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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-11-29

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.231/06 29.11.06

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Press reports that the EU continues its efforts to help Turkey fulfil its obligations towards the EU
  • [02] Erdogan comments on Popes visit to Turkey before departing for NATO Summit. Reference to Turkeys refusal to abide by its obligations
  • [03] How the Turkish Cypriot press covered Popes visit to Turkey
  • [04] Baykal: AKP undertook important commitments on recognizing the Republic of Cyprus
  • [05] Turkish Cypriot NGOs disagree with Article 22 of the decree regarding the amnesty for the development
  • [06] Statements by Hasan Ercakica
  • [07] Karpass peninsula mayors opposed to the appointment of a Bishop in Karpass
  • [08] The illegal regime threatens to file a lawsuit if the demand for direct flights to the illegal Tymbou airport is rejected
  • [09] AFRIKA: Slap from the Greeks to the Greek Cypriots
  • [10] Turekul Kurtekin was appointed by Ankara as its new ambassador in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus
  • [11] A new meeting between Tzionis and Pertev was held yesterday
  • [12] Turkey to command NATO Response Force Land Forces during the first half of 2007
  • [13] Columnist in AFRIKA participates in the We want freedom campaign
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [14] Turkish columnist assesses as pro-Turkish the Finnish EU Presidency

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Press reports that the EU continues its efforts to help Turkey fulfil its obligations towards the EU

    Turkish daily CUMHUR0YET (29.11.06), under the title The last efforts by Finland , reports that Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen is flying to Ankara on Friday. It is reported that Finland, which now holds the EU term presidency, has begun one last initiative in the hope of a breakthrough by the 6th of December.

    According to the paper, Germany, which will assume the EU term-presidency as of January will pursue a two-fold strategy. Under the first, called a technical issue, Germany will increase pressure on Turkey so that the Additional Protocol of Ankaras EU Customs Union would be fully implemented without any omissions and as a result, Turkey would have to face recognising the Greek Cypriots. Under the second, Turkey would be granted special status.

    Germany will try to pull the Cyprus problem out of the UN framework and put it on EU ground. It also plans to overlook points of friction that were the reason for the failure of the Finnish proposals. The first of these friction points is the (occupied fenced city of) Varosha issue, which was seen by Turkey as falling within the parameters of a comprehensive solution.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (29.11.06) reports that the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the efforts for reaching an understanding have not ended and that the Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen will visit Turkey on Friday.

    In statements before departing for Riga in order to participate in the NATO summit, Mr Erdogan said that he will meet with Mr Vanhanen and they will make a joint statement. The paper reminds that the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank Walter Steinmeier had said that the EU would prepare a new proposal so that the negotiations and the rapprochement with Turkey are not suspended. Mr Erdogan noted that he will meet with Mr Vanhanen on Friday at 13.00 hours and they will make a statement after that. He said that he does not agree with approaches which say that the Finnish initiative has been unsuccessful. He reminded the statements by European officials regarding the train crash in Turkeys EU accession course and pointed out that there will be no accident and that Turkey will continue its course.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily HALKIN SESI newspaper (29.11.06) refers to the issue under the title Finland is after a new initiative. It also publishes statements by the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Erkki Tuomioja, who has said that they will meet with all the EU member states and hold some contacts. He expressed the opinion that the solution of the problem of Turkey opening its seaports and airports to Cyprus might take one or two years.

    Finally, Turkish daily M0LL0YET (29.11.06) under the title Rehn s scenarios , reports that the Member of the European Commission responsible for the Enlargement, Mr Olli Rehn, cancelled all his official meetings until the 6th of December. The last meeting he had was with Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas in Belgium. According to Mr Topbas, Mr Rehn told him that he is trying to implement now plan B and that he is aiming at persuading the 25 EU commissioners on this plan.

    According to Mr Topbas, Mr Rehn told him that the best scenario is the postponement of the negotiations on the chapters of the customs, the transport and the free movement. Mr Rehn told his interlocutor that with a pessimistic approach in case the number of the negotiation files within the scope of the customs union goes up to thirteen, the negotiations between Turkey and the EU might come to a point of being stopped.

    (ITs.-DPs)

    [02] Erdogan comments on Popes visit to Turkey before departing for NATO Summit. Reference to Turkeys refusal to abide by its obligations

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (28.11.06) reports the following:

    "The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to democratic, secular and a social law state Turkey --with a 95 percent Muslim population-- is very important," said Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan who held a news conference regarding his meeting with the Pope at Ankara's Esenboga Airport on Tuesday.

    Noting that he had the chance to have a short meeting with Pope, Erdogan said, "Currently the violence culture is spreading and the world is faced with disaster scenarios like clash of civilizations. Thus, we need mutual understanding between different beliefs and cultures more than ever."

    Erdogan added that Pope's visit has a good timing. He added that this visit is very important to relay peace and tolerance messages to the world.

    "It is very important that the visit of Pope Benedict XVI coincides with a period in which the final declaration of the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative Istanbul Summit was released," said Erdogan and added: "This declaration will also be released in the UN on December 18th. We think the Alliance of Civilizations is the global peace project of the 21st century. I am pleased that the Pope is sharing the same views with me."

    Erdogan noted: "Churches, synagogues and mosques exist together in peace in our lands for centuries." "With this historical experience, Turkey is the symbol country of the Alliance of Civilizations. Thus, Turkey's EU membership will be an important event which will show that global peace can be possible," he added. Erdogan said: "Pope Benedict's visit is very important because it will strengthen the messages that we gave during the summit of the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative."

    Stating that the Pope wanted to see the final declaration of the summit, Erdogan noted that they would submit the declaration to him as soon as possible. Erdogan said that religious leaders' messages were very important to contribute to world peace.

    Replying to questions, Erdogan stated: "I told the Pope that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and love. I am very glad about Pope's statement over global peace and positive remarks on Islam."

    In regard to the incident that happened in a church in northeastern city of Trabzon (killing of Andrea Santaro, Italian Roman-Catholic priest of the Santa Maria Church in Trabzon on February 5th, 2006), Erdogan said that he offered his condolences to Pope Benedict over this incident. "Pope said that he did not think that this incident stemmed from Islam or a Muslim's stance towards a Christian," Erdogan stated.

    "I requested Pope Benedict XVI to support Turkey's EU accession process. The Pope said that they wish that Turkey will join the EU." Replying to questions on the failure of Finland's Cyprus initiative, Erdogan said, "Finnish Prime Minister (Matti Vanhanen) will arrive in Turkey on Friday. I will have a meeting with Vanhanen. After this meeting, we will make remarks on the matter." "The EU acquis is clear. Turkey keeps fulfilling the Copenhagen political criteria and economic criteria. We are advancing on our path. The domestic and foreign media should support us," he underlined.

    Regarding the NATO heads of state and government summit in Latvia, Erdogan said that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul will accompany him in Riga, Latvia.

    Recalling that Turkey hosted the NATO Summit in 2004, Erdogan said that important decisions were made for the future of NATO and also new initiatives were launched to develop relations for strategic partnerships in Caucasus and Central Asia during that summit.

    Noting that participants will assess the progress which has been recorded since the NATO Istanbul Summit, Erdogan said: "We will also exchange views about NATO's transformation against global threats of the 21st century."

    Erdogan added that he will hold several bilateral meetings in Riga tomorrow.

    [03] How the Turkish Cypriot press covered Popes visit to Turkey

    Turkish Cypriot daily newspapers (29.11.06) report the following on Popes visit to Turkey:

    KIBRIS refers to the visit of Pope Benedict the 16th to Turkey and reports that Mr Erdogan met with him at the airport and asked his support for Turkeys EU accession course. The Pope said that they wish Turkey to join the EU.

    AFRIKA refers to the issue and reports that the Pope met also with President Sezer who gave him as present the book of Sabahattin Ismail (editor-in-chief of VOLKAN newspaper) regarding the Cyprus problem. He also gave him a book about destroyed mosques and other Turkish monuments in Cyprus.

    HALKIN SESI refers to the issue under the title Support for the EU and Cyprus from the Pope. The paper reports that the Pope during his meeting with Mr Sezer said that the place of Turkey is in the EU and that the place of the solution of the Cyprus problem in the UN.

    (ITs)

    [04] Baykal: AKP undertook important commitments on recognizing the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (29.11.06) reports that addressing the parliamentary group of his party, the leader of the Republican Peoples Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal said that on 17 December 2004 and in July 2005 the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has undertaken important commitments on the issue of the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.

    (ITs)

    [05] Turkish Cypriot NGOs disagree with Article 22 of the decree regarding the amnesty for the development

    Turkish Cypriot daily YENIDUZEN newspaper (29.11.06) reports that environmental organizations and the Chamber of City Planners have expressed their support to the 2nd Area of Kyrenia decree, but noted that they disagree with its article 22. The chairman of the Green Peace Movement, Dogan Sahir said that the decree is something which should be acclaimed, but its article 22 is unacceptable.

    The worst plan is better than no plan at all and there is nothing such as the stoppage of all the constructions, he said and added that they support the decree but article 22 is unacceptable and shadows the decree. This article is open to exploitation in dimensions that cannot be controlled, he noted.

    The chairman of the Chamber of City Planners Ertan Oztek said that they support the whole of the decree but they oppose to article 22. The amnesty for the development is something taking place for the first time in our country. We are worried because the development amnesty will bring with it great dangers and social disturbance. He argued that the development amnesty will create lack of confidence to the state, those who are powerful will do whatever they want and everybody will build thinking that amnesty will be given to them.

    The general secretary of the Association of the Biologists, Hasan Sarpten expressed also the same opinion.

    (ITs)

    [06] Statements by Hasan Ercakica

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (29.11.06) reports that Mr Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, said yesterday that they are not thinking of any legal arrangement in response to the new law of the Republic of Cyprus regarding the occupied Greek Cypriot properties. He alleged, though, that the Turkish Cypriots could come to this point in order to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriot people. In statements during his weekly briefing, he claimed that the reason of the unsuccessful result of the Finnish initiative is that the Greeks and Greek Cypriots tried to change the sides of the Cyprus problem and present the problem as an issue between Turkey and the Greek Cypriots. He said that the efforts which Finland exerted with good faith were condemned to be unsuccessful from the very beginning.

    On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily VATAN newspaper (29.11.06) reports that Mr Ercakica said that in spite of the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side noted that it could discuss the issue of the restoration of the occupied Apostolos Andreas Monastery, no meeting took place between the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot sides on the issue. He said that there was no consensus on the issue within the Greek Cypriots.

    (ITs)

    [07] Karpass peninsula mayors opposed to the appointment of a Bishop in Karpass

    Turkish Cypriot daily VOLKAN newspaper (29.11.06) reports that commenting on the news in the Greek Cypriot press that Archbishop Chrysostomos the 2nd will appoint a Bishop in Karpass peninsula, the four mayors of the occupied villages of Trikomo, Yalousa, Rizokarpaso and Galatia said that they will not give the Bishop permission to enter Karpass. The paper also reports that it is alleged that 800 donums of land in Karpass (a land measure of about 1000 square meters) have been sold to foreigners.

    (ITs)

    [08] The illegal regime threatens to file a lawsuit if the demand for direct flights to the illegal Tymbou airport is rejected

    Turkish Cypriot daily HALKIN SESI newspaper (29.11.06) reports that the self-styled minister of public works and transport, Salih Usar has said that they have been working for a long time now in order to recourse to justice when their application to Britain regarding the starting of direct flights to the illegal Tymbou airport is rejected.

    On the same issue, KIBRISLI newspaper (29.11.06) publishes Mr Usars statements under the title We are hopeful and reports that Mr Usar told the paper that they are hopeful they will get a positive answer from Britain, but if the result is the opposite a lawsuit will be filed by the Turkish Cypriot Airlines.

    Lawyers say that the possibility of winning the case is very high. Usar said that they are working with well known lawyers and that they will base their demands on the British laws, the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and the Human Rights. I believe that the starting of direct flights would be a turning point for the solution of the Cyprus problem, he argued describing this as the first issue which should be solved after the 24 April referendums.

    (ITs)

    [09] AFRIKA: Slap from the Greeks to the Greek Cypriots

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (29.11.06) reports that the Cyprus problem was the main issue of the 57th session of the Joint Parliamentary Committee between Turkey and the EU at the European Parliament (EP) yesterday. The paper writes that the fact that many EP members, including Greeks, said that the Turkish side was right on the Cyprus problem drew the attention. Mr Panagiotis Beglitis, co-chairman of the Committee, member of the EP from the Greek Socialist Party (PASOK), addressing the Greek Cypriot members of the EP said: I am addressing the Greek Cypriot deputies. You have to accept the decision of lifting the isolations on the Turkish Cypriot people. He noted that in case this happens a positive climate will be created and a crisis in the relations between Turkey and the EU will be avoided. Mr Beglitis went on and said: The lifting of the isolations is an indispensable condition. It is a precondition. Let everybody, the UN, the EU, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus contribute to the creation of a climate of confidence. I think that in the relations between Turkey and the EU both sides behave hypocritically sometimes. The creation of problems is in nobodys interest. Furthermore, Geoffrey Van Orden, British Christian Democrat member of the EP, argued: The Greek Cypriot side which joined the EU has prevented the progress. This chance must be taken away from their hands. Otherwise they will take the ball and begin playing in the other field. And this will leave us in a difficult position. The Greek Cypriots make no gesture. Meanwhile, the German member of the Socialist Group of the EP, Vural Oger reminded the statements of Mr Gunter Verheugen when the Republic of Cyprus joined the EU and said that Turkey had signed the protocol thinking that it would fulfil its obligations towards the EU so that the isolations on the TRNC (breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus) would be lifted.

    Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (29.11.06) refers to the issue under the title Slap from the Greeks to the Greek Cypriots and describes the statements of Mr Beglitis as a surprise.

    (ITs)

    [10] Turekul Kurtekin was appointed by Ankara as its new ambassador in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (29.11.06) reports that the appointment of Mr Turekul Kurtekin as ambassador in the occupied areas of Cyprus was published in the Official Gazette of Turkey yesterday. Mr Kurtekin served as the Turkish permanent representative at the offices of the UN in Geneva.

    (Tr. Note: Resolution 550 (1984) of the UN Security Council, paragraph 2, writes the following (Quote):

    [02] Condemns all secessionist actions, including the purported exchange of Ambassadors between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, declares them illegal and invalid and calls for the immediate withdrawal)

    (ITs)

    [11] A new meeting between Tzionis and Pertev was held yesterday

    Illegal Bayrak television (28.11.06) broadcast the following:

    The Presidential Undersecretary Rasit Pertev and Tassos Tzionis an aide of the Greek Cypriot Leader Tassos Papadopulos met this afternoon to evaluate the proposals brought by the UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari and to work on ways of moving the process started on the 8 July forward.

    The UN Secretary Generals Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller was also present at the meeting which took place at UN controlled buffer zone in Lefkosia.

    After the two sides positive response given to the UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambaris proposals, talks between Mr Pertev and Mr Tzionis resumed today.

    The two men met at four oclock this afternoon in the UN-controlled buffer zone.

    The meeting is expected to create new momentum towards breaking the current deadlock on the 8th of July Process launched by the UN Secretary Generals Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.

    [12] Turkey to command NATO Response Force Land Forces during the first half of 2007

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (28.11. 06) reports the following from Riga:

    Turkey will command the NATO Response Force (NRF) Land Forces for six months as of the beginning of 2007.

    NATO will make the NRF fully operational during the NATO summit to begin in Latvian capital of Riga today, said the Alliance sources.

    The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will keep a land force unit comprised of about 3,000 soldiers ready when it commands the NRF Land Forces.

    Turkey assumed the same mission in 2003.

    According to the sources, NRF's deficiencies will be eliminated by the "finance provided by the members".

    Under a decision taken during the NATO summit held in Prague at the end of 2002, the NRF was to be made "fully operational", and it began its mission with around 6,000 soldiers in 2004.

    NRF, which consists of land, sea and air troops and military vehicles of the NATO member states, is capable of taking action within 15 and 30 days in case of a crisis.

    It is ready to act against "any threat anywhere around the world". Terrorism and mass destructive weapons are among these threats, said military sources.

    [13] Columnist in AFRIKA participates in the We want freedom campaign

    Under the title We want freedom!, Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (29.11.06) in its column Letter from London of Serhat Incirli who calls on everybody to support the We want freedom campaign started on the HYPERLINK "http://www.wewantfreedom.org" www.wewantfreedom.org webpage and refers to the problems which Turkey faces in its course towards the EU. He says that the most important obstacle for Turkey, according to the media, is Cyprus, but this does not mean that there no other problems.

    According to the above-mentioned webpage, the call of the We want freedom campaign is the following:

    While Turkey continuously claims to be in the process of democratisation, on the other hand, it blows a total state-terror in the whole country. The offices of the democratic organizations are being raided, their activists are being imprisoned, massacres are being carried out by attacking demonstrations and meetings, even the children are being shot on the streets. There was recorded an increase of applications to the Human Rights Association because of torture. There is now being put in force the implementations which are similar to the periods of military fascist coups and martial-laws.

    In recent months, the state-terror on the democratic rights and organizations has been increased by the use of the new Anti-terror Law (TMY), which is considered as the Anti-Social Law by the democratic public opinion. TMY was put in force despite the opposition of democratic mass organisations, human rights organisations, intellectuals, trade unions, workers and labourers.

    At the beginning of August, the newspaper Ozgur Gundem (Free Agenda) received a banning for a period of 15 days while the magazine Ozgur Halk (Free People) received 1 month.

    On 12 August, a 16 year-old boy, Fevzi Abik, was shot and killed by the police in the middle of the street in Adana. Again on 5 September, an 8 year-old girl, Mizgin Ozbek, became the victim of an extra-judicial killing by gendarmerie, together with two other people in Batman.

    On 6 September, the police attacked with gas bombs and panzers to the people who were protesting in Ankara against sending troops to Lebanon. 61 people were detained and 16 of them were imprisoned.

    On 8-12 September, 23 journalists, writers and oppositional people known by their socialist identities were imprisoned following the house raids and arrests on the streets of various cities. The Chief Editor of the newspaper Atilim, Ibrahim Cicek, its Chief Coordinator Sedat Senoglu, its writers Ziya Ulusoy and Bayram Namaz, Ozgur Radio Chief Coordinator Fusun Erdogan and well known revolutionary and socialist personalities are among those people who have been sent to prison. The newspaper Atilim, which carried this news into its pages, was banned on 14 September, according to the Article 6 of the new TMY.

    On 12 September, the counter-guerrilla forces affiliated to the state have once more responded to the Kurdish people's call for peace, with massacre, by killing 10 people (7 of them were children) in Diyarbakir.

    On 13 September, the offices of the magazines Ozgur Halk and Genc Bakis in Istanbul Aksaray and Taksim were raided by the police. Their offices were plundered; Suat Kolca, the owner of the magazines and 4 more workers were arrested and sent to prison.

    The Turkish state's operation of imprisonment on the progressives, democrats, leftists and socialists became widespread. On 21 September, the Central Office of the newspaper Atilim in Istanbul and its other offices in all cities of Turkey and N. Kurdistan, the Gunes Ajans, where the newspaper Atilim is technically prepared, the central office of the newspaper Dayanisma, Ozgur Radio, BEKSAV (Association of Science, Aesthetic, Education and Culture), the offices of the magazine Art and Life, the offices of Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP) in Istanbul-Taksim and in all other cities, associations in labourer neighbourhoods, Labourer Women's Association (EKD) and its all branches, the general offices of Tekstil-Sen Union, Limter-Is Union, which is affiliated to DISK (Confederation of the Revolutionary Workers Unions), Federation of Socialist Youth Associations and its member associations in all cities and the houses of many revolutionaries were raided by the police. The raids and human hunting on the streets have continued in the coming days and are still continuing.

    As a result of the raids, 130 journalists, broadcasters, unionists, woman activists, youth activists were taken into custody and 45 of them were imprisoned. The General President of Limter-Is Union, Cem Dinc and its General Secretary, Zafer Tektas, the General President of Tekstil-Sen Union, Ayse Yumli Yeter and its General Secretary Sevim Kaptan Olcmez, News Coordinator of Ozgur Radio, Halil Dinc and its worker Sinan Gercek, President of Istanbul Labourer Women's Association, Cicek Otlu, Istanbul ESP representative Figen Yuksekdag, the editor of the newspaper Dayanisma, Emin Orhan, columnist of the newspaper Atilim, Hasan Cosar and its workers Ozge Kelekci, Mehmet Guzel, Serdal Isik were also among those who were imprisoned. Thus the number of the imprisoned people rose to 68. The number of the journalists who are in prison at the moment rose to 25. The raids and imprisonments have continued until today and the actual number of the imprisoned has risen to 78.

    There is the decision of confidentiality on the case which was made pretext for the attacks. Neither the imprisoned people and the raided organizations, nor the lawyers and the public opinion are informed about the case.

    The police have even prevented the silent rally which was wanted to be organised by the Istanbul Branch of Human Rights Association on 7 October 2006, demanding "Freedom of Thought". When the President of IHD, Hurriyet Sener said to the police: "You are violating our constitutional right, we will do this rally", she got the answer: "Yes, we are violating your constitutional right and we are going to prevent your rally".

    The raided organizations and the other unions, democratic mass organisations, political parties, intellectuals and writers have increased the struggle against the TMY and the detention terror. The anger over the attacks is gradually growing on the international arena too.

    There has been created a total state-terror and extra-ordinary conditions in Turkey and N. Kurdistan. This is the point which the attacked organizations, the democratic people and organisations reached to and which we share also.

    Through these attacks, the socialist and oppositional press is wanted to be put in silence and the voice of unionists, workers and labourers, youth and women those who struggle for their rights is wanted to be shut down. The Turkish state has almost waged a war against the entire society with the new TMY. It is hunting for human in the offices of organizations, houses and on the streets. The freedom of press, freedom of action and freedom of organization is being violated; the journalists and writers are being put in prison. The Kurdish nation's call for freedom and peace is responded with violence.

    However, the journalists, writers, intellectuals, human rights defenders and oppositional people of the country, where the freedom of press, freedom of action and freedom of organization is being violated, have come together and are showing a common resistance.

    We, therefore, call on all the democratic people and organizations to increase the international solidarity with the democratic organizations and the peoples of our country. We call upon you to protest the anti-democratic practices of the Turkish state, to demand the immediate release of the imprisoned people and to take place in the international delegation which will participate at and observe the trials of the people who have been put in prison.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [14] Turkish columnist assesses as pro-Turkish the Finnish EU Presidency

    Turkish daily THE NEW ANATOLIAN newspaper (29.11.06) under the title For the reunification of Rome: Vatican to Turkey; Turkey in Brussels, publishes the following commentary by Cengiz Candar:

    The focus is, naturally, on Pope Benedict XVI's visit and not only for Turkey; the visit has become an international media event. Hordes of reporters have flooded into Turkey to cover the visit. Until Sunday, I was in Athens. The Greek TV channels were devoting special attention to the pope's Turkish sojourn. On Sunday, around noon, I was driving home from the airport and witnessed crowds gathering for a protest demonstration. Yesterday, I was on my way to Brussels. The newspaper stands at Frankfurt Airport were covered with the pictures of that demonstration. In my hotel room in Brussels, the multi-channel scrutiny on my TV was devoted to long coverage about the visit.

    Europe and the Christian world are fully immersed in the pope's Turkish visit. The concern is that the visit may serve to deepen the already existing chasm between Muslims around the world and the Western Christian world. Thanks to the 20,000 people mobilized by the Felicity Party (SP) in Istanbul's Caglayan Square, which saw crowds shouting, "Pope out!" the country is associated with being a security hazard. The Europeans are doing little to emphasize that the SP has no real appeal in Turkey anymore and its constituency has been taken up by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, which is, despite everything, the most committed pro-EU political party in Turkey.

    Whatever the European public opinion following the pope's visit, fortunately, the European Commission in Brussels and the EU's rotational Finnish Presidency in Helsinki are sober about Turkey's European prospects. Despite the latter's admitted failure in achieving a breakthrough on the Cyprus issue, both have declined to blame Turkey for that. Moreover, the Finns have unequivocally declared that suspending negotiations with Turkey would be disastrous.

    At this juncture, we could accept the freezing of a number of chapters in Turkey's accession negotiations but certainly not a suspension, i.e. a "train crash." In the coming few days, the Finnish Presidency, which could be safely listed on the "pro-Turkey" side of the EU fence, will write a fairly balanced report on why its initiative failed, an initiative that was attempted to be marketed as "the last opportunity," by putting the blame on both sides with a mild (acceptable to Turkey) wording.

    Following the Finnish Presidency's report, the Commission will then make a formal recommendation to the council, most likely requesting the suspension of some chapters directly relating to the Customs Union. Subsequently, the council, in its summit on Dec. 14-15, will make a decision to put those related chapters on hold. The predicted numbers range from three to 12 or even 14 at the most. The likelihood stands at between six and eight.

    Interestingly, most of these related chapters are about the benchmarks. Within the Turkish government program, they are those for implementation only after 2008. Thus, though the current point in Turkish-EU relations is by no means advantageous, it is acceptable and realistic -- both for Turkey and the EU.

    Neither is Turkey in a position to turn its back on the EU totally, nor is the EU in a situation to afford pushing Turkey once and for all from the realm of the European state of affairs. The cost for both would be extremely high, and both recognize this.

    The Europeans are well aware that the Turks will not take any step on the Cyprus issue in the coming election year, which would be seen as a unilateral concession domestically, and forcing Turkey to do so would be self-defeating.

    So, the suspension of a number of chapters in the accession negotiations would mean that both sides would be according a mutually agreed and accepted break, which both need, without losing the prospects of Turkey's accession.

    I wrote some time ago that the Finns will also learn that there is no such thing as a "last opportunity" when it comes to the Cyprus issue. Over two months, they have also graduated from an intense learning course on the Cyprus issue. Now it's time for the rest of the EU.

    The Cyprus ball, although it formally remains in the United Nations' court, is also proving itself to be a liability for the EU. As soon and as fast as the EU acknowledges this fact and acts accordingly, we can expect a gradual amelioration of Turkey-EU relations.

    We should not disregard the undeclared symbolism of the pope's visit to Turkey. He is in Turkey for the major objective of overcoming a European division; the division of Rome into the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. The Christian church's division is the outcome of ancient Rome's division.

    Without Turkey's (Eastern Rome) accession to the EU (Western Rome), there can be no real reunification of Europe ...


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