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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-11-23

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 <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.227/07 23.11.07

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] A team on the Cyprus problem will be established at the presidency
  • [02] The breakaway regime exerts efforts to prevent the Turkish Cypriots from shopping in the free areas of the island
  • [03] Discussions on the issue of the 156 persons whose the citizenship was annulled continue
  • [04] Cakici argues that the Turkish Cypriots are going bankrupt
  • [05] Foreign guests will participate in the 1st Congress of the ORP
  • [06] Dictionaries 400 years-old in the hands of smugglers in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [07] The illegal Near East University participated in an International Education Fair in Libya; Libyan academician is expected to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [08] The EU Pilot Rural Development Grant Scheme gill provide funds to Turkish Cypriot farmers
  • [09] British Justice Minister Jack Straw is visiting Ankara
  • [10] Terrorism condemned at the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee. EP member Marios Matsakis attended the meeting
  • [11] Italian Foreign Minister D´Alema held contacts in Ankara
  • [12] The Higher Board of Privatization approved the sale of Petkin and the sale of Derince port´s operation rights
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [13] From the Turkish Press of 22 November 2007
  • [14] Columnist in the New Anatolian on Turkeys multi-dimensional foreign policy exploiting its strategic advantages
  • [15] Todays Zaman assess Mr Babacan´s statements on surprise reforms

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] A team on the Cyprus problem will be established at the presidency

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (23.11.07) reports that that Hasan Sarica, advisor at the presidency, has said that a team will be established there to deal with the Cyprus problem.

    In statements to illegal Bayrak television, Mr Sarica noted that every person in this team will be dealing with a different field of the problem and will be participating in the negotiations on the issue representing the presidency. He argued that he is the most competent person after Mr Talat at the presidency and added that this could be seen very clearly in the hierarchy.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] The breakaway regime exerts efforts to prevent the Turkish Cypriots from shopping in the free areas of the island

    Under the title Seizure and fine, 117 YTL fine for two chairs, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (23.11.07) reports, inter alia, the following:

    Last Saturday one citizen of ours named Kerim Gulsevener bought two chairs for his office at 35 Cyprus Pounds each from South Cyprus. At Metahan [Ayios Dhometios] Turkish gate the chairs were seized and afterwards the Smuggling Department was called and he was fined with 117 New Turkish Liras (YTL)! Gulsevener, who said I have not smuggled narcotics or heroin, was amazed when the Smuggling Department was called and said that he will not pay this fine and go to court. The Minister of Finance Ahmet Uzun, the opinion of whose was asked on this issue, stated that the 135 euro-shopping encompasses only goods suitable for present! When he was reminded that Gulsevener will file charges against them, Uzun said: Actually we are the ones that should file charges against him.

    The paper writes also that the terrorization of the Turkish side on the citizens who do shopping from the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus reminds the practices of a person named Celal Hordan, a well known swindler in the past.

    In its Letter from Afrika column the paper notes, inter alia, the following under the title They have overtaken even Celal Hordan!:

    Are you aware of this you unlucky people! The campaign from Turk to Turk has risen from the grave. After fifty years. There was a swindler named Celal Hordan, you remember? And they assigned him as Chairman of the Youth Organization. We returned to those days again. Perhaps you remember. They were selling you a Craven A [packet of cigarettes] of two shillings for five shillings. Their appetite swelled up now as well. Of course now there is no Celal Hordan. There is Ferdi Sabit Soyer. He will lock you up in the pen at all costs. .

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Discussions on the issue of the 156 persons whose the citizenship was annulled continue

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (23.11.07) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, rejected the accusations against him on the issue of the 156 persons whose citizenship was annulled upon a court decision. The cases of totally 223 persons have been taken to court.

    Mr Talat has been accused that afterwards the charges against 67 persons who were his supporters had been withdrawn. In statements to a TV program he said:

    There is no such thing. When we filed charges against 223 persons the court told us that the plaintiffs should be notified. Afterwards efforts were exerted to reach those against whom charges were filed. Through the mail etc. However, only 67 of them replied to the notifications and raised an objection. Among them there were persons who had the right of the citizenship, but they were not made [citizens] by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, they were made by the Council of Ministers. Together with this, there were also our people who had investments here. This is the truth of the event.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan newspaper (23.11.07) refers to the same issue and reports that businessman Besim Tibuk was among the 67 persons against whom charges were withdrawn. The paper notes that a representative of Mr Tibuk was in the occupied areas of Cyprus in 2005, when the charges were withdrawn.

    This representative of Mr Tibuk participated in a solidarity dinner organized at Colony Hotel by Mehmet Ali Talat, who was candidate for the presidency in the elections. Businessmen participated in that meeting, in order to contribute to Mr Talats election campaign, reports that paper and adds that according to allegations, Besim Tibuks representative made a donation to Mr Talat and this is the reason why the charges against him were withdrawn.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (23.11.07) reports that the former Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktas, who is visiting Mersin, commented on the issue of the persons the citizenship of whose had been annulled with a court decision.

    Mr Denktas said: A great mistake has been committed, but there is no ulterior motive. I met with Prime Minister Soyer. He promised that the issue will be solved.

    Mr Denktas added that in the list of the persons who were granted the citizenship there were persons whom they wanted to honour and thank because of the services they offered to them.

    In addition, Turkish Cypriot weekly Yeni Cag newspaper (23.11.07) reports that the New Cyprus Party evaluated the same issue and expressed the opinion that not only the citizenship of 200 persons, but the citizenship given to everybody in a manner contrary to the international law and the Geneva Convention should be annulled.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (23.11.07) reports that referring to the same issue, the General Secretary of the Cyprus Socialist Party (KSP), Yusuf Alkim said that the annulment of the citizenship of 156 persons is a positive development but not sufficient. Mr Alkim said:

    There is no meaning in preserving the citizenship of some people to whom the TRNC citizenship was distributed. Their becoming citizens just because they are moneybags is unacceptable.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Cakici argues that the Turkish Cypriots are going bankrupt

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (23.11.07) reports that Mehmet Cakici, chairman of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP), has replied to the statements made recently by the self-styled prime minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer on the economy of the breakaway regime.

    Mr Cakici argued that the Turkish Cypriots are going bankrupt. He accused the self-styled government of using state institutions such as the illegal Turkish Cypriot airlines, the illegal Bayrak television, and the Eastern Mediterranean University as if they belong to it and of bringing these institutions to the point of going bankrupt.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (23.11.07) refers to the same issue and reports that Mr Cakici referred to the strikes and the protest activities organized in the occupied areas of Cyprus and wondered if the people celebrate with strikes and protest actions the fact that they are at the 59th place in the worlds income ranking.

    The paper reports:

    Pointing out that the development, deriving to a great extent from the constructions sector after the Annan Plan, has not been reflected equally to the whole people, Cakici noted that the roads, the hospitals, the tradesmen, the schools are not reflecting these indicators and said: And this is actually a sign of bad administration. The distribution of income is not fair. This is obvious very clearly.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Foreign guests will participate in the 1st Congress of the ORP

    Turkish Cypriot daily Sozcu newspaper (23.11.07) reports that high ranking officials and journalists from Italy, Syria, Britain and Germany will participate in the 1st Regular Congress of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) which will take place on 24 November in the occupied areas of Cyprus. Many MPs and mayors from Turkey will also attend the Congress.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] Dictionaries 400 years-old in the hands of smugglers in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (23.11.07) reports that during an operation carried out in Keryneia, the occupied Nicosia police department for preventing the crime have seized three handwritten dictionaries, the total worth of which is estimated to be six million US dollars.

    The dictionaries, under the name of Okyanus were written 400 years ago in Venice during the Ottoman Empire period. Two persons, Ibrahim Hakki Genc and Ali Riza Arioglu were arrested and taken to Keryneia District Court.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] The illegal Near East University participated in an International Education Fair in Libya; Libyan academician is expected to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (23.11.07) reports that the illegal Near East University (YDU) has participated recently in an International Education Fair that took place in Libya. According to a statement issued by the YDUs press and public relations department, Dr. Taysser Alshanableh, Director of Foreign Students Affairs, and Debra Louis Holmes, member of the teaching staff, represented the university in the Fair.

    Dr. Taysser Alshanableh noted that they met with Muftah Alsharif Algurni, Director of Libyas Higher Institute of Technologies and General Secretary of Arab Higher Schools Federation. Dr. Alshanableh said that the meeting was very useful from the point of view of the development of the bilateral relations between the universities.

    He noted that they invited Mr Algurni to the YDU and that he accepted the invitation. Dr. Alshanableh said that they afterwards visited Al Fateh University and met with Prof. Dr. Salah M. Azwai, with whom they discussed the issue of cooperation between their universities and agreed to continue their contacts.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] The EU Pilot Rural Development Grant Scheme gill provide funds to Turkish Cypriot farmers

    Illegal Bayrak television (23.11.07) reports the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The European Commissions Pilot Rural Development Grant Scheme has been introduced to farmers at an information meeting at the Saray Hotel.

    Within the framework of the project, the EU will pay up to 65% of the cost of selected projects to improve hygiene on sheep and goat farms.

    The presentation of the pilot project was made by Michael Bullen, an official from the European Commission.

    Providing detailed information about the pilot project, he also briefed farmers on how to apply for grants.

    The EU Pilot Rural Development Grant Scheme will give grants of between 5.000 and 25.000 euros for equipment such as milking machines and bulk storage tanks, because use of cold-chain technology in the sheep and goat milk sector will be required in the future to ensure the quality of milk used in cheese production.

    Overall, up to 500.000 euros will be available.

    The Pilot Rural Development Grant Scheme is the first initiative of the European Commissions overall Rural Development Sector Programme (RDSP), which will be delivered progressively through 2008 and beyond and will include further grant scheme opportunities for rural and community development.

    Those schemes will not be limited to dairy hygiene; rather they will cover the full range of activities in the rural economy.

    The RDSP itself is part of the European Unions 259 million Aid Package for the Turkish Cypriot community.

    [09] British Justice Minister Jack Straw is visiting Ankara

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (23.11.07) reports that the British Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw arrived in Turkey on Thursday. Straw visited Probation and Help Services Department in Ankara. British Ambassador to Turkey Nick Baird accompanied Straw during his visit.

    When a reporter said that a Turkish youth was shot in London last week, Straw said he could not comment on an investigation under way and they shared the grief of the family and friends of the Turkish youth. Probation and Help Services Department Chief Vehbi Kadri Kamer briefed Straw on the department. Straw said he was impressed by the works of the department.

    On the other hand, Kamer said suspects were given psychosocial treatment and financial assistance through this department.

    Probation is the suspension of a jail sentence - the criminal who is "on probation" has been convicted of a crime, but instead of serving jail time, has been found by the Court to be amenable to probation and will be returned to the community for a period in which they will have to abide to certain conditions set forth by the Court under the supervision of a probation officer.

    [10] Terrorism condemned at the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee. EP member Marios Matsakis attended the meeting

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.11.07) reports the following from Ankara:

    We have not received enough support from EU member countries when dealing with terrorism complained Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission (JPC) co-chairman Yasar Yakis on Thursday. The 3rd session of the 58th meeting of Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission (JPC) convened under the aegis of co-chairmen Yakis and Joost Lagendijk.

    Yakis, who made a keynote speech at the meeting, stated that Turkey respects Iraq's territorial integrity. Indicating that terrorist organization that nested in north of Iraq was tolerated, Yakis said, the United States does not allocate troops to fight against terrorism claiming that it is unable to do so. On the other hand, Turkey has not relinquished its right to self defence. The motion authorizing the government to send troops across border is still on the table. A cross-border operation will not be launched before all diplomatic means are exhausted. Terrorist PKK organization collects money and makes propaganda in European capitals. Some of those who are wanted with red-bulletin are arrested, and some are sent to Iraq.

    On the other hand Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Sukru Elekdag said the 1915 incidents damaged the Turkish-Armenian relations, noting that the European Parliament should advocate the proposal of Turkey to establish a joint commission of historians to study the problem. If Turkey's good-will is not responded affirmatively, borders will not be opened, he said.

    On the other hand, Turkish-EU JPC co-chairman Lagendijk said there was no suggestion apart from the full membership (of Turkey).

    Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) MP Gunduz Aktan, who also spoke at the meeting, underscored that Turkey has the legal right to intervene to protect its citizens against terrorist organizations. Noting that all diplomatic means were tried but no result could be obtained, Aktan said, Turkey may launch a cross- border operation at any time. A political solution is not possible in PKK case. Please don't suggest this. Only personal and cultural rights can be granted. Apart from this, no political right can be granted.

    CHP MP Algan Hacaloglu indicated that acts of terrorism escalated against Turkey after U.S. intervention in Iraq. It is our right to expect support from the European friends to combat against terrorism. The United States condones activities of PKK. Turkey cannot remain idle in the face of fragmentation of Iraq.

    Greek Cypriot Liberal MP Marios Matsakis said the EU member countries were against terrorism, and underlined that, ROJ TV was very closely monitored to prevent it from aiding and abetting terrorism. I assure you that ROJ TV will be shut down if it assists the terrorist organization for sure, he said.

    Moreover, Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (23.11.07) under the title The Greek Cypriot Parliamentarian Marios Matsakis: The DTP must keep a distance from the PKK and subtitle Marios Matsakis who stole the Turkish flag from Cypruss Green Line said: The DTP must condemn the PKK, reports on statements of Mr Matsakis while being in Ankara for the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting. The paper reports that European Parliament Greek Cypriot Member, Mr Matsakis, who supports Turkey in its fight against terrorism, condemned the terrorism and stated that the DTP must keep away from the PKK.

    (E/A)

    [11] Italian Foreign Minister D´Alema held contacts in Ankara

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.11.07) reports that Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Thursday Turkey and Italy have similar views on regional and global matters. Babacan and Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema held a joint press conference following the 4th Turkish-Italian Forum in Istanbul.

    Before the press conference, Babacan and D'Alema signed a joint declaration on opening of Italian university in Istanbul.

    Babacan told reporters that Turkish and Italian parliamentarians, businessmen, academicians, press members and representatives of non-governmental organizations convened for the forum. He added that participants exchanged views about political, cultural and economic issues during the forum.

    They have discussed regional and international issues with D'Alema, Babacan said and added that they share the same views about further development of the comprehensive cooperation between Turkey and Italy in areas of economy, commerce, culture, tourism and defence.

    Babacan said the stance of Turkey and Italy towards problems in the Middle East as well as Iraq, Lebanon, Israeli-Palestinian issues are similar.

    Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said that Italy wants "open doors" policy to be an EU policy. He added that Italy wants EU accession talks with Turkey to be speeded up in the light of the Progress Report.

    D'Alema said that Turkish and Italian heads of state decided to hold summits between the two countries each year as of next spring.

    He said that commerce between Turkey and Italy is over 15 billion USD and growing rapidly, proving the strong relations between the two countries.

    D'Alema said that Italy wants to apply "open doors" policy, and is against the concept of obscurity. He added that his country wants the negotiations with Turkey to continue in the fastest way.

    Finally, Mr D'Alema said that he, together with Babacan, will attend the Annapolis Conference which will be held in the end of November. He defined the conference as a journey of hope that they support the Israeli state's presence and territorial integrity as well as the cause of Palestine.

    [12] The Higher Board of Privatization approved the sale of Petkin and the sale of Derince port´s operation rights

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.11.07) reports that the Turkish Higher Board of Privatization approved Thursday the sale of Petrochemical Holding Co. (Petkim) to Socar-Turkcas-Injaz joint venture group for 2,040 million USD.

    Turkey held an auction on July 5th, 2007 to privatize 51 percent of Petkim. Trans Central Asia Petrochemical Holding consortium submitted the highest offer with 2,050 million USD in the auction, and won the auction. Socar-Turcas-Injaz consortium made the second highest offer of 2,040 million USD.

    However, on October 16th, the tender commission decided to give the name of the second runner-up of the auction to the Competition Board to finalize the tender process. The Competition Board approved the sale of Petkim to Socar-Turcas-Injaz consortium on November 11th.

    On the same issue Today´s Zaman newspaper (23.11.07) reports the following:

    The Supreme Privatization Board (OYK) has approved the sale of state-owned petroleum firm Petkim to the SOCAR-Turcas-Injaz consortium and the sale of Derince port´s operation rights to the Turkerler consortium.

    The approval was announced via a written statement released by the Privatization Administration (OIB) yesterday. The SOCAR-Turcas-Injaz consortium had submitted $2.04 billion bid in the tender, held on July 5, for the block sale of a 51 percent state-owned stake in Petkim. The Turkerler consortium had made the highest bid for 36-year operation rights to Turkish State Railways´(TCDD) Derince port with $195.2 million.


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [13] From the Turkish Press of 22 November 2007

    Following are summaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 22 November on issues preoccupying the Turkish political agenda:

    a) Kurdish Issue: A report by Namik Durukan of Milliyet says that Turkey's "diplomatic efforts" for the elimination of the PKK have started to yield positive results. It notes that the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq began to take certain measures to prevent the PKK militants on the mountains from communicating with the cadres located in cities. Drawing attention to the tight security measures in the area, it adds that the Kurdish administration has obstructed the transfer of food and logistic support to the terrorist organization and placed the Mahmur camp under siege.

    In his regular column in Milliyet, Fikret Bila outlines Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek's exclusive statement related to the Kurdish problem and the struggle against the PKK. He notes Cicek denied the rumour that the government is planning to issue a general amnesty for the PKK militants. Commenting on the Justice and Development Party [AKP] administration's alleged move to launch a new democratic initiative for the solution of the Kurdish issue, Bila cites Cicek as saying: "We do not have a special package. Our perception of democracy has solidified through our work for a new constitution. To broaden the individual rights and freedoms, we have launched the necessary initiatives and implemented the necessary reforms, including certain changes to the Constitution, and we will continue to do that."

    In his column in Milliyet Hasan Cemal lauds the policies pursued by the AKP government against the PKK threat. He says: "Ankara has been adopting a controlled and well-managed policy for some time. The Erdogan Government has placed the developments under its control. The harmony and cooperation between Cankaya [Presidential Office], Government, and the General Staff attract attention. Those are positive signs. The pressure on the PKK has increased. The organization is being isolated. A new process is likely to start." The columnist quotes a "reliable" AKP source as saying that the main purpose of the government is to force the PKK to lay arms and stop violence. Cemal concludes by stressing that "determination" and "patience" are the main factors to achieve positive results in the fight against the PKK.

    A report in Hurriyet quotes from the daily Taraf, that former undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization Cevat Ones said that during the recent Erdogan-Bush meeting, the US administration promised to eliminate the PKK presence in northern Iraq in return for Ankara's recognition of the legal status of the regional administration in northern Iraq.

    A commentary by Oktay Eksi in Hurriyet argues that many circles, such as the United States, the pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey, and the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq, will be pleased with the elimination of the PKK without a military operation conducted by Turkey. Eksi asserts that the United States will be pleased with the removal of the PKK from northern Iraq as this will lead to the strengthening of PJAK in Iran. He goes on to note that the elimination of the terrorist group will also serve the interests of the pro-Kurdish political parties in Turkey as they will no more be accused of acting in accordance with the instructions of the PKK and Abdullah Ocalan. According to Eksi, the removal of the PKK will also please the Iraqi Kurds because they are aware of the fact that a possible military operation by Turkey will seriously harm the government they formed in the area.

    A column by Mehmet Ali Birand in the Turkish Daily News asserts that the recent meetings held by Turkey and the EU have demonstrated Europe's increasing empathy with Turkey, as well as its growing opposition against the PKK terror. Birand adds that the EU foreign ministers accepted "Turkey's right to defend its own people" and they even met the possible closure of the Democratic Society Party [DTP] with more understanding than ever.

    A report in the Turkish Daily News says that a group of intellectuals made up of writers, poets, and lawyers attended the recent DTP group meeting to express support for the party, which is facing closure by court order.

    Another report in the Turkish Daily News says that speaking at the DTP's weekly group meeting in the parliament, Ahmet Turk, chairman of the party group, described the legal proceedings against the DTP as "unfortunate" and added: "This approach which is extremely illegal is a reflection on the judiciary of a lynching policy that has been underway for a long while."

    A report in Milliyet says that in his address to the group meeting, DTP leader Ahmet Turk called on the opposition parties to draw up a joint "peace project to have the PKK lay down arms." According to the report, Turk added that the DTP is ready to make sacrifices for that purpose.

    A column by Ergun Babahan in Sabah welcomes the strategy pursued by the AKP government by saying that the ruling party managed to isolate the PKK and bring the regional administration in northern Iraq into line with Turkey's policy through its "very successful diplomatic moves." However, the columnist urges the government to take additional steps for the solution of the Kurdish problem through democratic means. Drawing attention to the problems related to the implementation of certain reforms concerning the Kurds in Turkey, he calls for the removal of the restrictions regarding the use of Kurdish language. He also says that the government should avoid restricting the individual rights and freedoms in order to prevent the youths from joining the PKK cadres on the mountains.

    On his part in his column in Referans, Cengiz Candar comments on President Gul's recent messages on the Kurdish problem. Noting that Gul responded to journalists' question during his visit to Georgia, Candar asserts that the president stressed that the regional administration in northern Iraq seems to have started acting with "common sense" with regard to the PKK. According to the columnist, President Gul "implied" that Turkey is willing to open a "new page" with the Iraqi Kurds without the involvement of the United States. Candar notes that Gul's remarks on the need for realistic and comprehensive policies against terrorism show that Turkey is likely to remove the military option from its agenda in its fight against the PKK.

    Under the headline, "DTP Uses the Word 'Terrorist' for the First Time," Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report which asserts that Democratic Society Party, (DTP), Deputy Bengi Yildiz described the PKK as a terrorist organization in his parliamentary speech yesterday in what constituted the first instance of a (DTP) representative using this term in reference to the said group.

    In an article entitled "A Matter of Timing", Yeni Safak columnist Yasin Dogan lauds the Erdogan government for what he refers to as its successful diplomatic and political efforts to forestall objections to a Turkish military incursion into northern Iraq from the international community, the United States and Iraqi authorities. He also criticizes Republican People's Party, (CHP), leader Deniz Baykal for putting pressure on the Government to order a cross-border operation at once. He asserts that "nobody is stalling" over military action against the PKK as indicated by the recent meeting between Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright and Turkish General Ergin Saygun at the General Staff, adding that "this is a sensitive state issue whose technical dimensions need to be ascertained carefully rather than one that can be treated as fodder for political polemics by the Opposition."

    According to a report in Yeni Safak under the title "Some 50,000 Troops Await Order for Cross-Border Operation," "preparations on ground zero are continuing at full speed for a possible military operation against the PKK." The report claims that some 50,000 troops have been deployed to the border districts of Daglica and Derecik, which are planned to be "the centre of a ground campaign."

    In an article under the title: "Does the State Have the Right To Pardon Murderers?", Vakit columnist Huseyin Uzmez claims that a general amnesty that includes all offenders including "the murderers of 30,000 people" has become an "unavoidable need." He asserts that the pardoning of PKK militants could be made conditional on the consent of the relatives of fallen soldiers and that the latter could be paid "blood money" in order for their approval to be secured.

    A front-page report entitled "PKK's Bayik, Karayilan Claimed Captured" Zaman newspaper asserts that it was claimed in Ankara yesterday following the visits paid by two US generals and the "summit" meeting between Prime Minister Erdogan and Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit that two PKK chieftains, Murat Karayilan and Cemil Bayik, had been captured and would be extradited to Turkey. According to the report, an AKP deputy who spoke to Zaman did not deny the allegation.

    In an article entitled "The MHP's Last Word", Zaman columnist Mumtazer Turkone argues that Nationalist Action Party, (MHP), leader Devlet Bahceli's remark that "Turkish nationalists, who love this country selflessly, have not said their last word" regarding the "politicization" of the PKK amounts to a possible threat to touch off a process that could lead to civil war. Turkone asserts that the PKK is being disbanded rather than being politicized, adding that there is no logical reason to be concerned about the implications of "politicization" because there will always be politicization with or without terror. He also claims that the MHP has a "historic" responsibility to help ensure that "the democratic environment, that is politicization, contributes to Turkey's unity and wellbeing."

    Under the headline, "US Pledges to Flush out PKK Before May," Today's Zaman publishes a front-page report which asserts that US generals James Cartwright and David Petraeus have made a "promise to open Iraqi airspace for Turkish jets to hit PKK bases."

    In an article entitled "A Great Mistake", Milli Gazete columnist Hasan Unal criticizes President Gul's remarks in Georgia calling on Iraqi Kurdish leaders to weigh the costs of condoning the PKK's activities against the benefits of being friends with Turkey as a "green light" for the attempt to establish a "puppet state" in northern Iraq in return for stopping cooperating with the PKK. In explaining why Gul's policy is "dangerous," Unal analyses the "irredentist" and "expansionist" character of the states established in the Balkans in the 19th century.

    b) The Turkish Prime Ministers Advisors: A report in Vatan views the changes in Prime Minister Erdogan's team of advisors. According to the report, former speaker of the parliament and a "supporter of the National View ideology" Bulent Arinc, "President Gul's close associate" Taner Yildiz, and "Alevi intellectual" Reha Camuroglu will be working with him in the new term. The report notes that former advisors Mucahit Arslan, Yalcin Akdogan, and Cuneyd Zapsu will continue to work with the prime minister. Short biographies of the advisors have also been added to the report.

    In an editorial in The New Anatolian under the title: Turkey starts to exploit its strategic advantages, Ilnur Cevik welcomes the foreign policies pursued by the AKP Government by saying: "Turkey always had an important geo-strategic position but until 2002 it could not exploit this properly. Since Abdullah Gul came to office as foreign minister in 2002, he and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as their top aides like Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu have worked hard and systematically to create a multidimensional foreign policy while maintaining strong ties with the United States and the EU." (For full text of the editorial see Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis, item 2)

    [14] Columnist in the New Anatolian on Turkey´s multi-dimensional foreign policy exploiting its strategic advantages

    The New Anatolian newspaper (22.11.07) publishes the following commentary by Illnur Cevik under the title: Turkey starts to exploit its strategic advantages:

    On one side Turkey is continuing its all out effort to join the European Union despite obstacles. On the other side the Turkish prime minister and his Greek counterpart inaugurate a major natural gas pipeline that has a potential of providing energy security to the EU.

    Then there is the gathering of the Israeli and Palestinian presidents in Ankara where Turkey spearheads a project to set up an industrial zone in the West Bank and create jobs for Palestinians with Israeli cooperation. Turkey is invited to attend the Middle East summit in Annapolis at the end of this month.

    Then the presidents of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan get together to launch a new railway project while Turkey also sings a major energy deal with Iran.

    While all this is happening the prime minister of Slovenia arrives in Turkey for an official visit.

    Turkish ministers are travelling everywhere and foreign delegations of all kinds are visiting Turkey in their dozens.

    All this is happening in a time span of only a week. It underlines the dynamism of Turkey's current administration.

    Turkey always had an important geo-strategic position but until 2002 it could not exploit this properly.

    Since Abdullah Gul came to office as foreign minister in 2002, he and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as their top aides like Prof. Ahmet Davutoglu have worked hard and systematically to create a multidimensional foreign policy while maintaining strong ties with the United States and the EU.

    They have put emphasis on carefully revitalizing Turkey's relations with the Middle East countries with particular emphasis on Syria and Iran. They have maintained excellent relations with Israel while cultivating ties with the Islamic world in general and the Arabs in particular. Turkey is now expanding its warm ties with the Gulf Arabs as well as Saudi Arabia.

    They did not budge when the Americans tried to dissuade Turkey from signing major energy deals with Iran.

    Now with Abdullah Gul the president and Erdogan the prime minister with a strong national mandate the government can exploit new avenues in utilizing Turkey's unique strategic position. The Gul-Erdogan partnership may prove a golden asset for Turkey in foreign relations as well as in domestic policies.

    The only thing left now for the Turkish leadership is to deal with the PKK issue in a realistic manner and normalize ties with Iraq in general and the Iraqi Kurds in particular. However, we need the Iraqi Kurds to make life easier for Gul and Erdogan.

    [15] Todays Zaman assess Mr Babacan´s statements on surprise reforms

    Under the title: Govt reform envisages including X, Q, W in Turkish alphabets Todays Zaman (23.11.07) publishes the following:

    Changing the Turkish alphabet to include the letters Q, W and X to appease Turkey's Kurds, who have previously faced prosecution for using these letters, might be amongst the "surprise reforms," mentioned by Foreign Minister Ali Babacan earlier this week, says a senior official from the Foreign Ministry.

    On Tuesday, Babacan announced that the government is working on a reform package that will "positively surprise" the EU and accelerate Turkey's reforms in the process of full accession to the bloc.

    Once Parliament finishes the 2008 budget talks, it will begin working on the new package, which the government hopes will be ready as early as January, Babacan said. Although the foreign minister did not detail what specific reforms this package would include, current projects in the Foreign Ministry indicate that the reform package will be closely connected to the ongoing work on constitutional reform.

    The surprises include finally passing a law to reform the Turkish Court of Accounts, the law on foundations, which will allow some non-Muslim groups to reclaim property confiscated many years ago, and introduction of an ombudsman law.

    The Court of Accounts reform will allow this top judicial organ, which functions as an auditing body overseeing state agency expenditures, to also inspect military spending -- something that the government has been seeking since last year. The new foundations law, for which the EU has been pushing for a long time, will enable non-Muslim foundations to get their confiscated property back and also allow them to open new branches, even in foreign countries. This law was previously passed in Parliament but it was vetoed by the previous president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer. The ombudsman law, also vetoed by Sezer, on the grounds that the ombudsman institution did not have a definition in the constitution, will also be passed as Turkey presently has no separate institution to inspect public services. The government wants to pass this law in connection with another package to introduce a new constitution for Turkey, which is expected to be free of the traces of earlier military coups.

    Since some parts of the reform package require a new constitution that will legally accommodate the changes they introduce, the government has stepped up work on finishing the draft of the new constitution, put together by independent professors from law schools and some Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members with backgrounds in law.

    Foreign Minister Babacan was actually referring to the new constitution when he uttered the words surprise reforms, according to a senior diplomat from the Foreign Ministry. Adopting a new constitution free of military influence would allow the passage of many reforms, some of which the EU has not yet requested from Turkey, explained the same official, speaking to Todays Zaman. He gave the example of a change to the 29-letter Turkish alphabet, a reform that might seem radical to many.

    Mahmut Al1nak, a former member of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP), had to appear before a judge last year for having sent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan an invitation to an event written in Kurdish.

    If these changes are made, the Turkish script might include the letters Q, W and X, which have on many occasions gotten the countrys Kurds in trouble. Nationalist lawyers and prosecutors have used these letters to prosecute politicians who publicly distributed written material in Kurdish, since Turkey has a law on the alphabet that can be exploited to serve such a purpose. If the alphabet included these three letters, which are used in Kurdish but not in Turkish, exploiting that law would become impossible.

    Human rights groups have challenged a 2004 Interior Ministry regulation that banned the three letters, saying they are freely used on a daily basis to write in many other languages. Activists have also brought the matter to the attention of the EU, which included the issue in many of its progress reports on Turkey.

    In fact, the idea of changing the number of letters in the Turkish script from 29 to 32 is nothing new. Turkeys eighth president, the late Turgut Ozal, proposed the change when Turkeys Kurdish citizens were pressing for their cultural rights in the early 90s. However, he had to back off when he met with resistance from Turkeys conservative military.

    Indeed, including the three letters could even bring the countrys Turks and Kurds closer. Sedat Yurtdas, a representative of Kurt- Pen, a Kurdish writers association, and a former DEP deputy, explains: Kurdish does not have the letter . In addition to the four different letters, some Kurdish letters have a version with the accent mark ^. Kurdish is a language that is still developing. If these letters are added, then it could borrow words from Turkish, which would bring the two languages closer. That would stop the two peoples drifting away from each other and bring them closer.

    EG/


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