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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 05-10-07
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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.192/05 07.10.05
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 The Peace and Democracy Movement submits new proposals on the Cyprus problemTurkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (07.10.05) reports that the Peace and Democracy Movement (BDH) submitted yesterday new proposals on the Cyprus problem. The chairman of the party, Mr Mustafa Akinci and other officials explained at a press conference the reasons why they prepared the package. It was noted that the new parameters created by the full accession of Cyprus to the EU on 1 May 2004 as a divided island and the commencement of the accession talks of Turkey on 3 October 2005 made the preparation of the package of proposals for normalization in Cyprus necessary.
The BDH expressed the opinion that the normalization of relations between Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus, without the launching of a normalization process within Cyrus itself, will seriously harm the Turkish Cypriots. The party called on both communities on the island to evaluate its proposals for normalization within the year 2006.
The proposals of BDH are the following:
The aim in Cyprus must be reaching a bi-zonal, bi-communal structure based on the political equality as envisaged in the latest Annan Plan, without excluding the legal rights deriving from 1960 and starting from the 1977-79 high level agreements. Therefore, the inter-communal talks in the framework of the UN must start the soonest.
Until the new federal structure is created the normalization process in some basic organs provided for in the 1960 Republic of Cyrus (legislation, executive power etc) must be started. In this framework: a) The conditions for the TRNC President to take over the duty of the Vice President of Cyprus must be created. b) The conditions for the Turkish Cypriots to take over their duties as ministers in the Republic of Cyprus, as they have the right to do, must be created. c) The conditions for the Turkish Cypriots to take the seats they have the right in the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus must be created.
An Ad hoc committee consisting of equal number of parliamentarians from the two sides should be established for the Constitution at the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus, where the Turkish Cypriots will obtain again the right of representation and, after having ensured the active participation of the civilian organizations from both sides, a draft of a new Constitution for a Federal Cyprus must begin to be prepared.
The operation of the ports and airports in both sides of Cyprus by a common administration (under the observation of the EU) must be ensured and all sides concerned must be able to conduct free trade.
Turkey must start normalizing its relations and open its ports to a Republic of Cyprus which to have began normalization in some of its basic organs.
Starting form the reality that the federal structure provided for in Cyprus will include two federal states, the Turkish Cypriot federal state should be organized as a requirement of the will of the Turkish Cypriot people at the referendum on 24 April 2004. In this framework, the administration in Northern Cyprus must be really turned over to the Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots must support their own free will.
Specific number of Turkish troops must be withdrawn from the island to the extend that security problems are not created.
Varosha must be opened so that its former owners can settle there under the supervision of the UN and the EU.
A population census should be conducted in both parts of Cyprus under the supervision of the Council of Europe.
The 259 million euro financial aid of the EU should be allotted in order to be used especially for the efforts towards the harmonization with the EU.
 Eroglu: The parameters of the Cyprus problem have changedTurkish Cypriot daily HALKIN SESI newspaper (07.10.05) reports that Mr Dervis Eroglu, the chairman of the National Unity Party (UBP) evaluating the recent developments stated that the parameters of the Cyprus problem have changed.
In a written statement yesterday, Mr Eroglu called on the self-styled parliament in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus (OTRC) to evaluate the situation as soon as possible and to create a new policy as regards the Cyprus problem. Mr Eroglu stated that the political parties and the civil society organizations in the OTRC must come together and take steps in order to protect the rights and the laws in the OTCR.
 ORTAM newspaper: The Republican Turkish Party is at the cross roads with the solution forcesTurkish Cypriot daily ORTAM newspaper (07/10/05) reports under the above title that, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) is in the process of bringing every establishment under its control. The paper reports that the so-called decision taken by the self-styled Council of Ministers in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus, that they will grant interest- free loans to the small scale businesses and restaurants, is aimed at taking the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce under their control as well.
The Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, Mr Ali Erel, in a radio interview the other day declared that the CTP is in the process of taking the Chamber under its control and as a result of this action he will not seek reelection.
The paper strongly criticizes the CTP and reports that the CTP is trying to take under its control all the institutions and NGOs and make them its side establishments. The paper reports that the work to take the Chamber under its control was carried out for sometime behind the closed doors but now it came to the surface when former CTP deputy candidate Hasan Ince has openly declared the other day that he is a candidate for the Chambers leadership.
 The Turkish Foreign Minister explains how the blackmail of leaving on 17 December and not going on 3 October worked in Turkeys favorAnkara Anatolia news agency (06.10.05) reported from Ankara that the Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul on Thursday, speaking on private CNN-Turk channel, explained the bargaining process between Turkey and the EU which finally resulted in the start of accession talks.
Gul said that the outline of the negotiating framework document started to come out in New York--where the UN General Assembly meeting was being held.
There were some issues which made us uneasy and we had to clearly show our stance there," Gul said. Gul stressed that in order to give a message; he didn't attend the informal EU-NATO dinner hosted by US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice in New York. Gul highlighted the decision of not going to Luxembourg without completely seeing the framework document as the most important decision taken in that process.
"Maybe we would never go there, we risked that. There was an impression in the EU as if Turkey always opposed things but it would accept them at the last minute. In that respect we had earlier determined our resolution on vital issues and decided not to leave Ankara at all costs unless we were satisfied (with the text)," Gul said.
Gul stressed that he asked Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan to make public that Turkey rejected all the proposals made to Ankara on the morning of October 3, so that it could be understood that Turkey didn't make a joke. Gul said that the climate started to change after that statement.
Noting that the economy bureaucrats were also asked to take measures for a bad scenario, Gul said that the government always took into consideration the possibility of breaking off ties between Turkey and the EU.
International finance organizations were informed about those economic measures, he said and those institutions drew the attention of the EU Presidency to those measures.
As to the U.S. role in the process, Gul said that he talked to Rice twice and told her that it (Turkey's EU bid) was a global matter so she had to take an initiative. Gul said he also talked to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer for a few times.
Gul noted that France supported Turkey and it changed its previous negative stance regarding Turkey's EU bid. Gul said that after seeing that the press was pleased thinking that a deal was made on October 3rd afternoon, he asked Prime Ministry spokesman Akif Beki to make public that no agreement was reached yet.
Gul said that they didn't send the text of the speech which he would deliver in Luxembourg to EU and he and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw showed their texts to each other prior to the Intergovernmental Conference.
"We have clearly told the EU presidents both on December 17th, 2004 and on October 3rd, 2005 that EU member countries could use their veto rights (about Turkey) and they should take the responsibility of that.
Yet the impact of that veto would be seen not only in Turkey and EU, but in the region and the whole Islam world, we told this to them very clearly," Gul said. Gul stressed that Turkey's starting accession talks with the EU was the biggest gift that was given to the world. Turkey's EU bid was supported by all Muslim and neighboring countries, Gul said and noted that Turkey would join the EU also as a country representing those countries. "This is a step taken for an integration in the world," Gul said.
Gul remarked that Britain played a significant role in the process, praising British diplomacy. Gul stressed that the expressions of 'open-ended' membership and EU's 'absorption capacity' were valid not only for Turkey, but for all the previous and current candidates which wanted to join the EU.
"There can be some difficulties in this process, these problems can also be manipulated politically. But Turkey will always have other alternatives to think of not joining the EU when it fulfills everything. When Turkey comes to that point, the future politicians of Turkey will think again to become a full member or not. Norway did that, we can also give such a decision," Gul said.
Regarding the debate on 'full membership' versus 'privileged partnership' (Article 1 of the negotiating framework), Gul said that the government thought about the consequences of breaking off or maintaining the ties with the EU and in the end they decided on maintaining the ties.
As to Article 7, Gul stressed that the statement which was included in the negotiating framework agreement (which was approved by the EU Council) was included into the EU official papers and Turkey's rights in international organizations were guaranteed.
When asked if the UN would again take initiative for settlement of the Cyprus issue, Gul said that they had such an impression at their meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York. Gul added that "there will either be a comprehensive settlement (in Cyprus) under the supervision of UN, or Turkish Cypriots will strengthen their independence. Greek Cypriots will prefer one of that."
 The Turkish Foreign Minster met with Olli RehnIstanbul NTV television (06.10.05) broadcast that Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement, has said that the progress report on Turkey that will be issued on 9 November will cover problems in the fields of women's rights, freedom of religion and expression, and union rights. Rehn recalled that the EU expects the Customs Union additional protocol to be approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly as soon as possible.
Olli Rehn held his first meeting in Ankara with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
The foreign minister pointed out that the screening process will begin immediately. While that process is going on, Gul said, the negotiation chapters will be opened and discussed.
Rehn stressed that with the start of the negotiations, Turkey will be more closely monitored both by the EU and the European public. Olli Rehn stated that Europe fulfilled its promise by starting the accession negotiations with Turkey. Now, he added, it is Turkey's turn and it must bring its implementation of political reforms, women's rights, union rights, and religious freedoms closer to the EU. Rehn also recalled that the EU expects the Customs Union additional protocol to be implemented fully.
 The EU Commissioner for Enlargement stated that the Turkish Parliament should approve the Additional Protocol.Ankara Anatolia news agency (06.10.05) reported the following from Ankara:
EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said on Thursday that the Turkish parliament should approve the additional protocol which extends Turkey's Customs Union with the EU by covering new member states, as soon as possible.
Rehn met Turkish Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission Chairman Mehmet Dulger in Ankara. Upon a question about the screening process, Rehn told Turkish MPs that the process was expected to last for a year.
Replying to questions about the "absorption capacity", Rehn said that the expression had been mentioned earlier in the Progress Report released on October 6th, 2004, and added that it was not a new matter. When asked whether Turkish citizens would be granted right to free movement, Rehn said that free movement of Turkish citizens might be postponed till 2020. He said that the postponement might become permanent after assessing the labor force market of Europe.
 Mr Olli Rehn continues his contacts in Ankara. More statements.Ankara Anatolia (06.10.05) reports the following from Ankara:
EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn met Turkish State Minister and chief negotiator Ali Babacan in Ankara on Thursday.
Following the meeting, Rehn told reporters that they held a constructive meeting and technical and practical issues about the negotiation process were high on their agenda.
Rehn said that the screening process would start on the first chapter heading on October 20th, and the progress report would be released on November 9th. Highlighting the importance of issues such as rule of law and human rights, Rehn said that the process would depend on the speed of negotiations.
Meanwhile, Babacan said that Turkey's EU membership was a process affecting a very vast area. Rehn said that Turkey promised ratification of the Additional Protocol (that extends Turkey's customs union to new members of the EU including Greek Cypriots) by the Turkish parliament. "Accession negotiations can't start before the ratification of the additional protocol by the Turkish parliament," Rehn said in his meeting with Yasar Yakis, the Parliamentary EU Adjustment Commission Chairman, and members of the Commission the same day.
Referring to expectations of the EU Commission from Turkey, Rehn said that Turkey's full membership couldn't come true before Turkey fully adapted EU acquis to its national laws. The negotiations depended on Turkey's pace and capacity, Rehn said, adding that "the faster you are, the faster we will be. The negotiations are open-ended, but the target is full membership."
"Turkey has to 'fully' (not only sufficiently) abide by the Copenhagen criteria," Rehn asserted. Rehn defended the view that there was still problem in the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) which went into force on June 1st, 2005. Giving Orhan Pamuk case as an example, Rehn said that "nobody can be accused because of his/her thoughts in Europe, this should be the same in Turkey."
Rehn said that EU Commission would wait for the adoption of the draft law on foundations as this was important for social and economic aspect and also for religious belief/worship.
Rehn said that the screening process could be completed within one year, adding that "we don't want to see any political turbulence, so Turkey should not delay the ratification of the additional protocol."
Pointing out to the importance of political wish and determination of the Turkish government in the process, Rehn said that Turkey's determination would ease the implementation of legal arrangements.
The EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn met the Republican Peoples Party leader Mr Deniz Baykal, the same day in Ankara and said after the meeting that Turkey would continue to need Rehn's good willing efforts for Turkey's EU bid in the coming period.
"Certainly the negotiating framework for Turkey's relations with EU will continue to be an issue of debate in Turkey. All of our aim is to take under guarantee the full membership of Turkey," Baykal said.
Baykal said: "I am very pleased to see that there is an understanding in Turkey and the EU that EU membership process of Turkey has started." Baykal thanked Rehn for meeting him and giving information to CHP.
Meanwhile, Rehn said that joint target of the negotiating process was absolutely the accession. He said that there was not any other alternatives except for accession. Noting that the CHP had been supporting Turkey's EU membership process for a long time, Rehn said that opening of the negotiating process between Turkey and the EU was the success of both the government and the opposition.
Highlighting the importance of a national compromise on the negotiating process, Rehn said that they aimed to hold perpetual meetings with all political parties in order to ease efforts to provide such a compromise.
Reiterating that joint target of the negotiations was absolutely the accession, Rehn said that the process was based on Article 49 of the EU. Noting that it was an open-ended process, Rehn said that Turkey should fulfill the necessary criteria to reach the final target of EU full membership.
 Azeri MP boasts that his country granted diplomatic recognition to the territories of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by 40,000 Turkish troopsIllegal BAYRAK television (06.10.05) broadcast the following:
The Azerbaijan Economy, Culture and Cooperation Centre opened in Lefkosia today.
Deputy Prime Minister Serdar Denktas and a high level official representing the Azerbaijani government ministerial undersecretary Kamil Hasanov attended the inauguration ceremony. Some Azerbaijani Members of Parliament and other high level government officials were also present at the ceremony.
Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister Serdar Denktas who also holds the Foreign Ministers portfolio stated that the relations between the two countries will be carried to the highest level.
He criticized some foreign powers he did not name for exerting pressure on Azerbaijan to prevent it from establishing closer relations with the TRNC, (occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus), and said this should stop immediately.
Speaking for his part, Kamil Hasan, representing the Azeri Government, expressed the hope that the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people will end soon and that the European Union will honor its promises to the Turkish Cypriots. Also speaking, a member of the Azeri parliament Nizami Caferov said Azerbaijan will never stop helping the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Meanwhile, Mr Caferov paid a courtesy visit today to the Speaker Fatma Ekenoglu. Speaking here he reminded that Azerbaijan granted diplomatic recognition to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus without any fear.
For her part, Ms Ekenoglu said that cooperation between the two countries will continue to improve.
 Press Conference by the President of the European ParliamentIllegal Bayrak television (06.10.05) broadcast the following:
The President of the European Parliament Joseph Borell has said that the Cyprus problem should be solved within the United Nations framework.
Speaking at a press conference in Lefkosia today at the end of his three day visit to the island, Mr Borell described his contacts with the two sides as very useful.
Expressing the view that both the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots became the citizens of the European Union on May 1st last year, Mr Borel said that the Cyprus problem has since become a problem of the Union.
Acknowledging that despite this fact a solution to the problem should still be sought through the United Nations, Mr Borell added that the European Union for its part is ready to contribute to such a process.
Underlining the need to help ease the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, he reminded that the European Parliament decided to create a North Cyprus Contact Group to contribute to that.
Answering a question on the Direct Trade and Financial Aid Regulations, Mr. Borell said the European Parliament has asked the UK Presidency to deploy any effort it could in order to facilitate the approval of the two regulations at the same time.
He also added that if by the end of the year the approval of the regulations together - would not be possible, the Parliament will try to approve one of the regulations in order to facilitate the use of financial resources by the Turkish Cypriots.
Referring to Turkeys EU accession negotiations, Mr Borell said the start of the talks will provide a new opportunity to launch new initiatives to end the Cyprus problem.
Yesterday Mr Borell was received by President Mehmet Ali Talat, Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer and Foreign Minister Serdar Denktas, separately. He also met representatives of various non-governmental organizations and attended a round-table meeting with representatives of some.
 Closer co-operation between Turkey and Georgia and Turkey and Ajaria in the energy sectorsAnkara Anatolia news agency (06.10.05) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler said on Thursday that Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and he would go to Georgia on October 12th to attend a ceremony that would be held for Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline.
The visiting Georgian Minister of Energy Nika Gilauri, met Guler in Ankara the same day. Speaking after the meeting, Guler said that they discussed common projects and works that could be done in the future including Shah Deniz project and BTC pipeline.
Referring to the electricity agreement with the autonomous Ajaria Republic, Guler said that "they are pleased with that agreement, because we have met the electricity need of our neighbor in a very short time."
Guler said that Georgian officials invited Turkish investors to Georgia's privatization projects, adding that Georgia also expected Turkish companies' participation in electricity transmission and generation in Georgia. Guler said Georgia would privatize seven power plants. Guler stressed that Turkey targeted to increase the trade volume between the two countries to 8 billion USD soon.
The guest minister Gilauri said that they had perfect relations with Turkey particularly in the energy area, calling on Turkish companies to take part in privatization tenders in Georgia.
 The Turkish Cypriots exert efforts to lift the embargoes through British courtsTurkish Cypriot columnist Hasan Hasturer, writing in KIBRIS (07.10.05), says that he met yesterday in occupied Kyrenia with advocate Donald Crowford, chairman of EUPRO and Gultac Ozsan, one of the directors of the above-mentioned organisation, which is registered in Britain and it was established for foreigners who felt the need of legal aid against the Greek Cypriots mainly on the issue of the properties.
According to Mr Hasturer, EUPRO is preparing to file a case through a lawyers office in London regarding the fact the FIFA prevented a British football team to visit the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus and play preparation matches there.
Mr Hasturer writes, inter alia, the following on this issue: Working with a serious law office has been one of the most correct aspects of the gaining of the case against the advertising ban in London. EUPRO had a serious contribution on this issue towards the right course. They told me that they knocked on the door of a very well known legal bureau, named Addleshow. They explained the situation. The first reaction was very clear. This case could be won, they said. And in the end it was won. The obstacles put by FIFA to a British football team which wanted to camp and make preparation match in Northern Cyprus have been taken to the same legal bureau. The answer was the same as in the case of the advertisements. This case will be won, they said. .
 Self-Styled Minister of Interior: Building plots will be distributed to 3 thousand youth in the occupied Morfu area.Turkish Cypriot daily VOLKAN newspaper (07/10/05) reports that the self-styled Interior Minister in the Turkish occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Ozkan Murat, responding to criticism that nothing has been done for the students studying at the Middle East Technical Universitys Morfu Campus, has briefed the self-styled Assembly about the planned works in the Campus area and showed the map where building plots will be given to the 3 thousand youth. He said that at this moment there are 642 people living in the Campus and as the population grows the investment will be increased as well.
 Owner of magazine promoting stolen Greek Cypriot properties pleased because not many problems were created at the London Property Investment Fair.Under the title Property NC Magazine at the London Property Investment Fair , Turkish Cypriot Cyprus Times newspaper (07/10/05) reports the following .
The Property NC Magazine, which has taken on board a very big role in advertising and promoting Investors and agencies in North Cyprus, took part in the Property Investment Fair at Londons ExCel Center. The Fair took place on 23, 24 and 25 September 2005 with 12,000 prospective buyers visiting. The fair has great importance as it draws individual buyers and sellers as well as estate investors.
The Property NC magazine has been preparing for the Fair meticulously for many months. The owners of the magazine Mehmet Kozansoy stated we couldnt wait for the fair to begin so we could put forward our well prepared exhibition and it made us very happy to see our stand being visited be serious and curious visitors throughout the fair. We can say that handing out 4000 of our magazines is very good news for our advertisers as well as the other TRNC (occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus) stands at the fair to whom we directed prospective property buyers. Mehmet Kozansoy stated that they had been expecting the usual difficulties from the Greek Cypriots living in London but, apart from one person causing a big problem on the first day by causing a disruption, it all went really well. North Cyprus stands were on average 2 to 1 up on South Cyprus stands. To the international media we sent the message of existence on ´TRNC´ who is trying to show herself as a nation, despite the negative political propaganda others have been trying to drag us into and we have proven to have strong foundations and an explosive advertising campaign, said Mehmet Kozansoy.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 A pack of lies from the usurpers of the properties of European citizens to appease the old and attract new British receivers of stolen propertiesUnder the title So where does this all leave the property issue?, Turkish Cypriot Cyprus Times newspaper (07/10/05) published the following column, by Aydin Tuna:
It now looks like the Greek Cypriot side has exhausted all channels possible in trying to divert the problems of Cyprus from the EU to the UN. The EU president announced today that the Annan plan was and can only be the sole legitimate platform for peace. What does that now mean for property owners in North Cyprus? In fact it means a great deal, and how we will look upon this in the future.
Under the Annan plan it is quite clearly stated that if you have acquired property after 1974 and have improved it from its previous condition, the new occupier will either have the right to buy the original title from its previous owner or if they prefer sell it on. This in short answers any questions that many arise to those who have bought building or are thinking of doing so. The Annan plan guarantees that no one will lose their investment. A special property commission will be set up to adjudicate who can keep and who can sell. This property commission will consist of one Turkish Cypriot, one Greek Cypriot and one foreigner, most likely to be British. For many of us who are reading this article now, it will now be of comfort to know that the roof under which you will be sleeping tonight will be yours in the morning.
Indeed those who were previously considering but were scared should now seriously consider their options here in North Cyprus. Nowhere and I mean nowhere can you pick up property on Mediterranean for the price of what you can here. Now that we know a settlement on the island will eventually happen, new developments will begin to occur in the housing market. I hope it will not be on the scale that it was following last Mays referendum but investors will slowly realize that time is running out if they want to buy a villa in the sun at a knock down price.
As time goes by new restrictions will begin to squeeze the amount of property allowed to be constructed, thus making the demand slowly exceed supply. Another important issue is the introduction of a 25-year mortgage system for Turkish Cypriots. This will also enable them to get onto the property ladder and thus bring demand even higher. The market at present may be in a lull but this will no longer be the case as uncertainty over Cyprus slowly disappears. North Cyprus is an island within an island, there isnt that much to go around and what does tends to get snapped up quickly. It makes no difference any more whether your title is Turkish, exchange or points system, what matters now is that there is a law in place that will safeguard your property. And as this is now the case it will only be a matter of time when everyone on this island soon realizes this. So, now is the time. Make your decision now and dont wait too long. Otherwise before you know its prices will go up and you will be left thinking if only I
 The Turkish press continues to demonize Iran in a concerted campaign to present the US needing TurkeyAnkara Turkish Daily News (06.10. 05) publishes the following report under the title: "US Seeks Turkey's Backing Against Iran's Nuclear Efforts"
Key U.S. officials asked for Turkey's support against what Washington sees as Iran's efforts to gain nuclear weapons capability, diplomats from both sides said.
When Stephen Hadley, U.S. President George W. Bush's national security adviser, visited Ankara in late September, he briefly discussed the matter with top Turkish officials. But more detailed talks took place during last Friday's meetings between Robert Joseph, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and his counterparts at the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Joseph, the State Department's top official on non-proliferation, insisted Tehran's nuclear program was aimed at acquiring weapons and that a nuclear Iran would be a major threat for its neighbors, including Turkey, the whole Middle East and global peace and stability.
The United States also believes Iran has the ability to place nuclear warheads on medium and long-range ground-to-ground missiles. Many Western sources say Tehran may produce nuclear weapons in the next two to three years. Turkey and the United States had major disputes over the Iraq war and Iraq's future that have caused deterioration in the two NATO allies' traditionally close defense and political ties. However, Turkey shares the U.S. concerns over an Iran with nuclear weapons capabilities.
"We definitely do not want an Iran that has atomic bombs. We do not want nuclear weapons in our region," said one senior Turkish diplomat.
In a recent interview with the Turkish Daily News, Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said weapons of mass destruction in the hands of neighbors would be a threat for Turkey, in a clear reference to Iran.
Analysts in Ankara and Washington said Turkey's position on this matter was closer to that of the United States compared to the still ongoing differences on Iraq.
But Turkey officially has been backing the European Union's efforts to dissuade Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the diplomat said. During Joseph's Ankara talks, Turkish officials declined to provide the United States with a pledge for a blanket support mainly because Washington's "end-game" still was not clear at this point.
Washington says it will use all diplomatic means to deter Iran's nuclear ambitions, but Bush also has warned "all options are on the table." "It still is early to say what will happen, and we will continue talks with the United States and the European Union," said the Turkish diplomat. Also in talks with Iranian officials, Ankara has been consistently stressing that seeking to obtain nuclear weapons would be a bad idea for Tehran.
The United States on October 3 called on governments to freeze all transfers of nuclear technology to Iran, charging it was violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The effort apparently targeted Russia, the key supplier of nuclear know-how and materials for what Tehran says is a peaceful and energy-oriented program.
Stephen Rademaker, U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, made the plea at a U.N. hearing, which gained urgency after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week found Iran in breach of the treaty.
"No government should permit new nuclear transfers to Iran, and all ongoing nuclear projects should be frozen," Rademaker told a U.N. panel on disarmament.
But Russia, which has a contract to build a nuclear reactor in the Iranian city of Bushehr, flatly rejected the U.S. call.
Russia's U.N. spokesman, Sergei Trepelkov, said Rademaker's remarks were nothing new and insisted that Russia would not end its cooperation with Iran. "Certainly we are not interested in Iran getting nuclear weapons but, as for Bushehr, it is a purely peaceful project, and it fully meets the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency," Trepelkov said. "I don't think there is any ground for ceasing this cooperation."
Last week's IAEA board resolution put off a decision until November on whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. The board hopes that will give Tehran time to meet its demands, which included a call for Iran to end uranium conversion -- a precursor of enrichment -- and commit to freezing all enrichment plans.
Since the failure of talks between Iran and the EU three -- Britain, France and Germany -- in late summer, the United States has been seeking Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council. But Russia and China, two permanent members of the council with veto powers, have made it clear that they will oppose international sanctions against Tehran. Tehran has reacted furiously to its potential referral to the U.N. Security Council, threatening to resume uranium enrichment and cut oil exports.