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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-03-26

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. 59/08 25-26.03.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] General Buyukanit: The Turkish troops will remain in Cyprus until a just and lasting peace is secured
  • [02] Ercakica: The 8th July agreement has passed and a new process has begun
  • [03] Sources said that the Greek Cypriots accepted the Turkish Cypriots conditions regarding Ledra Street crossing point
  • [04] Turkish Cypriot political organizations and parties continue to make comments on the opening of Ledra Street and the new negotiation process
  • [05] TRNC was admitted to ISESCO as observer
  • [06] Turkish assembly speaker views Alliance of civilizations, OIC role for Cyprus
  • [07] Figures as regards trade according to the Green Line Regulation
  • [08] Cheney´s contacts in Ankara
  • [09] TPAO will explore natural gas in Cuba
  • [10] Turkey signed four protocols with Turkmenistan on boosting bilateral relations
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [11] Ilter Turkmen predicts population growth can lead to social, economic instability
  • [12] From the Turkish Press of 24 and 25 March 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] General Buyukanit: The Turkish troops will remain in Cyprus until a just and lasting peace is secured

    Turkish TV Channel NTV (26.03.08, 11.00 hours news bulletin) in a telephone report by its occupied Lefkosia correspondent Selim Sayari broadcast that the Turkish Chief of the General Staff General Yasar Buyukanit arrived in the occupied area today at the invitation of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    At the occupied Tymvou airport a group holding Turkish and so-called TRNC flags and Ataturk´s portraits welcomed him.

    The group shouted pro army slogans as well Cyprus is Turkish, let the hands laid on the troops be broken and martyrs never die, the motherland cannot be divided.

    Selim Sayari said that at this moment General Buyukanit is meeting with Mr. Talat.

    He said that prior to the meeting General Buyukanit made a statement to the reporters. He said: One has to know very well how to reach a just and lasting peace. Esteemed Mr. Talat and his colleagues know this very well. The Greeks have to understand this. The Turkish troops are in the island for peace. Until a just and lasting peace is secured the Turkish troops will stay in the island.

    Sayari went on and said that General Buyukanit´s visit is taking place at a critical period in Cyprus, when resumption of negotiations is in question.

    The NTV correspondent added that General Yasar Buyukanit will visit areas which are important in the Cyprus problem and he will inspect the military units.

    Illegal Bayrak television (26.03.08, 11 hours) broadcast that at the airport the Turkish Chief of Staff was welcomed by the so-called Speaker Fatma Ekenoglu, the Prime Minister Mr. Soyer, the illegal Turkish ambassador to occupied Lefkosia, the commander of the occupation forces, Mr. Kivrikoglu and other commanders.

    Reporting on Buyukanits visit, the Turkish Cypriot press reports today (26.03.08) the following:

    Kibris reports in its first page that the Chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Yasar Buyukanit, is paying an illegal visit today in occupied Cyprus, upon an official invitation by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat. The Turkish General will depart from occupied Cyprus on the 29th of March.

    Gunes writes that the Chairman of the Association of the Fighters, Vural Turkmen, called on the persons in occupied Cyprus to go to the illegal Ercan (occupied Tymvou) airport in order to welcome General Buyukanit to Cyprus.

    Volkan reports on the issue under the title Welcome our Pasha (general). The paper writes that General Buyukanit will hold meetings with the self-styled president Mehmet Ali Talat, the speaker of the assembly, Fatma Ekenoglu and the prime minister, Ferdi Soyer. He will also meet with Rauf Denktas and the Turkish ambassador to occupied Lefkosia, Turkekul Kurttekin. General Buyukanit will visit the cemetery of Turkish soldiers at occupied Bogazi at 15.15 where he is expected to make important statements, according to Volkan.

    (MHY/CS)

    [02] Ercakica: The 8th July agreement has passed and a new process has begun

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.08) reports the following:

    Hasan Ercakica, spokesman for TRNC President, said Tuesday attempts to change the guarantorship system in Cyprus complicate the problems. Upon a question during his weekly press briefing, Ercakica said the Turkish Cypriot side would not bring up the guarantorship system as a bargaining issue during the negotiations.

    Commenting on the recent meeting between Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, Ercakica said a new era had begun with the agreement reached during the meeting.

    Ercakica also said Turkish General Staff Chief Gen. Yasar Buyukanit would arrive in TRNC on Wednesday to hold a series of talks.

    Upon a question, Ercakica said the date of UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe's upcoming visit to Cyprus was not clear yet, and TRNC attached great importance to that visit.

    Moreover, Ercakica commented on Monday's meeting between Ozdil Nami, special representative of TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat for EU and UN talks, and Greek Cypriot administration commissioner George Iacovou. Ercakica said the meeting was quite fruitful and the two officials would meet again on Wednesday to finalize the establishment of working groups and technical committees, which would be set up between the two sides to pave the way for a comprehensive settlement.

    Regarding the opening of Lokmaci Gate, Ercakica said the gate would be opened following the completion of technical preparations.

    Moreover, illegal Bayrak television (25.03.08) broadcast the following:

    Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica has said that the issue of guarantorship can not be a bargaining issue.

    Speaking during his weekly press conference today the Presidential Spokesman said that it was possible for the Greek Cypriot side to bring up the issue at the negotiating table, Mr. Ercakica said that the Turkish Cypriot Sides attitude on the issue was quite clear.

    Responding to claims that the 8th July agreement was put into practice following the meeting between the two leaders on the 21st of March, the spokesman said that 8 July agreement had passed and that a new process had begun on the 21st of March.

    Underlining the need to more forward by focusing on issues agreed upon by the two leaders, Mr. Ercakica said that such excessive comments and statements on the 8th July agreement will do nothing but harm the new process.

    He said that officials from the United Nations and the Cyprus Turkish Security Forces will be coming together for a coordination meeting regarding the issue of sweeping and clearing mines in the area.

    [03] Sources said that the Greek Cypriots accepted the Turkish Cypriots conditions regarding Ledra Street crossing point

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.08) reports the following:

    During the recent meeting between President Mehmet Ali Talat of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, parties agreed on all the conditions brought up by the Turkish Cypriot party regarding the opening of Lokmaci [Ledra Street] Gate in Lefkosia, it was reported on Tuesday.

    By accepting TRNC's conditions on the issue, parties took a remarkable step towards the opening of the gate on Ledra Street, sources said.

    According to sources, Turkish soldiers will continue to carry out activities in the region and Turkish experts will attend the mine-clearance studies to be conducted by UN.

    The restoration of the buildings located at Turkish Cypriot section of Lefkosia will be carried out by Turkish contractors under the coordination of Turkish municipality and UNFICYP soldiers will carry on with their activities in the buffer-zone, sources added.

    [04] Turkish Cypriot political organizations and parties continue to make comments on the opening of Ledra Street and the new negotiation process

    The Turkish Cypriot press reports today (26.03.08) that political organizations and parties continue to comment on the opening of Ledra Street and the new negotiation process:

    Vatan reports that the Turkish Cypriot Platform and the Retired Noncommissioned Officers Association made statements on the Cyprus problem negotiation process and the opening of the Ledra street barricade. The spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot Platform, Huseyin Alasya, stated inter alia, that the Platform is in favor of a permanent and viable solution of the Cyprus problem but, as he said, there are indispensable conditions as regards the solution. As he said, the existence of the sovereignty of the TRNC and the political equality are very important in a united Cyprus. On his part, the chairman of the Retired Noncommissioned Officers Association, Esen Omurlu, stated, inter alia that Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on the 21st of July on the opening of the Ledra street and noted that those who will use the barricade must show respect to the TRNC states sovereignty.

    Kibris writes that the Farmers Union stated, inter alia, that the 8th of July agreement and the agreement on the 21st of March, which is connected to it, is a nicely packed political conspiracy.

    Under the title UBP feels anxious because of the process, Halkin Sesi reports that the National Unity Party (UBP) feels anxious because the 8th of July agreement influence is reflected in the new period. The Party in a written statement said that UBP supported from the beginning that the 8th of July agreement was a diplomatic fiasco and noted that Talats saying that the acceptance of this agreement was a vicious circle was an admission on Talats part that came late. UBP further wonders why Talat signed this agreement in the first place. UPB also noted in its statement that it hopes the necessary measures will be taken so that the new era will not turn into a vicious circle again. In its statement UBP also noted that the UNs reference to one Cypriot people, was a serious mistake and noted that as regards the above mentioned mistake, it ignores the realities that there are two people and two separate states in the island. The UBP concluded that if there was one people in Cyprus, the Cyprus problem would not have existed.

    Kibris writes that the United Cyprus Party (BKP) general secretary, Izzet Izcan, stated that all the Cypriots must support the two leaders towards the new process that started for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    (CS)

    [05] TRNC was admitted to ISESCO as observer

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.08) reported the following:

    Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was admitted into the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) as an observer. TRNC Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Turgay Avci said Tuesday the TRNC was admitted into the ISESCO as an observer on March 19th, 2008. ISESCO is a specialized institution of the Organization of the Islamic Conference with headquarters in Rabat, Morocco.

    [06] Turkish assembly speaker views Alliance of civilizations, OIC role for Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.08) reports the following:

    Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan said Tuesday Turkey sees compromise of civilizations and a meeting of civilizations as an important duty for itself.

    Releasing a statement, Toptan said Prof. Dr. Mahmut Erol Kilic, who was elected the secretary general of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference member states (PUOICM) in the second council meeting on Monday, has assumed important duties.

    "The secretary general will not only explain Turkey to Islam world but also explain the Islam world to the entire world," Toptan told.

    Toptan said there are many things Islam world can do against the understanding that is called "Islamophobia" and associates Islam world with terrorism".

    "On one side Turkey increases its influence in Islam world and on the other side it tries to bring Islam world and Western civilization together. In this context, Turkey sees meeting and compromise of civilizations as an important duty," he said.

    On the Cyprus problem, Toptan said he thinks Turkey could explain the Cyprus problem to the Islam world.

    "Turkish Cypriots have started to open trade offices in some significant trade centers in the last two years. This number will go up thanks to efforts of the secretary general, and the good face of Islam will be introduced to the entire world," he said.

    [07] Figures as regards trade according to the Green Line Regulation

    Under the title The regulation is not enough, Kibris reports in its first page that the Turkish Cypriot Businessmen benefited by five million five hundred and sixty thousand Cyprus Pounds (5.560.000) between the years 2004-2007 through the Greek Line Regulation. The Businessmen are not pleased with the regulation since for the first months of the year 2008 the trade was only one million one hundred twelve EURO.

    The paper writes that despite the fact that there was a significant increase in the overall number of sales which were made between 2004, when the Green Line Regulation came into force, until the first months of 2008, the trade which was made, was not enough. While the total figures from the sales in 2004 were two hundred seventy five thousand five hundred and sixty (275.560) Cyprus Pounds, in 2005 this figure was nine hundred seventy nine thousand four hundred thirty five (979.435) Cyprus Pounds, in 2006 one million eight hundred eighty nine (1.889.000) Cyprus Pounds, in 2007 two million, four hundred and fourteen thousands (2.414.000) Cyprus Pounds. As regards the two first months, January and February, of the year 2008, trade was one million one hundred thirteen (1.113.000) EURO.

    The chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, Hasan Ince, stated that the trading of honey and fish will start in the coming days and that three EU experts will come to northern Cyprus soon, in order to see if the boats and the fishing equipment, as well as the fishing are according to the EU standards. EU experts on honey will arrive to northern Cyprus as well soon.

    (CS)

    [08] Cheney´s contacts in Ankara

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.08) reports the following from Ankara:

    Terrorist organization PKK was once again referred to as "common enemy" during U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's talks in Ankara on Monday. U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney expressed a desire to cooperate with Turkey against terrorist organization PKK, said sources.

    Turkish authorities and Cheney agreed on the need to eradicate PKK presence in north of Iraq and continue sharing of intelligence on PKK. All talks between Turkish officials and Cheney described PKK as a threat to interests of Turkey, U.S. and Iraq. Cheney and Turkish authorities agreed that these three countries should continue cooperation against terrorist organization PKK in the future.

    Sources said that Cheney thanked Turkey for its contributions to Afghanistan. According to sources, Cheney made no specific request from Chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit in regard to Afghanistan.

    Diplomatic sources defined Cheney's visit to Turkey as a new step in Turkish-U.S. relations which have an ascending trend.

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (26.03.08) reports also on Dick Cheneys visit in Ankara and further writes that the US Vice President referring to Cyprus said that the new process which started must be supported by the international community.

    [09] TPAO will explore natural gas in Cuba

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.03.08) reports the following:

    Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler said Tuesday Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) can cooperate with Cuba in oil and natural gas exploration as it does in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Libya."TPAO is eager to join natural gas and oil exploration tenders in Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador," Guler told reporters after meeting Marta Lomas Morales, the Cuban minister of foreign investments and economic cooperation, in capital Ankara.

    Guler said the corporation will also carry out researches in Cuba. "We may cooperate with Cuba in oil and natural gas exploration," he said.

    "Turkey will set up a technical team to deal with joint energy projects with Cuba and it will visit Cuba in coming days," he also said.

    On the other hand, Morales said Turkey has a developed energy system, and the two countries have agreed to carry out joint oil and natural gas explorations and some other joint energy projects.

    Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said Tuesday Turkey may send a team of contractors to Cuba this year.

    "Turkey attaches particular importance to Cuba as part of its strategy to open to Latin America and Caribbeans," Cicek told participants of the Eighth Term Meeting of Turkish-Cuban Joint Economic Committee (JEC) in capital Ankara. Cicek welcomed the rise in trade volume between Turkey and Cuba to 34 billion USD in 2007, and said there are many cooperation opportunities between the two countries.

    "However, we have to speed up bureaucratic procedures and diversify projects," he said.

    A loan of 10 million euros lent by Turkey to Cuba through Eximbank was used in renovation of dams, irrigation and electricity works, Morales said. Morales said there was no problem in repayment of the loan, and said she believes there is political will in both countries to sign a contract for another tranche of loan worth 15 million euros.

    [10] Turkey signed four protocols with Turkmenistan on boosting bilateral relations

    Under the title Turkey, Turkmenistan agree to foster ties Turkish Daily News newspaper (25.03.08) writes that President Abdullah Gul said yesterday Turkey was determined to improve bilateral ties with brotherly Turkmenistan in every field.

    There is a great potential for cooperation between the two countries and we have the resolve to use this potential in a constructive way, Gul told reporters at a joint press conference with his Turkmen counterpart Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedov.

    The Turkmen leaders visit follows Guls trip to Turkmenistan last December, marking the official visit to Central Asia after his election as president.

    Berdimuhammedov hailed the meeting as an important step to expand bilateral relations. Economic relations in particular are rapidly improving, he said, adding that well-known Turkish companies have been successfully operating in Turkmenistan for years.

    Turkey and Turkmenistan signed four protocols to further develop ties: one on culture between the two countries state television institutions, one on cooperation between the foreign ministries, one on economic cooperation and finally a joint protocol concluded by the presidents of the two countries.

    Under the protocol, the two countries agreed to cooperate on energy, textile, communication, transportation, tourism, construction and banking and pledged that they would give complete support to Turkish and Turkmen investors on the basis of laws and international contracts.

    Energy was one of the key issues raised during the meeting between the energy ministers of the two countries. New reports earlier said the Turkmen leader would discuss project plans to build a natural gas pipeline that would bypass Russia.

    Turkmenistan, Central Asias largest gas producer, exports most of its gas through Russia, but the European Union is lobbying for it to use an alternative route. The West particularly wants Turkmenistan, which borders Iran, to join the US backed Nabucco pipeline project, designed to help Europe diversify gas imports and stem reliance on Russia.

    An unnamed Turkmen official was quoted as saying earlier that Nabucco would be on the agenda of Berdimuhammedovs talks in Turkey but neither Gul, nor the Turkmen leader made reference to energy cooperation during the press conference.


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [11] Ilter Turkmen predicts population growth can lead to social, economic instability

    Turkish Daily News newspaper (25.03.08) publishes the following article by Ilter Turkmen under the title: Economy and population policy:

    The agenda in Turkey is still occupied by the closure case filed against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and by the Ergenekon crime gang investigation. These two cases and the differences of opinion over the perception of each case in addition to potential connection between the two have created a political crisis that deepens institutional and social polarization.

    A country always in conflict and suffering strife cannot find solutions to its problems, it cannot meet its long-term objectives. If Turkey fails to solve today's problems soon, the issues will show a tendency to turn chronic. Success of long-term economic and social targets in particular depends on correct set-up of these objectives and relevant appropriate policies.

    Turkey has achieved satisfactory economic growth in recent years yet the picture behind is worrisome. The Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) has just released an analysis on household labor force, income, expenditure and poverty in Turkey. The report shows 17.8 percent of population is living at poverty line and the unemployment rate which was calculated as 9.9 percent by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) climbs up to 20.3 percent if the unemployed who have no hope to find a job, who are not looking for a job, or seasonal workers are included in figures. Approximately 61 percent of the labor force has less than high school education; if the figures of illiteracy are added the figure goes up to 66 percent.

    Another riveting point: The unemployed have a better education level than the currently employed. On the other hand, the average 16.8 percent propensity-to-save in 2002-2004 regressed to 10 percent in 2005. The TUSIAD report also points out that propensity to save declined remarkably among the upper income group. Data and observation presented in the study suggest the economic growth slows down, negative developments around the world affect Turkey as financing the growing deficit in balance of payments becomes more difficult.

    Population policy is, without a doubt, pertinent to economic parameters. A jump in population increase evidently causes harm in many developing countries. During the early years of the Republic, having many children was aptly encouraged to compensate decreasing population in Turkey due to long period of wars. But in the aftermath of the World War II, it was appropriate to tame down booming population, which was adopted as the official policy in 1965 but no effective measures were taken. A slogan of "100 million population" was repeated years after years. Population meant the military and economic power. But today, Turkey's population is not even 70 million. But if it were 40-45 million, per capita income would've been higher as we would've been less dependent to foreign agriculture products. Turkey, on the other side, would've been a socially more balanced country providing better education services, earmarking more for its defense and being less prone to political polarization. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan swept all these facts aside and called on families to have at least three children. People normally found this odd. Erdogan justifies himself and expresses his concerns about the aging population and the slowing pace of population increase. But this cannot be right, at least for now. As Professor Ayse Akin said in daily Milliyet's March 17 edition that the fertility rate dropped to 2.2 percent but for long the population will continue to increase at 1.8 percent level. Akin assures the percentage of senior citizens in population stands around 5-6 percent and there is nothing to worry about unless this figure goes beyond 10 percent. If no adequate increase is seen in the Gross Domestic Product, if education level remains unchanged, if environment related problems in addition to water and energy scarcity grow, and if income distribution cannot be balanced, population increase could only result in political, economic and social instability.

    [12] From the Turkish Press of 24 and 25 March 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 24 and 25 March:

    a) Vice-President Cheney's visit to Turkey: In an article entitled "Strategic or tragic," in Hurriyet (24.03.08) columnist Fatih Cekirge asks whether strategic partnership between the United States and Turkey is gradually turning into a "tragic partnership" because the United States wants Turkey to send combat troops to Afghanistan in order to fight against the Taliban. Cekirge also points out that US Vice President Dick Cheney's meeting with President Mas'ud Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq before his flight to Turkey was intended to give the message that Turkey should discuss problems related to the PKK's presence in northern Iraq with Barzani.

    In an article entitled "Negotiations continue amid confusion," in Hurriyet (24.03.08) columnist Ferai Tinc says that the missile shield project, Cyprus, relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government in connection with Turkey's fight against the PKK, energy projects, Turkey's possible contributions to peace in the Middle East and to the international force deployed in Afghanistan will be discussed during Cheney's visit.

    In an article entitled "Cheney's visit will reveal disagreements," in Milliyet (24.03.08) columnist Semih Idiz predicts that Cheney's visit will not yield surprising results and reveal disagreements between Turkey and the United States about Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan because Turkey is not in a position to meet US demands about those issues.

    In an article entitled "Cheney's list," in Sabah (24.03.08) columnist Erdal Safak summarizes issues which Cheney reportedly is discussing during his visits to various countries in the Middle East, including a proposal urging Turkey to increase the number of its troops in Afghanistan. Noting that the Turkish General Staff is opposed to that idea, Safak says: "But, the government is in a confused state of mind about that issue. Foreign Minister Babacan, for example, has said that the matter was still under consideration, adding that the final decision would be made in a NATO summit to be held from 2 April through 4 April in Bucharest. If the government eventually takes a positive approach to the proposal, a serious crisis between the government and the General Staff may be inevitable." Safak concludes by saying that Iran's nuclear program will be the most important issue to be discussed during Cheney's visit.

    A report in Milli Gazete (24.03.08) entitled "Somebody should say stop to Cheney" highlights remarks by Felicity Party, SP, leader Recai Kutan calling on the Erdogan government not to make any concessions to US Vice President Dick Cheney on Iran when "that militant neo-con" visits Ankara this week as part of his ongoing tour of the Middle East.

    A report by Zeynep Gurcanli in Hurriyet (25.03.08) relates the conversations US Vice President Cheney held with President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. According to the report, Cheney expressed his concerns over Turkey's energy agreement with Iran.

    A report by Ugur Ergan also in Hurriyet (25.03.08) details Cheney's Ankara visit saying that the US Vice President asked for fighter units to Afghanistan and support for the supervision of Iran's nuclear program. According to the report, Cheney further noted that the Washington administration does not hold the view that Turkey should negotiate with the PKK.

    Drawing attention to the special request made by US Vice President Cheney for a meeting with Chief of Staff Gen Buyukanit in an article entitled "The Key Point in Turkish-US Relations" in Milliyet (25.03.08), Fikret Bila views as a weak possibility the emergence of a new factor that might change the general's outlook on the issue of sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Underlining that the US perspective on the PKK is the most important factor that determines the course of bilateral relations, Bila predicts that the US linkage of its cooperation in the struggle against terror to certain political conditions might once again increase Turkey's mistrust of the United States.

    Under the banner headline, "Her Father's Daughter," Yeni Safak (25.03.08) publishes a front-page report which says that US Vice-President Dick Cheney was accompanied on his visit to Ankara yesterday by his daughter Elizabeth Cheney, who is "in charge of organizing opposing groups in Syria and Iran." According to the report, Elizabeth Cheney is said to have tried to persuade high-level Iraqi commanders to "surrender without a fight" in 2003.

    In an article entitled "Will Incirlik be relocated to Afyon?" in Yeni Safak (25.03.08) columnist Ibrahim Karagul asserts that the ongoing domestic controversies sparked by the "shocking" closure lawsuit against the governing AKP and the latest detentions in the police investigation against the Ergenekon group have overshadowed Dick Cheney's visit to Turkey as well as relegating to the back burner issues like US demands for Turkey's contribution of additional troops to Afghanistan, the ramifications of the missile defense system planned to be installed in Turkey and Azerbaijan, and the question of how long Turkish-US cooperation against the PKK will continue. Karagul also suggests a link between Cheney's visit and recent claims that the US air base in Incirlik will be relocated to Afyon for maintenance reasons.

    In an article entitled "Are we in any position to focus on Cheney's visit?" in Vakit (25.03.08) columnist M. Emin Kazci argues that Cheney's visit to Ankara has taken place at a time when, with the closure proceedings against the AKP and the activities of Ergenekon, Turkey can neither give adequate attention to the US agenda concerning Iran, Palestine, and Afghanistan nor concentrate on the purposes of this visit by "possibly the most sinister politician in the United States."

    According to a front-page report in Zaman (25.03.08) entitled "Cheney fails to receive support for Iran, Afghanistan," Dick Cheney has failed to persuade Ankara to support international sanctions against Iran and deploy combat troops to Afghanistan.

    In an article entitled "He is coming at last" in Milli Gazete (25.03.08) columnist Hasan Unal asserts that "judging from how Cheney went all the way to Arbil to conciliate [northern Iraqi Kurdish leader Mas'ud] Barzani" before coming to Ankara, it is obvious that the project of a "puppet state" in northern Iraq was among the priority issues that the US vice president discussed in Ankara along with the subject of a "political solution" to the southeast problem. He goes on to claim that Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan is following "a very dangerous course" in saying Turkey could contribute troops to Afghanistan despite statements by Chief of Staff General Buyukanit announcing that "we do not have a single soldier to send" to this country. Unal also warns that it would be "suicide" for Turkey to get involved in the "dirty business" of carrying out aerial strikes against Iran.

    b) Kurdish issue/ Nevruz incidents: According to a report in Hurriyet (25.03.08), Democratic Society Party, (DTP), Siirt provincial leader Abdurrahman Tasci has been detained for calling on the people to participate in an illegal rally to mark Nevruz through a statement he made via Roj TV.

    A report by Soner Gurel also in Hurriyet (25.03.08) notes that two were killed and 187 injured in 176 incidents throughout the country during the Nevruz celebrations. According to the report, of the 187 injured, 126 were security officials and a total of 653 persons were detained in the illegal events that were staged in 55 provinces.

    Assessing the political results of Nevruz in an article in Milliyet (25.03.08), Can Dundar asserts that the name of Abdullah Ocalan has come more to the forefront than in previous years. Referring to the voice recording of Ocalan heard at the Diyarbakir celebrations marking Nevruz and Leyla Zana's remarks that "Ocalan will be among us in 2010," Dundar believes that the influence of the PKK has grown and not diminished in the southeast. Analyzing the frame of mind of the voters in the region, the writer says that the 3 million who voted for the AKP and the one million who voted for the DTP feel betrayed now that both parties are facing closure. Justifying the radicalization of the regional people now that the legal channels are blocked, the writer concludes: "The state is determined not to consider Ocalan as a respondent. It is closing the parties that the regional people have voted for believing them to be 'detrimental.' Well then, what kind of a solution is the state considering?"

    Referring to the report posted in the website of a news agency close to the PKK regarding the recent meeting Ocalan held with his lawyers, in Sabah (25.03.08) Erdal Safak expresses his amazement given the fact that the meeting never took place. In an article, Safak questions Ocalan's means of communication and refers to previous reports about cell phones being smuggled into Imrali. Pointing out that Ocalan is informed on every issue and makes references to various press articles, the writer asks how this is possible when Ocalan is reported to have access only to TRT FM radio.

    EG/


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