has begun to lose the composure and the politeness he is known for. Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission Mehmet Dulger says: "I won't violate the order to keep silent." He even refused to appear on state-owned TRT program on Cyprus.
The Justice and Development Party (JDP) deputies are wondering what to do. They are trying to learn what's going on by reading the newspapers. They fear the Cyprus negotiations, which will almost certainly become an election issue, becoming a stick with which the opposition Republican People's Party (RPP) can beat JDP with.
Subtitle: Why are they silent?
Gul initiated his "silent and strong" push to solve the Cyprus issue, which is said to be not a prerequisite but a positive stimulus to Turkey's European Union membership, at the beginning of the year. After a string of meetings with the U.S. leadership, the government got the impression that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was willing to change both his plan and his special envoy to Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto. Even the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell being appointed "mediator" by U.S. President George W. Bush was discussed.
Gul, when he hosted European Commission President Romano Prodi in Ankara on January 15, had concluded his efforts. When I told him in Parliament that I knew about the developments (including the possibility of Powell being appointed as a "mediator") and wanted to talk about the details, he said he could give an interview in a few days. I believe he thought that hiding what was happening was the correct procedure to follow. I did not insist. Later, during Erdogan's visit to the U.S., Turkish media repeatedly headlined these Turkish demands. De Soto was not wanted. Powell was introduced an agent to help in the negotiations, but not as a negotiator.
The benefit of a strong Turkish effort to restart the Cyprus negotiations is obvious. However, later on, this became a permanent strict policy of silence that was being implemented vigorously. First, the promises Erdogan and Annan made to each other at Davos, Switzerland were kept secret. The Turkish media could only learn that Annan was open to amendments in the plan as long as they were shared by both sides. Then, everyone wondered what Erdogan and Bush talked about in Washington because the meetings minutes, written by a JDP deputy who also was Erdogan's translator and not by a Foreign Ministry diplomat, were given to Foreign Ministry archives. This made people think that only what Erdogan wanted on record was in the ministerial archives. The only concrete result coming out of the meeting was that Powell would assist in the negotiations if there was a deadlock.
As the process continued, the government became less and less willing to provide information about the developments. When the negotiations started, the unwanted de Soto sat across from the Turkish Cypriots and took photos with the small digital camera he was carrying. Annan had not replaced his envoy, but Denktas had agreed to replace his advisor Prof. Mumtaz Soysal, who has spent many years of his life to the Cyprus issue. Erdogan proved to everyone that when he made a promise, he kept it.
Subtitle: Timetables clash
Neither the Turkish nor the Greek media know anything about the objective of finding a solution on Cyprus. The coming elections in both countries will influence the proceedings more than the delicate balances involved in the matter. There are national elections in Greece on March 16 and local elections in Turkey in March 28. The timetable outlined in the Annan plan clashes with both of these election periods.
Erdogan strengthened his policy of "silence" with his latest timetable proposal on Cyprus negotiations. His timetable relieves the governments in both Greece and Turkey. The timetable proposed by Turkey sets March 20 as the date until which both sides on Cyprus will hold negotiations and to further discuss the points of contention between Greece, Turkey, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots after March 28. And if there are still some issues that are not resolved, Annan will fill in the blanks before submitting the document to a referendum.
If Erdogan's demand for "silence" is kept, the Turkish people will vote before they know anything about what is happening on Cyprus. Even if the final document or the parts completed by Annan are made known later on, the elections will be over and reactions against the document will not be voiced in the ballot box. Will the government's plan work? It might.
Remember what our forefathers said: "Silence is golden."
 Erdogan's three problemsUnder the above title, Turkish Daily News (15.02.04) publishes the following commentary by Mete Belovacikli.
Cyprus discussions are continuing at an increasing pace. Arguments between those who want Turkey's European Union membership and those who don't, and between those who want a solution on Cyprus and those who don't, continue in public.
However, when we try to find out the real reasons behind these arguments in Ankara, we find out that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has three serious problems.
These problems cause many different people to share the opinion, "either a date to start EU membership negotiations would be received, or politics in Turkey will be put on holiday." But this has never been stated openly.
It is obvious that Justice and Development Party (JDP) executives were affected by these arguments. They were affected because they have serious problems they are trying to hide from the public. They believe these problems might end up damaging their party and their government. Furthermore, they think that the political holiday statement above might come to fruition.
What are these three problems?
Firstly, there is a question about how many of the promises the government made to the EU and the United States can actually be kept. In this context, whether the conclusions of the meeting between PM Erdogan and the U.S. President George W. Bush can be implemented fully or not will directly affect JDP. If they are not implemented the government will be seen both to have failed to achieve any progress at a crucial issue and as lacking leadership even though it receives full U.S. support. It is being assumed that the situation will become obvious after September 2004.
What the JDP fears is this: What will happen if the power that keeps the dollar at TL 1.3 million starts running against us because political promises were not kept? Around $19 billion will go overseas. The dollar will appreciate compared to our currency. A TL-dollar exchange rate above TL 3 million would result in a catastrophe.
Secondly, there is a definite leadership problem within the party. According to JDP watchers, this results from PM Erdogan. Despite the support he received and the statements he made, Erdogan has failed to take the proper steps. That's why a number of people are calling on him to challenge Rauf Denktas. The rest of the problem arises from the constantly strengthening partnership between Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Gul is in charge of most of the party apparatus and he is both seen and acting like a shadow prime minister. Gul's links to certain individuals and groups and the perception that he has a warmer personality is the main reasons behind this tension. In other words, Erdogan is suffering from these perceptions and balances in the government.
The coming local elections have created dynamism in the JDP grass-roots and this is Erdogan's third problem. According to rumors, current Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek's candidacy and some of his activities have created significant commotion. It is being said that Gokcek has close links to most of the current mayors and most of those who are thinking of announcing their candidacy in Anatolia.
Additionally, it is being said that he has close to 80 percent support from those who are thinking of becoming candidates to municipal assemblies. Some say that if Gokcek is not announced as a candidate he might use his domination to split the party and that he would move to another center right party (most probably the True Path Party to continue as the mayor of Ankara.
The people under his influence would continue to be JDP members but after the elections they would join the party Gokcek is in. His influence will increase as he will be known as the person who split JDP. Of course, the party he joins will also be strengthened. What will happen if he becomes the JDP's candidate? His strength in JDP will increase and will try to gain ground on the leadership struggle.
These are very troubling problems for JDP's internal balance.