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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-05-29

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. 101/08 29.05.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] More incentives are given by the breakaway regime with the aim of increasing the number of tourists visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [02] Turgay Avci: The development of the TRNC and its opening to the world will not stop because there are negotiations
  • [03] Turgay Avci said that no one will be able to prevent their opening to the world
  • [04] Babacan alleged that the Supplementary Protocol does not bring the obligation for Turkey to open its ports to Cyprus
  • [05] Turkish Cypriots living in occupied Limnitis village demand the opening of the crossing point in their area
  • [06] Serdar Denktas is calling for a general strike in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [07] Asil Nadir filed two different lawsuits yesterday regarding the tender of the occupied Lefkonoiko illegal airport
  • [08] TURKSOY Opera Days to take place in the occupied areas
  • [09] The Cyprus Turkish National Existence Council says that it will struggle against the decisions taken at the Christofias-Talat meeting
  • [10] Turkish origin deputy Cem Ozdemir to run for the post of the Vice-presidency of the Green Party of Germany
  • [11] Ahmet Ozal to claim leadership of Turkeys Motherland Party
  • [12] Turkish and Slovak Foreign Ministers hold joint press conference
  • [13] Buyukanit sues former deputy over blackmail claims
  • [14] New head of Turkeys Council of State was elected
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [15] Turkeys position on virgin birth is gaining ground
  • [16] What do they mean by Gulen media?
  • [17] Turkey raises profile in long-neglected Mideast
  • [18] From the Turkish Press of 28 May 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] More incentives are given by the breakaway regime with the aim of increasing the number of tourists visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (29.05.08), under the title Every Turk will come to Cyprus, reports that Turgut Muslu, director of the tourism planning office of the self-style ministry of economy and tourism, has said that their objective is for every Turkish citizen to visit Cyprus at least once.

    At a meeting they organized in Adana within the framework of the TRNC promotion Days under the slogan Authentic Mediterranean, Mr Muslu reminded that after they launched a campaign for the promotion of the occupied areas of Cyprus in Ankara they held a meeting in Kayseri as well.

    Mr Muslu said that they are exerting efforts for the development of tourism of the breakaway regime, its opening to the world and for the creation of a planned sustainable infrastructure and added that with this project they will try to explain Cyprus in Turkey better. He noted that within the framework of the campaign they will organize a meeting in Britain and they will offer important incentives to the travel agents for bringing people to the occupied part of Cyprus.

    Mr Muslu added: A support of 15 Euros per person will be provided to travel agents who make reservation for overnight stays at installations having the documents by the hotel council for every tourist brought from Turkey for at least four nights at a hotel in the period June-September 2008. Furthermore, a contribution of 1000 Euros per flight is given to airlines which organize flights to new destinations with the aim of bringing tourists to the TRNC. Within the framework of the incentives program, 30 Euros are given for groups of special interest from Turkey and 60 Euros from other countries for at least seven nights stay at hotels. The financial support varies between 15 and 40 Euros for seminars, congresses, conferences, meetings and chartered holiday groups.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Turgay Avci: The development of the TRNC and its opening to the world will not stop because there are negotiations

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (29.05.08) reports that Turgay Avci, self-styled minister of foreign affairs of the breakaway regime, has alleged that the fact that France, which will take over the term presidency of the EU, is organizing common military exercises with south Cyprus, which is an EU member, is not a behaviour showing good will. In a statement to Anatolia news agency, Mr Avci called on France to re-examine its stance.

    The paper writes that Mr Avci was referring to Argonaftis military manoeuvre, which will be carried out in international waters by France, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus between 2 and 6 June. Mr Avci pointed out to the objections to the relations of the EU member states with the Republic of Cyprus and added that the Turkish Cypriots do not see positively such relations.

    Referring to the statement issued after the meeting between President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on 23 May, Mr Avci said that it is positive and added that the fact that there are meetings between the sides is good. He said that their principle is to follow the road determined with Turkey and proceed in the direction of the commonly established policy.

    Mr Avci noted that if President Christofias wants to delay the process and the negotiations and have a process without timetable, this will not be accepted. He alleged that the continuation of the process for another 30 years suits the Greek Cypriot side, but not the Turkish Cypriot side. He said that the development of the TRNC and its opening to the world will not stop because there are negotiations.

    He stressed: We are doing whatever we can for the growth, upgrading, increase the structuring and develop the institutional structure of the TRNC. On the other hand, the negotiations are continuing, but these negotiations cannot be open-ended, with no limit and last forever.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Turgay Avci said that no one will be able to prevent their opening to the world

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (29.05.08) reports that Turgay Avci, self-styled minister of foreign affairs of the breakaway regime, has stated that no one will be able to prevent their opening to the world and pointed out that they have established contacts with Syria after 30 years. Mr Avci gave a dinner the night before yesterday in honour of the Syrian businessmen who are visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus. This relation between us will be reflected in all sectors, he said.

    Replying to Mr Avci, Abdulkadir Sabra, chairman of the Syrian Maritime Chamber, said that there are no borders in tourism and added: We want our people to come here and spend time with kind people like you and increase our relations. He noted that the Syrian businessmen want to invest in the occupied part of Cyprus and contribute to its economic development.

    (I/Ts)

    [04] Babacan alleged that the Supplementary Protocol does not bring the obligation for Turkey to open its ports to Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (29.05.08)reports that Ali Babacan, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, alleged that the Supplementary Protocol does not bring the obligation for Turkey to open its ports to Cyprus. Replying to questions of members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on Cyprus, Mr Babacan said: The window cannot remain open continuously. This opportunity should be used well. Turkey has put forward very openly its support to the process under the auspices of the UN.

    He said that the legal advisors of Turkey think differently from the EU officials on the issue of the Supplementary Protocol which expands the Customs Union.

    He argued: In our view, the Supplementary protocol does not bring the obligation of opening the ports. Our stance on this issue is very clear and we are willing to accept its consequences. This matter will not be settled without a comprehensive solution.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Turkish Cypriots living in occupied Limnitis village demand the opening of the crossing point in their area

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (29.05.08), under the title Open the gate, publishes statements by the head of occupied Limnitis village, Goksel Kabaran, who said that with the opening of the crossing point in their area Limnitis will revive. Our sick people will be saved from dying in the streets, he noted. The paper points out that the issue came onto the agenda after the Christofias-Talat meeting on the 23rd of May.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] Serdar Denktas is calling for a general strike in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (29.05.08) reports that Serdar Denktas, chairman of the Democratic Party (DP) has called on all the trade unions, political parties and civilian organizations to go on a general strike together in order to break the circle of fear created by the government.

    Mr Denktas went yesterday to the so-called central bank, together with Cemal Bulutoglulari, self-styled mayor of the occupied part of Nicosia, and expressed his support to the strike organized by Memur - Sen Trade Union. The strike started because the administration of the bank decided to extend the working hours of the employees. Mr Denktas said that it is wrong to eliminate the main reason of the strike by saying that they do not work two hours and added that this humiliates those who are on strike.

    Mr Bulutoglulari said that according to information which he acquired, employees are brought from Turkey in order to break the strike. He noted that this is a great crime.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (29.05.08), under the title The strike ended at last, reports that the Turkish Cypriot Secondary School Teachers Trade Union (KTOEOS) announced yesterday that today it will not be on strike. The announcement was issued after the decision taken by the council of ministers to include the definition senior teacher within the general interpretation of the Teachers Law.

    Kibris reports, however, that the KTOEOS carried to the occupied part of Nicosia its strike in the illegal European University of Lefka. The administrators of the trade union and its members established a tent in front of the building of the assembly and put a black wreath in front of the prime ministers office. Some other trade unions and the Social Democrat Party with the United Cyprus Party expressed their support to KTOEOS.

    Finally, the paper writes that about 50 students protested yesterday in the streets of occupied Famagusta shouting that they do not want to participate in the exams during the summer heat because of the strike of KTOEOS.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] Asil Nadir filed two different lawsuits yesterday regarding the tender of the occupied Lefkonoiko illegal airport

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (29.05.08) reports that businessman Asil Nadir filed two different lawsuits yesterday at occupied Nicosia District Court and the High Administrative Court regarding the tender of the occupied Lefkonoiko illegal airport.

    In the lawsuit at Nicosia District Court, Mr Nadir demanded to take back the shares which the Cyprus Aviation Services Limited company (CAS) and its director James Beveridge promised to give to him. In the lawsuit at the High Administrative Court, he is asking for the annulment of the tender on the grounds that it was wrong and unauthorized and the conditions of the agreement were not implemented.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] TURKSOY Opera Days to take place in the occupied areas

    Illegal Bayrak television (28.05.08) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Although not included in the joint statement, it has been stated that agreement was reached on holding TURKSOY Opera Days in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, as offered by the Minister of National Education and Culture Canan Oztoprak- who represented the TRNC at the meeting.

    According to the joint statement, the next TURKSOY meeting will take place in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek between 25th and 26th October. The decision was taken bearing in mind the 80th birthday anniversary of the famous artist Cengiz Aytmatov who is well-known in the Turkish and Turkic worlds of literature.

    In addition, it is also agreed that culture ministers of TURKSOY member countries will attend the Council of Europe culture ministers meeting which is scheduled to take place in the Azerbaijani capital Baku between 2nd and 5th December.The 24th meeting of the Permanent Council of Joint Administration of Turkic Culture & Art started with an opening speech by the Turkish Minister of Culture Ertugrul Gunay who said that the aim of the organization is to promote world peace by improving cultural cooperation among member countries.

    In her address at the meeting, the Minister of National Education and Culture Canan Oztoprak said that the Turkish Cypriot people have managed to protect their culture within a multi-cultural environment.

    The Minister pointed out that the TRNC has been facing an international isolation in the fields of education and culture but added that in spite of this reality, one out of every five youth in the country attends a university.

    Mrs Oztoprak called for the organization of another `TURKSOY Opera Days` in the TRNC which hosted similar events in the past. The Ministers offer was supported by the Turkish Minister of Culture Gunay.

    TURKSOY is an international organization of Turkish peoples sharing common language and culture.

    Meanwhile, visiting ministers from 10 countries have been received by Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

    [09] The Cyprus Turkish National Existence Council says that it will struggle against the decisions taken at the Christofias-Talat meeting

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (29.05.08) reports that the Cyprus Turkish National Existence Council has issued its fourth statement with which it comments on the statement made after the meeting between President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on 23 May.

    The statement says, inter alia, the following: The National Council does not accept the 23 May common final statement of the leaders and rejects this document of slavery. It considers its duty to announce to the Turkish Cypriot people that it will struggle against it. The announcement it signed by Celal Bayar.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] Turkish origin deputy Cem Ozdemir to run for the post of the Vice-presidency of the Green Party of Germany

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (29.05.08) writes that the Green Party of Germany is discussing Cem Ozdemirs name as a candidate to replace the outgoing Reinhard Butikofer in June in the post of the Vice-presidency of the party. Cem Ozdemir is a European Parliament deputy and the first Turkish deputy from the Turkish community in Germany who gained a seat in the German Parliament, writes Milliyet.

    (ML)

    [11] Ahmet Ozal to claim leadership of Turkeys Motherland Party

    According to a report in Turkish daily Ortadogu newspaper (28.05.08), the wife and son of the founder of the Motherland Party, ANAP, Semra and Ahmet Ozal have renewed their party membership. Husnu Dogan, another founder of the party, has also made a surprise comeback, the report adds, reinforcing rumours that Ahmet Ozal will be one of the candidates for the party leadership in the forthcoming congress to be held on 28 June. According to the report, in view of these developments the influential names of the Ozal era are expected to return to the party. It is reported in the ANAP backstage that former party leader Mesut Yilmaz may be called to head the party and that Yilmaz will put forth the condition of "single candidacy" at the congress for a return to the party leadership.

    [12] Turkish and Slovak Foreign Ministers hold joint press conference

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (28.05.08) reported the following from Bratislava:

    Turkey's Foreign Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan held a press conference with his Slovak counterpart Jan Kubis following a tête-à-tête meeting and meeting between Turkish and Slovak delegations on Wednesday. Answering a question of the Anadolu Agency correspondent on a draft law submitted at the Slovak parliament on recognizing the incidents of 1915, Kubis said 'the Slovak parliament's decision in 2004 does not represent the line of the government. I will discuss this matter with the Slovak justice minister and members of the government. I believe history must be left to historians. We know the sensitivity of the Turkish public opinion on this matter and will not permit this topic to place a shadow on good relations between Turkey and Slovakia'.

    In reference to the Armenian matter, Babacan said 'Turkey proposed Armenia to establish a joint historical committee to study the incidents of 1915 and open all related archives. However, Turkey has not received a positive response from Armenia yet'.

    Speaking at the press conference, Babacan described the Turkish-Slovak relations as "excellent".

    'Turkey gives full support to Slovakia's membership in NATO. Today, Slovakia is a member of the EU and Turkey continues its negotiations process with the EU. We have witnessed Slovakia's support in every stage of entry negotiations with the EU. We are pleased to see that our two countries share the same views on many international topics', Babacan said.

    Answering a question on visa procedures, Kubis said 'we have to ease visa procedures for Turks based on our excellent relations. I will hold talks with EU authorities to provide visas more easily to Turkish businessmen, scientists, students and truck drivers'.

    Babacan attended a dinner hosted by Kubis in his honor on Wednesday following the press conference.

    Babacan is expected to travel to Stockholm, Sweden later on Wednesday.

    [13] Buyukanit sues former deputy over blackmail claims

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (29.05.08) reports the following:

    Top military commander Gen. Yasar Buyukanit has initiated a lawsuit against a former member of Parliament for claiming that the government had put pressure on the general about his wifes allegedly suspicious expenses.

    Gen. Buyukanit, the chief of the General Staff, said on Tuesday evening that he, his wife and the General Staff had all opened court cases against Fikri Saglar, a former parliamentary deputy and newspaper columnist. He was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying: 'I have been attacked many times, but I have never been attacked so meanly. None of them were so mean.'

    Saglar, a former deputy and currently a columnist for left-wing newspaper Birgun, claimed in his column last Thursday that Buyukanit had begun avoiding making harsh statements against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) because Erdogan had showed him a file documenting the expenses of the generals wife and implied that Buyukanit might see a fate similar to that of Adm. Ilhami Erdil, a retired naval commander who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for embezzling from a state compensation fund.

    Both the Prime Ministry and the General Staff released statements last Saturday strongly denying all of the accusations in Saglars column. Erdogan filed a $50,000 lawsuit against Saglar on May 20. Erdogan also filed a $20,000 lawsuit against Vatan daily and its correspondent who wrote about Saglars allegations. The Prime Ministry had described Saglars accusations as shameless lies, a most contemptible slander.

    The statement also noted a press release dated May 11, 2007 that explained that Erdogan and Buyukanit had discussed state matters on May 5 and that the content of their discussion was accordingly withheld from the public. Officials also said nobody who was not there could have the slightest idea about the topics.

    A similar but briefer statement was issued by the General Staff referring to the allegations as 'immoral' and saying the General Staff would be pressing charges against Saglar.

    On Sunday, Saglar responded to the criticism, saying, 'These reactions only increase the existing suspicions.' He added that there was nothing immoral about relaying information to the public and vowed legal action.

    [14] New head of Turkeys Council of State was elected

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (29.05.08) reports the following:

    The Council of State elected a chairman yesterday to replace the outgoing Sumru Cortoglu.

    Mustafa Birden, a member of the courts 2nd Chamber who was injured by a shooting at the Council of State in 2006 that left another judge dead, was elected the new chairman of the Council of State by members of the high court. Birden, born in 1946, had been acting as the courts chairman since Cortoglu retired last week. Birden graduated from the Ankara University faculty of law in 1968. He later served as chairman of the Ankara Administrative Court until 1994, when he was elected to the Council of State.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [15] Turkeys position on virgin birth is gaining ground

    Under the title "Can a miracle be experienced in Cyprus? Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (29.05.08) publishes the following commentary by Sami Kohen:

    The TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat, after meeting last March with the newly elected Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, said that 2008 can be a year of solution for Cyprus.

    Making an exclusive statement to the Associated Press the other day in Brussels, Talat, maintaining the optimism, said that an agreement can be reached until the end of the year.

    Yet, the importance of the Talat Christofias meeting is that a new agreement was reached on the parameters regarding the basis of the Cyprus problem. Although days have passed, the content of this agreement which was revealed by a joint statement, is still debated by the Greek Cypriot sector. The former Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and some other leaders are in full rage on this agreement.

    Key expressions

    Actually, this agreement includes key points and expressions of the Turkish side which it was defending for a long time.

    A great importance was attached to these expressions being included all together in the joint statement published after the end of the meeting.

    A play on words

    The Turkish side wanted an entirely new formation.

    The joint statement is showing now that the Turkish position is gaining ground.

    But be careful! Let us say this. This time do not enter into the same play of words...

    Yet, this time, it will not be very easy to find a solution to the problems, such as territory, property, settlers, migrants, Turkish military forces

    In this perspective, if all these difficult issues are settled until the end of the year, as Talat is hoping, in Cyprus a miracle can be experienced.

    (ML)

    [16] What do they mean by Gulen media?

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (29.05.08) publishes the following commentary by Huseyin Gulerce:

    One of the core issues always being debated in Turkey is the media. The professional ethics of the press don't have any binding effect on our media, unfortunately, and some media groups blatantly implement their own self-declared principles.

    However, those principles are trampled, particularly by people from their own essential staff.

    Some newspapers and TV stations have been bought and sold in recent years. When the new bosses did not turn out as staunchly anti-government as the greatest media tycoons of the country, they were branded 'government lackeys.' I wonder why the media bosses who want to have a monopoly in the media are so relentless, pugnacious and full of vengeance toward the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and playing the key role in the country's polarization. Let's ask this in a different way. Are all the media organs, newspapers, television and radio stations, and magazines obliged to harbour grudges against the AK Party and share the Republican People's Party's (CHP) views?

    Most importantly, why do they keep bringing the name of Fethullah Gulen into everything? They keep headlining claims such as 'Gulen is taking hold of the media' and 'Gulen media growing.'

    True, the Zaman Media Group (ZMG) and the Samanyolu TV Media Group are two media organs where people who love and respect Fethullah Gulen's work, and these people take his advice on education and dialogue efforts exerted both in Turkey and abroad. But please pay attention to the fact that no other media group gives as much coverage to other views and ideas as these two media groups. People of different beliefs and opinions are able to write and speak in these media groups in the most comfortable and free way. It is these two media organs that place the greatest emphasis on defending democracy, freedom, human rights, the interests of the country and our nation's fraternity, stability and peace. The words used to denigrate these two groups, such as "religion peddlers" and "followers," not only drop hints about the intellectual level of those who carry out these denigration campaigns, but also expose the disquietude of those who favour the perpetuation of the status quo.

    Turkey has reached such a point that people have been forced to choose between two options: They will either opt for the reforms that will strengthen democracy, or choose to become soldiers of the status quo. They will either defend development and progress or back the guardianship efforts of the bureaucratic oligarchy. They will support either rights and the law, or Union and Progress Party-type tyrannies.

    Owing to its determined stance in favour of democracy, today the AK Party is winning the support of even those segments of society that did not vote for it last year despite its mistakes and shortcomings. This support is not for the partisanship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan or an endorsement of his personality. People give their support because they believe that we can only exit this tunnel in which we find ourselves with the AK Party. Those whose usual stance is to maintain equal distance from all political parties are acting on such a consideration today. They also display an attitude that suggests that they are protecting political and economic stability, too. The AK Party, in return for this support, is fulfilling the responsibilities that come with it. When they are doing their utmost to serve the nation, should we be hindrances and get in their way?

    If the CHP changes its usual course, takes a stance against party closures and starts defending the freedoms of thought, speech and faith, people would start supporting it, too.

    Mr. Gulen doesn't own a media outlet and will never own one. He is just the most beloved and respected man of action and leader of thought. Ninety percent of this nation supports the national and humanitarian services he advises. The ongoing Turkish Olympics events are an example standing right before us. Five hundred fifty students from 110 countries have been singing our folk songs and reciting our poems for days. Call this whatever you will: nationalism, humanity, whatever. Anybody with sound judgment and a conscience would be moved by these services. Mr. Gulen is the person who initiated the dialogue effort in this country. He has so far established dialogue with a large number of Turkey's prominent journalists, writers, artists and businessmen. He sat with them, ate with them and spoke with them. Now, if any of those people comes forward a couple of steps more and becomes the editor-in-chief of a newspaper, will he be immediately branded as a "Gulenist"? How could anybody perpetrate this type of pigeonholing?

    The moment we decide to implement the principles of this profession in our media instead of insulting and denigrating one another, we will have done a great favour to media bosses and this country.

    [17] Turkey raises profile in long-neglected Mideast

    Under the above title, Turkish Daily News (28.05.08) publishes the following commentary by Fulya Ozerkan:

    Turkeys boosting role in the Middle East is appreciated by all the parties according to officials and the success in mediating the indirect Israeli-Syrian peace talks has positive impact on Turkish involvement in ending the months-long political conflict in Lebanon.

    As the relations between Turkey and the European Union follow an uneven course, Turkish mediation in the Israeli-Syrian indirect peace talks, and its involvement in the process running up to the presidential elections in Lebanon, have demonstrated a shift in foreign policy toward the Middle East, analysts said yesterday.

    'You have to bear in mind that Turkey is now playing a new role in the Middle East. This is the turning point in Turkish foreign policy, and everybody in Lebanon and Arab countries are talking about Turkey's positive role,' Dr. Hussein Gharbieh of Lebanese University told the Turkish Daily News.

    The governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, while pursuing Turkey's bid to join the EU, has been facilitating indirect peace negotiations between Israel and Syria, both of which are technically in a state of war since 1967, when Israel captured the strategic Golan Heights from Syria.

    Indeed, Turkey was one of the countries together with Qatarthat mediated an agreement between the U.S.-backed ruling coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition alliance in Lebanon's presidential election process.

    'Turkey used to pay attention only to Europe. All the time Europe was the only target, while they [Turks] neglected the Middle East and Arab countries, said Gharbieh. We can say that Turkey has turned its face toward the Middle East and Arab countries.'

    Last week's meeting in Doha under the auspices of the Qatari emir, defused the escalating crisis in Lebanon that has caused the worst civil strife since the war-torn country's 1975-90 war. And Turkey has risen as a regional actor behind the Doha reconciliation that for many has opened a new chapter in Lebanon's history. Accompanied by his foreign minister, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a special request by Lebanese officials, participated in the parliamentary session and oath-taking ceremony in Beirut Sunday.

    Erdogan, speaking to a small number of journalists en route from Lebanon, implied that it was Turkey that proposed the election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as president to end the months-long internal crisis.

    An official from the Lebanese Embassy in Ankara confirmed the statements made by the Turkish prime minister and said Turkey has conducted intense diplomacy with the parties concerned since the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

    'In the latest crisis Turkey played a key role in convincing the parties to reach an agreement on a compromise candidate, said the official, who wished to remain anonymous. Neither the Lebanese people, nor the Lebanese politicians deny this fact.'

    Turkish diplomatic sources reiterated that Turkey exerted serious efforts both at the level of Lebanese opposition and the government for reconciliation between the parties, a development that had positive repercussions in the Arab world.

    'The appearance of both Erdogan and Babacan in the Lebanese parliament during the swearing-in ceremony that was broadcast live is not a coincidence. Their presence indicated the appreciation of Turkey's role in ending the political conflict in Lebanon,' said a senior Turkish diplomat.

    Some Lebanese media, while praising Turkey's involvement in the region, recalled the Ottoman Empire's the predecessor of modern Turkeyonce-powerful influence in the Middle East and regarded the current situation as the 'return of the Ottomans.'

    Gharbieh, however, said, 'Everybody in Lebanon is talking about the positive role Turkey has played, not the Ottomans.'

    Subtitle: Mediation remedy for Lebanon crisis

    Turkey's role in facilitating the Israeli-Syrian peace talks has had a positive influence over the 18 months of political conflict in Lebanon, according to the analysts.

    'Turkish success in bringing together Israeli and Syrian envoys, though indirectly, offered a window of opportunity for achievement in the Lebanon case,' said Ilter Turan, a political analyst, and highlighted Turkey as a country that is seen as neutral to all parties in the region.

    Gharbieh said so far nobody has had a clear vision of Turkey's influence in the region but 'from what we see Turkey is playing a positive role because it is in contact with all the parties in whole.'

    'It is not pitting one side against another and instead, talks to everyone from a certain distance, something that raises Turkey's profile in the region,' he added.

    [18] From the Turkish Press of 28 May 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items featuring prominently in the Turkish press on 28 May:

    a) Closure case against AKP: Asked about his views on the Justice and Development Party (AKP) closure case, the party's deputy leader Egemen Bagis has said that he does not believe that the party will be closed down. According to the report in Vatan, Bagis is confident that the 11 judges will reach a decision taking into consideration "Turkey's stability, tranquility, economy, foreign policy, and the EU process."

    Assessing the remarks made by AKP's Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat in his article in Vatan, Mustafa Mutlu says that at long last Firat is admitting to the truth about his party. During a talk show on ATV Firat is reported to have said: "The AKP is not the defender of the secular understanding. We are not the representatives of the philosophical secular understanding that ousts religion from every field." Mutlu welcomes Firat's truthful words as opposed to the other AKP officials who keep on lying, adding that, however, the views expressed by Firat violate our laws as well as being an admission that the AKP aims to transform the state into a religious one.

    In an article entitled "Who Has Betrayed the AKP?", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul refers to the "high-level AKP official" who recently issued statements to Reuters and The Washington Times saying that the AKP will be shut down and that preparations are under way to establish a new party as a "traitor" who is acting in concert with people like Zeyno Baran, Michael Rubin, and Tony Blankley who have been "campaigning to have the AKP ejected from power ever since 2005."

    In an article entitled "What is Graver Than a Closure Ruling", Vakit columnist Ali Ihsan Karahasanoglu calls on the AKP to take "urgent measures" against a plan by "the powers that be" to cancel the amendments to Articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution so as to effectively prevent the AKP from lifting the headscarf ban, lowering the age for attending Koran courses, and addressing the "injustices" caused by the use of the weighting method in computing the results of the university entrance examination. Karahasanoglu asserts that this plan entails not shutting down the AKP yet making it unable to carry out its promises to its voters and that as such, it is not much different from deciding not to execute a convict sentenced to death and locking them up permanently in a small cell instead.

    In an article entitled "Que Sera Sera", Today's Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar highlights "honorary chairman of the Supreme Court of Appeals" Sabih Kanadoglu's recent "chilling" statement announcing that "the days that Turkey will be ruled not by Brussels or Washington but by Ankara are closer than you can imagine." Baydar goes on to warn that the Establishment is planning to "annihilate the AKP, jail as many of the top AKP figures as possible and conduct a thorough 'cleansing' within the bureaucracy ..."

    According to a report entitled "Intellectuals Issue Virtual Declaration", a group of intellectuals and academics have started an Internet campaign called "Do not make decisions on my behalf" against the recent Supreme Court statement about the AKP closure case. The report asserts that the campaign questions the Supreme Court's authority to raise objections "in the name of the nation" to the Erdogan government's efforts to draw up a new constitution.

    b) Discussion on Islamism Secularism: Commenting on the article posted on the website of the Religious Affairs Directorate on the use of perfume and on the principle of adultery in a column in the Turkish Daily News, Yusuf Kanli questions whether this mentality is at all different from that of the Taliban that has placed Afghan women behind chadors.

    In an article entitled "Secularism and Democracy", Zaman columnist Ali Bulac criticizes "those who use secularism as a political instrument" in Turkey for representing observant masses as a "threat to the secular regime" in such a way as to mislead foreigners unacquainted with Turkey's internal structures into believing that pious people in Turkey are carrying out insidious activities aimed at taking the country back to medieval times. Bulac proceeds to argue that people in this country who take religion seriously do not have any problem with secularism as a system that protects the freedom of religion and conscience, denies privileges to any religious institutions or classes, and prevents any religious groups from compelling members of other faiths to live and believe as they do.

    c) Kurdish Issue: According to a report in Milliyet, a video showing Abdullah Ocalan at a meeting with the current north Iraqi Kurdish leaders in a PKK camp in Syria in 1991 has been uncovered. At the meeting, Ocalan asks Jalal Talabani, who was the head of the Kurdish delegation at the time, not to establish ties with the Turkish government and to reject the peace calls made by some Turkish intellectuals. In the video cassette, Ocalan is also seen proposing joint action against Turkey.

    According to a report by Zeynep Gurcanli in Hurriyet, European parliamentarians attempted to bring together Foreign Minister Babacan and Gulabi Dere, a high-ranking PKK administrator, at a Turkish-EU Joint parliamentary Committee meeting held at the European Parliament. The report adds that, upon being warned of this scheme by Turkish parliamentarians, Babacan refused to attend the committee meeting so long as Dere was present. Eventually Dere was persuaded to leave the room to enable Babacan to address the committee.

    A PKK member who has surrendered to the security forces is reported to have said that the Free Life Party of Kurdistan, (PJAK), has an income of some $30,000 a month from customs duty obtained from smugglers along the Iranian border. According to the report by Ozgur Cebe in Hurriyet, PKK member R.A. who was stationed at a PJAK camp in Iran has said that explosives are obtained from al-Sulaymaniyah which is under the control of Talabani's peshmergas.

    According to a report entitled the "Imrali Coup" in Vatan, Ahmet Turk was replaced by Emine Ayna as the leader of the Democratic Society Party, DTP, because of his remarks to the effect that the PKK was damaging to the Kurdish cause. His replacement by Ayna, who claims that "Ocalan is legal," is viewed as Ocalan's strong influence over the party. Another view expressed in the DTP backstage is that Turk resigned in a bid not to escalate the intraparty tension and that he will put forth his candidacy for the party leadership in the general congress to be held in June.

    ES/


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