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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-04-15

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. 72/08 15.04.08

  • [01] Talat and Avci accuse President Christofias
  • [02] Delegations from occupied Cyprus to hold contacts in Strasbourg and Brussels
  • [03] The efforts for harmonizing the TRNC with the acquis communautaire of the EU continue today
  • [04] Reference to Cyprus by Babacan in London
  • [05] Turkeys Assembly Speaker: China has similar views with Turkey on the Cyprus issue
  • [06] Turkish high-ranking commander urges Turkey to develop bilateral relations with China
  • [07] Tension was experienced between nationalists and Turkish Cypriots during discussion of the change in the name of Caglayan Park into Ankara Caglayan Park
  • [08] DP official against the disengagement in Nicosia
  • [09] Activities of the illegal universities in the international field
  • [10] More illegal migrants from Syria were arrested in the occupied areas
  • [11] Turkish Parliament Speaker to visit Slovenia and Germany for contacts
  • [12] New spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry
  • [13] FYROM bureaucrats to be trained at Turkish parliament
  • [14] Orams 2: Weedons to fight South ruling on Karaman house
  • [15] Talat must tell expats where they stand BRS
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [16] Why I wont give up my Swiss residency for a place in the TRNC sun
  • [17] Turkey, Russia begin to overcome military distrust
  • [18] From the Turkish Press of 14 April 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat and Avci accuse President Christofias

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (15.04.08), under the title Christofias must give account for his sins, reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has made tough statements for President Christofias.

    Talking to the illegal Bayrak television and the illegal TAK news agency, Mr Talat alleged:

    Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side, especially since the preparatory work for the comprehensive UN solution plan, have exerted a great effort for the solution of the Cyprus problem and there is no need to prove this.

    Mr Talat claimed that in the beginning President Christofias was approaching positively the solution plan, but afterwards he changed his approach and carried out a campaign for its rejection. Therefore, he added, the Greek Cypriot side is the one which should prove that it wants a solution, not Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side.

    He alleged that President Christofias tries to be purified from his sins by wanting others to do what he should do. Mr Talat added:

    I believe that first he must give account for his sins. They should explain the reasons of rejecting the plan after deceiving the UN, the whole world for months, for years by saying that they would vote yes to the plan, by creating this image until the last day and changing policy the last day. Furthermore, today he should prove that he changed his policies since then and that they want a solution.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (15.04.08) covers Mr Talats statements under the title Christofias statements poison the climate and reports that Mr Talat reacted strongly to the accusations against Turkey by President Christofias who spoke like Papadopoulos. He claimed that statements which accuse Turkey serve no other purpose than poisoning the climate.

    Mr Talat said: Furthermore, if such approaches are repeated knowing that they are obviously wrong and false, the fact that Turkey, which is undoubtedly an important actor both for the Turkish Cypriot people and the solution of the Cyprus problem, will be offended and even angry, should not be ignored. The paper notes that Mr Talat was responding to the statement by President Christofias that Turkey should change its policy in Cyprus.

    Kibris reports that Turgay Avci, self-styled minister of foreign affairs reacted also to the statements by President Christofias. In a written statement, Mr Avci alleged that Turkey is on the island in order to prevent the unification with Greece and the bloodshed within the framework of the rights and the responsibilities given to it with international agreements.

    On the same issue, under the title in the world news pages, Christofias creates crisis over Turkey, Turkish daily Radikal newspaper (15.04.08) reports that the optimism created with the meeting of the March 21st, is evaporating by President Demetris Christofias who aims at Turkey. As the paper reports, Mr Christofias stated: The road to the solution will not be able to open without the occupation and the colonialism ending, without Ankara changing policy and the Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat replied: You are poisoning the atmosphere. The one who has to prove that it wants a solution is the Greek Cypriot side.

    Yesterday Mr Christofias told the UN and the EU: In order to change the policy of Cyprus the attention must turn to Turkey. If the policy of Ankara does not change the way to the solution will not be able to open. The solution must envisage ending of the occupation and the colonisation and demilitarisation.

    The paper continues under the subtitle, Talat: Christofias must confess his fault and reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader stated: Let the lesson that the Turkish Cypriots gave to the world with the support of Turkey not be forgotten. Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey do need to be convinced. If there was not Turkeys support this accomplishment could not happen. Turkey supported the solution openly. The one who has to show its will for solution is the Greek Cypriot side. Mr Talat added: First he [Christofias] has to give an explanation for his faults. They must explain the reason why they deceived the UN and the world for years that they will support the Annan Plan and on the last day they rejected it. They have to prove that they have changed policy since then.

    The paper concludes that yesterday the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan visited one of Cyprus guarantor countries, the UK and held a meeting with his English counterpart David Miliband. He also had a surprise meeting with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

    (I/Ts.-E/A)

    [02] Delegations from occupied Cyprus to hold contacts in Strasbourg and Brussels

    Illegal Bayrak television (14.04.08) broadcast the following:

    The Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europes Parliamentary Assembly is discussing the Cyprus problem. A TRNC Parliamentary Delegation is in Strasbourg to attend the meeting of the Committee.

    Meanwhile, another TRNC delegation is in Strasbourg to attend the group meetings of the European Parliament. The delegation will also meet with members of the European Parliament and the High Level Contact Group.

    [03] The efforts for harmonizing the TRNC with the acquis communautaire of the EU continue today

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (15.04.08) reports that the efforts for harmonizing the TRNC with the acquis communautaire of the EU continue today with a presentation under the heading of statistics. The presentation will be carried out by EU officials and will end on 17 April. Personnel of ministries are related with statistics will attend the presentation. The situation in the occupied areas will be examined and a report will be prepared for the EU after the end of the presentation.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Reference to Cyprus by Babacan in London

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (15.04.08) reports that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Babacan has said that the solution in Cyprus should be on the basis of the parameters of the UN and a result by which both sides will win should be reached. In statements yesterday in London during his meeting with his British counterpart, David Miliband, Mr Babacan noted that they have a new hope on the issue of the solution in the island and added that after the elections in the Republic of Cyprus the positive and constructive efforts for the solution continue.

    Mr Miliband said that a new opportunity for a solution has been created and they think that this is very important. He noted that the Christofias Talat meetings are important and the UN will play an important role in the process.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Turkeys Assembly Speaker: China has similar views with Turkey on the Cyprus issue

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (14.04.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan held a news conference on Monday at Turkish parliament about his visits to several countries.Toptan told reporters he paid a visit to China between April 5th and 11th at the invitation of Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the country and he held several fruitful talks there.I believe that trade volume between Turkey and China should be improved, he said.

    China supported Turkey's candidacy for a nonpermanent seat at the UN Security Council in 2009-2010 period and the country has similar views with Turkey on the Cyprus issue, he said.

    [06] Turkish high-ranking commander urges Turkey to develop bilateral relations with China

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (14.04.08) reported the following from Beijin:

    Turkish Air Forces Commander met Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie in Beijin on Monday.

    Turkish Gen. Aydogan Babaoglu said that Turkey wants to increase high-level visits between the two countries and further develop the bilateral relations.Guanglie said that Turkey, which is located between Asia and Europe, is important for the region. Guanglie thanked Turkey for the support it extended to China in its efforts to protect territorial integrity.

    Gen. Babaoglu also met Chinese Air Forces Commander Gen. Ji Jiliang. He will depart from China on April 17th.

    [07] Tension was experienced between nationalists and Turkish Cypriots during discussion of the change in the name of Caglayan Park into Ankara Caglayan Park

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (15.04.08) reports that yesterday tension was experienced between nationalists and Turkish Cypriots supporting the Cypriot identity during the meeting of the municipal council of the occupied part of Nicosia for the discussion of the change in the name of Caglayan Park into Ankara Caglayan Park. The paper reports that when a person named Huseyin Alasya, former member of the TMT organization, called Nicosia Lefkose, the name by which the Turks from Turkey call it, a Turkish Cypriot from the public which was following the meeting said that the name of the city is Lefkosa, the name used by the Turkish Cypriots, and not Lefkose.

    After this, Alasya attacked the Turkish Cypriot and punched him saying that you will get used to it, after this it will be in this manner. The members of the council who come from the National Unity Party and the Democratic Party opposed to the demand of giving the park back its former name i.e. Caglayan Park. The mayor, Cemal Bulutoglulari decided to hold a voting behind closed doors on the issue. The name of Ankara Caglayan Park prevailed with 11 votes against 8. The members of the municipal council who come from the Republican Turkish Party and the Social Democrat Party abandoned the meeting in order to protest for the decision.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] DP official against the disengagement in Nicosia

    Turkish Cypriot daily Bakis newspaper (15.04.08) reports that Mehmet Tancer, MP with the Democratic Party (DP), has argued that the disengagement of the area in the walls of Nicosia is a game of the Greek Cypriots to abolish the TRNC. In a statement yesterday Mr Tancer alleged that in case the army withdraws from the area, Greek Cypriot soldiers wearing civilian clothes and holding weapons will be able to enter into the occupied part of the city. Who can guarantee that these civilian military units will not harm our people, he wondered. He argued that disengagement could take place only after the permanent solution of the Cyprus problem.

    (I/Ts.)

    [09] Activities of the illegal universities in the international field

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (15.04.08) publishes an advertisement by the illegal European University of Lefka (LAU) which says that the LAU is giving The University of Warwick Degree. The degree is full time master in Engineering Business Management. The course will be taught by WMG, the University of Warwick.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (15.04.08) reports that the students unions of the illegal Near East University and the illegal American University of Keryneia have become members of the International Association of Political Science Students (IAPSS). The Cyprus representative of the Erasmus Students Network and chairman of the Students Organizations, Moner Murtaja issued a statement noting that this development is important and pointed out that the illegal Eastern Mediterranean University is already member of the IAPSS.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] More illegal migrants from Syria were arrested in the occupied areas

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (15.04.08) reports that the police have arrested 50 illegal migrants from Syria who had been brought to the Golden Sand Beach in the occupied area of Karpass after paying from 1,000 to 2,400 US dollars each.

    The operation of the police ended yesterday, notes that paper adding that the illegal migrants wanted to cross over to the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus. The migrants, the age of whose varies between 15 and 42, were taken yesterday to the self-styled court in occupied Famagusta, which ordered them to remain under custody for three days.

    (I/Ts.)

    [11] Turkish Parliament Speaker to visit Slovenia and Germany for contacts

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (14.04.08) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkey's Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan left Ankara, the Turkish capital, for Slovenia on Monday.

    Toptan will pay a formal visit to Slovenia at invitation from France Cukjati, the president of the Slovenian National Assembly. Toptan and Cukjati will hold a press conference after a meeting on Tuesday.

    After holding formal talks in this country, Toptan will proceed to Germany on Wednesday and meet president of the North Rhine Westphalia State Parliament in Dusseldorf. Toptan and accompanying delegation will return to Turkey on Thursday.

    [12] New spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (15.04.08) reports that Burak Ozugergin was appointed to be the spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

    He served as the head of the European Union Political Affairs Department at the ministry. He received his masters degree at John Hopkins University in the United States and he is about to obtain his doctorate degree in international law. Previously, he served in London and in New York. He replaces Levent Bilman who was appointed to New Delhi as an ambassador.

    [13] FYROM bureaucrats to be trained at Turkish parliament

    Turkish daily The New Anatolian newspaper (14.04.08) reported that bureaucrats from FYROMs parliament will take legislative courses at the Turkish parliament.

    The courses will be held within the scope of "program on information and experience sharing in field of legislation".

    The program was undertaken jointly by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency and the Turkish Association of Legislation.

    The training, which will cover basic concepts, institutions, techniques and process of law making as well as parliamentarian supervision, will continue for five days.

    [14] Orams 2: Weedons to fight South ruling on Karaman house

    Under the above title Turkish Cypriot Cyprus Today weekly newspaper (12-18.04.08) reports the following:

    A British couple is to fight a South Cyprus court ruling ordering them to pay 194,000 euros compensation to a Greek Cypriot who owned their Karaman house before 1974.

    The Souths Nicosia District Court ordered Bruce and Barbara Weedon who were not present at the hearing last Thursday to pay the money to Vasiliki Zehiri.

    Mr and Mrs Weedon live in a village near Canterbury, Kent and use the Karaman house for holidays.

    Senior District Judge of Nicosia Nicolas Santis said: From 1999, the defendants have been violating and illegally intervening in the plaintiffs property in Karmi [Karaman], fully aware of the crime they are committing and taking advantage of the situation that prevails in Cyprus due to the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation. When she [Mrs Zehiri] visited her home in Karmi with her daughter the defendants chased them away, shouting and threatening her. The defendants have complete disregard of the plaintiffs human right to her property. With their behavior they have caused her tremendous suffering, pain and grief, personal embarrassment, concern, sadness and anxiety.

    He said that bearing this in mind, he was awarding Mrs Zehiri 100,000 euros for the violation of her property rights and a further 94,000 for an illegal intervention in her property.

    The court heard that following the opening of border crossing points in 2003, Mrs Zehiri had visited her former home and had three verbal confrontations with the Weedons.

    However, Mr Weedon, a 67-year-old former insurance agent, told Cyprus Today:

    Im pretty sure the woman making the claim was among a group which just turned up and asked if they could take stones from one of our walls in Karaman as souvenirs because their family had lived there.

    I declined to let them do so because the wall was built after 1974 and therefore had nothing to do with anyone who might have lived there before that.

    They then said they would have the house back in two years and that we would then be out on the street.

    Over the eight years we have had the house, we have had several approaches from Greek Cypriots. They seem to have forgotten that Karaman now is nothing like the derelict and already deserted place they left, or that Turkish Cypriots were forced to leave their homes in the South.

    People like us who have leased houses in Karaman from the TRNC Economy and Tourism Ministry have made enormous improvements while respecting the original architecture and history.

    A senior Turkish Cypriot lawyer told Cyprus Today: The most likely course of events is that lawyers representing Mr and Mrs Weedon will go to [South] Nicosia District Court to have the verdict set aside on the basis of a default judgment because the Weedons were not served with a writ requiring their presence and therefore had no opportunity to have their situation defended.

    He said the Weedons case would probably follow the same path as that of Linda and David Orams, who have found themselves caught up in a long-running international legal battle over property rights in North Cyprus.

    Their case is now before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and could take more than a year to resolve, with most of the time being taken up with lobbying of judges by both sides. The actual hearing of the ECJ in Luxembourg, when it takes place, is expected to be restricted to a 30-minute summary presentation by both sides, possibly to judges from each of the EU member states, expect Cyprus.

    The Oramses who like the Weedons are retired face claims that the one-donum plot of exchange (esdeger) land where their villa stands in Lapta [occupied Lapithos] still belongs to Greek Cypriot Meletios Apostolides.

    They invested about 170,000 in buying the plot from its Turkish Cypriot owner and completing their village with its swimming pool. Like Mrs Zehiri in the Weedons case, however, Mr Apostolides won a South Nicosia court judgment proclaiming him the true owner.

    [15] Talat must tell expats where they stand BRS

    Under the above title Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Today newspaper (12-18.04.08) reports the following by Ian Shepherd and Gamze Genc:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat must act to address the concerns of the 10,000 or so expats living in North Cyprus, the outgoing leader of the British Residents Society has urged.

    Mike Maternaghan said it was particularly important expats knew where they stood in the event of any settlement agreed with the Greek Cypriots.

    But he also raised concerns about the extra charges borne by foreigners living in the TRNC and the continuing saga of property issues and procedures.

    I believe there will be at least three major issues to concern us in the forthcoming year, Mr Maternaghan told the annual general meeting of the BRS.

    On a possible settlement, it is important we seek from the President and his negotiators an understanding of where we stand along with other sections of the community in the TRNC. The authorities have been happy to accept us some 10,000, I believe and for the economy to benefit from us. We are here and, I am sure, intend to stay, so we must find out their intentions.

    Concerning the status of expats, I am becoming increasingly concerned. It would appear that in many areas there is discrimination. Examples of this are connection charges for electricity, water and telephone services to properties where foreign nationals are charged extra. Why?

    I know the party line is that we might run away and not pay, but I hardly think that is realistic when you have just paid perhaps more than 100,000 for a house or flat here.

    Mr Maternaghan, who stepped down as acting chairman of the BRS, added: I am also very disappointed at the recently announced changes to permanent residency rules and to that end I must say at this moment, we have failed you I think the issue needs further discussion with the relevant authorities.

    From 2010, permanent residents will have to re-register their permanent status with the authorities every two years in January or February.

    People can apply for permanent residency after five yeas as temporary residents, as long as they have not left the country for more than three months in any year. Once permanent residents, they can leave the country for up to six months in any 12-month period.

    The government says that foreign residents must have a source of income to guarantee their family and their own life in the TRNC rather than become a burden on the government. It also states that if foreign residents fall on hard times and cannot afford to live in North Cyprus their permanent residency status could be cancelled. A spokesman for the government refused to put a figure on what is deemed suitable to survive in the TRNC.

    People who have held a work permit in the TRNC for 10 years in succession will also be entitled to permanent residency.

    A major concern for expats living in North Cyprus surrounds property purchases.

    In calling for a complete overhaul of the procedure for buying homes in the TRNC, Mr Maternaghan said: Why is it taking up to three years and more for permission to purchase to be granted? This is completely unacceptable and should be reduced to three months and then start the overhaul from there. It should only take a couple of months to sort out.

    I calculate that if all permissions pending were passed this would bring in an estimated 27.5 million in tax rather more than fining motorists for not having a first aid box in their car.


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [16] Why I wont give up my Swiss residency for a place in the TRNC sun

    Under the above title Turkish Cypriot Cyprus Today weekly newspaper (12-18.04.08) publishes the following letter in the column Views Letters:

    For the past six years I have been a 90-day annual visitor to the TRNC. Because of my fathers fear of possible retribution, I am writing candidly exactly how I feel and what he, like many others, must be thinking.

    Once again the residency requirement goalposts were moved, that is unless like all other laws on this island you happen to know someone who has a cousin in the right place who, for special favors, will be willing to go into the back room for Turkish coffee to enable an exception to be made. It appears that although the island prefers attracting retirees they actually expect prospective residents to cut all ties to their home country, their families, their friends, their health needs etc to avoid being out of the TRNC longer than 90 days annually. Most that have not severed ties have business interests as well as commitments to loved ones, and for many of the elderly it is just too damned hot to suffer a long summer with water shortages and power cuts.

    Unlike most European countries, during periods of absence one is required to pay the full amount of road tax, car insurance, standing charges for water, electricity, community charges etc, thus departure for longer periods is financially more advantageous to the TRNC than to persons spending quality time abroad.

    In my estimation this government prefers people to buy only holiday homes and stay only for brief periods in order to employ garden maintenance crews, pool services, subsidise muhtars, the various registration offices, water, electricity, road tax etc, for services some use perhaps only three or four months annually but are charged as if they receive the service for the entire 12 months.

    The new residency requirements are shamefully unworthy coming from a country one is led to believe is family orientated. The new law is unfair and inhumane, especially considering how this country always seems to be preoccupied with human rights. One considers oneself extremely fortunate if one has not been ripped off by builders, estate agents and/or lawyers. Only after waiting years to finally move into ones dream home does one realize the dream has been ruined with the building of flats, discos, 24/7 kebab dives and even factories nearly in the back garden, totally spoiling all hope of the beauty and tranquility once sought. Oh yes, one mustnt forget the age of the car which one is allowed to import, along with totally ridiculous import and first registration fees imposed to protect big brothers interests.

    Only after enduring all the above, wasting lots of time and loads of cash, does one finally end up having ones passport stamped VISITOR! Why not temporary resident?

    In all of the 39 countries I have been fortunate enough to visit, visitors are considered to be guests, not suckers to be milked till they bleed by continual charges and additional taxes. One should ask who really gives a monkeys bum about obtaining a permanent residence permit from an unrecognized rogue state to begin with and once obtained will it improve your quality of life? I doubt it!

    After numerous visits to the TRNC, I too had considered moving here, however introduction of new residency requirements would mean I would lose my Swiss residence by not being physically present at least 185 days annually, and of course no-one can be certain what the future holds in the TRNC. Fortunately salvation for those who feel their money has been squandered might be around the corner, should the island be reunited to become a member of the European Union. When that day arrives most of the visitors will automatically have the right to remain, to work, to enter and to exit at will, to enable them to get on with their lives without all the barriers thrown at expats by the corrupt super-rich pulling the strings of this islands government.

    Till such time as the North becomes part of the EU one must remain committed to priorities towards loved ones and lifestyles rather than focusing on a phony residence permit, be it temporary or permanent.

    Janette

    A proud permanent resident of Switzerland (Full name and address supplied).

    [17] Turkey, Russia begin to overcome military distrust

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (15.04.08) publishes the following commentary by Lale Sariibrahimoglu:

    Turkey first forged a military procurement program with Russia soon after the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s when it bought 19 Mi-17 helicopters and BTR 60s and 80s tanks at a time when NATO allies refused to transfer arms, mainly tanks, to Turkey due to its grave human rights record.

    But the first Turkish purchase of military hardware from Russia turned into a messy business when the then relevant Turkish authorities and businessmen signed a deal that in fact failed to safeguard Turkish interests. For example, the agreement did not envisage the logistical support required to maintain the military hardware.

    BTR tanks could have been used for as long as they served the purpose of fighting terrorists -- mainly in the country's Southeast, but Mi-17 helicopters, two of which crashed, bringing the total number to 17, have been waiting for a prolonged period of time at the Turkish military headquarters for overhaul so that they can fly again.

    Long-term negotiations between Turkey's Gendarmerie General Command (JGK) and Russia's Kazan Helicopters Joint Stock Company resulted with the signing of a deal worth around $13.5 million for the overhaul of the helicopters.

    But, interestingly enough, Kazan Helicopters, a Russian company that was set up as a splinter of Russia's state-owned Rosoboronexport, has neither had the authority to transport a military helicopter from Turkey to Kazan nor been licensed to overhaul a military aircraft. In addition, it has been facing a court case over corruption allegations.

    Despite this, the JGK signed the deal with Kazan Helicopters and four unarmed helicopters were transported to Kazan. However, because Kazan Helicopters did not have the ability to modernize the helicopters while facing trial in Kazan, neither were the remaining Mi-17 helicopters transported to Russia nor the four sent to Kazan overhauled.

    To regain the lost confidence in arms relations between Turkey and Russia, Rosoboronexport intervened, but could not rescue the deal when Kazan Helicopters refused to accept the proposed offer.

    During a meeting of the military and civilian decision makers in December of last year, local firm Aselsan was chosen to execute the overhaul of the helicopters.

    In the meantime, the fate of $800,000, paid in advance to Kazan Helicopters for the overhaul of the helicopters is unknown.

    The second event that contributed to a loss of confidence between the two countries occurred when a Turkish attack helicopter tender was cancelled in May 2004. Russia was invited at the time to compete with choppers code-named Erdogan in cooperation with Israel, where US Bell was the front-runner.

    But when it became obvious that Russia was invited to the tender to force US Bell to reduce its price, Moscow was angered. It has taken a long time for both sides to recreate the climate of confidence surrounding the countries' military hardware relationship, strained by the above-mentioned two events.

    Turkey's decision on April 9 to start contract negotiations with Russia's Rosoboronexport for the procurement of a medium-range anti-tank weapon system (MRAWS) for the army should be seen as a sign that Turkey and Russia have begun to rebuild trust between themselves in the military procurement business.

    A missile project that Turkey will negotiate with Russia is estimated to be around $80 million. Financially, it is not very significant, but it represents a message that an arms procurement relationship with Russia is possible once again.

    Turkish-Russian rapprochement should also be seen against a background of changing Turkish military acquisition motives over the past several years.

    The Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM), Turkey's military procurement agency affiliated with the political authority through law, has over the past several years been pursuing a policy of establishing defense industry cooperation with countries on the same scale as Turkey, such as South Korea, but also having more advanced technology that they are willing to share to a certain extent with Ankara.

    This is not to say that Turkey has been ruling out its consideration of the interoperability of its hardware with NATO when bought from non-alliance members.

    Turkish policy of also opting for non-NATO systems has, meanwhile, been creating a concern mainly among US companies, which have declined to bid in several large-scale Turkish military projects, such as attack helicopters, due to what they characterize as strict terms and conditions imposed by the SSM on military tenders.

    Those conditions include prior permission to be given by the related countries' administrations for their companies on technology transfer. This clause is not in conformity with US law.

    At the end of the day, it is too early to claim that Turkey has inclined toward Russia in military procurement just because its acquisition of anti-tank missile systems will be negotiated with Russia. If Turkey opts for Russian S-300 or S-400 missile systems in its pending long-range missile defense project, eliminating the US Patriots, then we can talk about Turkey's increased tendency to prefer Russian systems.

    [18] From the Turkish Press of 14 April 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 14 April:

    a) Closure Case Against AKP: Questioning the timing chosen to file a closure case against the Justice and Development Party, AKP, in an article in Milliyet, Yaman Toruner believes that Prime Minister Erdogan and his team no longer represent the "model of moderate Islam." Enumerating all the mistakes committed by Erdogan, Toruner argues that it was a mistake to clash with the media, adding that the timing for lifting the ban on the headdress and for the election of the president by popular vote was wrong. The writer notes: "The person to replace Tayyip Erdogan will rectify these mistakes other than the one regarding the presidential elections and will continue on his path." Asking whether Erdogan is continuing to make mistakes, the writer responds that the remarks being made by party officials giving the impression that the AKP is hopeful about the aid to be extended by foreign forces is causing an adverse reaction in the public. Pointing out that the economic developments are working against the prime minister, Toruner maintains that the government is not determined on the issue of reversing the economic trends in the country.

    In his column in Hurriyet, Fatih Cekirge examines the role of Abdullatif Sener within an AKP that is facing a closure case. He states that party officials view Sener as a "political corpse" and say that he does not have a place in a political organization led by Erdogan. Cekirge also assesses Sener's ties with Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the president of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges.

    Commenting on the AKP closure case in an article in The New Anatolian, Ilnur Cevik says that "the current uncertainties and crisis over the closure threat of the AKP" have turned the government into a "lame duck." The writer argues that if the political crisis is prolonged and the uncertainties deepen, various regions of Turkey will be adversely affected and the political crisis may turn into an economic and social crisis.

    A report entitled "Greek envoy issues warm messages," quotes Greek Ambassador to Turkey, Fatios John Xydas, as saying that political parties are the core of democracy and cannot be perceived as a threat and that Greece shares Brussels' reaction to the closure lawsuit against the AKP.

    A front-page report entitled "[Cicek:] Closure of AKP Would Please PKK Most" quotes State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek as saying that because the closure case against the AKP is "political" in character, the AKP's defense will be "political," too.

    b) Article 301: According to a report in Hurriyet in English, the mandate to file a lawsuit under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, TCK, could be taken away from the president and given to the Justice Ministry. Referring to allegations suggesting that the President is not authorized for such a task in the Constitution, Minister Sahin is reported to have signaled the transfer of the mandate to the Justice Ministry.

    A report in Vatan details Assembly Speaker Koksal Toptan's views on Article 301 who believes that granting the right of permission to file a suit based on this article should be granted to the Justice Ministry. Toptan is reported to have said that granting such an authority to the president may place the Office of the President in a very difficult position.

    Under the headline, "Parliament to start democratization work by amending article 301," Zaman carries a front-page report which asserts that the National Assembly will be amending Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code as part of the recently announced democratization drive. According to the report, changes to Article 301 will be followed by new legislative arrangements that will make party closures difficult.

    c) Turkish Economy: A report in Hurriyet in English notes that Citigroup has downgraded Turkish assets to "neutral," on the grounds that "the country was the most exposed of the major Central, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) markets to an economic slowdown and risk aversion."

    Referring to the statement made by AKP Istanbul deputy Egemen Bagis regarding Turkey's debts to the IMF in an article in Vatan, Aydin Ayaydin declares that the "unfortunate" statement by the deputy shows that he does not understand much from economics. Bagis is reported to have said that the current foreign currency reserves of the Central Bank reach $70 billion and that if the prime minister instructs the bank, Turkey's debts to the IMF can be paid within a minute. The writer points out that had the deputy taken three minutes to research the issue in the websites of the Treasury and the Central Bank, he would have realized that Turkey's foreign debts are not limited to the IMF and amount to $247.2 billion. Informing Bagis that not all of Central Bank's foreign currency reserves belong to the Treasury, the writer notes that the government is not entitled to use them through prime ministerial instructions. Stressing that countries implementing economic stability plans with the IMF have to abide by the IMF principles, Ayaydin informs Bagis that the IMF advises these countries to keep a foreign currency reserve amounting to six to eight times their export figures. In conclusion, the writer advises the deputy not to speak on issues that are not included in his sphere of expertise.

    EG/


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