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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-12-06

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 <>



  • [01] Erdogan held a telephone conversation with Merkel before her meeting with Chirac.
  • [02] New deadline for Turkey to fulfill its obligations the stance of France and Germany.
  • [03] The Turkish Prime Minister on the Chirac-Merkel decision.
  • [04] The Spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry assessed the developments in Turkey´s EU process.
  • [05] How the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish press covered the Merkel-Chirac meeting.
  • [06] Press conference by Gul after meeting with the Swedish Foreign Minister.
  • [07] The Higher Education Council (YODAK) held contacts in Brussels.
  • [08] Initiative for simultaneous introduction of the Euro.
  • [09] NGO´s call on the government to lift isolation in F-Type prisons. Urgent call for the 123rd death to be prevented.

  • [10] Column in AFRIKA argues that the human rights and small Cyprus are sacrificed for Turkeys strategic position.
  • [11] Columnist in Turkish Daily News examines what is demanded from Turkey by the EU in the economy.
  • [12] Columnist in YENI SAFAK examines Turkey´s argument that the Cyprus problem should not be discussed within the EU.
  • [13] Columnist in MILLIYET outlines his impressions from Erdogan´s visit to Iran.
  • [14] Columnist in YENI SAFAK assesses Erdogan´s visit to Iran.


    [01] Erdogan held a telephone conversation with Merkel before her meeting with Chirac

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (05.12.06) reports the following:

    ``"Turkey has come to a critical landmark in its European Union (EU) process. The more EU needs Turkey, the more Turkey is important for the EU," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

    Taking the floor at a group meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the parliament, Erdogan pointed to the importance of the next 10 days in the EU process.

    "Turkey's EU membership is part of a global vision and the most important project of the 21st century. This is a very important project that cannot be sacrificed to small plans and daily domestic policies," he noted.

    "We are pleased to see commonsensical voices arising from the European public. Articles written by renowned people have been published in European and U.S. media. The articles in question qualify the injustices against Turkey as lack of vision. They are addressing their own public and explain why Turkey has to take place within the EU," Prime Minister Erdogan remarked.

    Erdogan said Turkey is a country that would add strength to the EU, and noted that, "putting forth impediments and distancing Turkey from the (negotiations) table would be a grave mistake."

    "There is nothing that Turkey will lose. It is actually Europe which will be the loser. This is not a process where emotional decisions will be made. We cannot act according to our feelings in this process even if the other party does so," he added.

    Erdogan said: "We are obliged to act with common sense as common sense will prevail sooner or later."

    Stating that he had a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the morning (today), Erdogan said: "We have discussed what a mistake may cost as regards to the steps on the matter."

    "I have expressed my wish that such a historic mistake would not be made in the leaders' summit scheduled for December 14th and 15th," Erdogan emphasized.

    Erdogan underscored that Turkey's EU membership was the "opportunity of the century" not only for the both parties, but also for the global peace and welfare.

    "Like the other commonsensical voices, we say that 'let us not miss this historic opportunity. Don't let this historic opportunity to be hampered by the Greek Cypriot party with cheap tricks. The European Union needs to show seriousness in Turkey's membership process and stand behind its pledges. We have fulfilled our responsibilities. The Greek Cypriot party is responsible for the insolubility in Cyprus. The U.N. is the basis of a comprehensive solution," Erdogan stressed.´´

    [02] New deadline for Turkey to fulfill its obligations the stance of France and Germany

    Illegal Bayrak television (05.12.06) broadcast the following:

    Germany and France have suggested a new deadline for Turkey to fulfill its obligations towards the European Union.

    The two countries have called for a deadline to be set between 18 and 24 months in order to review Turkeys EU Membership process.

    The suggestion was made after a meeting between the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President Jacques Chirac.

    Speaking after the meeting, Mrs. Merkel said that her country is in support of a partial suspension of Turkeys EU membership process and added that the aim is to get the implementation of the Ankara Protocol.

    Mrs. Merkel said that Germany was in favor of having the Commission to prepare another report on Turkey which would be completed by the middle of 2009.

    Italy, Portugal, Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration have also expressed their support to the deadline.

    On the same issue, Ankara Anatolia news agency (05.12.06) reports the following from Berlin:

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that the European Commission's recommendation to partially freeze Turkey's entry talks provided a "good basis" for discussions on the country's accession process during a foreign ministers' meeting next Monday and an EU summit later next week.

    "The European Commission's recommendation provides a good basis for Turkey's entry talks with the Union," Merkel told a joint press conference after she met French President Jacques Chirac and Polish President Leh Kaczynski in the German town of Mettlach.

    Merkel also said that the Commission would report back to EU leaders between Turkish elections next fall and European elections in early 2009 for a review of the state of Ankara's membership bid.

    "We will not set any kind of ultimatums, but we will watch the developments," Merkel added.

    "We have the same position, French and Germans, on this problem. And I think I understand correctly that the Polish position is not very far from ours," Chirac said.

    "It is sad to see no progress relating to the Ankara Protocol. We are hoping for positive developments," he added.

    "Poland remains a supporter of Turkey's accession. At the same time, Poland is a nation that intends to strictly respect all sorts of standards linked to the European Union and also the standards that are related to or at least should be related to various partners of the EU," Kaczynski said. "I am deeply convinced that all these problems can be solved."

    [03] The Turkish Prime Minister on the Chirac-Merkel decision

    Turkish private TV channel NTV (06.12.06), broadcast live the statements made by the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before leaving for Syria and replies to questions put to him by journalists at Ankara Esenboga Airport. Regarding yesterdays meeting between French President Chirac and German Chancellor Merkel, Erdogan said: Yesterday there was a tripartite meeting in Paris. Prior to this meeting I had a twenty-minute telephone conversation with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Taking a wrong step at the meeting or interfering in the process, will be a major mistake. Mrs.Merkel has told us that the meeting is not directed towards Turkeys EU process. As a matter of fact, what has been said prior to this meeting did not come true. The Chirac-Merkel meeting was not a summit. Our efforts prior to 15 December continue. This process is not an easy process. However, there are people among us who want this process to be rendered difficult. We have difficulty to understand this attitude. They are of the understanding that they could exploit this situation for their own benefit. The political parties have nothing to gain out of this EU process. We are taking the steps that are necessary.

    Stating that Turkey has, as regards the EU process, a Plan B and a Plan C, Erdogan declared: At this stage we are waiting. These are not the things we could disclose prior to seeing the steps to be taken on 15 December; our approach is not to stop our EU course. Turkey does not think of losing hope and stopping the course, something that the Greek Cypriots wish. There will be a Turkey ready at any moment. We will not change our firmness. In a mature manner we follow up the process. We will not act emotionally.


    [04] The Spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry assessed the developments in Turkey´s EU process

    CNN Turk television (06.12.06) broadcast live the statements made by the Spokesman of the Turkish Ministry of foreign Affairs, Mr Namik Tan.

    In reply to a question on the statements made after yesterday´s meeting between the French President and the German Chancellor, Mr Namik Tan, inter alia said:

    We do not want the EU process to be stopped. The EU countries too, do not want this. Europe is on the verge of taking a strategic decision about its future. We hope that they will think big and take decisions accordingly.

    The diplomatic process is going on. Our leaders held telephone conversations with their counterparts. Some of these conversations we can disclose and some not.

    In conclusion, we are doing everything possible for the process to continue.


    [05] How the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish press covered the Merkel-Chirac meeting

    Both Turkish Cypriot and Turkish press (06.12.06) covered yesterdays meeting between the French President Jacques Chirac, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Polish President Leh Kaczynski.

    Turkish Cypriot daily newspapers referred to the issue as follows:

    KIBRIS newspaper under the banner title Paris-Berlin Alliance reports on the Chirac-Merkel meeting and writes that the two leaders have made a proposal, according to which Turkeys negotiations with the EU will be examined after a period of 18-24 months. The paper also writes that the French-German proposal is supported by Italy, Portugal, Greece and the Greek Cypriot side, and publishes Angela Merkels statements according to which Mrs Merkel stated that the preparation of a new report for Turkey and the examination of its progress will last until mid 2009.

    HALKIN SESI under the banner title A step backwards from Germany refers to the meeting and publishes statements made by the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who supported the French-German proposal, that the negotiations of Turkey for the EU membership should be re-examined after a period of time.

    YENI DUZEN refers to the meeting as a Paris-Berlin alliance and reports that what they were afraid that it would happen during the Merkel-Chirac meeting did not happen and that Merkel became softer. The paper also writes that the two leaders called for a period of 18-24 months time to be given to Turkey in order to comply with its EU obligations.

    AFRIKA refers to the issue under the title Two steps forward and one backwards.

    KIBRISLI and ORTAM newspapers report on the meeting in their internal pages, while OZGUR DUSUNCE refers to the meeting under the title Critical for Turkey the Merkel and Chirac summit.

    GUNES newspaper writes that Angela Merkel and Jacques Chirac met and a period of 18 months was given to Turkey in order to open its ports to the Greek Cypriot vessels. The paper also writes that the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed once more that Turkeys membership to the EU is tied to the Cyprus Problem.

    Turkish newspapers referred to the issue as follows:

    HURRIYET reports that the French President Jacques Chirac and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel determined yesterday their stance as regards Turkey. Contrary to what was expected, no decision was taken for a deadline to be put before Turkey to open its ports to the Greek Cypriot vessels in an 18 month period. However, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that they expect from the European Commission a Turkey Report in spring 2009. There is no ultimatum for Turkey, she stated.

    The paper writes that the German Chancellor took a back step on the issue of a time-table on the opening of the ports by Turkey. Speaking at a press conference after the meeting yesterday, Mrs Merkel stated that the time-table set by the European Commission is a good basis for future meetings of the EU on Turkey. She also stated that they will not give an ultimatum to Turkey, but they will follow the developments. Merkel and Chirac will ask for the suspension of ten chapters instead of eight the European Commission has proposed, but they will not ask for a time-table as regards the opening of the ports. On his part, Mr Chirac stated that the developments on the implementation of the Additional Protocol are distressing and added that they hope there will be positive developments on the issue.

    On the issue of the Turkey Report in mid-2009 by the European Commission, demanded by the German Chancellor, the paper writes that it has two purposes. The first is to see the policy that will be followed on Cyprus by the power that will emerge after the November 2007 elections in Turkey. The second is related to the campaign for the elections of the European Parliament and how the issues of Turkey and the enlargement of the EU will be discussed in front of the European public opinion.

    SABAH newspaper, under the title No ultimatum, but, writes that not a tough decision was made after Merkel and Chiracs meeting. The two leaders did not ask for the suspension of the negotiations but they ask for a report after 18-24 months. They also called on Cyprus not to use its veto right.


    [06] Press conference by Gul after meeting with the Swedish Foreign Minister

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (05.12.06) reports the following:

    ``"I don't think a decision that brings much burden would be made under the current conditions even when the recommendatory decision of the EU Commission is unacceptable," Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday.

    In a joint news conference he held with the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Gul replied to questions about the meeting of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac pertaining to Turkey's EU process. Gul indicated that talks continued between Turkey and the EU member countries.

    Asked on what he based the view that recommendation decision of the Commission would not worsen, Gul recalled the statements of Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt that Europe should think in strategic sense sooner or later."We think that everybody will in the end consider Turkey's membership talks under a strategic perspective," he said.

    Gul said the government carried out a busy telephone diplomacy, "there is still time in front of us. Everybody will do his best."

    When recalled of the news reports that Turkish people turned their faces towards the East, Gul said this was not right. Gul remarked that problems as regards to the negotiations with the EU and Turkey's vision were different things, adding that, "Turkey's vision is extremely clear. That vision is to be a democratic country believing in free market economy and respecting human rights. Turkey will strongly continue its domestic reforms. We fulfill the reforms for our people."

    Pointing out that Bildt's visit to Turkey coincided with a critical period, Gul said recent situation between Turkey and the EU, negotiation process, and critical meetings that will take place in Europe were discussed during his meeting with Bildt.

    "The negotiation process should continue. The negotiation process will be impacted but will continue," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt today.

    Answering the questions of the press in a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Bildt said: "Turkey is a European country with a huge significance for the future. We are all engaged in a process of modernization. Turkey's modernization is the most significant process that Europe has. We all know that it is not completed. There are still steps to be taken."

    Emphasizing that he had conducted the negotiation process of Sweden 15 years ago, Bildt underscored that they went through some difficult periods, but at the end they arrived at fairly good solutions.

    Bildt noted that the current situation between EU and Turkey was not only a result of Turkey's failure to implement some of the legal obligations of the Ankara Protocol but also the EU, itself also failed to implement some of its political commitments on the Cyprus issue.

    Bildt underscored that he and the majority of the EU members believe that the negotiation process should carry on. The Swedish Foreign Minister underlined the importance of deepening the strategic debate.

    Emphasizing the importance of Turkey's geo-strategic position, Bildt said: "Even with the Commission's proposals, the negotiation process continues. Turkey is not a neighbour of Denmark and Sweden. Turkey is situated in a volatile and strategically significant region."

    Bildt added that the reason behind the current situation in Turkey-EU relations was the failure in the resolution of Cyprus issue and the issue should be resolved under the UN auspices.

    [07] The Higher Education Council (YODAK) held contacts in Brussels

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (06.12.06) reports that the so-called members of the Higher Education Planning, Control, Accreditation and Coordination Council (YODAK), held contacts in Brussels during which they spoke about the so-called isolations imposed on the higher education in the Turkish occupied territories of Republic of Cyprus. The members of the YODAK also gave a conference on: The future of Cyprus: the role of higher education for peace and dialogue. Mr Cem Ozdemir of the German Greens coordinated the conference to which European Parliament members showed interest.

    In addition Turkish daily HURRIYET newspaper (06.12.06) writes that the rectors and the deans of the universities in occupied Cyprus made a protest in Brussels, wearing their toga, protesting against the educational isolation and the embargo on the illegal universities by the Greek Cypriot side, as they alleged.

    Twenty-two rectors and deans, under the presidency of the rector of the Eastern Mediterranean University Halil Guven, which (the university) organized a meeting at the European Parliament regarding this issue, criticized the declarations that the universities in the TRNC are illegal and the negative campaign carried out in the international platform by the Greek Cypriot side, writes the paper. Mr Guven, who alleged that the Greek Cypriots strive in every platform in order to isolate the universities of the TRNC, said that an anti-campaign was carried out regarding 26 students who went to the TRNC from the USA San Diego town. He stated that the San Diego University was affected from this situation and remained exposed to the dense harassment of the Greek Cypriot and Greek lobbies.


    [08] Initiative for simultaneous introduction of the Euro

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (06.12.06) reports that with the initiative of the Management Centre a bi-communal study will be carried out to find out the possibility of adopting the Euro simultaneously on the both sides. To this effect there will be a press conference at the Ledra Palace Hotel today at 11:00 hours. Part of the study will be financed by the British High Commission in Cyprus.


    [09] NGO´s call on the government to lift isolation in F-Type prisons. Urgent call for the 123rd death to be prevented

    Istanbul CNN TURK Online in Turkish (04.12.06) reports that a joint declaration has been issued with the aim of "lifting the isolation" in F-type prisons. The joint declaration has been prepared by nongovernmental organizations [NGO's], among them DISK [Confederation of Revolutionary Worker Unions], KESK [Confederation of Public Sector Worker Unions], the TTB [Turkish Medical Association], and the TMMOB [Turkish Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers]. The declaration has called upon the Justice Ministry to find a solution.

    The declaration said: "The Justice Ministry should take confidence building measures until the completion of the fact-finding and assessment studies that it will jointly conduct with the relevant trade associations and the Directorate for the Execution of Sentences. This way, it will be possible to put an end to the severe and comprehensive protest actions that have been undertaken for almost seven years and that mainly oppose the measures taken in the F-type prisons."

    TTB Chairman Gencay Gursoy provided information on the meeting that they held with Justice Ministry Cemil Cicek on 15 November 2006 with the aim of putting an end to the isolation system.

    Gursoy noted that Minister Cicek does not agree with the argument that "the isolation system is valid," and said: "The state does not see this as a social problem. This is the point where the matter reaches a deadlock. It is therefore possible to resolve this issue only through extensive public pressure. We propose that the bureaucrats of the ministry and the trade associations conduct a joint study on this issue -- an issue that is related to social health. And the Justice Ministry should take steps according to the results of the study."

    Explaining that they continue to make efforts in this regard, Gursoy said: "It is necessary to further expand this struggle, to convince large masses that this is a humanitarian issue, and to continue with the actions."

    DISK Chairman Suleyman Celebi noted that this problem has been on Turkey's agenda for years, but that the obstinacy regarding the solution of this problem continues.

    Recalling that 122 people have died as a result of hunger strikes so far, Celebi stated that the calls that they, as four NGO's, have issued with the aim of increasing public sensitivity on this issue did not have sufficient repercussions.

    Celebi said: "Here I want everyone to be courageous. The Bar Association primarily and everyone should contribute to the solution of this problem. I hope that instead of keening and complaining, they will be involved in this process." KESK Chairman Ismail Hakki Tombul, in turn, stressed that it is necessary to adopt an approach that will put to the fore the humanitarian dimension of the problem related to the F-type prisons.

    Noting that it is possible to take the necessary steps that will ensure that the inmates have social contacts with each other, Tombul said the following: "No one has the right to create difficulties regarding this issue. It is necessary to put an end to the obstinacy in this regard. This should be perceived as a humanitarian issue. Social contact may constitute the first step in the solution of the problem. We should establish a social dialogue all together and we should prevent the 123rd death. If the Justice Ministry insists on looking for an interlocutor, we, as the NGO's, are its interlocutor. We will carry out our responsibilities for the solution of the problem."

    Following the speeches, the joint declaration that is supported by the NGO's was announced. The declaration noted that a working group that will include representatives from the Justice Ministry, the bar associations, and the trade associations should seek solution possibilities. The improvements that are allowed by the regulations should be made prior to finding a comprehensive solution.

    "The Ministry should stop insisting on the continuation of the existing model for reasons such as the requirements of the regulation on the execution of sentences, the national execution policy, and security," said the declaration, adding: "A solution that does not have unfavorable effects in terms of security and that does not require architectural renovation is obligatory in terms of the adoption of a humanitarian execution regime. The Justice Ministry should take confidence building measures until the completion of the fact-finding and assessment studies that it will jointly conduct with the relevant trade associations and the Directorate for the Execution of Sentences. This way, it will be possible to put an end to the severe and comprehensive protest actions that have been undertaken for almost seven years and that mainly oppose the measures taken in the F-type prisons."


    [10] Column in AFRIKA argues that the human rights and small Cyprus are sacrificed for Turkeys strategic position

    Under the title We shall wait much longer, Turkish Cypriot AFRIKA newspaper (06.12.06) publishes the following commentary in the column Letter from Afrika:

    The European Commission has finally put aside all considerations and spoke out. And put forth the basic criterion in Turkeys accession to the EU. This criterion is neither the reforms, nor the human rights or Cyprus. All these are like accessories by the side of the basic criterion. The basic criterion is Turkeys strategic position. You remember, in the past they called it the gendarmerie of the Middle East. This is the position (we are talking about). It is a window open for Iran, Iraq, Syria, that is, to all the petrol wells. It is an important passageway. And it is a powerful army. Have France and Germany ignored this and the European Commission felt the need to warn them?

    It said: Take your decision having into consideration Turkeys strategic importance.

    Is it worth it to offend Turkey because it did not open its ports to small Cyprus? Is Europe so mad to lose a very great Turkey for the sake of the Greek Cypriots? Is this strategy, this gendarmerie not needed for everybody? Never mind the reforms and things like that. Leave Cyprus aside. Come to the strategy, the strategy!

    In fact, the Commission, which warned Germany and France, did not say everything yet. It put aside all considerations and spoke out, but it did not say everything. (It said) only the half of it. Do you know what is included in the other half? The market. The trading. A market of 70 millions. Money flows like water in this market. Furthermore, the adjustment of the foreign exchange is not in the hands of Turkey, but in the hands of Europe and America. (In the hands of) the International Monetary Fund. If they want they make money to go down and if they want they make it go up. Where else could such a blessing be found? Will this be sacrificed for the sake of the 700-thousands Greek Cypriot population?

    Things are like that. There is nothing else to be done. Those who threaten Turkey at every critical point will withdraw from the step they made forward after they obtain whatever they wanted. If they make two steps forward, they will make one step backwards. And they will consider this as a blessing. And we will sit at these stands, which were seen suitable for us, and wait for many years. Until someone agrees to find a solution to our problem. We will watch Turkeys EU adventure just like we watch with enthusiasm the matches between Galata Saray and Fener Bahce. Playing zurnas (Tr. Note: A reed instrument somewhat resembling an oboe) in the streets and whistles at the assembly.


    [11] Columnist in Turkish Daily News examines what is demanded from Turkey by the EU in the economy

    Under the title: Turkish economy in 2007, Turkish Daily News newspaper (05.12.06) publishes the following commentary by Cuneyt Ulsever:

    Today I would like to discuss what the European Union demands from Turkey in 2007 in economic terms and what measures Turkey should be taking before the 25-nation bloc makes its ultimate decision on Turkey during the December 14-15 summit in the best way I can, according to what my knowledge permits.

    I am most curious about how the EU decision not to open some negotiation chapters until Turkey opens its ports to southern Cyprus will affect Turkey's economy in 2007.

    Since I come from a school of thought significantly different from the school asserting that politics and economy are mutually exclusive, I believe the greatest risk for 2007 is posed by the possibility of foreign capital floating in the Istanbul Stock Exchange and foreign investment, which indirectly finances the foreign trade deficit, fleeing Turkey because of the EU's suspension of talks on some chapters.

    The presidential elections and general elections are also huge thresholds that Turkey will have to overcome next year, but I see the biggest risk in the economy.

    I would like to share some views confirming the validity of my concern written by three different columnists.

    Faik Oztrak in an article examining the indicators of October underlines some important points. His article was printed in MILLIYET daily on December 4.

    It is becoming apparent that the rapid fall of the dollar, just like in April this year, is negatively influencing developing financial markets, primarily those of Latin America. On the other side, crude oil prices started rising again at the end of last month. In such an environment, concern about economies with a higher current account deficit like ours is growing at a faster pace than concern directed at other economies.

    In October, imports increased by 10.8 percent, the lowest this year. However, despite the fall of exports below last year's figures for the first time this year, the foreign trade deficit still grew by 33 percent. In the end, the annual foreign trade deficit continued its rapid rise and hit $52.7 billion in October. This way, the final official foreign trade deficit estimate at $52 billion was surpassed in only the 10th month of the year.

    Osman Ulagay cannot help relaying a single concern in an article from the MILLIYET daily on December 2. Although he feels the weakened dollar does not affect world markets greatly, even a calculated loss of value has positive influence on the world and U.S. economy.

    Volatility beyond estimates in the price of the dollar, perhaps the single most important price in the world economy, and its sharp fall might all of a sudden subject the global finance system, currently balanced on a precarious position, to a very serious test. This is why monitoring the rate of the dollar closely is most useful at this point.

    Erdal Saglam also says markets in Turkey are focused on the partial suspension of some negotiation chapters in an article printed in the HURRIYET daily on December 4.

    Bank research reports silently suggest that no matter what decision comes out of the EU, it cannot be a good one after this stage. However, they note that a reduction of chapters to be suspended to five would be taken well by the markets.

    Then Saglam makes a very interesting observation:

    The markets and the government will attempt to show that the decision that emerges from the December 14-15 summit is not bad news since the two have the same interests at stake. However, nobody can give the same assurance for the handling of any bad news in the new year; in other words, after December 31, once the balance sheets are completed. On top of that, the EU Term President Germany will frequently be displaying an intolerant attitude ...

    Turkey is entering 2007 with a soaring trade deficit. The fall in global markets affects Turkey worse than it does other similar countries. This is why the fall in the dollar should not exceed estimates.

    Meanwhile, a similar projection can be put forth for the number of chapters to be suspended in EU negotiations. The markets have accepted five as a good number. They might not react to the suspension of five chapters.

    But what if one of the two estimates doesn't hold? What if the dollar falls beyond the anticipated rate and/or the European Union blocks more than five chapters? I hope somebody is calculating what to do in that case!

    [12] Columnist in YENI SAFAK examines Turkey´s argument that the Cyprus problem should not be discussed within the EU

    Istanbul YENI SAFAK newspaper (04.12.06) publishes the following commentary by Cevdet Akcali under the title: "Why is the Finnish Prime Minister visiting Turkey?":

    Turkey has declared time and again that it is determined on two points in the Cyprus issue: First, the UN platform is the only place for discussing this issue. Turkey opposes holding discussions on this issue within the framework of the EU. Secondly, Turkey's airspace or ports will not be opened to vessels and aircraft that belong to the Greek Cypriot sector if the isolation imposed on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [KKTC] is not lifted.

    Despite this however, the prime minister of Finland, the EU term president, has been positing proposals to the sides for the solution of the dispute. Both our prime minister and our foreign minister repeat Turkey's determination on these two issues on each and every platform that raises the Cyprus issue. However, they fact that they state that they are pleased with Finnish prime minister's plan and that they will accept it if a "middle way is found" sheds a shadow on this determination.

    If we have decided that the Cyprus issue will be resolved only within the framework of the United Nations, why should Finland or one of the EU's authorized organs try to prepare a plan on this issue? If we really believe that this issue does not concern the EU, why do we participate in the meetings and why do we talk about a middle path?

    EU officials are involved in this dispute because they do not believe that Turkey is really determined on these two points.

    If this is so clear, why is the Finnish prime minister coming to our country to discuss only this issue? There may be two reasons behind this: First, he may be after the respect that he will gain by resolving this dispute and secondly he may be testing the degree of Turkey's determination.

    In a way the EU officials are right. Turkey has been expressing the same arguments since 1964 when this dispute had erupted. However given that both the Greek Cypriots and the EU countries saw that Turkey's determination remained only in words, they proceeded bit by bit and they have finally pushed Turkey into a corner -- a corner from which it cannot escape. They are still positing new proposals due to the fact that they still do not believe in our determination on these two points.

    However, the Turkish side, the Greek Cypriot side, and the EU officials have not paid attention to one point: From the standpoint of the relations between Turkey and the EU, each and every action that offends Turkey's honor resembles a nail that is driven to the head of the Turkish nation. As the number of these nails increases, it will be more difficult to resolve the issue.

    First of all, if our government believes that the dispute on the Cyprus issue will be resolved with a decision that it will reach single handedly, it is very mistaken. This mistake was made when Turkey promised to open Turkey's airspace and ports to Greek Cypriot vessels and aircraft.

    And the KKTC administrators were mistaken by believing that the dispute merely stemmed from the stand adopted by Rauf Denktas and his team and that they would easily resolve the problem if they would come to power.

    Former Cypriot President Kyprianou had confessed a mistake following the 1974 Peace Operation. He had said: "We had believed that we were confronting only the 120,000 Turks on the island. We were not able to understand that there were 60 million people behind them."

    Following the Samson coup in Cyprus, Turkey had said to Britain and Greece: Let us take joint action. The British prime minister who had mistakenly believed that Turkey would not be able to do this by itself, had answered sarcastically: "Why do you not carry out this intervention?"

    In its present state, the Cyprus cause has turned into a clew of mistakes and the mistakes continue.

    The Finnish prime minister is coming to our country in order to test Turkey's determination on the Cyprus issue. However he is once again making a mistake in choosing his counterpart. It is necessary to test not only the government, but all the state organs and everyone -- even the shepherd on the mountain -- as well as the people living in Cyprus on this issue.

    EU officials are greatly mistaken by playing the membership trump card against Turkey. They do not know that there is a limit to the concessions that they will receive from Turkey. Our prime minister's statement to the effect that "you lift the isolation and we will open the port" is a desperate search for a solution.

    Every time the Cyprus issue is discussed on the wrong platforms and by inappropriate people the problem becomes more chronic and more complicated. There is an impolite but a very meaningful saying in Anatolia: "Do not pursue he who eats grapes until he defecates molasses."

    [13] Columnist in MILLIYET outlines his impressions from Erdogan´s visit to Iran

    Istanbul MILLIYET newspaper (05.12.06) publishes the following column by Hasan Cemal under the title: "The European Union should really sacrifice itself for Turkey":

    The opportunity for a pleasant chat with Iranian Foreign Minister [Manouchehr] Mottaki came up Sunday evening in Tehran for the group of journalists following [visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. I asked Mottaki, who had represented his country as Ambassador in Ankara during the 1980s:

    "Is the EU going to admit Turkey?"

    His answer came with a burst of laughter:

    "Of course the European Union is going to do everything it can for Turkey!"

    The Iranian Foreign Minister's manner was such as to say "What business do you have in Europe?.." He cut it short by saying "it is actually Turkey's membership that will strengthen the EU."

    The EU issue was also brought up during the return to Ankara.

    Prime Minister Erdogan spoke as follows:

    "In the European Union, they think of nothing but Cyprus. And we are reminding them first to keep the promise they gave us in terms of ending the isolation of Northern Cyprus."

    Erdogan also gave no indication of any changes regarding [Turkish Criminal Code article] 301 by the time of the EU summit in the middle of the month. He said: "We are not in any such rush." Stating as well that nothing noteworthy reflecting a compromise on an amendment has come from civil society organizations, Erdogan said that the EU is not all that concerned with article 301 at the moment.

    Subtitle: Not asked about Presidency

    Domestic political topics were not much discussed while flying back to Ankara on Sunday evening. And that well-known question "are you going to become the President?" was not put to him.

    For his response is by now well known: "No comment before April!"

    Despite this silence, scenarios involving the Presidency continue to be worked out in various circles. Because it is such a topic that, if the ball were to be kicked the wrong way, Turkey would end up scoring bitterly against itself. A great many things, including stability, depend on this election in the spring of the coming year...

    While listening to Prime Minister Erdogan in the plane Sunday evening, I also concocted a scenario in my head.

    We were talking about Iran's economic situation. When it was noted that its national income totals approximately 150 billion dollars, and that Turkey's national income, during the financial crisis of February 2001, had decreased by half to roughly this level, but has now gone back up to 360 billion dollars, Erdogan corrected:

    "No; we have gone up not to 360 [billion], but to 410 [billion]."

    Prime Minister Erdogan then said that, in four years, they have brought the per capita national income to above 5 thousand dollars, and that they are aiming at 10 thousand dollars in the next five years.

    The second five years! An expression that sees next year's parliamentary elections as a sure victory...

    And in this second five years, to double the per capita national income, and to open wide the road leading to EU membership... And then to think about Cankaya thereafter? And could this scenario also include a referendum on a constitutional amendment that, after the second five years, would provide for the public to elect the President?..

    Naturally, who knows who would still be around then, and who would not?

    We are unable to predict what is going to happen in the Cankaya election six months from now, so how can we forecast five or six years into the future? Especially in a country like Turkey...

    This is right. But still, scenarios continue to be dreamed up.

    The most scenarios these days, for instance, are being written about the future of Iraq, which has without any doubt now descended into a bloody "civil war."

    The situation in Iraq, along with Lebanon, was included at the very top of Prime Minister Erdogan's Tehran agenda.

    Subtitle: Shared view on Iraq

    Erdogan related to those of us in the plane that, while in Tehran, he had discussed with the leadership cadre there that it would be useful for America to declare a timetable for its withdrawal from Iraq, and that this had been received positively.

    He said: "Should the unrest in Iraq continue with the presence of the coalition forces, or should the country settle down? Do we want a country in which 650 thousand people have died, or do we want the bloodshed to stop?"

    Erdogan, in touching upon the conflicts in Palestine/Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon, said that "the world arms industry is playing an active role in these matters," then continued as follows:

    "The weapons that are manufactured have to be sold somewhere. The manufacturers are known, and the consumers are clear to see. And the expenditures made are indeed paid for by someone."

    While returning to Ankara in the airplane, Erdogan listed as follows the discussions he had held in Tehran on Sunday with Religious Leader Ali Khamenei, President [Mahmud] Ahmadinezhad, State Council Chairman [Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani, First Vice President [Parviz] Davudi, and Foreign Minister Mottaki:

    "Iran sees Iraqi Prime Minister [Nuri] Al-Maliki as an opportunity. We also see him as an opportunity. Iraq's election has to be respected. There is a result that came out of a ballot box. Those who want the Sunnis to come to power, and we are Sunnis as well, have to show respect for the result."

    Subtitle: Agreement on Lebanon

    "Since America is not going to stay in Iraq forever, a withdrawal timetable, oriented toward the future, could be worked out. President [George W.] Bush told me personally in our meeting that 'if Iraq doesn't want us, we are not going to stay by force.' If a timetable for withdrawal were put into implementation, the central government would have an easier time. For us, the essential thing is strengthening the Iraqi government, and attaining order. I have said this before, and when I said it today, they found it positive."

    "If we talk about democracy and the ballot box, then we also have to accept the results. It is like a river that flows in accord with its own channel. And to see it as handing Iraq to Iran as a gift, that is also an incorrect approach. Iran favors Iraq's territorial integrity. A strong Iraq is one thing, a divided up and partitioned one is something else. A partitioned Iraq would be like the Balkans, and would incite a civil war."

    Erdogan also said that "we have an understanding" with Tehran in terms of Lebanon. "The Iranian side said that there are some shortcomings to Hizballah's not withdrawing from the government. I said 'bring the shortcomings and let us look at them.' They believe that Hizballah, and the Shi'ite population, are not sufficiently represented in the government."

    Prime Minister Erdogan said that, on the topic of developing the bilateral relations, he had seen a joint will that was if it had all come from the same source, and spoke as follows:

    "They are enthusiastic in terms of our businessmen being encouraged on matters such as natural gas, oil, and drilling wells, and on building facilities like refineries and petrochemical installations, as well as on making joint investments in other countries. Iran as well wants to sell gas to the Nabucco pipeline (of which the five partners are Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, and Turkey), which will transport natural gas via Turkey to Europe. An impression had evidently been created in various circles that we look askance on this suggestion. We corrected this. I expect a memorandum of understanding to be signed on this topic within a week, or two weeks at the most. If this is achieved, it will be very good."

    [14] Columnist in YENI SAFAK assesses Erdogan´s visit to Iran

    Istanbul YENI SAFAK newspaper (05.12.06) publishes the following column by Ibrahim Karagul under the title: "The last days in Babylon!":

    Prime Minister [Recep] Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Tehran has a very special significance, apart from general agenda items like the bilateral relationship and Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. The visit has to be taken up in conjunction with his earlier visit to Amman, the very important NATO summit held in Riga on 28 November, and the Damascus and Beirut visits that are coming up. And this indicates that very important developments are on the agenda for the Middle East, for the United States' regional policies, and for Turkey.

    Certainly this state of affairs, which is new, is not limited just to Erdogan's visit. Those who have been carefully following the high degree of activity in the region realize that a head-turning pace of diplomatic activity is being conducted; that the civil war in Iraq, and the crushing US defeat, are forcing Washington to seek assistance from its enemies; that the alternatives of a "victory strategy" or else "graceful withdrawal" will not be enough to get the United States out of the Iraq quagmire; that the report of the Iraq Study Group that will be revealed tomorrow will provide important clues regarding the new phase; and that the entire effort is aimed at rescuing the United States from an impasse. Let us now examine things in more detail:

    The NATO meeting in Riga: At the summit, which convened with representation by 26 countries with an agenda of energy, Ukraine/Georgia, and NATO's role in the Middle East (the Greater Middle East - GME - project), the United States called upon its allies to increase the number of their troops in Afghanistan, and to relinquish to itself the command and control of these forces.

    NATO was called upon to assist in Iraq. The alliance's establishing military bases in the Gulf of Basra, Kuwait, and Qatar within the scope of the NATO Mediterranean Initiative was discussed. The way was opened for NATO to play an active role in the GME.

    Even more importantly, efforts are being made to lay the foundations for a rapprochement between the United States, and particularly Israel, on the one hand, and the Gulf Coordination Council, Jordan, Egypt, and some Sunni countries on the other. Within this framework, there are allegations that secret, indirect talks have been conducted between Saudi Arabia and HAMAS [Islamic Resistance Movement], on the one hand, and Israel on the other. It is being suggested that a sort of "Sunni Arab/US/Israeli" solidarity is on the agenda against the sectarian division and conflict in Iraq, the divide between Shi'ites and Sunnis that is leading toward conflict in Lebanon, and the Iranian influence that is growing stronger throughout the region.

    What sort of progress might there be in the Palestine issue in exchange for rescuing the United States from the difficult situation in Iraq? Now all countries, including Turkey, see the Iraqi and Lebanese crises, and the Palestinian issue, as a whole. The visit to the region by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice involved the Palestinian dimension of a comprehensive diplomacy. While US President George Bush was meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman with King Abdullah and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Rice was dealing with the Palestinian leg of the process.

    But another interesting visit also took place, and to some degree escaped notice. US Vice President Dick Cheney was in Saudi Arabia on 25 November. He met with King Abdullah in Riyadh for a full two hours. The topics alleged to have been taken up in this very important meeting were as follows:

    Cheny gave a guarantee to Riyadh that there will not be a US-Iranian dialogue. With the purpose of forming a sort of anti-Iran bloc in the face of the weakening situation of the United States in the region, the establishment of a union of forces as cited above, solidarity between Sunni Arabs, including Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, and Egypt, and the United States and Israel, the establishment of military areas for NATO, and a new security structure for the region were all taken up. It is also being said that a process has been put into effect in order to break the solidarity between [Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement leader] Michel Aoun and Hizballah, which is included within the Syrian-Iranian alliance in Lebanon.

    The United States is on the one hand presenting the appearance of urging Iraq's neighbors to take initiative in Iraq, and of initiating a process of dialogue with Iran and Syria, but on the other hand it is working to organize the Sunni world against the Shi'ites. On the one hand, it is deepening the civil war in Iraq, and forcing Lebanon towards civil war, and on the other presenting the image of working to prevent civil war.

    But its position is gradually weakening, both in Iraq and in the region as a whole. As the end gets nearer in Babylon [referring to Iraq], all of its efforts in Lebanon have resulted in failure. Now it is calling upon the neighbors to help, and trying to embrace its enemies. The regional resistance is gradually increasing its effectiveness.

    The Tehran visit was very significant for Turkey. Even if it took place with the knowledge of the United States, Turkey for the first time seized the opportunity to take a serious initiative. By using its close relations with the various parties, both in Iraq and in Lebanon, it can, as an impartial force, take on a role of reining in outside intervention and serving as an intermediary in internal conflicts, and can thus gain the respect of the world. The warnings that the Prime Minister issued regarding Iraq and Lebanon were extremely sensible. The United States has now been able to understand the concerns that Turkey has been expressing ever since the invasion.

    If the initiative should remain in the hands of the United States, or else if it should be indexed solely to checking Iran and Syria, the battle for political power being waged in the streets today on the basis of identity will be manifested tomorrow at the level of states. But we have to say that, in any event, very important developments are going to take place in the region.


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