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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-04-04

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. 65/08 04.04.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] How the Turkish Cypriot press covered the opening of the Ledra Street
  • [02] How the Turkish press reported the opening of the Ledra Street
  • [03] Talat comments on the opening of Ledra Street
  • [04] Statements by Talat in Istanbul
  • [05] Talat met the Jewish community of Turkey in Istanbul
  • [06] Erdogan says EU not geographical entity after Malta, Cyprus entry
  • [07] EU envoys to gather in urgent meeting
  • [08] Cost of AK Party closure case to economy soaring
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [09] From the Turkish Press of 03 April 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] How the Turkish Cypriot press covered the opening of the Ledra Street

    All the local Turkish Cypriot papers (04.04.08) report extensively in their front page the opening of the Ledra Street and the subsequent welcoming statements made by ordinary people, political parties, foreign emissaries, the government etc. The papers also report about the closure for a while of the crossing when the occupation police violated the agreement reached by the sides. The papers claim that a group of Greek Cypriots holding banners demanding the opening of other crossing points wanted to cross into the occupied area and when the occupation police refused to let the protestors to cross to the occupied area, the Cyprus government closed the crossing for the pedestrians who wanted to cross into the occupied area. The papers report that after mediation by UN and the great efforts exerted by the Turkish side the crossing was opened around 23:00 hours again.

    The so-called prime minister of the self-styled regime Ferdi Sabit Soyer denied that the occupation police violated the agreement reached on the opening of the crossing.

    Papers give the news with the following titles:

    KIBRIS: At last Lokmaci

    HALKIN SESI: Provocation at the Lokmaci

    STAR KIBRIS: A bit of peace

    KIBRISLI: Opened and Closed

    VATAN: Short circuit at the Lokmaci crossing

    VOLKAN: The Greek Cypriot Administration closed the Lokmaci

    YENICAG: The wall should be brought down. Ermou (street) should be opened

    GUNES: Open- Close Game

    SOZCU: Opening gates does not solve the problem

    ORTAM: And Lokmaci is opened

    BAKIS: Open sesame open!!! (Tr. Note. The password used by Forty Robbers in a well known Turkish childrens tale to enter their den where they lived and kept their booty)

    YENIDUZEN: It is opened

    AFRIKA: Lokma lost its taste (Tr. Note Lokma is a sweet made from dough). (MHY)

    [02] How the Turkish press reported the opening of the Ledra Street

    One of the main issues in todays Turkish daily newspapers (04.04.08) is the opening of the Ledra Street gate yesterday (03.04.08) in the heart of Lefkosia:

    MILLIYET: Under the title, The Lokmaci gate was opened to peace, the paper reports that the Ledra Street gate in Lefkosia was opened after 45 years. As the paper reports, after the ribbon cut by the Mayor of Lefkosia, Mrs Mavrou and the self-styled Mayor of occupied Lefkosia, Mr Bulutoglulari, masses of people crossed to the opposite side. The paper notes that Mrs Mavrou in her speech said in Turkish, I hope that peace will be created in Cyprus. At the opening ceremony lokma sweets (a small, round, syrupy fried-cake) were offered.

    HURRIYET: Under the front-page title The Lokmaci was opened, lokma was offered the paper reports that yesterday, during a ceremony in the capital of the TRNC, Lefkosia the Ledra Street gate, which separates the Turkish and the Greek Cypriot bazaars and it is situated on the Green Line, was opened. The paper reports that the opening ceremony was realized in a festive atmosphere and that in the Turkish side lokma sweets were offered.

    RADIKAL: In its inside pages the paper reports on the issue under the title Historic day in Cyprus: The Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots made the Lokmaci Holiday. The paper reports that the symbol of division in Lefkosia became yesterday a thing of the past. At the ceremony Mr Talats advisor Ozdil Nami and Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, the Mayor of Lefkosia, Mrs Eleni Mavrou, the Mayor of occupied Lefkosia Mr Cemal Bulutoglulari, the former Greek Cypriot leader, Mr George Vasiliou, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-Generals in Cyprus, Mrs Elizabeth Spehar, UNDP official Titian Zennaro, the Turkish Ambassador to occupied Cyprus, Mr Turkekul Kurttekin and many Turkish Cypriot Ministers and Representatives. The paper reports that one hour after the ceremony 145 persons crossed from the north to south and 233 persons from south to north.

    SABAH: The paper under the title, Lokmaci was opened to peace after 45 years, reports that the Ledra Street Gate, which was closed between the TRNC and the Greek Cypriots since 1963, was opened. The paper reports that thousands of Cypriots crossed over. The paper notes that the Mayor of Lefkosia, Mrs Mavrou, in her speech said in Turkish, I hope that peace will be created in Cyprus.

    BUGUN: In its inside pages the paper reports on the issue under the title, The Lokmaci gate was opened after 45 years. The paper writes that the Ledra Street in Lefkosia, which was closed since 1963, opened yesterday with a ceremony as a pedestrian crossing. The paper notes that the Greek Cypriots were crossing to the TRNC by showing their ID cards and that this is the 5th crossing gate since 2003.

    (EA)

    [03] Talat comments on the opening of Ledra Street

    Under the title Talat says Ledra opening no big deal, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (04.04.08) reports the following:

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said opening of a crossing in the middle of Ledra Street in Nicosia was important in symbolic terms and likely to benefit Turkish Cypriot shop owners in the area, but warned against excessive expectations.

    "It is not the crossings that improve relations between two peoples; it is the political atmosphere," he told a group of journalists in Istanbul. He reminded that Turkish and Greek Cypriots flocked with excitement to first crossings opened in 2003 but lamented that in the end relations between the two communities got tenser, contrary to earlier expectations that freedom to cross to the other side freely will leave them craving for reunification.

    "One should not forget that opening more crossings may make people feel that the current situation is normal and thus deepen the division, instead of increasing readiness for reunification," he said.

    Last week, Chief of Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit also played down opening of the crossing, known as Lokmaci gate, saying it was just one of the many crossings. Buyukanit also said the Turkish military would not withdraw from the area and asserted that there would be no Turkish troop pullout from Cyprus unless a just and lasting solution is found.

    Talat backed Buyukanit when asked to comment on his remarks. "It is our quest for a just and lasting solution uttered by a military commander," he said.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.04.08) reports that Mr Talat commenting on the opening of the Ledra Street crossing said that it is a good thing to open it. It will bring economic activity both to north and to south. He went on and said that opening of the Ledra Street will not affect directly the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    [04] Statements by Talat in Istanbul

    Todays Zaman newspaper (04.04.08) publishes the following report:

    Under the title: Talat warns domestic troubles in Turkey will hurt Cyprus case.

    Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat has said he is confident that Turkish democracy will weather the current political storm but warns it will not be Turkey alone that is hurt if the infighting leaves scars.

    "Turkish democracy will get through such a crisis, I have no doubt about that. What we are concerned with is that it gets through the crisis safely; this is because we love Turkey and because, otherwise, it will have effects on Cyprus as well," Talat told a group of journalists in Istanbul.

    The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which actively supported UN-led Cyprus reunification efforts during its first term in power, is now facing a closure case at the Constitutional Court on charges of becoming a "focal point for anti-secular activities." With Ankara caught in unprecedentedly high political tension, reunification talks are resuming between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides in three months, raising concerns that Turkey will not be able to concentrate on the new process.

    "It is true that there has been a public shift in attention in Turkey," Talat said. "But state business is going on as usual. We have three months to start talks with the Greek Cypriot side. What shall we say if the closure case is not concluded by then? Shall we wait for the verdict? No, they will continue on their own track."

    Talat also said the level of communication between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and Turkey was "very good." Consultations with the president, the prime minister, the foreign minister and at the bureaucratic level are continuing, he added.

    Talat met with Dimitris Christofias, the newly elected Greek Cypriot leader, on March 21 and the two decided to restart reunification talks three months later. Meanwhile, Turkish and Greek Cypriot committees will be working together on the details of an agreement to reunite the island in preparation for the leaders' talks and on ways to facilitate day-to-day contacts between the two communities.

    The fact that Christofias pledged reunification in his election campaign and met with Talat immediately after election -- something his predecessor avoided -- renewed hopes for reunification after a UN-led drive collapsed in 2004. But questions remain as to whether the two sides' positions are reconcilable. Christofias earlier rejected Turkish demands for a loose federation of two states and for the Annan plan, the reunification blueprint rejected by the Greek Cypriots in 2004, to remain on the table for the new talks.

    No red lines in talks

    Talat carefully avoided setting "red lines" in the upcoming talks with Christofias, but said he would pick "political equality" if he was pressed to name one.

    Critics have said his March 21 meeting with Christofias initiated a process based not on the Annan plan but on the so-called July 8 process, which was launched during former Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos' term and oversaw a gradual approach to a solution through the workings of technical committees. Ankara has given a cold shoulder to the July 8 process, saying it was meant to delay comprehensive settlement efforts.

    Talat rejected criticism that the new process is like the July 8 process: "Comparing the Annan plan and the July 8 process is like comparing apples and oranges. One is a plan for settlement, the other is a process." He admitted there were similarities in the new process with the July 8 process but underlined that they were very different as well. "We have a timetable here now; committees must wrap up their work in three months. We did not have this in the July 8 process."

    Asked whether the Annan plan would be on the table in new talks, he said it would not be on the table per se but that its elements would be discussed. "It will not be on the table, but it will certainly be on my chair," he said.

    Responding to concerns that the renewed Greek Cypriot desire for talks could merely be a drive to repair an image tarnished by Papadopoulos' uncompromising stance, he said too much would be lost if the Greek Cypriot side returns to Papadopoulos' position. "There would be much disappointment, not only in Cyprus but also in the international community. The UN will not commit itself to solution efforts if this effort also fails. Therefore, I believe it is more than just an image campaign," Talat said. Asked whether he was hopeful for the talks, he said there were "suitable conditions" for a solution.

    The UN will take an active role in the new process and will appoint a new Cyprus envoy in three months, he said. The Turkish Cypriot leader also urged the European Union to work on easing the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, saying steps to lift the Turkish Cypriot isolation are not an alternative to reunification efforts.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (04.04.08) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat speaking to a group of journalists in Istanbul said: The conditions are favourable for a settlement and we will fulfil our responsibilities.

    When asked whether the Annan plan will be on the negotiation table Mr. Talat said: Yes, the Annan Plan will be on the negotiation table. It will be at least in my armpit.

    When asked how the red lines of the Greek Cypriot side will be overcome Mr. Talat replied: Do they not accept Turkeys guarantorship? As far as you are concerned is this a red line? In that case they should not sit around the negotiation table and since they are sitting, then this means that it is not. How many troops will stay in the island, and when will they be withdrawn, will be discussed on the negotiation table more than Turkeys guarantorship. Even if the provisions and the arrangements of the Annan Plan will not be officially on the negotiation table. I will personally bring them up. So eventually it will be on the table.

    (MHY)

    [05] Talat met the Jewish community of Turkey in Istanbul

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (03.04.08) reported the following from Istanbul: President Mehmet Ali Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said Thursday the conditions are "quite appropriate" for solution of Cyprus question, and TRNC will fulfil its responsibilities.

    Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Talat said when the ideology of new Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias is assessed, it is seen that he also wants unification of the island.

    Talat added that Kosovo's declaration of its independence also affected the results of Greek Cypriot elections as well as efforts to find a solution to Cyprus problem.

    "It is certain that Kosovo has speeded up the peace process in Cyprus," Talat said.

    He also noted that Turkey's restrictions against the Greek Cypriot administration will not change before isolation of TRNC is lifted.

    Talat said three separate working groups are still assessing all aspects of the Cyprus issue, and they will present their evaluations both to Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders three months later. "Then, the talks will start," he added. Talat then met Jewish community representatives over luncheon which was closed to press.

    [06] Erdogan says EU not geographical entity after Malta, Cyprus entry

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (03.04.08) reports the following:

    Some countries are EU members although they are not located inside the geographical borders of Europe, Turkish Premier said on Thursday.

    Addressing Turkish and Swedish businessmen in Stockholm, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that EU should decide whether it was a geographical, cultural, religious or political union.

    Erdogan said EU could have an embracing structure by being a political, social or economic union. He also said EU could not be defined in the geographical sense anymore, especially after it accepted Malta and Cyprus as members.

    Sweden's taking over EU's rotating presidency in the second half of 2008 would speed up Turkey's membership process, Turkish prime minister added.

    Erdogan called on Swedish businessmen to invest in Turkey as well.

    Commenting on the privatization projects in Turkey, Erdogan said the country's privatization program would be over in the near future.

    Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (04.04.08) reports that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after meeting his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt held a press conference in Stockholm and said that during the negotiations in the EU Turkey is facing the Cyprus issue. He claimed that this was an unfair action and that Turkey as a guarantor state supports a settlement in Cyprus. Referring to the opening of the Ledra street crossing Mr. Erdogan said: The TRNC will continue to be ahead one step understanding.

    (MHY)

    [07] EU envoys to gather in urgent meeting

    Under the above title Turkish Daily News newspaper (04.04.08) reports the following:

    The ambassadors to Ankara from European Union countries will come together today for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the closure case against the ruling party and its effects on Turkey's negotiations with the bloc.

    It's a delicate moment we have to monitor, an ambassador of a EU country, told the Turkish Daily News yesterday, on the condition of anonymity.

    The ambassadors' meeting comes days ahead of the April 10 visit to Ankara of two high-ranking EU officials', Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EU Commission and Olli Rehn, the commissioner responsible for enlargement. Barroso and Rehn's trip coincides with the deep political crisis in the country, a candidate to join the 27-member bloc.

    An official trial process began with the Constitutional Court's unanimous decision to hear the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the chief prosecutor's request to disband the party and ban 71 members of the party from politics for five years on charges of being a focal point of anti-secular activities. Turkey fears negotiations will be halted if the court rules for the disbandment of the AKP.

    You know our position to support Turkey with regard to its EU membership. It's a very typical Turkish situation, to be honest; I am not surprised [with the court's decision to accept to hear the case]. We'll see what will happen, the ambassador said.

    When asked whether the court's ruling to shut down the AKP would result in the suspension of negotiations with the EU, the ambassador said, It is impossible to say now how the reaction will be in the future. It is too early.

    Suspension requires majority

    The fifth principle of the EU negotiating framework on Turkey, adopted in October 2005, stipulates that in the case of a serious and persistent breach in Turkey of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law on which the Union is founded, the Commission will, on its own initiative or on the request of one-third of its member states, recommend the suspension of negotiations and propose the conditions for eventual resumption. The Council will decide by qualified majority on such a recommendation, after having heard Turkey, whether to suspend the negotiations and on the conditions for their resumption. The member states will act in the Intergovernmental Conference in accordance with the Council decision, without prejudice to the general requirement for unanimity in the Intergovernmental Conference. The European Parliament will be informed, it reads.

    There is good news too

    But not all diplomats in Ankara are so pessimistic. There is some good news too, another top EU diplomat told the TDN yesterday, on the condition of anonymity. The opening of the Lokmaci passage [Ledra Street crossing in Nicosia, Cyprus] is one of them. But more precisely, it is the prime minister's statement that Parliament will amend Article 301, the diplomat said. This infamous article of the Turkish penal code, which limits the freedom of expression, has become one of the most important issues in Turkey's negotiations with the EU.

    The same diplomat highlighted that it was too early to talk about suspension of negotiations and instead it was time to encourage Turkey for more reforms.

    [08] Cost of AK Party closure case to economy soaring

    Under the above title Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (04.04.08) reports the following:

    Turkeys economy is rapidly descending into a state of havoc as a consequence of tension triggered by the opening of a closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

    In the one week following the move by the Supreme Court of Appeals chief prosecutor, $6 billion of foreign capital simply vacated the country, heading for less risky markets and leaving the Turkish market more vulnerable. The latest blow came yesterday evening when international credit rating company Standard & Poors (S&P) announced it had left Turkeys credit rating unchanged, while switching its outlook from stable to negative, and when the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) revealed inflation was higher than the expected rate. The monthly change in the producer price index (PPI) was 3.17 percent in February and the consumer price index climbed by 0.96 percent.

    In a written statement, S&P confirmed Turkey's rating at BB (-) for long-term foreign currency borrowings and at BB for long-term domestic currency borrowings. It said the economic outlook was changed to negative due to tension in the political environment and the increasing risks in the global economy. It said the economic outlook was changed to negative due to tension in the political environment and the increasing risks in the global economy.

    Following the S&P statement, the benchmark index of the Istanbul Stock Exchange 0MKB-100 dropped sharply and closed the day at 10,160.13 points, a decline of 2.01 percent. By the time the news came, it was in a rallying move and was up by more than 1 percent.

    In addition to gloomy news from S&P, the negative mood in the markets was intensified by the inflation figures. The monthly change in the producer price index (PPI) was 3.17 percent in February, excessively higher than the expected 1.23 percent. The consumer price index (CPI) also climbed in February by 0.96 percent. The market was expecting to see only a 0.66 percent increase in the CPI. With these figures, annual inflation has surpassed the 10 percent level in PPI after a long period of single-digit levels. The CPI, meanwhile, rose to 9.15 percent.

    Following the statement from S&P and TurkStat, the currency market was also shaken up. In a recovery from the past week's losses, the dollar hit YTL 1.31 once more. Analysts fear Turkey's top court may take months to decide the case and that estimates of key economic indicators, ranging from current account deficit to interest rates, will have to be revised as the political environment deteriorates.

    Increased political uncertainty will directly influence both foreign direct investment and domestic investment negatively and dent economic growth rates, they say. HSBC strategist Fatih Keresteci said the incessant flow of bad news was creating increasing pressure on the financial markets. Bear Stearns economist Tim Ash also weighed in on the recent developments, saying the news of the inflation and credit rating was negative. "All these are decreasing the chances for the [Turkish] Central Bank to cut the interest rates. If the tendency of devaluation continues for the YTL, the bank may have to increase the rates," he noted.

    Analysts fear the case will bring key reforms to a halt. "If it becomes clear that political uncertainty will drag into the end of the year, we will cut our growth projection to a range of 3-4 percent," said Garanti Bank's chief economist Pelin Yenigun Dilek. The bank has been projecting 4 percent growth.


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [09] From the Turkish Press of 03 April 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 3 April:

    a) Closure Case Against AKP: A report in Ortadogu relates the views expressed by former deputy and jurist Mustafa Kamalak, who represented the Welfare and Virtue Parties in the previous closure cases filed against them by the Constitutional Court, regarding the current closure case against the Justice and Development Party, AKP. According to Kamalak, "one does not have to be a prophet to guess the outcome of the case against the ruling party. Kamalak adds: "If the Constitution is not amended, history will repeat itself. The AKP will receive its certificate of burial in six months."

    Describing the change in the country between the years of 2004 and 2007 as a "tale of wealth" in an article in the Turkish Daily News, Mehmet Ali Birand views the current state of affairs in the country as "the collective destruction of a nice dream." Likening both the government and the opposition to "elephants in a china shop," Birand argues that a great part of the accusations against the AKP are nothing but remarks made here and there by the party leader and his close circle and warns against the habit of too much talk.

    According to a report by Onder Yilmaz in Milliyet, the AKP will be pursuing several paths to counter the closure case. In line with the "road map" adopted by the party's Central Executive Council meeting, the AKP will proceed with the constitutional amendments as well as the EU reforms. According to the report, "the Ecevit formula" that had first been raised during the closure case filed against Felicity Party in 2000 is again on the agenda.

    A report by Bulent Sarioglu in Hurriyet details the defence being prepared by the AKP Committee being headed by Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek. According to the report, the defence will focus on the "mistakes" and "contradictions" in the indictment.

    Describing what kind of a country we might expect in the event the AKP is closed and replaced by another party his article in Milliyet, Taha Akyol predicts trouble with a weak government and the withdrawal of foreign investment. Welcoming the recent messages conveyed by Prime Minister Erdogan advocating moderation during the party's parliamentary faction meeting, Akyol finds most appropriate the exclusion of calls for a referendum from the prime minister's speech. He advises Erdogan to implement the "Koksal Model" that calls for a "cabinet revision," to go ahead with the EU reforms, and to assure the public that the headdress will not enter primary and secondary schools.

    Focusing on the proposal put forth by civil society organizations for a meeting between the prime minister and the leader of the main opposition party as a way out of the crisis in an article in Milliyet, Fikret Bila relates the reaction of CHP leader Deniz Baykal's views on the issue. Baykal believes that there is an error of judgment and diagnosis in this proposal. The diagnostic error is based on the fact that the crisis did not stem from a friction between the two leaders but from a friction between the prime minister and the Constitution. As for the error of judgment, Baykal questions how a meeting between the prime minister and himself can help solve the problem unless he decides to change his views on the issue of secularism. Finally, Baykal calls on the EU to well diagnose and understand the problem, saying: "The issue is the principle of secularism. If there is no secularism, there is no democracy. Europe should not forget this fact. If you turn a blind eye to the destruction of secularism thinking that you are safeguarding democracy, then you might lose democracy."

    Criticizing the statements being issued by EU officials regarding the closure case his article in Milliyet, Melih Asik questions how EU's Rehn thinks that the case has no legal ground while even the AKP believes that there is a case, as understood from its attempts to amend the Constitution. Referring to the threats being made by EU officials that the accession talks will be suspended, Asik asks whether the EU commissioners were not aware that the talks were anyway locked because of the Cyprus issue. The writer further stresses the double standard of the EU, which on one hand insists on the independence of the judiciary, and, on the other, tries to put pressure on the Turkish judiciary through its threats.

    Concentrating on the domestic reaction to the EU view that the closure case is a coup process violating democracy, Milliyet's Hasan Cemal says that this development has pleased those against the accession. Arguing that one of the goals of those who initiated the "judicial coup process" was to poison Turkey's relations with the EU, Cemal goes on to censure the circles in the country that want the EU to take the special circumstances in Turkey into consideration with regards to the accession process. Pointing out that widening the criteria for closing down parties to include acts against secularism, the PKK problem, and the Cyprus issue are among the special conditions which these circles want the EU to accept in the accession process, Cemal warns these circles: "We should be aware that the threat of secessionism and radical Islam will grow in a Turkey that has run away from democracy and that has turned its back on the EU."

    Under the banner headline, "Not with this board," Vakit publishes a front-page report which asserts that the 11 members of the Constitutional Court are being accused of prejudice and that there are calls for a new board of justices to be appointed to hear the closure case against the AKP. Published along with the report is a cartoon showing a "militant judicial thingummy" walking arm in arm with a pregnant Lady Justice. The implication is that Turkey's "militant" judiciary has raped justice in starting closure proceedings against the AKP.

    In an article entitled "Do Not Put the People off Democracy", Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay relates how he told a "foreign colleague" who asked him whether the Constitutional Court's decision to hear the closure case against the AKP might signal events in Turkey similar to those that took place in Algeria in 1992 that no parallels could be justifiably drawn between Turkey and Algeria because although coups have taken place in Turkey ever since 1950, the "multi-party democratic system" has never been actually abandoned. Sahin also asserts that a military takeover in Turkey today is a very remote possibility and that "nobody in their right minds would have any reason to suspect that a coup would be the beginning of the end for the Republic of Turkey as we know it."

    In an article entitled "The 1982 Constitution is Worse Than the Detention Center in Guantanamo", Milli Gazete columnist Suleyman Arif Emre argues that Turkey could ride out its current political crises only by drafting a new constitution. He claims that the 1982 Constitution includes provisions that leave it to the discretion of a single person to decide the fate of a ruling party, make nonsense of the national will by allowing courts to "punish voters en masse" by closing down political parties, ban MPs from politics without lifting their parliamentary immunity, etc.

    b) Discussion on Islam: According to a report in Cumhuriyet, the Advertisement Council affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Trade has decided to impose a fine of 60,000 Turkish Lira on Pepsi Cola for rejecting photos of women with headscarf in its advertisement campaign. The report adds that the Council has also decided to stop the Pepsi Cola campaign.

    Pointing out that Islam is not a religion of hatred and violence in an editorial in the Turkish Daily News, Yusuf Kanli writes that Muslims all around the world should "understand that by cultivating and nourishing a culture of hatred, vengeance and violence they can only ruin the good image of Islam and achieve nothing further than more violence, hatred and thus more suffering by the Muslim people."

    In an article entitled "This is the Way the Cookie Crumbles in This Country", Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru asserts that the closure lawsuit against the AKP is aimed at "undoing" everything the Erdogan government has done since the 22 July elections including the ending of the headscarf ban at universities through amendments to two articles of the Constitution and the election of Abdullah Gul as president.

    In an article entitled "There is No Difference Between Secular and Pious People Who are in a Frenzy", Vakit columnist Selahaddin Cakirgil criticizes the mass killings in Iraq committed "in the name of Islam" and asserts that there is no difference between the secularist groups that are resorting to "intrigues against the national will" in their bid to shut down the AKP and the "devout" groups in Iraq that are staging bomb attacks against non-combatants for the sake of "jihad."

    In an article entitled "Al-Qaida Planned To Attack Police with Truck Bomb" asserts that a recent police operation against Al-Qaida elements in Istanbul, Gaziantep, Konya, and Hatay has revealed plans by the terrorist group to stage "sensational" bomb attacks against security forces in retaliation for the police raid against an Al-Qaida safe house on 24 January, 2008.

    In an article entitled "Turkey Needs Democratic Resolve Now", Today's Zaman columnist Ibrahim Kalin underlines the need for the government to show "democratic resolve against a judiciary that interprets laws [so as] to protect its own narrow definition of a secularist state." He also argues that "the scenario of the phoenix rising from its ashes [Erdogan staging a strong comeback after his party has been closed down] overlooks a major point: Who will pay the heavy price of political chaos ..."

    According to a front-page report entitled "Presidency of Religious Affairs Reacts to Dutch Politician's Film: End Fitna Immediately," the Presidency of Religious Affairs has issued a statement saying that Geert Wilders' film Fitna amounts to an act of provocation intended to "represent Muslims as potential terrorists."

    c) NATO summit: In an article entitled "The NATO Summit and Consequences for Turkey", Yeni Safak columnist Akif Emre takes issue with the argument that NATO could be disbanded soon. He asserts that to interpret NATO members' reluctance to commit combat troops to Afghanistan as meaning that the common interests that hold NATO together have weakened would be to fail to realize the distinction between US interests and the function of this "only remaining global military organization." He also cites "the post-modern coup processes in Turkey" as proof of how "the only Muslim member of NATO" has been at the receiving end of the new NATO concept formed in the wake of the Cold War.

    In an article entitled "A Suicide Bomber and a Nuclear Briefcase", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul ponders the question of why NATO, "the sole global security organization in the world," should convene to discuss nuclear weapons and strikes, against which country it could be planning to use nuclear weapons, why it should feel the need to use nuclear force, and which NATO members face a nuclear threat. He also claims that the global players that are trying to touch off a "four-day war" could get "a Pakistani youth to explode a football-sized nuclear bomb somewhere" or have other "proxies" carry out a chemical attack against a Western country.

    In an article entitled "The NATO Summit", Vakit columnist Ahmet Varol refers to the latest NATO summit as a bid by "US imperialism" to "renew its strength," adding that faced with a resistance in Afghanistan and Iraq that has hurt its international image, the United States wants to use the power of NATO as a means of rendering its "military intimidation policy" effective once again.

    ES/


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