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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-10-05

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

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

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.192/07 05.10.07

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan at Esenboga Airport prior to his visit to occupied Cyprus
  • [02] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan at a press conference during his visit in occupied Cyprus
  • [03] The EP rapportaur Ewa Klamt, who arrived in Cyprus to be briefed on the spot as regards the Missing persons, will ask the European Parliament to increase its allocation
  • [04] Delegations of the Cyprus Football Association and the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation met in occupied Lefkosia
  • [05] British Prime Ministers Special Cyprus Representative Joan Ryan met with Oya Talat
  • [06] High pesticide residues detected in grapes and celery
  • [07] Motion by AKP to change the constitutional amendment bill
  • [08] DTP parliamentarians face trial
  • [09] Turkey to double trade with Finland in three years
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [10] The Turkish Press on 4 October 2007

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan at Esenboga Airport prior to his visit to occupied Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (04.10.07) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Foreign Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan left for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Thursday, in order to hold a series of talks with officials in this country.

    Holding a press conference at Ankara's Esenboga airport prior to his departure, Babacan said he would discuss the latest situation regarding the Cyprus issue and also what could be done in the upcoming period, during his talks in TRNC.

    Underscoring that the Cyprus issue was a "national cause" for Turkey, Babacan said the new government would have a sensitive stance on this matter.

    Stressing that the rightest platform for the solution of Cyprus issue was UN, Babacan said Turkey would carry on with its policy aiming to find a fair and permanent solution and to bring peace to the Eastern Mediterranean.

    "The joint state to be formed in the island after a comprehensive solution is found, should stick to basic principles such as a two-party structure, political equality and Turkey's guarantorship," said Babacan.

    "Cyprus issue should not be brought up as an obstacle against Turkey's EU adhesion process," said Babacan, stating that Turkey would continue to stand against such attempts.

    Noting that Turkey shared Turkish Cypriots' will to exist continuing their equal status with Greek Cypriots, Babacan stressed that Turkey would keep on supporting the TRNC in every field and also fulfil its rights and responsibilities stemming from international agreements.

    [02] Statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan at a press conference during his visit in occupied Cyprus

    Following is the text of the joint press conference given by Mr Babacan and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat after their meeting yesterday, as broadcast live by the illegal BRT television (04.10.07):

    This is my first official visit as Foreign Minister to the TRNC. During my visit first I met with Mr Talat and his delegation. We have made an evaluation. It was engaged in a sincere exchange of views. Later on we will continue our meetings with the Assembly Speaker Mrs Ekenoglu, with the Prime Minister Mr Soyer and with the deputy prime minister and Foreign Minister Mr Turgay Avci.

    I want once more to stress that Turkey, like the Turkish Cypriot people, wants a just and lasting peace in Cyprus. Within this framework Turkey appreciates and supports the steps and the openings made by the Turkish Cypriots on the way to peace and reconciliation.

    Last week, during the UN meeting in New York, we have explained to almost all our interlocutors, the proposals and the positive approach made by President Talat during the 5th September meeting. I conveyed from first hand these efforts.

    We do believe that in order to reach an agreement in Cyprus, one has to understand well the following and consider the realities existing in the island. The solution to be reached in Cyprus should include confirmed UN parameters, and be within the framework of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General. It should be a reconciliation taking into account the political equality and the equal status of the sides.

    It is an empty illusion to expect that the Turkish Cypriots will give up these and accept a solution that will turn them in a sense to a minority.

    The TRNC, with a view to finding a peaceful solution has until today exhibited a constructive stance. I would like once more to stress that we appreciate and support the ceaseless endeavours especially made by esteemed Mr Talat towards finding a peaceful solution.

    Unfortunately the Turkish sides stance does not receive the necessary response from the international community.

    We demand from the international community to put an end to the isolations imposed on the Turkish Cypriots. Especially, after the rejection of the Annan Plan process in 2004.

    After two days of the referenda held in 2004 in Cyprus, the EU Commission as you know took a decision regarding the removal of the isolations. Again in the report drafted by Kofi Annan, the need was clearly expressed to end this isolation. On this issue we want the common sense to prevail.

    Turkey will continue to provide its support as it did until now to safeguard the future and the prosperity, development and strengthening of the TRNC and of our Turkish Cypriot brothers. Economic measures which will help to increase the prosperity of the Turkish Cypriots will continue in a firm manner.

    Prevailing of tranquillity and prosperity in Cyprus is our wish.

    On his part the Turkish Cypriot leader repeated his recent statements on President Papadopouloss speech in the UN General Assembly and the Turkish occupation troops and replied to questions with Mr. Babacan.

    When a Turkish Cypriot journalist asked Mr Talat to comment on his statements last week that the number of Turkish Cypriots who wanted to live in a partnership state is getting less as the present non-solution state continues, and today in his opening statement, he was speaking about his commitment to a federal solution, Talat said: What I have said earlier and you have referred to, was a warning. It was a warning to both the international community and to those who claim they are after a solution. So, I repeat the same warning. This is a reality. My warning is still valid. Our policy is a bi-zonal solution within the framework of the UN. In this solution the two peoples, the two states will be equal. They will be politically equal. Naturally this is a federal roof. This is our policy. To your question: How long this will continue? I can not give an answer to your question.

    Regarding a question about the 1st October military parade and the arms exhibited there, Babacan said that Turkey will continue to take measures as guarantor power and safeguard the security of the Turkish Cypriots.

    When asked to comment on Turkeys EU obligation to open its ports and airports to Cyprus - registered ships and planes, Babacan repeated the known Turkish stance regarding removing of the so-called isolations and simultaneously opening of the Turkish ports. He said: No one should expect unilateral steps on this issue. Turkey is firm on this issue and will continue this stance.

    A Greek Cypriot journalist put the following three questions to both of them: What will be the message of the UN Chief in New York when you go there sir, and can we look forward to another meeting between yourself and Tassos Papadopoulos? And the third question is: Will ferry lines with Syria continue, are they related to any way with the Israeli strike in Syria?

    Only Talat answered as follows: You know my message to all and to the Secretary-General. We, the Turkish Cypriot side, are ready for a solution to the Cyprus problem. This will be a comprehensive solution, and we will be ready starting to full fledged negotiations in order to reach such a solution.

    But, in the meantime, although I do not share this view, but since there are views that preparation is necessary, we are also ready for a preparation in a limited time, not for ever, in a limited time. After these preparations we will be ready for a full fledged negotiation in order to reach a comprehensive solution. This will be my message and I will request from the Secretary-General to take an initiative for this purpose.

    As for the other question, about the ferry lines established between North Cyprus and Syria, this is totally a commercial issue. There were such activities in the past and because somehow have been interrupted, now it is initiated again. This is, as I said, a commercial issue. I think it will continue, why not? But, furthermore, there is no argument that there are limitations according to the international regulations for ferry lines, for ships to go from Famagusta to any other countrys port, which is going on now. From Famagusta to any port internationally. The international law cannot block this because this is totally legal. There is no such possibility. So it will continue. It is totally within the limits of the international laws.

    When reminded by the Greek Cypriot correspondent about the possibility of him with President Tassos Papadopoulos, Talat said: That depends of course; we do not have any problem having such a meeting, any time when it is appropriate I will meet Mr. Papadopoulos.

    Question: When it is appropriate?

    Talat: I do not know the time but we will see, I will meet the Secretary-General and may be he will take an initiative and he will ask such a meeting. When or if the conditions will be ripe such a meeting will take place.

    In addition, all the local Turkish Cypriot papers report today (05.10.07) about the illegal visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and his contacts with the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

    KIBRIS: We want just and lasting peace

    KIBRIS STAR: The UN is the solutions address

    KIBRISLI: Fatherly statements from Babacan

    YENIDUZEN: Statement of agreement

    HALKIN SESI: Babacan: We will not take one-sided steps in Cyprus

    ORTAM: Nothing has changed

    VOLKAN: Babacan: The Cyprus problem is a national issue

    VATAN: Babacan in the TRNC

    SOZCU; One cannot reach a solution with one-sided efforts

    BAKIS: President Talat has received Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan

    AFRIKA: Talat and Babacan are on the same frequency

    (MHY)

    [03] The EP rapportaur Ewa Klamt, who arrived in Cyprus to be briefed on the spot as regards the Missing persons, will ask the European Parliament to increase its allocation.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.10.07) reports that the EP rapportaur Ewa Klamt who arrived in Cyprus to be briefed on the spot as regards the Missing persons issue said that as long as the wounds regarding the missing persons are open the Cyprus problem cannot be settled. At the end of her contacts here in Cyprus both in the free areas and in the occupied area she said that she had meetings with the families and relatives of the missing persons as well as with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

    Mrs. Klamt said that the work being carried out by the experts in excavations and identifying the remains in order to speed up the work need huge amount of resources. She said that she has plans to ask the European Parliament (EP) to increase its allocation. She expressed full satisfaction with her contacts in Cyprus. She said her contacts were very positive and constructive. Mrs. Klamt urged that the work being carried out should be speeded up because of the danger that the witness could die and we cannot wait for another twenty years. She went on and said that she will submit her report to the EP at the end of the autumn.

    (MHY)

    [04] Delegations of the Cyprus Football Association and the Turkish Cypriot Football Federation met in occupied Lefkosia

    Illegal Bayrak television (04.10.07) broadcast the following:

    Officials from Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot Football Federations have met at the Saray Hotel in Lefkosia.

    Todays meeting was the first of its kind. During the meeting, officials from the two federations agreed to continue their discussions. A delegation from the Greek Cypriot Football Federation crossed into North Cyprus through the Ledra Palace checkpoint this morning. Members of the delegation were welcomed by officials from the Cyprus Turkish Football Federation. Later, delegations from the two federations met at the Saray Hotel in Lefkosia.

    In a joint statement issued after the two-hour long meeting, the Cyprus Turkish Football Federation President Niyazi Okutan and the Greek Cypriot Football Federation President Costakis Koutsocoumnis said that the meeting was held in a positive atmosphere.

    A second meeting will be held between the two federations on the Greek Cypriot side at a date to be fixed later before they come together again in Zurich on the 27th of October.

    Presidents of the two federations held discussions in Zurich on the 20th of September at the Home of FIFA at a meeting chaired by the FIFA President Joseph S Blatter. During that meeting, the parties agreed to reconvene in Zurich on the 27th of October.

    [05] British Prime Ministers Special Cyprus Representative Joan Ryan met with Oya Talat

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.10.07) reports that the British Prime Ministers Special Cyprus Representative Mrs. Joan Ryan, who is currently in Cyprus for contacts with both sides, had a meeting yesterday at the British Councils premises in the occupied area with the wife of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Mrs. Oya Talat and members of some womens organizations. During the meeting the British representative said that her government supports the development of the north Cypruss economy because it believes that economic development will contribute to the reunification of the island.

    In her turn, Mrs. Oya Talat said that despite the bitter experiences of the past it is necessary to look forward for a lasting and peaceful solution in Cyprus.

    (MHY)

    [06] High pesticide residues detected in grapes and celery

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (05.10.07) and all the local Turkish Cypriot papers report today about the high pesticide residues, detected in grapes and celery.

    The papers report that following chemical analysis carried out on fruits and vegetables from orchards, vineyards and vegetable fields, grapes in nine vineyards were found with high pesticide residue and growers of these vineyards were told not to harvest the grapes from the vineyards. The analysis also found that celery grown in a field contains high levels of pesticides and it was decided to destroy twenty thousand celery roots growing in the field.

    (MHY)

    [07] Motion by AKP to change the constitutional amendment bill

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (04.10.07) reports the following from Ankara:

    The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party submitted Thursday to the Parliament a bill, in which it suggests to exclude two temporary articles of the constitutional amendment bill from the package to be submitted to referendum on October 21st.

    282 AK Party MPs have signed the motion that asks for the exclusion of the temporary 18th and 19th articles of the constitutional amendment bill.

    The temporary article 18 is related to the amendments made in laws to be applied during the election of the 11th president of Turkey, while the article 19 foresees the implementation of new arrangements during the election of the 11th president.

    The motion also stipulates that the law will take effect the day it is published in the Official Gazette, and says that all of the articles (of the constitutional amendment bill) will be voted in the referendum.

    In a petition attached to the motion, AKP MPs said that the 11th president of Turkey has already been elected according to the Constitution in force. Therefore, they noted, these temporary articles are void. In case the package is adopted in the referendum, these articles cannot be implemented. It is irrational to keep them in the bill, MPs affirmed.

    However, the process continues regarding other articles of the package (constitutional amendment bill), the parliamentarians mentioned in their petition.

    [08] DTP parliamentarians face trial

    Under the above title Turkish Todays Zaman newspaper (05.10.07) reports the following from Ankara:

    Members of Parliament from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) will stand trial as deputies following a ruling by the 9th Istanbul High Criminal Court based on a provision listing an exception to the immunity normally awarded deputies.

    DPT deputies Aysel Tugluk and Ayla Akat will face trial on their charges. This is the first time in the history of Turkish politics that deputies in office have been ordered to trial. According to Article 83 of the Turkish Constitution, those elected as parliamentary deputies gain legislative immunity, freezing all court processes underway against them until the end of their term in Parliament, with the only exception being crimes against the unity of the state.

    Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan offered his opinion on the court ruling on Thursday. This is what the constitution calls for, he said, adding, We have a red line. This line is the indivisible unity of the Turkish Republic and its fundamental principles. Any attempt to abolish these cannot be tolerated, nor can it be considered part of freedom of thought.

    However, DTP S1rnak deputy Hasip Kaplan did not agree. Kaplan claimed that the court s statement, which was submitted to Parliament yesterday, was against constitutional procedure. Kaplan said legislative immunity could not be lifted unless Parliament voted to remove the immunity of a particular legislator.

    [09] Turkey to double trade with Finland in three years

    Under the above title Turkish Todays Zaman newspaper (05.10.07) reports the following from Ankara:

    Turkey will double its trade volume with Finland in three years, according to the foreign trade minister.

    Speaking at the Turkey-Finland Business Forum hosted by the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmens Association (TUSIAD) yesterday in Istanbul, State Minister for Foreign Trade Kurad Tuzmen said Turkey s exports to Finland have tripled since 2004, reaching close to $1.1 billion.

    Tuzmen said only 140 out of 1,500 foreign firms that have invested in Turkey were Finnish and only 17 Finnish firms were aiming to grow further in the country. He said Turkey has recovered from inflation and growth problems in the last five years but that it has a long way to go in cooperation with Finland.

    Commenting on the EU, Tuzmen said Turkeys accession process was not progressing as easily as he had expected. He said EU member states should take the trend of progress within Turkey into consideration rather than looking at its current position. Our EU accession process is a progressive process. You can see Turkey is not the same as it was 15 years ago, he said.

    Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Vayrynen said he was very impressed with the incredible change in Turkey from his past visits to the country. He said there was great potential for trade between the two countries beyond current levels. I hope the expertise of Finland in information technology will help Turkey, which is becoming an information society, he said, adding that they will be glad to share their experiences with Turkey. Vayrynen emphasized that Finland was now supporting Turkey s EU membership more strongly than before. TUSIAD President Arzuhan Dogan Yalc1ndag said the determination for macroeconomic measures, stability, declining interest rates and tight budgetary discipline has promoted investments in the last five years. Yalc1ndag said the current account deficit was still a problem for Turkey but that the financing of the deficit was healthier than before.

    She said the main risk factors for Turkey were long-term difficulties such as a more difficult than expected EU accession process. This will cause fluctuations in Turkish financial markets and a liquidity tightening at the same time, she said. Yalc1ndag said to avoid these kinds of problems and maintain the gains that have been made in the Turkish economy, the EU reform process should be sustained.


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [10] The Turkish Press on 4 October 2007

    Following are highlights from the Turkish Press of October 4 on issues of the current political agenda, as follows:

    Referendum on Presidential election:

    According to an ANKA report in Hurriyet, the Justice and Development Party [AKP] group in the parliament considers removing the article concerning the election of the "11th president" from the text to be presented to the electorate in the referendum on 21 October. The report argues that the AKP is planning to end the debate over President Abdullah Gul's term of office.

    Recalling Prime Minister Erdogan's remarks that presidential elections will not be held until the end of Gul's term of office, a column by Oktay Eksi of Hurriyet asserts that the prime minister should realize that laws cannot be changed in accordance with its instructions. Accusing Erdogan of trying to "influence" the Higher Election Board [YSK] in an effort to obstruct the election of a new president immediately after the referendum, Eksi asks: "Did he [Erdogan] not ask the judiciary to adopt an impartial stand even toward those who targeted the basic principles of the republic?"

    In an article entitled "Will Gul still be in Cankaya in November?" Yeni Safak columnist Ali Bayramoglu calls attention to the "possibility" that if the bill arranging for presidents to be elected by popular vote is passed in the forthcoming referendum, the Supreme Election Board could order a new presidential election and forbid Abdullah Gul from running for president a second time on the grounds that presidents are elected for only a single term in Turkey.

    Under the banner headline, "We have another crisis," Milli Gazete publishes a front-page report which asserts that it has started to be discussed who will become president following the forthcoming referendum. According to the report, the constitutional amendment package submitted to referendum has turned President Gul's status into a matter of dispute.

    In his column in Milliyet, Derya Sazak asserts that the current problem related to the presidential elections in Turkey has been caused by the ruling party's move to seek an "assurance" for the election of an AKP-supported president after the general elections on 22 July. Warning that Turkey might encounter a new presidential crisis after the referendum, Sazak says that President Gul's position might become "debatable" if the majority of the electorate says "yes" to the election of president through popular vote. He says: "Will Turkey hold the elections again? Will there be any other candidates? The referendum might have a 'boomerang' effect on the AKP, which tried to overcome the presidential crisis through making a constitutional change rather than waiting for the results of the 22 July elections."

    A report in the Turkish Daily News says that Republican People's Party leader Deniz Baykal called on the YSK to decide to hold new presidential elections if the constitutional amendment package that goes to a referendum on October 21 is not changed.

    In an article entitled "Brazen" Milli Gazete columnist Hasan Unal comments on Government Spokesman Cemil Cicek's latest disclosure that Turkey could always use Article 51 of the UN Charter as a basis for conducting cross-border operations into Iraq. Unal asks what point there was in maintaining the recent "demeaning" talks with Iraq on the PKK if the AKP is really considering using the said article as justification for a military incursion into Iraq. He claims that Turkey has sufficient military power and legal grounds for carrying out a cross-border operation against the PKK, adding that what is lacking is "political will" on the part of the Erdogan government. He also accuses the AKP of "treating it as a principle not to do anything that the United States will not allow it to."

    President Gul Addresses PACE: Columnist Murat Yetkin says in an article in the Turkish Daily News that President Gul deliberately preferred to pay an official visit to Strasbourg. Yetkin quotes the president as saying: "We specifically chose Strasbourg. The Council of Europe is an institution that Turkey has been in since 1948. It is a school for Europe. Democracy, human rights and supremacy of the law are pillars here."

    Writing in the same newspaper, Mehmet Ali Birand says in his column that the Council of Europe welcomed President Gul as an old friend. He adds: "Yesterday was a very emotional, symbolic and nostalgic time for President Gul. Gul worked as an expert at the Islam Development Bank in Saudi Arabia for ten years during the 1980s. After 1991, he participated in the council studies in his parliamentary capacity for another ten years. This is where he embraced the Islamic world- Europe syllogism."

    A column by Ergun Babahan of Sabah also welcomes the speech President Gul delivered at the PACE General Assembly. Recalling the president's remarks on his and his colleagues' contribution to Turkey's progress toward the EU, the columnist says: "As a politician who worked in Saudi Arabia for many years and then went to Strasbourg as a Welfare Party deputy and worked at the PACE uninterruptedly for 10 years, Gul's speech and responses to the questions put to him clearly showed how he has internalized the values and the standards of the West." Turkey will have a dynamic president who is familiar with all the issues, such as human rights and the EU, for the next seven years, he adds.

    Military Statements/Kurdish Issue: In his column in Referans, Cengiz Candar makes an analysis of the speeches recently delivered by Chief of the General Staff Gen Buyukanit and Commander of Land Forces Gen Basbug at the War Academies. Recalling that the military believes that the PKK can be disbanded if Turkey obstructs the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq, the columnist says that a "non-binding resolution" adopted by the United States last week led the Turkish military to repeat its "perception of threat." He adds that regardless of the fact that the Bush administration does not have to implement this resolution, it still carries signs about the policies that might be adopted in the future.

    In an article entitled "We have already arrived" Today's Zaman columnist Fehmi Koru hails remarks in Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit's Military Academy speech "indicating the army's desire to participate in a debate over a new constitution" as a sign that "Turkey has entered a new phase of its democratic journey."

    An editorial by Ilnur Cevik of The New Anatolian criticizes the messages conveyed by Gen Buyukanit and says: "Turkey has been labeled as a military democracy for a very long time and in fact it has survived with this image until now and has even managed to become a candidate for European Union membership. But now we are at the crossroads as taking some vital decisions to become a civilian democracy and thus be eligible to join the family of civilized nations or face the prospects of remaining a military democracy..."

    An unattributed article in the same newspaper says that there are mainly two allegations in Ankara about the goal of the DTP: One says DTP members are involved in provocative acts in an effort to push the judiciary and state to "close down the DTP just like its predecessor DEP" in order to obstruct the increasing support for the AKP in eastern and south-eastern Turkey, while another allegation claims they aim to "change the black and white stance to Kurdish question in Turkey."

    In a commentary entitled "Deep cooperation in the region [Southeast]?" Umit Firat asserts that the recent attack on some 12 people in the Beytussebab district of Sirnak Province appears to have been carried out by illegal elements within the state as part of a bid to perpetuate the ongoing environment of conflict and violence in the region and to allow the military to increase its influence on politics. Firat recalls how a "similar" "minibus massacre" was carried out in the Guclukonak district of Sirnak on 15 January 1996 and how locals in the region "insisted" that the attack had been carried out by "state forces."

    In an article entitled "Southeast: economy versus security?" Today's Zaman columnist Lale Sariibrahimoglu comments on a recent economic report entitled "Increased Poverty in the East and Southeast and Solutions: Peace," which shows "how the country was hijacked by a security-first approach rather than addressing the grievances of those areas."

    Milliyet carries an article on an interview with Nationalist Action Party [MHP] Ankara Deputy Deniz Bolukbasi by Semih Idiz on foreign policy issues. Commenting on the PKK threat, Bolukbasi says that "Barzani is using the PKK as a tool to threaten and blackmail Turkey," adding, that is why Ankara has to adopt a policy that will have a deterrent effect on him. The MHP deputy also calls for economic measures against the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq. He accuses the AKP government of trying to avoid a cross-border operation because of the "election alliance" it established with the Kurdish leader. He goes on to say that the Turkish businessmen working in northern Iraq are preparing the necessary infrastructure for an independent Kurdish state in the region. Describing the Turkey-US relations as "very important and difficult," Bolukbasi laments that there is a "mutual crisis of confidence" between the two countries. Commenting on Ankara's EU bid, he views the current situation as a "disappointment" on the part of Turkey.

    Other issues:

    Under the banner headline, "Fatma crisis in Bulgarian church," Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report which relates the "exclusive" story of how Juliana Cipof, the wife of the former head of the Bulgarian Church in Istanbul, was forced to leave her house by her husband and daughters after converting to Islam.

    Yeni Safak devotes an interview entitled "Nobody could use the state as a means of dominating people" with Professor Hayreddin Karaman, "one of Turkey's best Islamic jurists," who responds to questions about the concept of "neighbourhood pressure" [suggested recently by Professor Serif Mardin in reference to possible pressures on women who do not cover their heads to adopt the Islamic code of dress]. Karaman claims that the debate on "neighbourhood pressure" has been started by those who want to restrict religious freedoms.

    In an article entitled "Do not activate social fault lines" Yeni Safak columnist Yasin Dogan argues that the controversy over the concept of "neighbourhood pressure" appears to be intended to restrict the ruling AKP's room for maneuver and prevent it from pressing ahead with its plan to write a new constitution. Dogan warns that it is very dangerous to create the impression of a conflict between the lifestyles of different social sections, as those, he asserts, who are maintaining the said controversy are doing. He also compares the "provocative" rhetoric of the proponents of the concept of "neighbourhood pressure" to some of President Bush's post-9/11 messages.

    In an article entitled "Saved from the brink of a nuclear war" Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul emphasizes the importance of the recent flight of a B-52 plane loaded with nuclear missiles over the United States as an incident signifying the possibility of nuclear weapons being used for the first time since "the US-Soviet face-offs of the Cold War period." He calls attention once more to claims that the bomber was supposed to attack Iran. He also asserts that the more recent incident involving a number of Israeli aircraft's use of Turkish airspace in their "attack" on Syria was "a rehearsal for a nuclear war."

    Under the banner headline, "Neighbourhood farce," Vakit carries a front-page report which slams "fanatical secularists" for "unashamedly talking about 'neighbourhood pressure'" on secular-minded people regardless of the fact that "pious masses in this country have been subject for years to the pressures of the raving minority" to change their life styles. The report relates how "secularist tyrants" began in 1997 to "pressure" female university students wearing Islamic headscarves to uncover their heads by setting up "persuasion rooms," expelling them from school, adopting police measures, etc.

    In an article entitled "Neighbourhood pressure: Argument is over now that Hilton is safe" Vakit Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya accuses the Dogan Media Group of using news reports and articles keeping the issue of "neighbourhood pressure" in the limelight as a means of forcing the Erdogan government into permitting Aydin Dogan to move ahead with the project to erect a 230,000 square meter shopping centre on "Hilton land." Karakaya claims that now that Aydin Dogan has secured this permission, the AKP can find a respite from this media campaign starting from tomorrow.

    In an article entitled "Now you are talking" Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak asserts that the Turkish Establishment has always tried to use imam-hatip schools as a means of controlling Islam and Muslims. He argues that the state should withdraw entirely from religious affairs, adding that "nationalizing religion at a time when everything is being privatized is meaningless, bizarre, and absurd" apart from being contrary to the constitutional principles of equality and secularism.

    In an article entitled "Fear merchants" Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone cites the recent comparisons drawn between Turkey and Malaysia as an example of the way in which certain "merchants of fear" who have a vested interest in maintaining Turkey's "archaic" government structures are trying to "mobilize" fear of the Erdogan government's agenda through alarmist scenarios simply to be able to retain their privileges.

    ES/


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