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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-03-31
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 62/08 29-31.03.08
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Buyukanit stresses that the occupation troops will not withdraw from CyprusAnkara Anatolia news agency (29.03.08) reports the following from occupied Lefkosia: Turkish Chief of General staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said: "Reaching an agreement is not enough alone for withdrawal of (Turkish) soldiers from Cyprus. We should follow the process. We should see how safe Turkish Cypriots are. We should believe that they are safe."
Gen. Buyukanit, who held a press conference at Ercan Airport [occupied Tymvou] prior to his departure from Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Saturday, said talking is always beneficial while commenting on the meeting between TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.
Noting that the duty of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Cyprus is to provide the safety of Turkish Cypriot people, Gen. Buyukanit said that TSK has been successfully fulfilling this mission since 1974. He added that TSK will continue to fulfill its duty until a permanent and fair peace is settled in the island.
Gen. Buyukanit stressed that 1974 was a date when injustice over Turkish Cypriot society was ended, not the beginning of the Cyprus question.
Recalling that Lokmaci [Ledra street] zone was examined on Friday and that the TSK is responsible for borders in line with the article 10th of TRNC constitution, Gen. Buyukanit said that a few hundred meters back of Lokmaci, there is Ledra Palace gate and Turkish and Greek Cypriots are passing there.
"Opening of Lokmaci gate is not a big step towards fair and permanent peace; it is a gate. There are lots of gates in Cyprus. Lokmaci gate will be one of them," said Gen. Buyukanit adding that there will not be any arrangements which will harm sovereignty of TRNC.
On the same issue Today´s Zaman (31.03.08) reported the following under the title: Buyukanit rules out Cyprus troop withdrawal:
Chief of General staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit has said the signing of any deal between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities on the divided island of Cyprus would not be sufficient for an immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island.
He also downplayed the significance of the expected opening of a crossing point in the divided city of Lefkosia (Nicosia). Buyukanit's remarks came on Saturday at a press conference held at Ercan Airport ahead of his departure from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) following an official visit that kicked off on Wednesday.
Defining the Turkish military presence on the island as the "guarantor" of peace in Cyprus, Buyukanit also said Turkish troops would continue to patrol in the vicinity of the new Lokmaci crossing point in the heart of Lefkosia set to be opened this week. However, when asked about the recent agreement between KKTC leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias to launch fresh peace talks, Buyukanit said: "It is always beneficial to talk. Problems are always solved by talking."
"Everybody is talking about a just and lasting peace, but do we all mean the same thing? The authorities need to clearly detail the parameters of a just and lasting peace and explain their views to the public," he said, urging the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to lay out their visions for peace in detail. The top general, meanwhile, stressed that he hoped to see a deal based on the sovereignty and equal rights of the Turkish Cypriot people.
Asked whether Turkish troops would withdraw if there was a peace deal, Buyukanit said a pullout would take place only after the army believes such an accord to be sound. "There is no such thing as pulling troops out tomorrow if there is a peace deal today. The army needs to observe and be fully convinced of the safety of the Turkish Cypriots. Only then can this issue be considered," he said.
Downplaying the significance of a new crossing point at Ledra Street, known as the Lokmaci Gate in Turkish Cyprus, Buyukanit said the crossing "is not a very great step toward just and lasting peace. It will only be one of many crossing points on the island."
An area spanning 80 meters at the heart of medieval Nicosia, lined by decaying buildings and separating Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the crossing point is expected to be opened this week, after the leaders of the two communities agreed at a March 21 meeting to resume peace talks. UN de-mining experts swept the area for discarded explosives last week, following which the Turkish and Greek Cypriot municipalities on both sides of the crossing point on Ledra Street began preparatory work for its opening.
The general emphasized that the reopening of the pedestrian street, blocked off for decades, would not mean a withdrawal of Turkish soldiers stationed inside a military zone near the crossing. "Under no condition will we budge even a meter from the area we are responsible for," he said.
The Turkish Cypriot press (30.03.08) covers as follows the statements of General Yasar Buyukanit upon his departure from occupied Cyprus:
Kibris reports on the departure of the Turkish General from occupied Cyprus under the title Buyukanit: Our aim is the TRNC to live as a modern state.
Under the title Even after the solution the army will not be withdrawn from occupied Cyprus, Afrika writes that the Chief of the Turkish Armed Forces ignited a bomb while departing from the island and he exploded the hopes for peace and the solution process.
Under the title If the Lokmaci (Ledra Street) Barricade is going to be opened, it will be opened, KIBRISLI writes that General Buyukanit, stated that the opening of the Ledra Street Barricade is not a very big step towards a just and lasting peace in Cyprus.
Yeni Duzen reports on the Turkish Generals departure under the title: Buyukanit: Not a single square meter will be given back from the area we are responsible.
Volkan writes that the Chief of the Turkish Armed Forces stated while departing from occupied Cyprus for one more time: An agreement must be based on the TRNC sovereignty.
Under the title: Buyukanits Lokmaci message is a messenger of crisis Ortam writes that those who will not give a single stone back for the peace, stated now that they will not give even a square meter for Lokmaci.
Halkin Sesi reports on the issue under the title The army will not be withdrawn from the TRNC.
Sozcu: Our aim is TRNC to live.
Star Kibris: Full guarantees from Buyukanit.
Vatan: We will not take a step back.
 Ankara´s subordinate regime to open a representation office in OmanAnkara Anatolia news agency (28.03.08) reported the following from occupied Lefkosia:
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) will open a representation in Muscat, Oman.
Riza Omer Cinkilic was assigned as TRNC's representative to Oman.
On January 17th, 2007, TRNC decided to open representations in Qatar and Oman.
 Tourism office of Ankara´s subordinate regime starts the promotion campaign in S. KoreaIllegal Bayrak television (29.03.08) broadcast the following:
The TRNC tourism office in the South Korean capital Seoul has given a start to its promotion campaign.
In line with the protocol signed between the Ministry of Economy and Tourism and the Parados Europe company based in South Korea, brochures promoting North Cyprus are being distributed.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Economy and Tourism, a series of activities aimed at promoting the TRNC tourism office have started.The development has taken its place in the South Korean media as well.
 New bill for the establishment of YAGATurkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (31.03.08) reports that with a view to encouraging the investments in the Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus a new bill, for the establishment of the Turkish Cypriot Investment Development Agency (YAGA) has been prepared. The paper writes that the bill is published in the so-called Official Gazette and soon it will be taken up by the relevant House Committee.
 The National Park is being destroyedUnder the above title Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (30.03.08) reports that developments which will destroy the Karpass National Park are experienced in the occupied Kaprass peninsula. The paper notes that the CTP government, which has given away valuable TRNC forest lands and coasts to rich businessmen from Turkey, is now preparing to give away Karpass as well.
The paper notes that the government ignores the fact that the stray donkeys living in the area of Karpass peninsula are shot and killed and that developments leading to the destruction of the National Park are taking place. The government does not take any measures against the killings of stray donkeys, reports Ortam adding that 10 dead donkeys have been found in the 20-donum (a land measure of 1000 square meters) area of the park.
The paper describes as interesting coincidence the fact that these killings of donkeys began a while after the statement by the parliamentary committee on legal and political affairs that electricity will be transferred to Karpass. It is noted that there is a wish for these areas as well to be given away secretly to some persons, it concludes.
 Retired Turkish ambassador and political commentator on CyprusTurkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (31.03.08) publishes an exclusive interview with the retired Turkish ambassador and political commentator, Mr Yalim Eralp. In his interview Mr. Eralp said that the Cyprus problem should be divided into two: The domestic issues and the foreign issues, which are: military and security issues. He suggested that the military and security issues should be left to the end. He said that first the domestic problems should be taken up. He said: If the Greek Cypriots want the active and positive participation of Turkey in this process, taking into consideration the sensitive period that Turkey is passing through at present, then they have to ease the embargoes they have imposed on the Turkish Cypriots. Doing this they will demonstrate their good will and they will also make Turkey feel relaxed and Turkey will open its sea and airports to the Cyprus registered ships and planes. This is important from the point that it will make Turkey-EU negotiations to gain momentum. I say this for the 8 chapters that remain closed.
As for power sharing and property issues Ambassador Yalim Eralp said: Let us consider the second issue that is power sharing and property issues. Here, the Annan plan is not on the negotiation table but its spirit is. The parameters of the Cyprus problem more or less are fixed. They are included in the 12 March 1990 UN resolution Number 649. In fact the Annan Plan is inspired from the Ghali Set of Ideas. It is not possible, from the parameters point of view to invent new things. The property issue is an important point. In my opinion regarding the territorial issue it is necessary to consider a new creative thinking, which is returning the Karpass Peninsula to the Greek Cypriots. As far as I am concerned, returning the Karpass Peninsula to the Greek Cypriots could be a security for the Turkish Cypriots.
As for security and military issues Mr. Eralp said: The third important point as far as I am concerned, is that if Turkey becomes EU member after the Cyprus problem is settled, then two things should be included in the solution as provisional articles, when Turkey, Greece and Cyprus become EU members then there will be no need for guarantees. And for the same reason there will be no need for troops as well. To include these as provisional articles will secure the Greek Cypriots and Greeces efforts in favor of Turkeys EU membership. I will go further and say that even the review of the Constitution, which will be prepared during this settlement process, could be included in the provisional article, in case Turkey becomes EU member. The biggest guarantee for the Turkish Cypriots is Turkeys EU membership.
When asked to comment about the term virgin birth used by Mr. Talat regarding the evolving of the new state after the settlement, Mr. Eralp said: It is really difficult to dissolve an EU member state and then come and say that we have established a new one. The Greek Cypriots will not accept this. But, dont you think that without saying any thing a new order will come through? That is, sometimes it is not necessary to put a new name. A new regime is being created. As far as I am concerned, arguments like whether a new state is formed or not is irrelevant. In fact the Annan Plan does not mention this, but, it is understood that it is a new state. You are establishing a new order.
As for Ankaras demand for a loose federation with two statelets and President Christofias opposition to such arrangement, Mr. Eralp said: Mr. Christofias wants a strong central government. In fact this is Mr. Christofias ideological approach. I do not refuse this as well. If he says strong central government then he has to explain how it will be strong. I draw Christofias strong central government demand from AKELs ideology.
In his interview Mr. Eralp expressed concern regarding the existence of the National Council in case of a settlement. Saying that at the National Council the consensus is reached around the minimum. For a settlement not a minimum but a maximum political will is necessary, he declared.
When asked whether opening of the Lokmaci crossing (Ledra Street) will contribute to the new process and whether it is a good will gesture, Mr. Eralp said: As far as I am concerned, no. Lokmaci is a very small thing. I see serious good will at political level not in the Lokmaci but in the embargoes.
 Turkish Minister of Energy on Cyprus oilTurkish daily Sabah newspaper (31.03.08) publishes an interview by the Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler who stated that the last military operation in Northern Iraq is a crossroad point for the energy cooperation between Turkey, the USA and Iraq. Answering a question regarding the oil reserves around Cyprus and whether the search stopped, Mr Guler stated: We cannot say something definite. We consider these areas important. There was no interest in the tenders of the Greek Cypriots. We do not see ourselves as reactionists. On a question regarding the oil search around Greece, Mr Guler said: I made a suggestion to the Greeks. Both countries need natural gas and oil. Why not search for oil together? We can start independently in our territorial waters. We can solve the areas under dispute on the diplomatic basis.
 Reference to Cyprus by Babacan from SloveniaAnkara Anatolia news agency (29.03.08) reported from Brdo, Slovenia that the Turkish Foreign Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan on Saturday attended the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Slovenia. He told Turkish reporters that he met EU Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn and they discussed reform process in Turkey, the Cyprus issue as well as EU negotiation process.
"Rehn expressed pleasure over implementation of Foundations Law within the scope of EU reform process," said Babacan.
He noted that the next most important step in reform process will be article 301 of Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
Noting that a new milieu emerged after the elections in the Greek Cypriot side, Babacan said that certainly the UN parameters will be taken as basis in solution of Cyprus question.
He said that EU cannot undertake a neutral role any more in the Cyprus issue, adding that the solution address for the Cyprus question is UN.
"During my bilateral talks with EU officials, I proposed them to lift sanctions over Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC); and in return we open our ports and airports to Greek Cypriot traffic," he added.
Babacan said that the solution which will be preferred in the Cyprus problem is parties' setting up a "partnership state based on political equality" by reaching a consensus.
 The Emir of Kuwait in TurkeyUnder the title, Gul welcomed the Emir at Esenboga [Airport], Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (31.03.08) reports that the Turkish President Abdullah Gul welcomed the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah El-Ahmet El-Cabir El-Sabah at the Esenboga Airport in Ankara. This is the second time that Mr Gul welcomes one of his guests at the airport. The first time was during the visit of the King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz El Suud, the paper writes. Mr Gul since the day that he became President welcomes his guests at the Presidential Place. Yesterday after the first meeting between Gul and El-Sabah, Mr Gul offered to his guest dinner at the Presidential Palace. El-Sabah will meet today with the PM Erdogan and on April 2nd will proceed with Mr Gul to Istanbul to attend the Turkish-Kuwaiti Business Forum meeting. Emir El-Sabah will depart from Turkey on April 5.
 Turkish Prime Minister to pay official visit to SwedenAnkara Anatolia news agency (29.03.08) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a formal visit to Sweden between April 1st and 3rd as the guest of Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Prime Ministry press center stated on Saturday that Erdogan will be received by Swedish King XVI Gustaf on April 2nd; and then he will attend a round-table meeting with members of foreign affairs and EU affairs committees of Swedish Parliament.
Erdogan will meet Reinfeldt the same day. The two premiers will co-chair meetings between Turkish and Swedish delegations. Erdogan and Reinfeldt will hold a joint press conference after the meetings.
Prime Minister Erdogan will attend the dinner, which will be hosted in his honor by Reinfeldt on April 2nd.
Erdogan will deliver a speech at the Swedish Institute for International Relations. He will hold talks with high-level business circles within the scope of the Turkish-Swedish Forum, which will be organized by the Swedish Trade Council.
Erdogan will also meet Turks living in Sweden and then depart for Turkey.
[B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis
 Commentary in Yeni Safak on the results of an opinion pollIstanbul Yeni Safak newspaper (27.03.08) publishes the following column by Yasin Dogan under the title: The political situation:
The latest developments in the political sphere are having two important effects on the public. First, the social reaction is increasing, with the thought that a shadow is being cast on democracy, and second, the events taking place, and the risks that could result from them, are increasing pessimism regarding the future.
Hope and self-confidence are important for the development of societies. When societies enter into a pessimistic psychology, they suffer a major loss of energy. Fragility in the political realm is just as harmful as in the economy.
Political reactions and sensitivity reach "unpredictable" levels in the same proportion.
A public opinion survey conducted during the week when the initiative to shut down the AKP [Justice and Development Party] began reflects the pulse of society. For surveys that will be conducted in periods henceforth, this important week is of the nature of a benchmark.
According to ANAR's Turkey Agenda Survey, the AKP is, as of last week, maintaining its share of the vote.
The AKP [had] 46.8 percent, the CHP [Republican People's Party] 21.7 percent, the MHP [Nationalist Action Party] 13.4 percent, the DTP [Democratic Society Party] 4.7 percent, and the other parties were under 5 percent...
The actions of the government seen as the most successful were cited as the distribution of books for free, fuel oil assistance to farmers, the work of KOYDES [Village Infrastructure Support Project], two-lane highways, social housing projects, coal assistance, the struggle against criminal gangs, and the struggle against terrorism.
The ranking of the party leaders' performance was as follows: [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan 61 percent, [Devlet] Bahceli 43 percent, [Deniz] Baykal 37 percent, Zeki Sezer 36 percent, Suleyman Soylu 34 percent.
Thoughts regarding the ground operation indicate that the government came out of this period without being negatively impacted. 77.6 percent supported the TSK's [Turkish Armed Forces] cross-border operation into Northern Iraq, while those who did not support it were 16 percent.
Those who thought that the government had successfully managed the cross-border operation process were 56 percent, while those who saw it as having been unsuccessful were 37 percent.
41 percent of CHP supporters, 56 percent of DSP [Democratic Left Party] supporters, 50 percent of MHP supporters, and 54 percent of SP [Felicity Party] supporters considered the government successful in managing the operations. Although the leaderships of the various parties expressed negative views regarding the operation, the citizenry considered the operation and the government's management of it to have been successful.
The proportion of those considering that the ground operation was beneficial to the struggle against terrorism was 60 percent.
In the controversy experienced between the General Staff and the political parties, 56 percent considered the General Staff to be in the right, while 28 percent considered the opposition parties to be in the right. 31 percent of CHP supporters and 46 percent of MHP supporters saw the General Staff as being in the right.
On a topic on which society is quite sensitive, and which should be kept above political polemics, the critical stance of the CHP and the MHP is not sufficiently supported even by their own voters.
Topics involving nationalism also constituted a significant portion of the survey. Those who said that "Turks and Kurds have been brothers for a thousand years" were 80 percent. Those who said "I am against every sort of nationalism" were 50 percent. Those who said "I do not do business with shopkeepers not of my own race": 12 percent.
"I am against intermarriage with people not of my own race": 14.9 percent.
85 to 90 percent of society has a stance that clearly opposes negative judgments of this sort...
In the face of the [PKK] separatist organization's efforts to generate division and separation into camps within society, Turkey's society is demonstrating an extremely sensible approach.
Opinions regarding the headscarf issue were evidently impacted by the political tension being experienced. Asked the question "Do you believe that allowing the headscarf to be worn freely in universities will endanger secularism in Turkey?", those who said "no" amounted to 62 percent, while those who said "yes" were 34 percent.
Those supporting a constitutional amendment for freedom of the headscarf in universities were 59 percent, while those opposed to this were 36 percent.
33 percent considered the CHP and DSP application to the Constitutional Court for the cancellation of the provision to be correct, while those considering it wrong were 57 percent.
It appears that, on the headscarf issue, there exists a bloc with negative views amounting to 30-35 percent. It seems that the CHP's effort to pull its own rank-and-file together and forestall internal party debates by generating tension has been successful...
We will see in the period ahead how the process involving the closure issue will impact the scene. But from the standpoint of understanding the political atmospherics in the week during which this initiative began, this survey provides a good basis of data.
 From the Turkish Press of 28, 29 and 30 March 2008a) Closure of the Ruling Party: A report entitled "Expected report Distributed to justices" in Milliyet (28.03.08) says that Osman Can, rapporteur of the Turkish Constitutional Court, has finalized his report about whether or not the Court should accept the indictment issued by the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals for the closure of the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP. According to the report, Can summarize in his 70-page report his findings about why the indictment may be accepted or dismissed. The Constitutional Court is expected to make a decision to accept or return the indictment on 31 March.
In an article entitled "Two steps forward and one step backward," Hurriyet columnist Mehmet Yilmaz accuses the AKP of taking steps escalating political tension. He comments: "It turns a deaf ear to demands voiced by its opponents in society and does not refrain from showing by its policies that there is a problem between the AKP and one of the fundamental principles of the regime. This is the reason behind the current tension and political polarization."
In an article entitled "Why was that sentence included?" in Hurriyet (28.03.08) columnist Ertugrul Ozkok says that political tension resulted from the government's attempts to dilute the principle of secularism and says that the public should oppose suspicious and dangerous efforts to redefine secularism. He says: "Erdogan should add being a democrat to his leadership skills in this second term. This could only be possible if he tolerates people who do not share his opinions and treats them as equal citizens while sharing power with counterbalancing establishments."
In an article entitled "Until the last drop of its blood," in Sabah (28.03.08) columnist Emre Akoz says that AKP leadership must resort to every possible method in order to avoid being closed down by the Constitutional Court without paying attention to debates about whether or not its methods are ethical. Pointing out that the AKP's closure could trigger a severe economic crisis, pave the way for the closure of the Democratic Society Party which, he cautions, would play into the hands of separatists, and shelve Turkey's plan to join the EU, Akoz says: "In short, the AKP should resist until the last minute and everybody who is in favor of the unity and prosperity of the country should support its efforts even if their support is given reluctantly."
In an article entitled "AKP has two options," in Radikal (28.03.08) columnist Ismet Berkan says that AKP leadership will either amend the Constitution in order to prevent the Constitutional Court from banning the party and submit the constitutional referendums to a referendum or to prepare a defense in response to the indictment. Pointing out that political tension and polarization could further escalate if the AKP opts to hold a referendum, Berkan concludes by saying that tension could be alleviated if the AKP's leaders prefer the second option laying emphasis on democratic principles.
Under the banner headline, "We cannot allow political chaos," Yeni Safak (28.03.08) publishes a front-page report which highlights some of President Gul's messages to opposition leaders during the meeting at the Presidential Mansion yesterday. The report quotes Gul as saying that "we could not possibly allow political chaos and instability" at a time when a global financial crisis is taking place and Turkey is fighting terrorism.
A report entitled "TUSIAD, DISK Join Forces," in Vakit (28.03.08) asserts that the Turkish Industrialists´ and Businessmen´s Association, TUSIAD, and the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions, DISK, "two leading players in the 28 February process," have reached an agreement to pressure the ruling AKP not to pass any legislation that makes it difficult for political parties to be shut down.
In an article entitled "What Baykal is saying, what Sener is doing", in Vakit (28.03.08) columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak asserts that AKP member and former Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener is "sailing in dangerous waters" in responding favorably to efforts by former Motherland Party leader Mesut Yilmaz to designate him as the new leader of the center right. Dilipak claims that Sener cannot hope to obtain any support from the AKP's voter base and expresses bewilderment at what he describes as Sener's readiness to be "enlisted into the deep state." He also warns opposition leaders Baykal and Bahceli as well as Prime Minister Erdogan that "if, God forbid, things got out of control, nobody could know who would survive or whether there would be a Turkey left standing."
In an article entitled "Compromise yet how?", in Zaman (28.03.08) columnist Mustafa Unal claims that Turkey is face to face with "the 2008 version of the coup attempt in 2003 codenamed 'blonde girl' and 'moonlight'" and that the closure case against the AKP is only part of a larger "scenario." He also disagrees with the argument that Parliament cannot pass constitutional amendments that have a bearing on a case under trial and provides past examples of how "the rules of the game were changed while the game was going on."
In an article entitled "One step backward, two steps forward" in Zaman (28.03.08) columnist Mumtazer Turkone argues that Turkey has been grappling in the past two weeks with a "regime crisis" caused by the closure case against the AKP. He warns that the AKP is making a mistake by taking the indictment drawn by the Chief Public Prosecutor seriously and making preventive measures against the lawsuit the centerpiece of its policy from now on instead of pressing ahead with "structural reforms."
Under the headline, "Closure scares away $5 Billion," Zaman (29.03.08) carries a front-page report which details the effects on domestic financial markets of "negative expectations" about the results of the closure lawsuit against the AKP.
In an article entitled "Either Juristocracy or Democracy", Zaman (29.03.08) columnist Sahin Alpay accuses the Republican People's Party, CHP, of acting so "irresponsibly" vis-ŕ-vis the closure lawsuit against the AKP as to "see no harm in derailing democracy, damaging economic stability, and destroying Turkey's international prestige" and the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, of making "cheap" plans to obtain political gain from Prime Minister Erdogan being banned from politics. He claims that it is the AKP's duty to "defend democracy" under the circumstances and calls on the Erdogan government not to lose any time in aligning the Turkish political system with EU standards by calling a referendum "if necessary" regardless of whether the Constitutional Court accepts or rejects the indictment against the AKP.
In an article entitled "What Islam would do", in Zaman (29.03.08) columnist Ali Bulac argues that Turkey's "150-year long authoritarian modernization policies have pushed us back in history just as far" and that "if new factors are to come into play from now on and if they are to interact with Muslims, then Islam will play a progressive role" because it "belongs in the city" and is "pluralist" and "open to external effects."
In Radikal (30.03.08) columnist Ismet Berkan refers to Erdogan's speech at the meeting of the Anatolian Lions in Istanbul, where he blamed the media for the current political tension in the country. In his article, Berkan says that Erdogan's accusation against the media should be viewed as a manifestation of the fact that he still has not recovered from the shock of the closure case filed against his party. It appears that when Erdogan points at the media subscribing to a "certain political mentality," Berkan says, he means the newspapers that are independent of the government or the opposition, which are not directly linked to the AKP and which until recently used to praise the positive deeds of the government and criticize its negative aspects. Berkan argues that these newspapers actually act as a mirror for the government and represent the government's ties to reality. Asking Erdogan not to bury his head in the sand, Berkan expresses the hope that the prime minister will soon get rid of his shock and face reality.
In a column in Istanbul Hurriyet (30.03.08), Ferai Tinc suggests that it is the mentality of "double standards" or "dissimulation" that lies at the bottom of the current "political crisis." The government, which remained silent in the face of the closure suit filed against the DTP, is now "creating havoc" when its own party is attacked by the same weapons, Tinc remarks. Tinc says she agrees that it is not right to close parties, but asks: Why should we render party closures more difficult now, just because the AKP is touched by it? Tinc further questions why the prime minister fails to advocate freedoms in the broadest sense when he says the "coupists" should be persecuted. What about Article 301 of the Penal Code, she questions. Another example of what she calls "double standard" is Erdogan's accusations leveled at the media. Pointing out that half of the media is in favor of the AKP, Tinc says that the prime minister must mean "the other" half. The only way to overcome this is by means of the "democratic state of law," she concludes
b) Plans to hit Iran: In an article entitled "Would nuclear clouds rising from Esfahan reach Istanbul?" in Yeni Safak (28.03.08) columnist Ibrahim Karagul takes issue with claims that the United States and Israel have suspended their plan to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities. In citing his reasons for "fearing" that the world could face a "sudden and shocking" military offensive against Iran, he asserts that NATO considers nuclear preemption essential, that the US security strategy has been realigned to factor in the importance of nuclear power in the wars of the 21st century, that nuclear deployments have been made to Iraq, that there have been new arms shipments to Lebanon, and "most importantly" that instability is increasing in the region from Pakistan to Lebanon.
In an article entitled "Convictions in Ankara and Washington", in Today's Zaman (28.03.08) Washington correspondent Ali Aslan warns that just as "Bush-Cheney convictions about Iran might ... lead to another unpopular war" so "strong convictions in Ankara, if not eased, might very well diminish the chances of uniting the nation and exacerbate a domestic political war with detrimental implications for Turkey's evolving democracy."
In an article entitled "They cannot chew even chewing gum, let alone Democracy," in Vakit (30.03.08) columnist Lutfu Oflaz says that no military coup could be staged in Turkey unless permitted by the United States. He comments: "The supporters of a military coup actually intend to stage a coup. But, they are not capable of doing that because the United States would neither support nor permit a military takeover aimed at toppling the AKP government." Oflaz also says that Turkey should thwart a possible US attack against Iran rather than supporting it. He says: "Our military and civilian leaders should understand that we would sell out those who would attempt to sell out Iran."
c) Ergenekon organization: According to a report in Istanbul Milliyet (30.03.08), another three suspects detained in connection with the "Ergenekon investigation" have been arrested. The three are Nusret Senem, Labor Party, IP, secretary general; Hikmet Cicek, head of the IP's press bureau; and Hayati Ozcan, Izmir representative of the Ulusal Kanal television station. They were arrested for "possession of secret documents belonging to the state." This brings the number of suspects arrested in connection with the investigation to 47. Upon exiting the court building, Cicek said: "Fethullah Gulen will be defeated, Turkey will win."
In an article entitled "Blond girl, what is your role in Erge-neo-kon," in Yeni Safak (30.03.08) columnist Tamer Korkmaz asserts that coup plots allegedly devised by some retired generals in the past five years were linked to a secret organization called Ergenekon. After criticizing Cumhuriyet columnist Ilhan Selcuk for attempting to manipulate the ongoing investigation about Ergenekon by saying that the investigation is actually intended to launch a campaign against the secular military, Korkmaz concludes by saying: "What they are actually trying to achieve by wearing a nationalist costume and pretending that they are upholding the regime and secularism is nothing else other than attempts to force Ankara to submit to Washington again."
In an article entitled "Ordo ab Chao ya Zeyl," Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak says that there are at least 40 secret organizations similar to Ergenekon and advises the government to stop "fighting mosquitoes" and attempt to destroy their breeding grounds without backing down. He says: "It is time to finish this thing off by using this opportunity. It would be a tragedy if it is missed by this or that reason."
d) Fethullah Gulen influence: In an article in Istanbul Cumhuriyet (30.03.08), Ilhan Selcuk addresses the question of whether Erdogan and Gul belong to the Fethullah Gulen group. He says that Gul's style is commensurate with the community of Gulen, while Erdogan, who tends to be more irritable, furious, and quarrelsome, does not fit the mould. Erdogan may belong to another religious sect, but the bottom line is all the same, Selcuk argues. They all belong to the Nakshibendi sect, which has "seized the Turkish Republic," he claims. Gulen has a big share in this "victory," according to Selcuk, who also suggests that Gulen acts as the most effective emissary of Christian imperialism under the roof of the Nakshibendis. Selcuk also charges that Gulen has "seized the media" in Turkey.