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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-05-16
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.93/07 16.05.07
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Andrew Rasbash expressed satisfaction with the demonstration of the Turkish Cypriots in BrusselsTurkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (16.05.07) reports that with a view to drawing the attention of the European Parliament, and demanding the removal of the so-called isolations and starting direct trade with the EU, the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce has organized an event at the Schuman Square in Brussels yesterday. The aim of the event was to demonstrate to the EU parliamentarians that in Cyprus, not only Greek Cypriots but Turkish Cypriots as well live. Around 200 persons from the business community, NGOs and university representatives went to Brussels yesterday from the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus to take part in the event. During the demonstration songs were sang, folkloric dances were performed, leaflets, brochures and pamphlets were distributed, placards were displayed and slogans were shouted.
The chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, Erdil Nami said that it is not enough to be right; the Turkish Cypriots have to know how they defend their rights. He also said that Europe should keep its promises given to the Turkish Cypriots.
KIBRIS reports that during the demonstration the Chief of the Turkish Cypriot Desk in the European Union, Andrew Rasbash, who went near the demonstrators and chat with them, was briefed about the aim of the event, and expressed his satisfaction in seeing the Turkish Cypriots in Brussels. He said: With this kind of activities you cannot expect that it will change the views of the people. This is a process.
Rasbash claimed that he is hopeful as regards the direct trade regulation; however, he added this will not be realized immediately.
 Ercakica said that the Greek Cypriot side gave a non-paper reply to the Turkish Cypriot proposals as regards the 8th July agreementTurkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (16.05.07) reports that the self-styled presidential spokesman, Hasan Ercakica has announced that the Greek Cypriot side has replied to the Turkish Cypriot proposals as regards the 8 July agreement. He said that the reply was a non-paper and that he will not elaborate on the content of the non-paper. Ercakica added that today Rashit Pertev and Tasos Tzionis are to meet and discuss the content of the non-paper. He further said that Mr Pertev and Mr Tzionis will be meeting twice a week.
Ercakica, referring to recent statements made by the Primate of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos 2nd, claimed that with his speeches and actions the Archbishop is trying to turn the Cyprus problem into a religious war.
Ercakica also referred to the fresh fish and honey to be included in the Green Line trade regulation and said that the conditions set for the trade over the Green Line for honey and fresh fish are unacceptable.
 Talat: The isolation is showing signs of easingIllegal BAYRAK television (15.05.07) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:
President Mehmet Ali Talat has said that despite the lack of concrete steps for the lifting of the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriot 'people', the isolation is showing signs of easing. The Presidents words came during a visit paid to him by officials from the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber which holds its ordinary meetings in a different country twice a year held its ordinary meeting at the Girne Mercure Hotel today. Welcoming officials from the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, President Talat pointed out that Turkey had always been by the side of the Turkish Cypriot 'people' who went through bitter experiences in the past.
Mr Talat said that the Turkish Cypriot 'people' have made new openings to improve relations not only with Turkey but with Europe as well.
Pointing out that various international institutions in Europe made promises to help end the 'isolation' of the Turkish Cypriot 'people', the President called on these institutions, especially the European Union, to take the necessary steps to realize this objective.
Officials from the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce also visited the Speaker of the Parliament Fatma Ekenoglu who said during the visit that the Turkish Cypriot 'People' is facing difficulties as a result of the international isolation imposed on them, adding that businessmen are the most affected of all.
Stating that the EU had prepared some regulations with the aim of helping to lift the international 'isolation' of the Turkish Cypriot 'People', Mrs Ekenolgu said that the Greek Cypriot Side has been trying to hinder all kinds of attempts to prevent the Turkish Cypriot 'People' from being able to stand on its own feet.
Reminding that the Direct Trade Regulation is on the agenda, she said that the implementation of the regulation will help to end the international 'isolations' of the Turkish Cypriot 'People'.
Mrs Ekenoglu also expressed the belief that the strengthening of the Turkish Cypriot economy will force the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiations table and thus, make it possible to bring about a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Later, the officials from the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce were received by the Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer.
The Premier pointed the common political interests for Turkey and the 'TRNC' and said that the failure in solving the Cyprus problem which causes a poisonous gas effect on foreign relations of Turkey and the 'TRNC' is also a setback for Europe.
He noted that the obstacles created in the way of Turkeys EU membership and the usurpation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriot 'People' by the Greek Cypriot Side is contrary to the 21st centurys democratic values and the European Union principles.
 The German Chancellor Merkel stated that religious places and sites in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus are being destroyed and desecratedTurkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (16.05.07) reports that the German Chancellor and the EU term president Angela Merkel speaking during a press conference after meeting Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious leaders in Brussels, said that religious places and sites in the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus are being destroyed and desecrated.
KIBRIS reports that Mrs Merkel made this statement following Archbishop Chrisostomos explanation in the meeting that religious sites and places were being destroyed by the Turkish occupation army and the Turkish Cypriots.
 The self-styled Foreign Minister Turgay Avci continues his contacts in Islamabad in the framework of the OIC meetingIllegal BAYRAK television (15.05.07) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:
The 34th session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers has got underway in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Deputy Prime Minister- Foreign Minister Turgay Avc1 is also attending the meeting. The 34th session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers started in Islamabad today with an opening speech the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Emer Mehmeyedov.
In an addressing at the meeting, the OIC Secretary General Ekmelettin Ihsanoglu touched upon the Cyprus issue and called on the OIC member countries to be in solidarity with the Turkish Cypriot 'People'.
At the end of the morning session, deputy-Prime Minister Foreign Minister Avci attended a lunch given in honor of the OIC Foreign Ministers by the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hursit Kashmir. As part of his contacts in Islamabad, Mr Avci met with the Omani Deputy-Foreign Minister, Badr Bin Hamad Al Busaidi.
The opening of a 'TRNC Representation' in the Omani capital Muscat was among the topics discussed between the two 'Foreign Ministers'.
Later, Mr Avci held bilateral meetings with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Emer Mehmeyedov, Malaysian Foreign Minister, Dato Suri Syed Hamid Albak and Yemeni Foreign Minister, Abubeker Algribi. During these meetings, Mr Avci explained the Turkish Cypriot 'peoples' expectations from the Islamic countries and the latest developments on the Cyprus issue. Ways of improving bilateral relations were also discussed during the meetings.
 The Homebuyers Pressure Group is intensifying its protests in the territories of Cyprus occupied by 40,000 Turkish troopsTurkish Cypriot daily CYPRUS TIMES newspaper (16.05.07) reports the following:
The Homebuyers Pressure Group has been in existence now for 20 months and what have we achieved? We have had numerous meetings with the Government, the Construction Contractors Union, City Planning, Baro, the Interior Ministry, Prime Minister, Presidents Office, Former President and where are we still in a big black hole.
After all our efforts new people are joining our ever-increasing database of problems every week and there is a steady trickle of people leaving the island for good, their dreams shattered and their bank accounts empty. In many instances the problems are getting worse!
We live in a country where the laws are ignored and broken with impunity and nobody does anything about it.
When we approached the government we were informed that our problems were our own fault because we had not waited for our Permission to Purchase. However, Permissions are taking between two to four years to process with some being rejected after this long wait. Earlier this year we were 'promised' that all PTPs would be cleared by June. Since last February there have been a total of 252 permissions granted in the 13 week period that equates to 19 a week. Nothing is going to change.
We have some minor successes and get a lot of support for our plight from the local Press but the people who could really improve our lot, either dont listen or just dont care.
It is our opinion that the construction industry and related services are currently damaging the environment, tourism and therefore the economy and, unless the government acts quickly and positively, this damage will not be recoverable.
We have decided that the time had come to make a much bigger noise and are staging a daily Protest outside the Parliament building in Lefkosia staring on Monday the 21st May 2007 and ending when we get positive, visible results. Our Protest will be supported by the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation and the Consumer Association. All other Action Groups are welcome to join us.
 While Ahmet Necdet Sezers 7-year presidential term ends, CHP is seeking ways to field Sezer against Abdullah GulTurkish TODAYS ZAMAN newspaper (16.05.07) reports that as of today, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has finished his seven years as president.
While serving as the president of the Constitutional Court he was nominated for the presidency by consensus among the opposition party leaders in Parliament and was elected the 10th president of Turkey in the third round of the presidential elections on May 5, 2000, receiving 330 votes. Sezer took over the post from ninth president Suleyman Demirel on May 16, 2000.
President Sezer was elected for a seven-year term in accordance with the Constitution. However, since the Turkish Parliament was unable to elect a president late last month, Sezer, under Article 102 of the Constitution, will continue his duties until a new president is elected.
During his term in office from May 16, 2000 until May 10, 2007, President Sezer endorsed 1,014 of 1,088 laws put before him; 25 of 32 decrees; 11,132 of 11,148 ministerial board decisions not related to appointments; 170 of 195 ministerial board decisions on appointments; and 5,448 of 6,263 common governmental decrees. During the same period, Sezer vetoed 67 laws, seven decree laws, 13 ministerial board decisions not related to appointments, 734 common governmental decrees and 22 ministerial board decisions related to appointments.
Currently seven laws and four common governmental decrees, including the constitutional amendment package, are being deliberated by Sezer. Some ministerial board decisions and common governmental decrees related and unrelated to appointments have been recalled. During the same period Sezer has overseen 291 other processes, such as appointing members to judicial institutions. President Sezer has also issued pardons on 261 prison sentences and rejected demands for the quashing of convictions for nine convicts.
In addition, as Turkish daily THE NEW ANATOLIAN newspaper (15.05.07) reports, the Republican People's Party (CHP) is trying to find a way to field President Ahmet Necdet Sezer as its candidate if the recent constitutional amendments eventually become final and the way for the people to elect the new head of state is opened.
The main opposition party is strongly against the people electing the president but feels contingency plans have to be made in case the way opens for the people to elect the new head of state.
CHP feels Sezer could rally all the secularist votes and thus would be the best choice to become a viable rival against Abdullah Gul. However, Sezer has been elected for a single term of seven years according to the current constitutional article and legal experts say he cannot become a candidate even if the Constitution is amended to allow the people to elect the president. CHP legal experts have been asked to seek ways to see if there is a way to overcome this obstacle.
Gul was the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party for the presidency. However, the CHP effectively blocked his election as president and thus Gul had to give up his bid in the Parliament. He later said, however, he remains a candidate for the president. CHP sources say the party executives are reportedly unanimous that Sezer is the most popular person among the secularist ranks. CHP feels Sezer could unite all the secularist votes that a CHP person could not. Sezer is known to be close to the CHP. His son-in-law has already applied to become a candidate for the Parliament from the CHP ticket. It is said Sezer has approved this.
Last week the Parliament approved a key constitutional amendment allowing the Turkish people - rather than legislators - to elect the president. The amendment allows the president to be elected for two five year terms. However, it is not certain of Sezer, who served for a seven year term, can seek another five years as president under the new constitutional amendment. Sezer is currently studying the constitutional amendments. He has already said the amendments were rushed and more detailed debate and studies were necessary. This, observers, said was a signal that Sezer would veto the amendments.
The Parliament can then approve the amendments and send it back to Sezer who is then obliged to sign it into law. There have been claims that Sezer would then take the issue to a national referendum. Supreme Court chief justice Tulay Tugcu said Sezer cannot call for a referendum on the issue.
But secularists fear that if Gul becomes president - an office viewed as the protector of national unity - the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party could challenge the country's secular system unchecked. Sezer, a staunch secularist, had acted as a brake on the government by vetoing numerous legislation and blocking the appointment of hundreds of officials.
 The Constitutional Court ruled on CHPs appeal regarding the presidential electionTurkish daily TODAYS ZAMAN newspaper (16.05.07) reports that the Constitutional Court decided that there is no need to rule out presidential elections since there is no candidate left.
The Republican Peoples Party (CHP) applied to the Constitutional Court and asked for the implementation of the calendar for presidential elections. But the court ruled that out since the only candidate for president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, withdrew his candidacy, making it unnecessary to rule on the CHPs application.
The CHP claimed that the new calendar, which was re-regulated after the cancellation of the first round of presidential elections, is against the by-regulations of Parliament.
The first round of the elections was cancelled after a decision of the Constitutional court that ruled there must be 367 deputies in the Parliament for the first round of the presidential elections. After this decision was made, Parliament re-regulated the election calendar of the presidential elections.
 Bulent Ecevits widow Rahsan supports the alliance between CHP and DSP for the forthcoming general elections in TurkeyAnkara ANATOLIA news agency (15.05.07) reported that while the electoral coalition negotiations between Republican People's party (CHP) and Democratic Left Party (DSP) is going on, founder chairman of DSP Rahsan Ecevit (widow of late Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit) said on Tuesday that an alliance between the two parties was an utmost necessity. Rahsan Ecevit issued a written statement on the alliance between the left-wing parties and reminded that her husband, former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit had said shortly before he passed away that Turkey could avert the threats it's facing only through an alliance.
Rahsan Ecevit indicated that an alliance between CHP and DSP meant collaboration and emphasized that this alliance would double the power of the left wing in the parliament. Ecevit underlined that this unity would also block the threats of shariah and seperatism.
Ecevit said this alliance would free Turkey of the impositions of the US and EU and ease the problems of farmers, villagers and workers which constitute nearly half of Turkey's population.
On the other hand Chairman of the Social Democratic People's party (SHP) Murat Karayalcin called on the chairmen of CHP and DSP to unite with or without the inclusion of SHP, and said they were ready to contribute.
Secretary General of DSP Ahmet Tan spoke to the press and indicated that the Chairmen of both parties would hold a meeting on the coalition procedures in a couple of days.
 A public opinion polls shows that six parties will enter the Turkish AssemblyTurkish daily VATAN newspaper (15.05.07) reports that according to an election poll that ESTIMA carried out on behalf of VATAN newspaper, the Democratic Party (DP) alliance consisting of the True Path Party (DYP) and Motherland Party (ANAP), as well as the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), will make it into the National Assembly in addition to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP).
Subtitle: If Election Where Held This Sunday
Political life in Ankara went onto alert on 24 April with the statement by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "my candidate for President is my brother Abdullah Gul, with whom I have marched together in this movement," but then turbulence began with the "midnight declaration" of the General Staff on 27 April. Amidst the political developments that then took place one after another, 22 July was announced as the election date.
Well, how is the intense political turbulence that has taken place within this short period going to be reflected at the ballot boxes that the voters will go to in the heat of the summer?
Subtitle: Conducted Face-to-Face in 16 Provinces
The ESTIMA Research and Consultancy Company conducted a public opinion poll during the period 5-10 May for VATAN. The survey was carried out in face-to-face interviews with 1,589 people in the provincial centres, districts, and villages of 16 provinces: Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Malatya, Samsun, Tekirdag, and Trabzon.
Subtitle: Four Parties in National Assembly
Participants in the survey were asked the question: "If the election were to be held this Sunday, which political party would you vote for?" Of those polled, 29.6 percent cited the AKP, 19.2 percent the CHP, 15.3 the DP (DYP-ANAP), 10.3 percent the MHP, 8.7 percent the Young Party (GP), 5.1 percent the Democratic Society Party (DTP), 3.8 percent the Democratic Left Party (DSP), and 2 percent the Felicity Party (SP). According to the study, four political parties would surmount the 10-percent threshold to make it into the Assembly.
It is observed, according to the survey conducted, that the AKP's stance regarding the Presidential election process, as well as the unification of the DYP and ANAP, have led to a 10-percent decline in votes for the AKP since April. And the silence of the MHP during this process is observed to have caused a decline in its share of the vote in relation to previous months. Meanwhile, it is observed that the ongoing involvement that the Young Party has demonstrated with its television campaigns has, since February, been reflected positively in its share of the vote, and that these votes are, for the time being, shifting from the MHP to the GP.
Subtitle: Participation High
Yet another point coming out of the survey is that there is a sharp rise in the "likelihood of voting." In the question posed to the pollees regarding "if the election were held this Sunday," 83.6 percent said "I would definitely go to the polls and cast my ballot." And 10.6 percent said "I would definitely vote." This result shows that the 22 July election will witness a very high participation rate. The fact that the election will be held in July, that is, during the heat of the summer and during the vacation period, may reduce this level to some extent, but even so, the results of the survey show that the tendency to turn out at the polls will be high.
Subtitle: Ages of individuals polled:
18-24: 22.5 percent
25-34: 28.6 percent
35-44: 22.4 percent
45-54: 14.5 percent
55-+: 12.1 percent
Subtitle: Education level of individuals polled:
Primary school: 60 percent
Secondary school: 23.9 percent
University: 9.6 percent
Higher degree: .3 percent
Uneducated: 6.2 percent
 Former Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court argues that the Turkish Constitution is the worst in the worldTurkish daily TODAYS ZAMAN newspaper (16.05.07) reports that the former Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals Sabih Kanadoglu, on Monday addressed an audience at a conference organized by the Trabzon Bar Association.
Speaking at the conference, themed The penal code and its implementation in the context of the state of law, democracy and freedoms, Kanadoglu said in Turkey legislation was drafted at lightning speed.
This is a characteristic of the Turkish people that we can call a disease, and that we never seem to be able to overcome, the former Supreme Court of Appeals prosecutor said and stated that Turkey had broken a world record when it prepared its new penal code in only six months. Kanadoglu also recalled that 90 articles of the new 350-article penal code were amended even before the code went into force. I believe those who passed these laws will go down in Turkish legal history for creating chaos.
Kanadoglu also responded to questions from lawyers in the audience regarding recent political developments. He said he believed President of the Constitutional Court Tulay Tugcu had better not make these statements regarding the referendum, referring to an observation by Tugcu that the president could not have a say on whether to accept a constitutional amendment package currently in Parliament on the method of presidential elections.
The former prosecutor also stated his opinion that since Parliament failed to elect a new president, the term of the outgoing president should be extended, an assertion that was found open to debate by some legal experts in the past weeks.
In response to a question on the recent debate about whether Turkey should have the people elect the president, Kanadoglu said that If the people elect the president, then you would have two powers based on the same source. If you dont have an independent judiciary in such a conflicting state, the direction in which you would be headed would be a dictatorship. As long as the judiciary is not independent, neither a presidential system nor a semi-presidential system nor the parliamentary system would work. This is what they are trying to do, he said.
The former chief prosecutor also expressed his view that Turkeys current constitution was the worst constitution in the world. There is no doubt about that. We are now trying to protect this constitution that I once voted against and that we call as the worst constitution in the world. This is most ironic.
[B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis
 The Turkish Press on developments in the Turkish political scene in AnkaraThe Turkish Press on (15.05.07) continues to give wide coverage to developments in Turkish politics after the Turkish Parliament failed to elect a new President as follow:
A report in MILLIYET by Abdullah Karakus says that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a "secret meeting" with Felicity Party Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmus. The report quotes "sources" as saying that Kurtulmus might run in the elections as a Justice and Development Party, AKP, candidate. Meanwhile, it adds, former deputies Bekir Sobaci and Nazli Ilicak, who reportedly played a role in the closure of the Virtue Party applied for AKP candidacy.
In the same newspaper, report by Namik Durukan says that the Democratic Society Party (DTP), has established an election strategy to be able to enter the parliament through independent deputies. Noting that DTP is preparing to nominate some 63 independent candidates throughout Turkey, he says that the party expects to have at least 37 deputies in the National Assembly after the general elections.
MILLIYET publishes a column by Firket Bila who outlines his exclusive interview with CHP Chairman Deniz Baykal. Mr Baykal stated that the opposition leader still supports the establishment of an alliance with the DSP. He quotes Baykal as saying: "The people expect the two parties to merge. I also want this very much. No one wants this merger more than I do. However, the DSP preferred an election alliance. We have agreed to this as well. We have reached a consensus. I still stand behind my word. I stand behind our agreement. This cooperation should not turn into bargaining." Recalling that the left-wing electorates strongly support a CHP-DSP alliance, Bila cautions that that support might turn into a reaction if the two parties fail to cooperate.
A report also in MILLIYET newspaper says that the founder of the DSP, Rahsan Ecevit, has issued a written statement to support the efforts for the establishment of an alliance between the CHP and the DSP. Rahsan Ecevit is quoted as saying that "threats against Turkey can only be eliminated through an alliance."
Under the headline, "Ballot box news hot off the press," YENI SAFAK publishes a front-page report which outlines the results of an ANAR poll conducted "right after the end of the presidential election process," indicating that "while those parties that made anti-democratic moves have lost ground in popularity stakes, support for the ruling AKP is growing." According to the report, the survey gives the lead to the ruling AKP with 38,3 percent followed by the [expected] Republican People's Party-Democratic Left Party (CHP-DSP) alliance with 14,7 percent in a distribution of votes where undecided voters account for 15,8 percent.
In an article entitled "Will the AKP steam roll the CHP?" YENI SAFAK columnist Ali Bayramoglu analyzes the results of the latest ANAR survey. He interprets the findings of the poll as meaning that all parties except the ruling AKP and the Democratic Society Party (DTP), will be hard-pressed to repeat their 2002 performance and that CHP-DSP and Young Party (GP), supporters make up "the most confused" voter bloc.
In article entitled "The US and the EU are redesigning Turkey", YENI SAFAK columnist Ibrahim Karagul calls attention to the "timing" of the current "crisis" in Turkey, asserting that the ongoing "secular-Islamist row" is taking place at a time when profound changes and map alterations in the region south of Turkey are taking place and Iraq is fast heading for partition, facing Turkey with the question of whether it will establish a common future with Kurds or whether there is a "painful separation" and "ravaging conflict" in store. He also warns that France under Sarkozy will "stand shoulder to shoulder" with the United States and the EU against Iran in a way that will pose a major threat to Turkey.
Under the headline, "His election was irregular, too," VAKIT newspaper runs a front-page report which quotes Aydin Menderes, a former member of parliament, as saying that Ahmet Necdet Sezer's election as president was in violation of Article 76 of the Constitution since Sezer should have resigned his position as head of the Constitutional Court when he was nominated for the presidency seven years ago.
In article entitled "Is humor dead?" VAKIT columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak cautions the AKP about the implications of the possible failure of the Left to achieve any serious representation in Parliament in the next elections and advises the AKP administration to allocate a sizable quota for independent leftist deputies on the AKP's own lists.
In an article entitled "Partisan staffing, did you say? Here it is" VAKIT Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya accuses the Anatolian News Agency (AA), of being stacked with leftists based on its "dry," "spiritless" and brief coverage of Prime Minister Erdogan's visit to Erzurum on 12 May and his address to an "enthusiastic" rally that had filled the city's major square to "overflowing." Karakaya contrasts the AA's "reluctant" reporting on the AKP's Erzurum rally with its "detailed," "zealous" and "militant" coverage of the Republican rally in Izmir, drawing particular attention to the efforts AA correspondents made to highlight leftist leaders' comments during the rally on the project to unify the Left.
 Columnist in SABAH assess developments regarding Turkeys ambition to become the key strategic player in the energy linesIstanbul SABAH newspaper (11.05.07) publishes the following column by Erdal Safak under the title New Moves:
Crucial developments are taking place in our region. But, they cannot secure a place on Turkey's agenda because the public's attention has shifted to the upcoming election. Let me mention some of those developments:
- American Enterprise Institute, a think tank which is a source of inspiration for neo-conservative cadres, has issued a report listing Western investments in Iran and suggested that the Bush Administration issue a veiled threat to those investors in order to step up pressure on mullahs.
- ABN Amro Bank has informed Ankara that it had withdrawn from a natural gas pipeline project. The reason it cited was that Iran was being considered as the source country.
- The Russian Government ratified an agreement about Burgaz-Dedeagac oil pipeline which was signed in Athens on 15 March.
- Kazakhstan declined to take part in Trans-Caspian natural gas pipeline proposed by the United States and the EU.
- It was announced that new pipeline projects aimed at conveying Caspian oil and gas to Europe would be the main issue to be discussed during Russian President Putin's visit to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan which began yesterday.
All those developments have something in common in that they directly concern Turkey because they put Nabucco gas pipeline project and Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline whose construction formally started on 24 April in jeopardy.
Let me begin with Nabucco which the EU describes as a strategic priority. Named after a Babylonian king, the project comprises a gas pipeline between Turkey and Austria via Hungary. Natural gas will come from Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan. It will be conveyed to Turkey through Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline. It will be transported from Erzurum to Ankara and then to Europe via Nabucco pipeline. But, potential investors demand that additional gas supplies be found on the grounds that a pipeline only depending on Azerbaijan's gas reserves could not be considered a rational investment as estimates about those reserves are questionable. Iran is regarded as the first and most likely candidate. In other words, the idea is to connect the Iranian-Turkish gas pipeline to Nabucco. Sanctions, however, have been imposed on Iran under a UN resolution coupled with strong pressure put by the United States. That it is why ABN Amro Bank withdrew from the project.
Another option under consideration is to convey Turkmen and Kazakh natural gas to Nabucco through Trans-Caspian pipeline. Kazakhstan, however, effectively eliminated that option by saying that it would not take part in the scheme. Moreover, Kazakh officials opened negotiations with Russia with a view to increasing the capacity of the existing lines and launching new projects during Putin's visit which started yesterday.
Subtitle: Cold winds in the corridor
There are two options left to bail out Nabucco which has already been postponed due to Hungary's reluctance (it places high priority on Moscow's projects) and Turkey's decision to suspend negotiations with Gaz de France in response to a bill on Armenian allegations of genocide: Gazprom, a giant Russian company, will be included as a partner or Putin's proposal to build Blue Stream 2 instead of Nabucco will be accepted. Blue Stream II is intended to connect Blue Stream I to Hungary via Samsun by using the same route proposed for Nabucco on condition that the project is led by Gazprom.
As regards Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline, it can be said that it is also facing serious problems because Burgaz-Dedeagac pipeline has gained momentum; Turkmenistan is moving closer to Moscow; and finally Kazakhstan prefers to send its oil and gas to the West via Russia. The pipeline is currently under construction but nobody knows whose country's oil it will convey to the Mediterranean. If it only depends on Azeri oil, it could have an adverse effect on Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan scheme.
All those facts indicate that moves are being made one after another in that strategic chess game while Turkey which intends to become an energy corridor is preoccupied with its own problems.