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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-01-23

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] Turkish General Ilker Basbug visits the occupied areas; How the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish press cover the visit.
  • [02] The press on the decision of the EU Foreign Ministers General Affairs Council for the direct trade between the EU and the Turkish Cypriots.
  • [03] Turkish PM Erdogan met with Italian PM Prodi.
  • [04] More on Avcis contacts in Saudi Arabia.
  • [05] Avci accuses the Republic of Cyprus of dragging its feet on the 8th of July agreement.
  • [06] A German delegation arrived in occupied Cyprus as the guest of CTP.
  • [07] Olli Rehn: No guillotine clause for the ports.
  • [08] Levent Bilman is the new spokesman for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • [09] Amcaoglu: We played football under the Northern Cyprus flag and FIFA flag.


    [01] Turkish General Ilker Basbug visits the occupied areas; How the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish press cover the visit

    Illegal Bayrak television (22.01.07) broadcast the following:

    The Commander in Chief of the Turkish Land Forces General Ilker Basbug is in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for routine annual inspection of Turkish military units stationed across the Republic.

    As part of his visit to the TRNC, General Basbug will also be meeting with government and state officials.

    Furthermore, Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.01.07, in English) reported from occupied Lefkosia the following:

    President of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Mehmet Ali Talat stated that they wanted the world to take notice of Turkish Cypriots more and lift the unfair isolations, underscoring that Turkish Cypriots had proved their will for a solution in the island and their intention could not be judged.

    Talat received Turkish Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug at this office in Lefkosia.

    Delivering a speech at the visit, Basbug said, as the Turkish Military Forces, they desired a comprehensive, fair and lasting peace in Cyprus, to be provided within the framework of UN.

    Noting that they were taking the Cyprus issue as a common and national issue of Turkey and TRNC, Basbug said, improving Turkish Cypriots' presence, sovereignty, political equality and level of prosperity were the basic targets of Turkey and TRNC.

    Meanwhile, Talat emphasized that Turkish Cypriots were striving for a lasting and fair compromise in Cyprus, with the help of Turkey.

    Stressing that they had taken a remarkable step by approving the Annan Plan, Talat declared, after that point, Turkish Cypriots' intention towards the solution of Cyprus issue could not be judged.

    "We want the world to take notice of Turkish Cypriots more and lift the unfair isolations," Talat said.

    Pointing to the extensive armament in the Greek Cypriot part as well, Talat said the race of armament of the Greek Cypriots disconcerted them.

    On the other hand, Turkish Land Forces Commander Basbug paid a visit to TRNC parliament speaker Fatma Ekenoglu.

    Meanwhile, Turkish daily ZAMAN (23.01.07, Internet version) reports on the same issue:

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat reiterated his call for an end to international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, saying they proved that they wanted peace after voting for a UN plan to reunite the island in a referendum in 2004.

    We want the international community to take the Turkish Cypriots more seriously and end the unjust isolation, Talat said as he met with Gen. 0lker Babu, the commander of Turkish Land Forces, in his office. The meeting is the first public contact between Talat and the Turkish military after the tension over the demolishing of a walkway in the buffer zone dividing the Turkish and Greek Cypriot zones of the island earlier this month.

    The military reportedly opposed Talats decision to demolish the walkway, which was inside a military zone, but the Turkish Cypriot authorities eventually removed it. We, without internal conflict, are coordinating the security aspect of our policies, Talat said.

    Babu arrived in the island to attend a regular military exercise and inspect the Turkish forces there. Talat also expressed concern over an ongoing armament in Greek Cyprus, saying this led to questions over intentions of the Greek Cypriot side .

    Furthermore, illegal Bayrak television (22.01.07) broadcast the following regarding Basbugs meeting with self-styled Prime Minister Soyer:

    Speaking during the visit, General Basbug said that he was very pleased to see that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was economically prospering.

    Pointing out that the Turkish Peace Forces which have been present in Cyprus since 1974, have been maintaining the peace and security of the Turkish Cypriot people, the Commander in Chief said that the Turkish armed forces will always be by the side of the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriot people.

    For his part, Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer drew attention to the special relationship that existed between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot people.

    He stated that Turkeys generous contributions and support have played a major role in the economic, democratic, cultural and political improvements that have taken place in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus over the past years, adding that this special relationship will continue in the future.

    Pointing out that the Turkish Cypriot Side aim was to finding a bi-communal, bi-zonal solution to the Cyprus Problem that safeguards the 1960 Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance, Mr. Soyer said that alongside the political and economic struggle waged by the Turkish Cypriot Side, the security provided by the Turkish Peace Forces was an important basis of support for the Turkish Cypriot people.

    I thank the Turkish Armed forces for that he said.

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (23.01.07), the real aim of the Generals visit is the Ledra Street (Lokmaci) crossing point and not the inspection of the units of the Turkish occupation forces, as stated in the press. He will investigate the withdrawal of the military posts and demilitarization of the area.

    Under the title He came for Lokmaci, AFRIKA adds that during General Basbugs visit decision will be taken regarding the opening of the Ledra Street.

    Furthermore, under the title Basbug: Just solution, lasting peace, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (23.01.07) on the other hand reports that the General, who arrived in the occupied area yesterday, paid courtesy calls to Talat, Soyer and Ekenoglu. After meeting the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, General Basbug said: We assess that Cyprus and the Cyprus problem is a common and national problem of the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots people, the TRNC and the Republic of Turkey.

    Turkish Cypriot daily HALKIN SESI newspaper (23.01.07) refers to the issue under the title Basbug: our common target is the development of the TRNC. The paper notes that Mr Talat drew attention to the armaments of the Republic of Cyprus and said that although they do not seem very important in front of the strength of the Turkish Armed Forces or the so-called Turkish Peace Forces in Cyprus, as he described the Turkish occupation army, the Turkish Cypriots are worried from the point of view of the intention shown by the Greek Cypriots for a race of armaments. It worries us especially not from the point of view of our security, but from the point of view of their intention, he noted.

    Turkish Cypriot daily VATAN newspaper (23.01.07) reports that general Basbug stressed: The common target is the development of the TRNC and the promotion of the existence, sovereignty, political equality and the prosperity level of the people.

    Turkish Cypriot daily GUNES newspaper (23.01.07) refers to the issue under the title: The Commander in Chief of the Turkish Land Forces General Basbug is among us: The TRNC must be supported. According to the paper Basbug said that the common target is supporting the TRNC with its everything and strengthening it further.

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily VOLKAN newspaper (23.01.07), General Basbug stressed once more: Our common target is supporting the TRNC. The paper argues that General Basbug gave five important messages: 1) The army and the people are side by side, 2) It supports a comprehensive and lasting solution, 3) The common aim is supporting the TRNC, 4) The Greek Cypriots cannot be trusted and 5) The Treaty of Guarantee cannot be watered down

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRISLI newspaper (23.01.07) refers to the visit of Basbug under the title General Basbug in the TRNC.

    Finally, Turkish daily SABAH newspaper (23.01.07), under the title Basbug: Cyprus is our national problem , reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met yesterday with General 0lker Babu, the commander of Turkish Land Forces, at his office. General Babu said that he arrived to the island to attend the military exercise 2007 planned military exercise to be held by the Turkish occupation forces and to inspect the Turkish forces there.

    Reminding that his last visit to the TRNC was in 2002, Basbug said that the Turkish Military Forces desire a comprehensive, fair and lasting peace in Cyprus, to be arrived at within the framework of UN. He also added that Cyprus and the Cyprus problem is seen as a joint national problem of Turkey and TRNC.


    [02] The press on the decision of the EU Foreign Ministers General Affairs Council for the direct trade between the EU and the Turkish Cypriots

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (23.01.07) reports under banner headlines that the EU Foreign Ministers General Affairs Council had approved the direct trade between the EU and the Turkish Cypriots. The Council called on the sides to start without further delay the work regarding the direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots.

    Turkish Cypriot daily HALKIN SESI newspaper (23.01.07) refers to the issue under the title The wish of the EU is direct trade. The paper reports that the General Affairs Council of the EU which met yesterday in Brussels approved the text for the fulfilment of the promise for direct trade, which has been given about 3 years ago.

    Turkish Cypriot daily VATAN newspaper (23.01.07) under the title The decision was taken, notes that the General Affairs Council of the EU decided the beginning of the works for direct trade in the TRNC without delay.

    Turkish Cypriot daily CUMHURIYET newspaper (23.01.07) refers to the issue under the title Are you enjoying being squeezed like a lemon?.

    Turkish Cypriot daily ORTAM newspaper (23.01.07) describes the direct trade regulation as confused regulation.

    Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (23.01.07) reports that the General Affairs Council of the EU decided that the work on the issue of the trade with Northern Cyprus must start without delay.

    Under the banner headline The approval of the direct trade regulation for Cyprus by the EU without a discussion, Turkish daily SABAHs correspondent in Brussels Fikret Aydemir reports that the EU Commission adopted the resumption of work regarding the direct trade regulation with Northern Cyprus. The EU General Affairs Council gathered at the level of EU foreign ministers to adopt without any discussion Article A of the regulation, which anticipates direct trade with the TRNC. The EU Council urged a quick resumption of work (without any delay) in order to launch the direct trade regulation by the EU-presidency Germany. The paper reports that in the draft text the TRNC was described as the areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control. According to the paper, the Greek Cypriot Administration prior to the discussions that the EU-term Presidency Germany will start, asked to bring to the agenda the return of Varosha and a provision for trade to be carried out from the ports in the south, so as to lift its veto on direct trade. The Turkish Cypriot side stressed that direct trade will be meaningless in case they have to use ports in the south and has asked to use Famagusta as its port and Ercan (occupied airport of Tympou) as its airport.

    [03] Turkish PM Erdogan met with Italian PM Prodi

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.01.07) reports the following:

    "Italy has always supported Turkey in its EU process since the day I became the prime minister," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

    The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and the Prime Minister Romano Prodi of Italy, who is currently paying a state visit to Turkey, held a joint news conference following their tte--tte meeting.

    Prior to the news conference, Erdogan and Prodi signed a "strategy document" with the aim of further strengthening cooperation between Turkey and Italy.

    "During the meeting, we had the chance of reviewing our political, military, economic, commercial and cultural relations in detail. Also, we exchanged views over recent regional and international developments," he said.

    "Italy has always supported Turkey in its EU process since the day I became the prime minister. We evaluated the decision made at the EU Summit in December 2006. I thank Mr. Prodi once again for Italy's support to Turkey," he said.

    Erdogan told reporters, "during the meeting, we also had the opportunity of explaining our views and expectations about the Cyprus issue. I highlighted the importance we attached to finding a solution to the Cyprus issue under the roof of the United Nations."

    Recalling that Prime Minister Prodi and he would attend the inauguration of Istanbul-Ankara lane of Bolu Mountain Tunnel on Edirne-Istanbul-Ankara expressway tomorrow, Erdogan said: "Later, we will meet Turkish and Italian businessmen in Istanbul."

    When asked by an Italian journalist, "one of the conditions for Turkey's accession to the EU is press freedom and more democracy. A few days ago, an Armenian origin journalist was killed in Istanbul. If there had been more freedom, could Turkey prevent the killing?" Erdogan said: "The killing of Dink cannot be justified anyway. The real target of the attack was, in fact, Turkey, Turkish nation, democracy and freedoms. It was a heinous murder. The only consolation is that the suspect was arrested in a short period of time. Such attacks take place in different countries from time to time. They are totally unacceptable. I believe that our judiciary will make the fairest decision. On the other hand, our works under the EU political criteria have been continuing."

    Upon another question on energy, Erdogan told reporters, "as you know, Turkey has become an important energy corridor. Turkey, Italy and Russia have carried out a joint project under the name Blue Stream. Now, we have been constructing a natural gas pipeline to transport natural gas to Greece and Italy via Turkey."

    [04] More on Avcis contacts in Saudi Arabia

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (23.01.07) reports that the self-styled foreign minister of the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus Turgay Avci who is currently in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia had a meeting with the General Secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. During the meeting relations between the OIC member states and the occupied area were discussed and views were exchanged.

    In addition, Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.01.07) reported invoking sources that executives from OIC and Islamic Solidarity Fund were also present at the meeting between Turgay Avci and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. During the meeting Avci informed the participants about the recent developments in the Cyprus problem and called for development of bilateral relations between OIC member states and TRNC (breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus).

    The parties discussed the projects presented by TRNC to the OIC affiliates, and future projects for Islamic Solidarity Fund and Islamic Development Bank were also on the agenda of the meeting.

    Chairman of Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, Erdil Nami, who is in the TRNC committee in Jeddah, called for improvement of commercial relations between TRNC and OIC member states.

    [05] Avci accuses the Republic of Cyprus of dragging its feet on the 8th of July agreement

    Illegal BAYRAK television (22.01.07) broadcast the following:

    In a written statement issued today, the Foreign Minister said that the latest statements made by the Greek Cypriot Leader Tassos Papadopoulos disregarding the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots in any future settlement proved the Greek Cypriot Sides intransigence.

    Stating that the Turkish Cypriot Side was expecting for the restart of comprehensive negotiations in April this year, Mr Avci said that the real aim of the Greek Cypriot Administration was to run away from negotiations table as well as to break off concessions from the Turkish Cypriot Side by using its EU membership.

    Stressing that the Greek Cypriot Sides statement expressing commitment to the 8th of July process was deceptive, the Foreign Minister nevertheless expressed the Turkish Cypriot Sides determination to be constructive and work sincerely towards finding a solution to the Cyprus Problem.

    [06] A German delegation arrived in occupied Cyprus as the guest of CTP

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (23.01.07) reports that a three-man German delegation from the state of Hessen arrived in the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus as the guest of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP). Hessen State Parliament Social Democrat Party (SDP) deputy and the SDP deputy Parliamentary Group leader Jurgen Walter said that they believe that injustice is being done to the Turkish Cypriots. The side who said no profited and not the side who said yes to the EU path, he claimed.

    On the same issue Turkish daily SABAH (23.01.07) reports that the parliamentary delegation from the German Social Democratic Party, which is currently in the occupied areas as guests of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), said they believed that an injustice was committed against the Turkish Cypriots. The German deputy Jurgen Walter noted that they came in Cyprus to be informed regarding the TRNC, because they do not have enough information about the TRNC and many discussions regarding Turkeys EU process are going on. Replying to a question, Mr Walter said that it was a conscious choice to enter the island through Ercan airport (occupied airport of Tymbou), adding that there was no pressure on this matter. He concluded by saying that even if there was pressure he would have chosen again to arrive from Ercan airport.


    [07] Olli Rehn: No guillotine clause for the ports

    Under the above title Turkish daily ZAMAN newspaper (23.01.07) publishes an interview with the European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. The interview is as follows:

    European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn argues there is no deadline for Turkey to open its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels. Adding a new phrase to the already extremely rich EU lexicon on Turkey, Rehn says there is no "guillotine clause."

    Turkey's refusal to allow Greek Cypriot vessels and planes access to Turkish ports resulted in the freezing of eight policy chapters late November, a first in EU history.

    In an exclusive interview with Today's, ZAMAN the extremely cautious enlargement chief defends the decision to freeze eight chapters out of 35 and refutes arguments that Turkey's accession talks are about to come to a halt. Hopeful about the German EU presidency, Rehn thinks "a certain number of chapters" could be opened to negotiations.

    Here are the excerpts:

    Question: It was a first in European history to freeze eight chapters of the negotiation process. Was it not a bit tough?

    Answer: It was a very carefully calibrated decision. In fact, if you think this is tough, you have to look at how we acted against some other candidate countries. If you take Bulgaria and Romania, their accession was postponed from 2004 to 2007; they could not join in 2004. They could only join after they did their homework. With Croatia, we did not start accession talks until they cooperated fully with the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); we called off the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Serbia, as they were not cooperating with the ICTY. We have to apply rigorous conditionality, it should apply rule of law and fundamental freedoms, and these are core EU values. That is why we underline freedom of expression in the case of Turkey. In any country that aspires to be a member, the two cornerstones are freedom of expression and the rule of law.

    Question: After your decision to freeze eight chapters, some argue that talks are about stop.

    Answer: I don't agree. There was an undeclared strike in the council working group for six months in 2006. The strike was not officially declared; people were at work but they were not working. That is what happened in six months, nothing moved there. This decision cleared and showed the way forward. This decision revitalized the process, in fact.

    Question: Is this your interpretation or the EU interpretation? It changes depending whom you ask.

    Answer: That is the virtue of the EU. There are little differences in nuances and interpretations. While we don't open talks on eight chapters, we can continue the screening of these eight chapters. We can open 27 chapters out of 35, that is what I expect. Moreover we shall complete the screening process. This means that the German presidency can steer the council to open a certain number of chapters.

    Question: How many chapters can be opened during the German presidency?

    Answer: That is something we will work on together with the German presidency, but you better ask them. I underlined the present importance of opening a number of chapters during the German presidency. There are several important elements right now. The first is to complete the screening process, to open a certain number of chapters during the German presidency, to resume work for the adoption for the regulation of special conditions for trade, and a council-endorsed comprehensive settlement.

    Question: Joost Lagendijk, the co-chairman of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, argues if just one chapter was opened during the German presidency it would send a very bad signal to Ankara.

    Answer: I have not seen each and every statement Joost makes. It is important that the process is alive and moving ahead. For us quality is more important than speed.

    Question: Don't you think that the EU has to encourage the Turkish government to go ahead with reforms? Most people do not see any encouragement.

    Answer: After a half year of no progress because of the undeclared strike we will complete screening and open one chapter soon but altogether more than one during the German presidency. That is my expectation. Moreover we are resuming work on the Cyprus issue in a serious manner. So I don't see any reason to complain, I think it is very encouraging.

    Question: Do you think the next chapter will be opened in March?

    Answer: My understanding is the presidency will call the IGC (Intergovernmental Conference) in March. We could well have another one before the end of the German presidency. This depends on the quality of technical preparations.

    Question: You assume the Greek Cypriots will not create more problems.

    Answer: The Republic of Cyprus is a full member of the EU and they participated in the GAERC (General Affairs and External Relations Council) meeting last December and the European Council. I have no doubts whatsoever they will respect the Council decision in this regard.

    Question: The council decision on Turkey is again very ambiguous. What will happen if Turkey does not open its ports by 2009? Will you punish Turkey again and freeze all the remaining chapters?

    Answer: This time the decision has multiple elements. The commission has been tasked to monitor Turkish compliance with its obligation related to the Ankara protocol. In our annual progress reports of 2007, 2008 and 2009, we will look into it. There is no guillotine clause, no special rendezvous clause and no deadline. Because we have seen that both sides of the conflict dislike deadlines. I recall that Mr. Papadopoulos has underlined that one of the reasons why the Annan plan failed was because a strict deadline was attached to it. I heard the same sort of complaint from the Turkish Cypriot community, Turkey and Greece. Let's be realistic: We will fail if we cannot achieve a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus problem. Cyprus should be an EU member state like any other, in peace and united. When you visit the Green Line, you feel like visiting Charlie checkpoint in Berlin in the early 1980s. That is not the kind of EU that I want to build. We cannot live with a divided island for long. We should all work for unification.

    Question: Did Turkey's last-minute proposal for Cyprus have any effect on your decision?

    Answer: It would have had a more serious impact had it been unconditional. I have not seen any port opened yet.

    Question: Did Gen. Bykan1t's remarks that were abused by the Greek Cypriots have any influence?

    Answer: It is the Turkish government that decides Turkish policy as regards the EU and the Ankara protocol. I have a high regard for the professionalism and competence of the Turkish Armed Forces in their responsibilities, which is to defend the country and to contribute to international peacekeeping missions. We have a very good cooperation in Bosnia and Lebanon. At the same time I welcome the developments in civilian-military relations in Turkey, where the democratically elected government leads foreign and security policy.

    Question: Are you personally disturbed by not being able to keep your promise to start direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots?

    Answer: I think it is high time that the EU live up to its political commitments and adopt trade regulations. I hope it will be adopted in a form as close as the commission proposal. But the important thing is to get it adopted and respect our commitments. That is why the German presidency is committed to achieving that objective.

    Question: What can we expect from the GAERC meeting on Monday for direct trade?

    Answer: The decision that will be taken on Monday means resuming work for the adoption of regulations; work will start on Monday without delay. I hope the council will come up with concrete outcomes for the special conditions for trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the rest of Europe.

    Question: Turkey is obsessed with Iraq and some argue for a cross-border operation. How can a cross-border operation possibly impact Turkey-EU relations? Erdogan even declared that Iraq is now more important than the EU.

    Answer: I would not want to get into that discussion because it is better not to paint the devil on the wall prematurely before anything has happened. I am aware of the consultations between the US and Turkey on PKK terrorism. I follow that debate. We condemn all terrorism, certainly including PKK terrorism; we regret the loss of lives in the past year or so. We share Turkey's determination to fight international and PKK terror. Iraq is dominating the political agenda in many countries, in the US, UK, and Turkey. However PM Erdogan agrees with me: For the national interest of Turkey, the EU is an important project.

    Question: Is it an important project or more important than Iraq?

    Answer: You can guess my view in that regard. Europe needs a more European Turkey, stability and democracy in a very troubled region. We should see that mutual dependence.

    Question: I interviewed your predecessor Mr Verheugen back in 2003 and he had told me that Turkey could be a member in 2014. Can you still confirm that date after the summit last month and the strict decisions on further enlargement?

    Answer: Last month European leaders did not close the doors, they kept the door open. It is more in the hands of Turkey. It may take 10-15 years. What is important is to keep the process on track. It is not beneficial to bet on the dates.

    Question: "Its people are richer than those in Romania, its economic growth outpaces that of Bulgaria and its goods were moving freely within the European Union when the two Eastern European countries were still emerging from communism." This quote is from the International Herald Tribune implying the EU's double standards, particularly in its relations with Turkey.

    Answer: The International Herald Tribune is a constant advocate of membership, and its arguments for Turkish membership are most welcome. However, the article is a bit provocative. The economic growth both in Bulgaria and Romania has been solid and bold; the two countries have grown as fast as Turkey in recent years. I must say that the case of Turkey should be argued on its own merits, not by criticizing unfairly the others. Besides, Turkey has still some way to go to improve fundamental freedoms.

    Question: The new coalition in Austria reiterated that they would carry on a referendum on possible Turkish membership. Pottering, who is well known for his opposition to Turkish membership, has been elected speaker of the European Parliament. Are anti-Turkey feelings gaining ground in Europe?

    Answer: We have had a lively and democratic debate on Turkish membership. This first led to Turkish candidacy during the Finnish presidency in 1999. Then we decided to open talks in 2004 and again took the decision in October 2005 to start talks. The EU has taken these decisions unanimously with the 25 governments in 2004 and 2005. That is the policy of the EU. We need consistency, we need long-term determination to work for a Turkey where the reforms are moving forward and fundamental freedoms and European values are respected. That is in the interest of the EU and in the interest of Turkey and its citizens. Therefore we have to have boldness and consistency in our actions, especially with Turkish membership talks. We shall not pay too much attention to political cycles but work in a consistent manner and in a long-term perspective for the membership of Turkey, which has historic significance. By the way, President Pottering, whom I respect as an experienced, competent and committed European, has stated that he will respect the decisions and maturity of the EU and honour the decisions taken by the EP regarding Turkey.

    Question: Likely French candidate president Mr Sarkozy has declared that Turkey has no place in EU. What sort of a club will the EU be when its powerful leaders are changing their minds each day?

    Answer: Mr. Sarkozy is a competent and popular politician. His views concerning Turkey are well known. Recently he reiterated his views on privileged partnership. Mr. Sarkozy has, of course, full rights to express his views in the context of democratic debate in Europe. Possible Turkish membership is now part of a debate and will be a part of the debate for the coming years and maybe even after accession. We had the debate on UK membership and that did not end in 1974; it is still an ongoing debate both for the UK and the European nations. One should not be afraid of debate.

    Question: Chancellor Merkel was arguing for the same option but now that she has been elected, she now says she will honour her promises. Sarkozy gives another impression.

    Answer: We work with the government and president of France. We will work with the future president and government of France. In my view, in international relations it is extremely important to be consistent and to stick to one's commitments. That is the EU that I want to build and that is the way we can make the EU stronger and a more important actor in world affairs.

    Question: Are you concerned about the creation of a racist group in the EP, a group that is against almost everything the EU stands for?

    Answer: Of course I disagree on policy with this extreme right political grouping, but they have been legally elected in national elections for the EP. As long as they don't commit themselves to any criminal act they can express their views in the EP. However, I want to underline especially for Turkish readers that this group is a minority. One should not pay too much attention. From the Turkish perspective and its EU accession process, the commission is consistently working for that project and the council, who calls the shots, is supportive and the EP actually is supporting this process. Of course we have to observe the political landscape but not exaggerate the political minorities. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is not leading Turkish policy, so this group is not running the policy as well.

    Question: I don't think the MHP is a racist party.

    Answer: It is the party of nationalist people.

    [08] Levent Bilman is the new spokesman for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.01.07) reports that the new Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Levent Bilman took office on Monday.

    Mr Bilman replaced Namik Tan who has been appointed as Turkey's new Ambassador to Israel.

    Born in the Aegean city of Canakkale in 1961, Bilman graduated from Ankara University's International Relations Department and began to work at the MFA.

    Bilman earlier served as the second secretary and first secretary at the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv, counsellor at Turkey's Permanent Representation to the UN, and several other departments of the Ministry.

    Ambassador Bilman worked as the head of the UN NGO Committee and the head of Cyprus Department of the MFA. He has been the deputy director general of the MFA Northeast Mediterranean (Cyprus-Greece) Department since 2004. He is married to Barbara Kristina Bilman.

    [09] Amcaoglu: We played football under the Northern Cyprus flag and FIFA flag

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (23.01.07) reports that the national football team of the breakaway regime, which is currently in Tanzania attending a tournament upon an official invitation by Zanzibars Football Federation, equalized 2-2 yesterday with Young African FC.

    The Captain of the national football team of the breakaway regime, Huseyin Amcaoglu, commenting on the game, said that although the team is not used to play two games in two days, they had scored good results and added: We did not come here to relax We played football under the Northern Cyprus flag and under FIFA flag. We had two games in two days. We played with the best teams of a country of 32,5 million population. Both of the teams give many football players to national teams and participate also to African Champions League. For this reason, the games were difficult We had the pleasure to play football in front of 18 thousands people. It was really important.


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