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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-03-18

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. 54/08 18.03.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Ercakica on the 8 July agreement
  • [02] Efforts to liken President Christofias policy to that of Papadopoulos
  • [03] Mrs Claudia Roth arrived last night in the occupied areas of Cyprus through the illegal Tymvou airport
  • [04] The Turkish Cypriot primary school in Pyla village was attacked
  • [05] Alarm in the economy
  • [06] The issue of the purchase of the Dome Hotel in occupied Keryneia continues
  • [07] The occupied areas of Cyprus are promoted in German and in Dutch newspapers
  • [08] New Turkish Cypriot weekly newspaper has been launched
  • [09] Reference to Cyprus by Erdogan after meeting the Estonian Premier
  • [10] Russian giant invests $1.4 billion in Turkey
  • [11] Finance Ministry and TOKI sign protocol for real estate sale to foreigners
  • [12] The trial for the murder of three Christians in Malatya has been postponed till April
  • [13] Nearly 300 Web sites blocked since November
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [14] Turkish and Turkish Cypriot diplomatic sources on the Turkish sides policy in view of fresh negotiations
  • [15] From the Turkish Press of 17 March 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Ercakica on the 8 July agreement

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.03.08) reports that Mr Hasan Ercakica, spokesperson of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, has said that during the meeting between the Turkish Cypriot leader and President Christofias on Friday they want to find out whether there is a need for the 8 July process and whether President Christofias is willing to sit at negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot side for a comprehensive solution in Cyprus.

    In a statement to illegal TAK news agency on the 8 July agreement, Mr Ercakica argued that the 8 July agreement was an initiative undertaken in order to overcome the stance of former President Papadopoulos on the issue of not conducting any negotiations regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    He claimed: Given that Papadopoulos is gone and Christofias came and this change is perceived as a very important source of hope, we want to see this change to be reflected in the stance of the Greek Cypriot side as well. However, if Christofias interprets it [the 8 July agreement] as Papadopoulos was interpreting it, then it means that we have a problem.

    Mr Ercakica said that the agenda of the meeting on Friday is open and added that according to the agenda created through the press, understanding how the 8 July agreement is perceived is one of the important points of the meeting.

    Mr Ercakica said that the 8 July agreement included works which would improve the relations between the two peoples and alleged that the Greek Cypriot side did not respond to all the initiatives and the proposals of the Turkish side in this direction. He claimed that the 8 July agreement has been turned into a means which is blocking the negotiations between the leaders and that this is also mentioned in the reports of the UN Secretary-General.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Efforts to liken President Christofias policy to that of Papadopoulos

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (18.03.08), under the title Christofias became Papadopoulos early, argues that with the statements he made after his election, President Christofias gave an image same as the one of former President Papadopoulos.

    Christofias gave the signals that he will continue the intransigent stance of Papadopoulos on the Cyprus problem, alleges the paper claiming that president Christofias started following a policy which ignores the Turkish Cypriots. Pointing out that President Christofias called the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat as Mr Talat, the paper writes that during his visit in Brussels the President tried to deal a blow to the Turkish Cypriot efforts on the issue of the isolations.

    The Greek Cypriot leader, who secured the publication of misleading news in the Greek Cypriot press on the issue of Lokmaci [Ledra Street area], began to create doubts on the issue of the solution, alleges Halkin Sesi.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (18.03.08) refers to the issue of the opening of the Ledra Street (Lokmaci) area crossing point and reports that an impression as if the Lokmaci gate is finally opening has been created.

    The paper adds: In a research we conducted evaluating the acquired information, we established that a cabin for the crossings was put behind the place where the Greek Cypriot soldiers are positioned at the Lokmaci barricade in south Cyprus. The paper publishes also statements by Greek and Turkish Cypriot inhabitants of Lefka area who demand the opening of the crossing point in their area.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.03.08) reports that Rasit Pertev, chairman of the Peoples Party (HP) has argued that because President Christofias is on the same line as former President Papadopoulos, the administration in the occupied areas wants to promote the negotiations process by giving unilateral and unnecessary concessions in order to overcome the impasse.

    Mr Pertev referred yesterday to statements made by the presidential Commissioner, George Iacovou after his meeting with Ozdil Nami, special representative of the Turkish Cypriot leader. He reminded that Mr Iacovou had said that the sides have agreed on the issue of giving the land in Kykkos and Ermou Streets in the Turkish side of the border.

    Mr Pertev alleged that this is an important concession and added that it has not been denied by the Turkish Cypriot leader. He called on Mr Talat either to deny this or to explain why he felt the need for such a concession.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Mrs Claudia Roth arrived last night in the occupied areas of Cyprus through the illegal Tymvou airport

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.03.08) reports that the co-chairperson of the German Greens Party, Mrs Claudia Roth, arrived last night in the occupied areas of Cyprus through the illegal Tymvou airport at the initiation of the so-called speaker of the assembly, Mrs Fatma Ekenoglu, who met her at the airport. The paper notes that explaining the aim of her visit she said: We are here in order to be able to create a common Cypriot identity.

    According to Kibris newspaper Mrs Roth also said: I am happy to finally visit the island, as we promised. We are here in order to assist in the building of a bridge. We do not have one-sided view. We are here in order to assist the building of a bridge by the people of the island after many years and the hope of being able to create a common Cyprus identity...We are very happy for the fact that we will meet with your president of the Republic, your prime minister and furthermore, with the Speaker of the Assembly who received us.

    On her part, Mrs Ekenoglu said she was happy to see Mrs Roth in the occupied areas and especially for Roths visiting the occupied areas through Tymvou. Noting that we are in a crucial period, she said that the fact that Roth visited the occupied areas during such a period is important.

    It will constitute a good example for the procedure which will follow. We also believe that the lifting of the isolations will bring the solution process closer and force the Greek Cypriots to sit more constructively at the table for the solution process, she argued.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] The Turkish Cypriot primary school in Pyla village was attacked

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.03.08) reports that an unknown person or persons entered the teachers room in Pyla villages Turkish Primary School and tarnished the pictures of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Dr. Fazil Kucuk, Rauf Denktas and Mehmet Ali Talat, which were hanging on the wall.

    Ahmet Muratoglu, director of press and public relations at the self-styled prime ministers office, was briefed on the incident by the director of the school. He said that it would not yet be correct to state that this action had political aims and added that the investigation continues.

    The self-styled ministry of education and culture issued a statement on the incident noting that an investigation was launched with the assistance of the police and that the necessary security measures will be increased at the school.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (18.03.08) refers to the issue under the title Is it a work of children or is it a sabotage? The paper points out that tension is created for the second time in the village for the last one month. The issue is on the front page of almost all the Turkish Cypriot newspapers of today.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan newspaper (18.03.08) alleges that the Greek Cypriots increased their attacks against the Turkish Cypriots after the election of President Christofias.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Alarm in the economy

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.03.08), under the title Alarm in the economy, reports that the Turkish Cypriot economist, Vargin Varer has pointed out that the course of the foreign currency exchange rates constitutes a danger for the economy of the TRNC and noted that the government must take measures as soon as possible. Mr Varer said that uncertainty reached its limits in Turkey and the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    Economist Necdet Ergun and Yenal Surec have said that the uncertainty in the world and Turkey is the main reason for the increase of the foreign currency exchange rates.

    The paper notes that the shocks in the international markets and the lawsuit with the demand of the closure of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey caused the increase of the foreign currency exchange rates and a decline in the stock exchange both in Turkey and the occupied areas of Cyprus. The buying and selling prices of foreign currencies were the following yesterday in the occupied areas of the island: US dollar 1.250 1.280 Turkish Liras, Euro 1.965 2.020 and British Sterling Pound 2.510 2.565.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] The issue of the purchase of the Dome Hotel in occupied Keryneia continues

    Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (18.03.08) continues its reference to the issue of the purchase of the Dome Hotel in occupied Keryneia. Under the title Shrewdness by Bayram Karaman: The foreigners are enemy, give it to me, the paper writes that during his address yesterday at the assembly, Mr Karaman, who is an MP with the Republican Turkish Party, attacked the foreign capital trying to prove it would be right for the Dome Hotel to be given to the company which he had established. The paper notes that Mr Karaman had a secret lunch with Ozan Ceyhun, who wants to buy the hotel for the Germans.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] The occupied areas of Cyprus are promoted in German and in Dutch newspapers

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.03.08) reports that information about the occupied areas of Cyprus is appearing in some European magazines and newspapers. Hasan Kilic, permanent undersecretary at the self-styled ministry of economy and tourism said yesterday that as a result of the contacts they established with foreign journalists information promoting the occupied areas of Cyprus has been published in Germany and Holland.

    He noted that the German Travel One magazine with high circulation has published an article on the occupied areas. Furthermore, Telegraf newspaper, which has the highest circulation in Holland, published an article on the occupied areas in March and it will also publish an article at the end of this month.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] New Turkish Cypriot weekly newspaper has been launched

    A New Turkish Cypriot weekly newspaper with the slogan the real voice of Cyprus has began its circulation in the occupied Cyprus under the name Civi (Rivet). The first publication of the paper was on March 11, 2008.

    Owner of the new paper is the Girne Grafik Basim ve Yayimcilik LTD (Keryneia Graphic Printing and Publishing LTD). Chief Editor of the paper is Mr. Orhan Akyuz and General Director Mr. Faruk Gencer.

    The paper consists of 24 pages and includes political, economic, social life and sporting issues. The new paper has no affiliation to any of the political parties in the occupied areas and it promises to hold the pulse of the public opinion.

    (EA)

    [09] Reference to Cyprus by Erdogan after meeting the Estonian Premier

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (17.03.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's visit to Turkey would contribute to improvement of relations between Turkey and Estonia.

    Erdogan and Ansip held a joint press conference at the Prime Ministry building in Ankara.

    "We discussed political, military, commercial and cultural relations as well as regional and international matters in the meeting," he said.

    "We also debated the Cyprus issue in the meeting and I found the chance to inform Ansip about our views and expectations. Parliamentarians from Estonia have paid a visit to the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) recently. We welcomed this important visit," Erdogan said.

    Ansip would also attend the Turkish-Estonian Information and Communication Technology Forum in Istanbul, Erdogan added.

    Replying to a question on the closure case against the ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party, Erdogan said, "It is a judicial process. Necessary steps will be taken in this process. Our friends are working on the matter," he said.

    "47 percent of the people voted in favor of AK Party (in the parliamentary election) on July 22nd. The party got these votes because it functioned well democratic, secular and social law state. There is no need to be concerned. We will keep walking on our path hand in hand," he stated.

    "There is stability and confidence in our country," Erdogan said.

    PM Erdogan said there has been a decrease in markets on Monday and people should attach attention on it. "Democracy does not have endurance to any damage. If democracy is harmed, then economy is harmed," he added.

    [10] Russian giant invests $1.4 billion in Turkey

    Under the above title Turkish Daily News (17.03.08) publishes the following report:

    Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK), the largest enterprise in the Russian steel industry, partnered with Atakas Metallurgy Industry and Trade and Port Administration to invest in Turkey's iron and steel sector.

    The Russian company's investment is worth $1.4 billion.

    The MMK, which has a market value of $11.1 billion, and Atakas Group, which employs 700 personnel, laid the foundation of an iron and steel plant, which will begin operations in November 2009. The plant will attain full capacity in 2010 and start producing 2.5 million tons annually.

    The investment is the largest one in the sector, as it starts from scratch, said Recep Atakas, chairman of the Atakas Group. Although Turkey ranks 11th in the world in iron and steel production, our global market share is just 1.5 percent. Our flat steel production rate is 13 percent of our total steel production. In developed countries, this rate rises to 60 percent. These figures indicate a distortion in the sector, he added.

    There is a large steel deficit that nears eight million tons in the Turkish market, said Atakas, and added, this deficit costs us $6 billion annually. Considering new investment areas, such as automotives, white goods and the shipping sector, the need for flat steel will increase, which is why we decided to invest in this area with our Russian partner.

    This is the first overseas investment by the MMK, whose turnover in 2006 was $6.4 billion, said Viktor Filippovic Rashnikov, chairman of MMK. This is not only a strategic investment for us, but it will also contribute in Turkey improving its steel industry. The facility that we have founded will help cover the deficit of flat steel, he added. The new plant, located in Iskenderun's PayaI province, will produce 2.5 million tons of sheet iron per year. It is expected to provide employment for 2,500 workers.

    [11] Finance Ministry and TOKI sign protocol for real estate sale to foreigners

    The New Anatolian newspaper (17.03.08) reported the following:

    Turkish Finance Ministry and Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI) signed a protocol aiming to implement the "Spanish Model" concerning the sale of real estates to foreigners on Monday.

    According to the protocol signed by Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan and TOKI President Erdogan Bayraktar, TOKI will construct "villa cities" and "holiday villages" on Treasury's real estates which were transferred from DG of National Real Estate to TOKI free of charge.

    The protocol envisages construction of resorts for foreigners in various coastal provinces and regions with thermal springs.

    TOKI plans to construct resorts with tennis courts, golf courses, green areas, walking paths, health facilities, shopping malls and other social facilities. According to officials, such type of construction can be seen in Malaga region of Spain as well.

    "Many foreign companies are interested in this project. 3-4 companies from Spain offered to implement the Spanish model in Turkey. However, the construction work will be carried out by TOKI totally," officials said. The real estate complexes that will be constructed for foreigners will be on sale for Turkish citizens as well, sources added.

    [12] The trial for the murder of three Christians in Malatya has been postponed till April

    Today´s Zaman newspaper (18.03.08) reports the following:

    The Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court yesterday adjourned the trial of seven youths accused of murdering three Christians, one of them a German national, in the eastern province of Malatya last year.

    The court adjourned the case until April 14, 2008 because the lawyers request to remove the judge had not yet been submitted to the court. During the third hearing, which took place on Feb. 25, lawyers demanded that the hearing be video recorded, a demand the court rejected. Following the rejection, the lawyers asked that the judge be removed, saying the courts impartiality was jeopardized by the denial.

    The judge ruled that a criminal complaint must be filed against court clerks who were assigned to the case to submit the request to the Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court but failed to do so in time.

    The suspects, standing trial while in custody were identified as E.G. (19), A.Y. (19), H.C. (19), S.G. (20) and C.O. (20). They were brought to the Malatya courthouse by special security units. Two more suspects, K.K. (18) and M.G. (19), were also being tried but are not in custody.

    Suzanne Geske, the wife of Tilman Ekkehart Geske, one of the victims, and Semse Aydin, the wife of Necati Aydin, another one of the victims, although present at the third hearing, did not attend yesterdays hearing.

    The five suspects currently under arrest have been charged with setting up an armed terrorist organization, committing more than one homicides as part of the activities of the terrorist organization, trespassing and aiding and abetting an armed terrorist organization. E.G. is additionally being charged with having masterminded the murders. The prosecutor is seeking three life sentences for each of the five suspects. The other two are facing charges of aiding and abetting an armed terrorist organization.

    Subtitle: The murders

    Christian Turks Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and Christian German national Geske were tied to their chairs, stabbed and tortured at the Zirve Publishing House in eastern Malatya province before their throats were slit on April 18, 2007. The publishing house they worked for printed Bibles and Christian literature. The murders drew international condemnation.

    [13] Nearly 300 Web sites blocked since November

    Under the above title Today´s Zaman (18.03.08) reported the following:

    A pro-last access to a total of 294 Web sites has been blocked in Turkey since November of last year following the establishment of an Internet bureau within the Department of Telecommunications, according to the Anatolia news agency.

    Telecommunications Director Fethi Simsek, in an interview with a correspondent from Anatolia, said 294 Web sites have been permanently shut down for reasons such as obscenity, encouraging people to gamble and for insults directed at Mustafa Kemal Ataturk -- the founder of the modern Turkish Republic -- and the Turkish nation since last November. "Since then, we have received more than 4,000 reports from our citizens that certain Web sites included different types of immorality. After evaluating these [complaints], we decided to permanently block access to 294 Web sites," he noted.

    Simsek, emphasizing that the Internet bureau established on Nov. 23, 2007 within the Department of Telecommunications has been very successful in fighting against offenses committed via the Internet, said most of these Web sites were blocked for violating Article 226 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on obscenity, Article 227 on prostitution, Article 228 on gambling, Article 13 over the sexual abuse of children and Article 190 on the use of drugs.

    Simsek said the Department of Communications is working on a project to put into service a hotline through which citizens will be able to lodge their complaints. "We'll start a hotline from which everyone will easily be able to reach us and have peace of mind -- and we'll do so as soon as possible," he noted.

    Simsek also stressed those who wish to make a complaint about a Web site can visit HYPERLINK "http://www.ihbarweb.org.tr/" http://www.ihbarweb.org.tr/ or send an e-mail to HYPERLINK "mailto:ihbar@ihbarweb.org.tr" ihbar@ihbarweb.org.tr


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [14] Turkish and Turkish Cypriot diplomatic sources on the Turkish sides policy in view of fresh negotiations

    Today´s Zaman newspaper (18.03.08) publishes the following analysis by Lale Sariibrahimoglu under the title: Turkish Cypriots set one-year deadline for Cyprus solution:

    The Turkish Cypriot leadership and Turkey have set a one-year deadline for a solution to the decades-long Cyprus dispute, agreeing that pending fresh talks on the division of this tiny Mediterranean island cannot be allowed to become a never-ending story.

    Though the deadline is only an approximate one, the Turkish Cypriot side is not expected to allow the new Cyprus talks to drag on into the middle of 2009 and want their completion in the first months of 2008 at the latest, according to Turkish Cypriot diplomatic sources in Lefkosa (Nicosia).

    Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) President Mehmet Ali Talat, who reiterated his good will for a solution on the island following the election of Demitris Christofias as Greek Cypriot president last month, will seek suggestions from the UN Security Council over the status of the Turkish Cypriot administration in the event the planned talks fail to yield compromise within a year, the same sources told Today's Zaman.

    Talat and Christofias are to hold their first meeting in Lefkosia on March 21, this Friday, with the participation of Michael Moller, the UN Secretary-Generals special representative in Cyprus, during which both sides are expected to set their positions for negotiations. But the already declared positions of both sides do not match at all, once again raising questions over whether the new Cyprus talks will be conducted in vain.

    Earlier this year at an Ankara meeting between Talat and Turkish top officials, including the Turkish military, it was agreed that a new partnership founded by two constituent states in Cyprus, the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, also named the virgin birth concept, will be the common position of the Turkish side.

    According to Turkish diplomatic sources, this was also the essence of the Annan plan, which takes its name from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Under this common policy the non-resolution of the Cyprus dispute also inflicts harm on Turkey and its EU membership process, while allowing the international embargo of the KKTC to continue.

    The Annan plan was the result of a 45-year-long UN effort, recalled a Turkish diplomat. Thus this plan constitutes a UN body of work that can never be changed. Turkey does not call it the Annan plan anymore, but a comprehensive UN plan. For the sake of a political solution, Turkey and the KKTC accepted the Annan plan, although there were elements that did not please both sides. But Turkey has swallowed a bitter pill and accepted it, Turkish diplomatic sources noted.

    From now on it will not be acceptable for either Turkey or the KKTC to accept any formula that will mean a step back from the Annan plan. The basic essence of the Annan plan was its recognition of a new constituent state to be established on the island, in other words a state to be created from zero -- hence the virgin birth concept -- said the same sources. This new constituent state will be based on political equality, but not numerical equality.

    Subtitle: Greek position differs

    But in a clear sign of a differing Greek Cypriot and Greek position, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in a statement he made on Sunday, March 16, in Athens, declared that the Annan plan would no longer be taken as the basis for the new Cyprus talks. He said the plan had been rejected by the majority of the Greek Cypriots in April 2004. Karamanlis statement came in response to a letter written by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to 26 of the 27-member EU -- excluding Greek Cyprus -- that the Annan plan should be taken as the basis for the new Cyprus talks.

    Christofias, meanwhile, stated in Brussels on March 14 that the Turkish Cypriot sides insistence on the Annan plan during their first meeting this Friday would not make it easy for the Cyprus deadlock to be resolved.

    Though the Greek Cypriot and Greek common position on the parameters of the fresh talks on Cyprus is not that clear, it is understood that both sides will insist on a model similar to the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 during the demise of the Soviet Union. This model does not foresee the new partnership model that the Turkish side has been promoting for the island.

    In addition, said a Turkish diplomatic source, what is essential for Cyprus is finding a compromise between two different communities -- one Muslim and the other Christian.

    Meanwhile, following the talks between the leaders of the two communities on March 21, B. Lynn Pascoe, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs and a US national, is scheduled to visit Cyprus, Greece and Turkey at the end of this month. He will report back to the UN over whether a will has emerged on both sides for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem. The outcome of his deliberations is also expected to influence the US position on Cyprus, which has not previously represented an important element of US diplomacy.

    Ankara, in the meantime, is also looking forward for Moller, a Danish diplomat, being replaced as UN secretary-generals special representative for Cyprus by a non-EU national. The Turkish capital has long been skeptical over EU nationals holding the position due to what it sees as a biased approach, or conflict of interest, from them on the Cyprus issue.

    As the Cyprus talks have long failed to yield a mutually agreeable solution for this tiny Mediterranean island, the KKTC, though recognized only by Turkey, has increasingly moved towards recognition, if not as a state, as an entity, with offices in over 15 countries now.

    If the fresh talks do not yield a result then partition of the island might be the last solution, said a Western diplomatic source. However, the Cyprus deadlock will continue to affect Turkeys accession talks with the EU, already moving slowly after Turkeys 2005 rejection of opening its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot vessels.

    Later, in 2009, the European Commission will make an assessment of Turkeys EU accession talks, including its position on the ports issue. Meanwhile, Sir David Hannay, British special envoy to Cyprus from 1996-2003, stated in an article for the spring 2008 issue of Europes World that: Perhaps most worrying of all -- for Cypriots on both sides of the divide, as well as some EU member states -- the Cyprus problem is now a pawn on the wider chess-board of Turkeys bid for EU membership.

    He added: Greek Cypriot intransigence has given succour to those member states who want to keep Turkey out, noting: So, if the stalemate over Cyprus continues, it could spell the end of Turkeys chances of becoming an EU member.

    Sir Hannay concluded: Neglect of Cyprus could have serious consequences for all concerned, especially if its continued division keeps Turkey outside the EU. The future then would be fraught with tension in a part of the world where the EU needs to encourage peace and stability.

    [15] From the Turkish Press of 17 March 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 17 March:

    Supreme Court Prosecutor's Request for the Closure of Turkeys Ruling Party: In an editorial entitled "Closure of political parties," Milliyet cautions that the legal proceedings instituted against the ruling Justice and Development Party, (AKP), will cause serious uncertainties in Turkish politics and economy while drawing strong criticism from the international community. It also notes that voters who supported the AKP in the last two elections will renew allegiance to the party because of the charges brought against the party at a time when it was facing a decline in its popularity.

    In an article entitled "A failure," Milliyet columnist Can Dundar says that the closure case has offered the AKP the kiss of life which it was badly needing, adding that the AKP will exploit it in its campaign for the local elections in 2009. Pointing out that statements made by the Republican People's Party, (CHP), which welcomed the indictment against the AKP showed that it has not drawn necessary conclusions from the past, Dundar says: "History has shown that banning a political party would not be sufficient to bury ideas advocated by that party and that its branches become even stronger after they have been trimmed."

    In an article entitled "The issue of 'Jurists' in Turkey," Milliyet columnist Taha Akyol says that judicial bureaucracy in Turkey has conservative tendencies and regards the judiciary as a "vigilant watchman" whereas elected politicians try to ensure that Turkey meets Western standards. He comments: "The AKP has made serious political mistakes. But, attempting to shut it down represents an anachronistic and antidemocratic approach."

    According to a report entitled "Chief prosecutor to be deprived of his powers, bringing charges will be subject to preconditions" in Hurriyet, the AKP's legal experts are working on a plan aimed at amending the Constitution in order to trim powers granted to the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals who can file a court request for the closure of a political party. The report says that the Constitutional Court may dismiss the Chief Prosecutor's request if the proposed change is eventually passed by Parliament, adding that AKP leadership will discuss the plan with the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, this week while a CHP official said that they were opposed to the idea.

    In an article entitled "Signs of an early election," Hurriyet columnist Fatih Cekirge quotes sources close to the AKP as saying that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may decide to call an early election concurrently with the local elections to be held in the spring of 2009. The same source notes: "The AKP may want to turn this election as a referendum against the case for its closure. If the Constitutional Court renders its ruling after the local election, it would work to the AKP's advantage. If it is handed down before the local elections and the party is banned as a result, it would deliver a serious blow to the AKP. Thus, an early election is a strong possibility."

    In an article entitled "The only way to defeat the AKP: Elections," Hurriyet columnist Tufan Turenc argues that closing a political party would not provide a lasting solution even if it has become the center of anti-secular acts. He says: "Turkey must get rid of the AKP which is against the secular and democratic regime in Turkey and intend to change it when people go to the polls. We must accomplish this by displaying patience and perseverance while taking a firm stand and putting our shoulder to the wheel."

    A report entitled "AKP's three options" in Sabah outlines the AKP strategists are weighing up different options, including a possible amendment to the Political Parties Act which will impose restrictions on closure of political parties; increasing the number of judges in the Constitutional Court from 11 to 17 with eight judges to be elected by the Turkish Grand National Assembly; and the MHP's proposal to amend Articles 68 and 69 of the Constitution in order to ensure that the members of a political party will be personally charged with an offense they have committed rather than banning their party.

    In an article entitled "The invisible side of a case," Sabah columnist Hasan Bulent Kahraman says that the military and judicial bureaucracy in Turkey have made a series of interventions in the political system since 1960 in an effort to prevent the political system from moving in a direction preferred by voters. He comments: "There is a confrontation between a political party which regards accession to the EU, democratization, the Kurdish issue, and Islamic identity from the perspective of democratic rights and groups which are trying to define them in a statist-elitist model."

    According to a report entitled "AKP's trump card: Constitutional amendment" in Radikal, AKP leadership is working on different formulas aimed at imposing restrictions on closure of political parties. The report says that the AKP may amend the Constitution in order to authorize the Supreme Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals rather than the Chief Prosecutor to submit a request to the Constitutional Court for banning a political party in addition to another amendment which will require the Constitutional Court to render its rulings unanimously rather than the current minimum 7-to-4 majority. It notes that the AKP may submit the planned constitutional amendment to a referendum if the opposition parties decline to support it.

    In an article entitled "Reading the indictment," Radikal columnist Ismet Berkan says that the indictment issued by Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya is only based on statements highlighted in the press rather than concrete evidence. He comments: "What is at stake is the personal prestige of the prosecutor and the reputation of his establishment. If the AKP is not closed down as a result of these legal proceedings, a great opportunity will have been missed from the standpoint of the prosecutor. He may have gunpowder enough for shooting only one bullet and it seems that he has used that gunpowder in his indictment. In my opinion, it is not enough to help the prosecutor to achieve his goal."

    In an article entitled "I have said that 'Fundamentalism' would be next after the PKK," Vatan columnist Yigit Bulut says that the Chief Prosecutor's request for the closure of the AKP has vindicated his earlier prediction that the Turkish State would take radical steps against fundamentalism after the recent military operation against PKK camps in northern Iraq. He also sees a change in US policy toward Turkey.

    In an editorial entitled "The indictment," Cumhuriyet accuses Erdogan for declaring war on the constitutional system and the judges of higher courts in response to charges brought by the Chief Prosecutor. It says: "It is clear that the sole secular country in the Islamic world is now facing a serious risk. The Chief Prosecutor's indictment has already been recorded in history and included in court documents as an official document showing the magnitude and depth of this risk together with related evidence."

    Under the banner headline, "Japanese model against closure," Yeni Safak publishes an "exclusive" front-page report asserting that the ruling AKP's legal experts are working on "the Japanese model, which makes the filing of closure cases against political parties subject to parliamentary approval."

    In an article entitled "It is a good thing this case has been filed", Yeni Safak columnist Hakan Albayrak hails the closure case against the AKP as a development that, just like the 27 April "memorandum" issued by the General Staff, will serve to reveal the necessity for Turkey to get rid of the "Jacobinical" establishment, which is causing this country to waste its energy lurching from one crisis to another."

    In an article entitled "A suicide attack by crazy Turks", Yeni Safak columnist Yasin Aktay blasts the closure proceedings against the AKP as a "suicide attack" by "crazy Turks" [referring to Turgut Ozakman's Crazy Turks, "the most important "reference book of the neo-nationalist ideology"] that will greatly harm democracy, public morale, the economy, and "even" secularism as well as the country's stability, international image, and its efforts to join the EU. Aktay also argues that while democracy is based on the principle of the separation of powers, this principle does not vest those who control these powers with the right to act independently.

    In an article entitled "Neo-CUP [Committee of Union and Progress, the political group that ruled Turkey over 1908-1918] projects have failed", Democratic Society Party, DTP, Deputy Aysel Tugluk asserts that "the Turkish Republic, which is based on the nation-state mentality, should update and restructure its relations with Kurds and Islamists on the basis of democratic and universal values." Tuglu refers to the closure case against the AKP as a "catastrophe from the viewpoint of our democracy" and calls on the DTP to defend the AKP no less strongly than it is defending itself against Turkey's "Fascist" establishment.

    In an article entitled "May you not rest in peace", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak describes the indictment against the AKP as a "criminal document" that expresses disrespect for Islam and Muslims and scorn for the fundamental principles of the law as well as the basis of legitimacy of the state and the Constitutional Court. He argues that the Constitutional Court should lose no time in rejecting the indictment "in the name of respect for the law, the nation, and the Republic." He also asserts that if the case goes ahead, "prosecutors will have to press charges against some 80 percent of the people."

    In an article entitled "Oh boy", Zaman's Washington correspondent Ali H. Aslan asserts that the closure case against the AKP has generated much deeper surprise in Washington than did the 28 February process and the 27 April memorandum. He also contrasts the Bush administration's response to the closure case against the AKP with its reaction to the General Staff's 27 April statement, asserting that whereas Washington adopted an "unfortunate" attitude of neutrality toward the military's "direct intervention" in politics on 27 April, US officials are now expressing strong support for democracy in Turkey.

    In an article entitled "AKP: 57 percent", Zaman columnist Ali Bulac argues that if the Constitutional Court were to uphold the indictment against the AKP, "a new AKP" would be established, adding that "nobody should have any doubt that 'the AKP's new version' would come to power again by obtaining 57 percent of the vote." He also argues that the power to "punish or reward" a political party resides only with the people and that those who believe they can confine the AKP through coercion, bans, or threats cannot see how much Turkey's social conditions have changed in parallel with regional and global trends.

    In an article entitled "No country for odd men", Today's Zaman columnist Fehmi Koru asserts that all previous closure rulings against political parties were rendered "under duress in a heavily militaristic atmosphere" and that "it will be a big surprise if the Constitutional Court ... decides to close the AK Party with no evident military involvement."

    In an article entitled "Future of Democracy is at stake from today", Today's Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar argues that the AKP's "only chance to save democracy" in the face of the closure case is to "widen its circle of domestic alliance, re-embracing alienated non-AK Party segments for further reform and pressure Turkey's friends in the EU for further support for a stable future."

    In an article entitled "The 'slow' coup", Today's Zaman columnist Omer Taspinar criticizes the closure case against the AKP as "an act of desperation" and warns that "it looks like a 'slow' judicial coup is in process right now."

    In an article entitled "What the closure case will serve to hide", Milli Gazete columnist Abdullah Ozkan asserts that the closure case against the AKP will dominate the political agenda for a long time to come, preventing many important issues related to the economy and foreign policy from being discussed. He also claims that at a time when public discontent has been brewing against the AKP over its failure to address the economic grievances of the masses, the closure case will serve to represent the Erdogan government as a victim of the Establishment, thereby improving its chances of increasing its share of the vote in the upcoming local elections.

    EG/


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