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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-06-06

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. 107/08 06.06.08 NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Ercakica argued that there are two separate political entities in Cyprus and that the solution to the Cyprus problem will be based on this reality; Reactions to the memorandum between the UK and Cyprus
  • [02] Rasbash said that the European Commission wants the Direct Trade Regulation to be adopted if the solution in Cyprus is delayed
  • [03] Yonluer and Ertugruloglu accused the Turkish Cypriot leader of being inconsistent; The former asked for Talats removal from his duties due to his health
  • [04] Cooperation between the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and a Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • [05] The so-called TRNC Olympic Committee held contacts with officials in Kyrgyzstan last week
  • [06] Reference to the occupied parts of Cyprus in the US report on human trafficking
  • [07] Cars with Z-number plates will be allowed to cross the green line
  • [08] A project financed by the EU entered into force yesterday in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [09] Officers from Turkeys War Academies are visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [10] Cemil Cicek is paying an illegal visit to the island today
  • [11] Turkish Constitutional Court cancels amendment lifting headscarf ban
  • [12] General Buyukanit on moderate Islam, PKK and Irak
  • [13] Japanese companies Isuzu and Itochi to manufacture vehicles in Turkey
  • [14] Turkey, Sweden to cooperate in defense
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [15] From the Turkish Press of 5 June 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Ercakica argued that there are two separate political entities in Cyprus and that the solution to the Cyprus problem will be based on this reality; Reactions to the memorandum between the UK and Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (06.06.08) reports that Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, has evaluated the memorandum signed yesterday in London between the Republic of Cyprus and the United Kingdom.

    In a written statement issued yesterday, Mr Ercakica alleged that the memorandum does not reflect the realities in Cyprus and contains approaches which will influence negatively the efforts for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem. Mr Ercakica described the memorandum as unacceptable.

    By accepting this memorandum, Christofias is behaving inconsistently on the issue of the agreements reached with our president and he is bringing to light a credibility problem which will influence the negotiating process, he claimed.

    Referring to the British officials, Mr Ercakica alleged that they themselves are casting doubts about their statements that they will support the new negotiating process which started on 21 March. He also alleged that the Greek Cypriot side is recently searching for a solution to the Cyprus problem in places other than the UN and that the UK has supported this effort for the sake of improving its relations with the Greek Cypriot side.

    The spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader added:

    The fact that in this memorandum there is reference to the measures taken by the Greek Cypriot side for the Turkish Cypriot people, and Britain expressed its support to these measures, is an example of complete recklessness. There are no such measures or a people who accept them or results which have been taken or could be taken from these measures. Just as it is not the duty of the Greek Cypriot side to take measures for the Turkish Cypriot people, in the same manner the approval of these measures is not entrusted to Britain. If there are such measures, their evaluation is a matter of the will of the Turkish Cypriot people.

    Mr Ercakica described as an example of strangeness the fact that the memorandum says that a separate political entity will not be recognized or upgraded on the island and added: Just like the whole world, Christofias and the British officials know that there are two separate political entities on the island of Cyprus and the solution which will be reached to the Cyprus problem will be based on this reality.

    He alleged that the British officials are providing to the Greek Cypriots support which they do not deserve with the motive of preserving their bases on the island. He claimed that president Christofias has no authority and power on the occupied northern part of Cyprus and on the Turkish Cypriot people and added that the memorandum does not bind the Turkish Cypriots and has no validity in the occupied northern part of Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (06.06.08) refers to the issue under the title British seal on the new process and notes that President Christofias is restoring the bilateral relations with Britain which were spoiled during the Papadopoulos period. The paper writes that after the memorandum, Britain is preparing to undertake an active role in the new process in Cyprus.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (06.06.08) refers to the issue under the title The TRNC to Britain: Do not commit recklessness.

    In addition, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (06.06.08) covers the issue under the title British knot and argues that the memorandum sealed the solution process of the Cyprus problem as a British knot.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (06.06.08) refers to the memorandum under the title The memorandum raised the fever and notes that the TRNC is angry.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (06.06.08) covers the issue under the title A Complete recklessness.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (06.06.08) covers the issue under the title Unacceptable and refers to the statements of Mr Ercakica.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Rasbash said that the European Commission wants the Direct Trade Regulation to be adopted if the solution in Cyprus is delayed

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (06.06.08) reports that Andrew Rasbash, head of the Turkish Cypriot Working Office of the European Commission, has said that the EU is ready to contribute to the new procedure regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem both politically and technically.

    In statements to the paper, Mr Rasbash noted that the Commission will encourage the two leaders on the difficult issues which they will face so that a comprehensive solution is reached in the near future. He said that the EU will provide help from experts to the working groups after a demand by the UN and the two sides is submitted to it.

    Referring to the progress of the works regarding the Program for Implementing the Acquis Communautaire of the EU in the Future, he pointed out that the target of the program is to prepare the Turkish Cypriots for implementing the acquis communautaire in case of a comprehensive solution. He noted that they have chosen 12 chapters to begin with, because they thought that discussing everything at the same time would be difficult.

    Thus we launched the process of explaining what the acquis communautaire is, he added noting that there are still things to complete in most of these chapters.

    Asked on the issue of the Direct Trade Regulation and the position of the Commission on this issue, Mr Rasbash said that the Commission suggested this regulation some years ago and pointed out that the decision- taking power belongs to the Council.

    He added: The first thing we hope is finding a comprehensive solution. If a comprehensive solution is reached, there will be no need for the Direct Trade Regulation. If the comprehensive solution is delayed, then we want the member states to adopt the Direct Trade Regulation. The Regulation is still on the table and the Commission wants to see that it is adopted.

    Referring to the Financial Aid Regulation, he said that the procedure for the tenders regarding 105 million Euros has already started and that agreements have been concluded for 45 million Euros. Mr Rasbash noted that the program which began in the year 2006 has been extended until 2011.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Yonluer and Ertugruloglu accused the Turkish Cypriot leader of being inconsistent; The former asked for Talats removal from his duties due to his health

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (06.06.08) reports that Ahmet Yonluer, chairman of the Politics for the People Party (HIS), has accused the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat of being inconsistent and asked for his removal from his duties due to his health.

    In a statement yesterday, Mr Yonluer argued that with the statements Mr Talat is making recently he is following an inconsistent policy. He claimed that Mr Talat is saying different things in Brussels, different things in Turkey and different things in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    Mr Talat spoke very optimistically on the issue of the solution during his recent visit to Brussels, said Mr Yonluer reminding the statements of Mr Talat to the Associated Press agency when the Turkish Cypriot leader noted that there is a real change in the free areas of Cyprus and that he is very optimistic that a solution to the Cyprus problem until the end of 2008 is possible.

    According to Mr Yonluer, one day later the same Mr Talat in statements to Turkish Milliyet newspaper argued that the will which exists in the Greek Cypriot side for a solution is little and said that he has the impression that now the conditions for starting comprehensive negotiations on 21 June are not appropriate.

    Mr Yonluer wondered whether this inconsistency in the statements of Mr Talat is due to reasons regarding the health of the Turkish Cypriot leader. If the allegations are true, he argued, Mr Talat should be examined by an independent Medical Committee.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (06.06.08) reports that Tahsin Ertugruloglu, chairman of the National Unity Party (UBP), has accused the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat and the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) of having a stance of accepting Protocol 10 of the Treaty of Accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU, which considers the Republic of Cyprus as having sovereignty over the whole island. This is completely contrary to the rights and the interests of the Turkish Cypriots, he argued in a statement yesterday.

    Mr Ertugruloglu said that after the referendum of 24 April 2004, Mr Talat stated that the Turkish side would not accept any change in the Annan Plan and asked for a new referendum to be carried out on the plan by the Greek Cypriots.

    Afterwards, added Mr Ertugruloglu, Mr Talat said that he was ready to discuss the changes which the Greek Cypriot side wants and retreated to the point of saying that the Annan Plan will be a basis of the negotiations. He also reminded that Mr Talat signed the agreements of 8 July 2006 and 23 May 2008, which are far behind the Annan Plan.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Cooperation between the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and a Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    Turkish Cypriot daily Sozcu newspaper (06.06.08) reports that the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) is starting cooperation on tourism, trade and training issues with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the town of Kirdjali, Bulgaria.

    According to a written statement issued by the KTTO, the member of the administrative council of the chamber, Ramazan Gundogdu met during his recent visit to Bulgaria with Nasko Nastev, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kirdjali and Safet Ilyazov, member of the administrative council of the above-mentioned chamber. The cooperation between the two chambers was discussed at the meeting and the KTTO informed its interlocutors about the economy of the breakaway regime and the recent developments on the Cyprus problem.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (06.06.08) reports that the vice president of KTTO, Evren Baglarbasi has called on the businesspeople of Turkey and the Turkish-speaking countries to make a common investment and cooperation in Cyprus. According to a statement issued by the KTTO, Mr Baglarbasi made this call in an interview with TRT 2; TRT INT television.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] The so-called TRNC Olympic Committee held contacts with officials in Kyrgyzstan last week

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Volkan newspaper (06.06.08), under the title A sporting brotherhood is being developed between the TRNC and Kyrgyzstan, reports that the so-called TRNC Olympic Committee headed by its chairman Gokbilen, held various contacts last week in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

    The delegation met, inter alia, with Askar Salymbekov, an MP of the ruling party of Kyrgyzstan, Asanov Bektor Jantorombayev, Minister of Youth and Sports and Murat Nazarbekovihc, chairman of the national Olympic Committee of Kyrgyztan.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] Reference to the occupied parts of Cyprus in the US report on human trafficking

    Illegal Bayrak television (05.06.08) broadcast the following:

    As human trafficking is still one of the main problems being faced throughout the world, the US annual report says the draft legislation prepared in North Cyprus bringing prohibitions to all forms of trafficking should be passed into law.

    The report was prepared with the aim of raising public awareness across countries struggling against the human trafficking.

    According to the report which was unveiled by US Embassy officials in North Cyprus, the majority of women trafficked to North Cyprus are from eastern and central Europe.

    Referring to the draft legislation prepared in North Cyprus on human trafficking, the US officials underlined the need to pass it into law and to provide training both to public and administration officials on law enforcement.

    Officials from the embassy also praised the work being carried out by non-governmental organizations in North Cyprus towards providing a solution to the trafficking problem.

    On the Greek Cypriot Administrations position towards human trafficking, the US report says South Cyprus does not comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

    Noting that South Cyprus has been placed on Tier-2 Watch List for a third consecutive year for failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, it underlines the need for the Greek Cypriot Administration to work more on law enforcement and on the protection of victims.

    Human trafficking is a very common problem faced by the global world.

    The US is holding various studies to deal with the problem and is also providing financial assistance to NGOs based in other countries suffering from the same problem.

    In addition, Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (06.06.08) makes a short reference to the annual report of the U.S. Department of State on human trafficking and writes that Turkey is being described in the report as an important arrival country of women and children used for human trafficking. According to the paper, some of the victims are carried from Turkey to occupied Cyprus.

    [07] Cars with Z-number plates will be allowed to cross the green line

    Illegal Bayrak television (05.06.08) broadcast the following:

    Its been announced that cars having Z-number plates rented by Turkish Cypriots will from now on be allowed to cross the Green Line without any additional documents.

    In a statement, the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce announced that some problems being faced by drivers having Z-number plates have been removed and that these cars will from now on be allowed to cross the Green Line after a procedure applied for private cars. The Chamber said the new move came at the end of talks with the Greek Cypriot officials.

    [08] A project financed by the EU entered into force yesterday in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (06.06.08) reports that the New Pipeline Project for the Water Depot from the Spring which is financed with funds secured within the framework of the Financial Aid Regulation of the EU for the development of the Turkish Cypriot community entered into force with a ceremony carried out yesterday at occupied Kalivakia village in the presence of Andrew Rasbash, head of the Turkish Cypriot Working Office of the European Commission and Ferdi Sabit Soyer, self-styled prime minister.

    (I/Ts.)

    [09] Officers from Turkeys War Academies are visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (06.06.08) reports that according to a statement issued by the press office of the Security Forces, 177 officers from Turkeys War Academies are visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus today within the framework of a general staff and culture visit.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] Cemil Cicek is paying an illegal visit to the island today

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (06.06.08) reports that Cemil Cicek, Turkish deputy prime minster and state minister responsible for Cyprus, is paying an illegal visit to the island today in order to participate in the opening ceremony of the 32nd international fair and hold various contacts.

    (I/Ts.)

    [11] Turkish Constitutional Court cancels amendment lifting headscarf ban

    Turkish daily Today´s Zaman newspaper (06.06.08) reported that with a vote of nine to two, Turkey's top court decided yesterday to annul constitutional amendments that would allow women to wear the Muslim headscarf at Turkish universities.

    The amendments were adopted in Parliament in February with overwhelming support from 411 deputies, 80 percent of the legislature. Analysts argue the decision to overthrow the changes will inflame already tense discussions on whether the Constitutional Court overstepped its authority by striking down a popular legislative act and in effect turning itself into a lawmaker.

    Top leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) reacted strongly to the court's decision. The deputy head of the AK Party parliamentary group, Bekir Bozdag, slammed the ruling, saying the top court had violated the Constitution and overstepped its legitimate authority. "The court overstepped the limits set out in Article 148 of the Constitution and violated the constitutional principle that no state institution can use powers not derived from the Constitution," Bozdag told reporters.

    The paper publishes the views of constitutional experts and goes on:

    Deniz Baykal, the leader of the main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP), which had originally appealed the amendments to the court, said, This will have important legal and political repercussions. CHP Deputy Chairman Onur Oymen said the party was pleased with the courts decision.

    Faruk Bal, deputy chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which had supported the amendment along with the AK Party, said the party did not agree with the verdict, but that everybody should respect the courts decision.

    The decision did not come as a surprise to many. In the past the court has overruled any attempts to allow women to wear the headscarf in institutions of higher learning. In 1989, the court annulled similar legislation aimed at lifting the ban. This was the first time; however, such an amendment had gained tremendous support from Parliament. In a short statement released by the court, it said it was upholding the appeal by the opposition party. The court found the constitutional changes in conflict with Articles 2, 4, and 148 of the Constitution.

    And the paper concludes with following citing the timeline of the headscarf status:

    By scrapping the amendment, the court has sent a strong signal that it might also decide against the ruling AK Party when it rules later this year on whether the party should be banned. The indictment filed against the party is full of references to the headscarf issue, cited as evidence of the AK Partys anti-secular leanings. The AK Party, however, rejects the charges and says the case is politically motivated.

    March 7, 1989: The Constitutional Court annulled the legislation allowing the headscarf.

    Oct. 25, 1990: A new addition was made to the Higher Education Law, stating that freedom of apparel is allowed in institutions of higher education provided that it does not conflict with other laws.

    July 14, 1992: Mehmet Saglam was appointed the president of the Higher Education Board (YOK). Based on a new addition to the Higher Education Law, he did not apply the headscarf ban to the universities.

    Dec. 6, 1995: Kemal Guruz became the president of YOK. He revised the policy and enforced a strict ban on the headscarf based on the top courts interpretation in 1989.

    Aug. 28, 2007: The draft constitution was prepared by a committee of six legal experts. The committee proposed two alternatives to eliminate the ban. The first stated that nobody can be denied the right to education based on clothing or dress codes. The second stated that there is freedom of dress in institutions of higher education.

    Sept. 17, 2007: Top AK Party leaders reviewed the draft constitution and decided to go ahead with the first proposal on the headscarf.

    Dec. 13, 2007: MHP leader Devlet Bahceli proposed an amendment to Article 10 of the Constitution as a way to lift the ban.

    Jan. 14, 2008: Prime Minister Erdogan, while on a visit to Spain, said: Even if the headscarf is a political symbol as its critics charge, how can you accept this as a crime? Can you ban symbols? Where in the world is there such a ban from the viewpoint of freedoms?

    Jan. 15, 2008: Commenting on the PMs remarks in Spain, Bahceli asked for social consensus to solve the headscarf problem.

    Jan. 16, 2008: Upon his return from Spain, Erdogan called opposition parties to action on the headscarf issue, saying: Let us not wait for a new constitution. This is very easy to solve. The MHP is in. Forget the [Republican Peoples Party] CHP.

    Jan. 17, 2008: MHP leader Bahceli put the partys proposal in writing and shared it with the AK Party.

    Jan. 23, 2008: AK Party presented its counterproposal to the MHP.

    Jan. 24, 2008: The AK Party and MHP reached a compromise, deciding to change articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution.

    Jan. 25, 2008: A scheduled summit between the AK Party and MHP was postponed because of concerns over the wording of the amendments.

    Jan. 28, 2008: Top party leaders convened again and reached a full compromise after lengthy discussions.

    Feb. 9, 2008: The ban was lifted with the passage of the amendments by 80 percent, or 411, of the deputies in Parliament.

    Feb. 22, 2008: President Abdullah Gul ratified the amendments.

    Feb. 27, 2008: The CHP and (Democratic Left Party) DSP petitioned the top court to annul the amendments.

    March 11, 2008: The Council of State reversed the order lifting the ban at universities that was issued by YOK President Yusuf Ziya Ozcan.

    [12] General Buyukanit on moderate Islam, PKK and Irak

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (05.06.08) reports the following from Istanbul:

    Important developments took place in the Middle East which also concern the future of Turkey, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, Chief of Turkish General Staff, said on Thursday.

    Gen. Buyukanit made opening remarks of an international symposium on the future of the Middle East organized by General Staff's Strategic Research and Study Center in Ankara. 124 experts from 52 countries are attending the symposium.

    "Iraq has experienced two wars in the past 15 years and important developments have taken place that also concern the future of Turkey. Problems in the Middle East severely affect the world peace and stability," he stated.

    A struggle to control energy sources (in the region) could be considered the most important element which made the region unstable, Gen. Buyukanit said.

    Energy needs of countries have been increasing gradually and the Middle East possesses 55 percent of the world's oil and 40 percent of the world's natural gas, Buyukanit said. "Even these figures give us an idea of the reason why there is instability in the Middle East," he said.

    There have been new threats and risks which appear as regional and ethnic clashes, political and economic instabilities, weapons of mass destruction, fundamentalism, drug smuggling, weapon smuggling and international terror, he said.

    Turkey --located in the region where Europe and Asia met-- was in the middle of these issues, Gen. Buyukanit said.

    Turkey's top general said Thursday if the status quo becomes permanent, Iraq will be a center of instability.

    "If the status quo in Iraq continues and becomes permanent, this would cause instability in the Middle East", Gen. Buyukanit said. "Iraq's territorial integrity and stability in Iraq are highly vital for Turkey", Gen. Buyukanit said. "Policies that would prevent the escalation of new problems in the region and keep the region free of nuclear weapons are highly important for a Middle East living in peace and stability", Gen. Buyukanit said. "With its secular and democratic characters, Turkey is a source of stability in its region in the post-Cold War era", Buyukanit said. "Turkey's importance is based on its position in global economic and political interests and its philosophy based on Kemalism", Gen. Buyukanit said.

    "We follow with concern certain sources that want to change Turkey's structure in the past few years. We see that certain circles want to add new titles [moderate Islam] to the Republic of Turkey. Legal organs of Turkey will never allow new titles for the country", Buyukanit said.

    "The republic founded by Ataturk is the future of the country. No force can ever change this reality", Buyukanit said.

    Turkey's top general said Thursday those who lose lives due to terror were victims of crime. "Terror must be strongly condemned and totally eradicated from the face of the planet. Terror happens to be a crime rather than a political goal. If the contemporary society disregards terrorist acts, it becomes a partner of terror and is in the same category with terrorists," Gen. Buyukanit said. "Up until now, peace and stability in the Middle East have been a dream as internal and external actors did not change their policies. The dream for peace may never come true in the Middle East and bloodshed and tears may continue. We must know this reality well," Gen. Buyukanit said. "In the past years, the terrorist organization used to utilize pack mules for reinforcements. We now know that the terrorist organization uses trucks in north of Iraq for reinforcements. I say this fact based on concrete knowledge," Gen. Buyukanit said. "Terrorist organizations cannot continue to survive without support from foreign sources," Buyukanit said.

    Gen. Buyukanit concluded his remarks with a quote from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk: "Peace is the best way to reach international prosperity and happiness."

    [13] Japanese companies Isuzu and Itochi to manufacture vehicles in Turkey

    Turkish daily Bugun newspaper (06.06.08) reports on Turkish President Abdullah Guls visit in Japan and writes that yesterday an additional investment agreement was signed between the Turkish Anatolia Group and the Japanese companies Isuzu and Itochi. Based on the agreement, pick-up vehicles will be manufactured in Turkey. President Gul was present at the signing ceremony.

    (ML)

    [14] Turkey, Sweden to cooperate in defense

    Under the above title Turkish Daily News newspaper (05.06.08) reports the following:

    Turkey and Sweden plan to open up to international markets in defense industry, said Murad Bayar, undersecretary for the ministry of national defense, during the Turkey-Sweden Defense Technologies meeting held in Ankara yesterday. He said the two countries could also cooperate in technological development, and they could implement joint defense project in third countries.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [15] From the Turkish Press of 5 June 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items featuring prominently in the Turkish press on 5 June:

    a) AKP closure case: In his column in Vatan, Mehmet Tezkan notes the difference between Istanbul and Ankara regarding the closure case: While Istanbul is still debating the fate of the AKP, Ankara regards the party as already banned and is, therefore, discussing the post-AKP situation. This in turn is exerting psychological pressure on and creating fissures inside the AKP, which, therefore, wants the speedy resolution of the case one way or other. Tezkan adds that the AKP is now divided between moderates who want compromise and hawks who want to fight with the universities and courts. Tezkan also says the AKP deputies are not certain about the future of President Gul, but regard Erdogan as an already proscribed leader. Tezkan also points out that while Istanbul is awaiting today's Constitutional Court decision on headscarf, Ankara knows very well that the headscarf ban will remain in place regardless of court's decision. Tezkan adds that if today the Constitutional Court annuls the headscarf amendment for violating the principle of secularism that will spell the end of the AKP.

    Rusen Cakir declares in his column in Vatan that the closure of the AKP has become inevitable, not to ban it now would mean adding strength to its popularity for the next 10 years, but those circles which want its closure will not win either after the demise of the AKP, for these circles have no clear plans and projects for post-AKP period.

    Arguing that under the AKP Turkey has increased its role in the Middle East independently of the United States and has become the center of gravity for the regional security network, Cengiz Candar warns in his column in Referans that the demise of the AKP would undermine Turkey's importance in the eye of the West and its role in the Middle East.

    Cuneyt Ulsever argues in his column in Hurriyet that Erdogan will suffer as much from Sabah-ATV sale as he is now suffering from the closure case, for the BDDK [Banking Regulation and Supervision Board] has, upon complaint from CHP Deputy Atilla Kart, opened an investigation against the two public banks that opened $750 million credit to the Calik Group to buy the Sabah group.

    b) Islamic issues: Prof Dr Ali Bardakoglu, the head of the Religious Affairs Presidency [DIB], told Ahmet Hakan's "Neutral Zone" program on CNN-Turk on Tuesday evening that "historic decisions were made" at the "provincial muftis seminar" held in Van. These "Van criteria" defend monogamy, assail teenage marriages, and say flirtation is not adultery. Bardakoglu also denied reports that their efforts to reinterpret Islam are linked to "Moderate Islam" project promoted by foreign powers, according to a report in Hurriyet.

    Commenting on Bardakoglu's CNN-Turk interview in his column in Milliyet, Taha Akyol welcomed Bardakoglu's endeavor to refresh Islam in keeping with the new social realities. Akyol noted that the "rural Islam" in Turkey is giving way to the "urban Islam," which in tern requires reinterpretation of Islam to bring it in line with the current facts of life and to promote tolerance among various sects.

    Commenting on the provincial meetings being organized by Bardakoglu to discuss religious issues in a democratic atmosphere, Fikret Bila says in his Milliyet column that the most important message being issued by Bardakoglu is that the religion should not be exploited for political purposes, especially by the PKK "terror organization" in the southeast.

    Prof Dr Saim Yeprem, the head of the DIB Publications Council, confirms Bardakoglu's statement that it was Ataturk who first launched the project to explain the hadis [sayings and actions of Prophet Mohammad] to the Turkish people in modern terms. Yeprem adds that DIB's exegesis project on hadis has no intention of promoting moderate Islam or weeding out the hadis; it aims at explaining them in modern terms, according to a Vatan report.

    Under the headline, "Which religion does the Media cartel profess?" Vakit carries a front-page report which slams the "media cartel" represented by the Hurriyet daily for "tattling" on a group of high-school students in Adana who performed Islamic prayers on the roof of their school. The report cites the Hurriyet report about these students as proof of the presence of "pressures on Muslims" denied by the mainstream media.

    Also front-paged is a report entitled "European court maintains heathen attitude toward headscarf," which asserts that the European Court of Human Rights' latest ruling against the Islamic headscarf has established that the European court is not a place for Muslims to seek restitution of their rights.

    In an article entitled "If Muslims are free, what are these pressures?", Vakit Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya argues that the Hurriyet news story about a number of high-schools students who performed namaz on the roof of their school has demonstrated once again that the mainstream press perceives Islam and Muslims as its primary enemy. He criticizes Hurriyet sharply for putting these students "in the crosshairs" of the law "as though they had committed a crime by consuming liquor, using drugs, or spending money on gambling." He also asserts that rather than allowing the press to hurry him into stating his intention to launch an inquiry into this incident, the local national education director in Adana should have underlined their own responsibility for what happened by calling attention to school administrations' failure to implement a Ministry of Education directive dated 13 December, 1977 which enjoins schools to allocate places of worship for observant students.

    In an article entitled "Democracy, secularism, and freedom of faith", Milli Gazete columnist Abdulkadir Ozkan censures the European Court of Human Rights ruling against an appeal filed by two women teachers who asked to be allowed to enter classes wearing their headscarves as one indicating that just like the Turkish establishment, the European court treats secularism as a system aimed at restricting religious freedoms.

    c) Preview of Military Symposium on Middle East: Previewing today's symposium on the future of the Middle East organized by SAREM, Strategic Research and Studies Center of the General Staff, Ismail Kucukkaya says in his column in Aksam that the symposium is being organized at a time when the PKK has been isolated and the state is introducing social and cultural reforms in the southeast. He says the army is organizing this symposium to draw attention to the international rivalry in the Middle East and to impress the civilians, academicians, and the press that the military has deep analytical knowledge of the international politics.

    Turkish papers have been updating their Internet pages to report on the salient points of Gen Buyukanit's opening speech at the symposium. So far, Hurriyet carries a summary of his statement on the situation in regional countries, in which he also stresses that Turkey will remain a democratic, secular, and modern state without any allegiance to any foreign power.

    d) Ties with US: The 2000 agreement between Turkey and the United States on cooperation on nuclear energy has gone into effect with the exchange of diplomatic notes between the two countries, according to a Radikal report.

    A Cumhuriyet report argues that Foreign Minister Ali Babacan is visiting the United States to gain the support of Vice President Cheney, who harbors anti-AKP sentiments, against the closure of the AKP. In return, Turkey will meet American expectations on the issue of Iran. The report quotes diplomatic sources as saying that if this bargaining succeeds, Turkey will soon become a side in the Tehran-Washington dispute.

    Commenting on reports that the Turkish General Staff has been working on a new concept of irregular warfare, Guler Komurcu says in her Aksam column that the opposition has no right to criticize such a preparation by the Turkish army given that the United States is making preparations to conduct such an irregular warfare from 2014 to 2026.

    In an article entitled "'I used to be Muslim once but my family has Jewish roots'", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul poses the question of whether an Obama presidency in the United States would bring a "civilian revolution" or "a deep, Anglo-American intervention where extraordinary methods would be used [to oust Obama?]." He claims that what is "clearing Obama's path" is "the conflict between the classical US government structures and global capital groups that are attempting to establish a new world order." He also asserts that "Obama faces two choices: either he will reverse the United States' current aggressive and greedy policies and reconcile his country with the world or he will submit to the war lobby and the deep America. If he takes the first option, he will have to contend with major upheavals and traps. If he takes the second, he will be certain to lose. Yet if the third possibility is played out and he succeeds, he will make his mark not only on US political history but also on world history."

    In an article entitled "Barack Husein Obama, of Course", Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay explains why he would "definitely" choose Obama over McCain "for the sake of the world and Turkey." He claims that Obama's aides do not include "neo-conservatives who attach importance to good relations with the military rather than to democracy, hold Israeli interests higher than US interests, and look at the Middle East only from the standpoint of Israel's security. ... Obama tends to favor diplomacy over militarism and is more disposed to cooperate with his allies than to act independently."

    e) Kurdish issues: Diyarbakir public prosecutor has launched an investigation against DTP group leader Emine Ayna for engaging in PKK propaganda during her speech at the Patriotic Democratic Youth congress last Sunday, according to a Star report, which adds that the prosecutor will ask the parliament to lift her immunity to enable the prosecution.

    In Tunceli, where only Sunnites were allowed to take village guard posts, some 1,500 Alevis have also applied to this job following security forces' efforts to expand the village guard system in the region, according to a Radikal report.

    In an article entitled "AK party and the Kurdish issue: A new beginning?", Today's Zaman columnist Ibrahim Kalin argues that "while the renewed GAP [Southeastern Anatolian Project] development plan [unveiled by the ruling AKP] promises socio-economic change," it will take "much more political capital and courage" on the part of the Government to address the "Kurdish issue" successfully.

    f) TIT Threatens Baskin Oran: The Turkish Revenge Brigade, TIT, has issued a death threat against Agos columnist Prof Dr Baskin Oran, according to a Radikal report. In an email sent to Agos from the zerkama@hotmail.com, the TIT has informed Oran that he is next to be killed after Hrant Dink and that as long as it [TIT] exists the "Armenian bastards will not be able to sleep peacefully." Oran has filed a complaint with the prosecutor over the death threat.

    g) Gul's Visit to Japan: Eser Karakas says in his column in Star that President Gul's visit to Japan aims at increasing trade ties and attracting Japanese firms and tourists to Turkey. In his column for Radikal, Ismet Berkan also says Gul's visit might revive Japanese commercial interest in Turkey. Semih Idiz too says in his column in Milliyet that Gul's visit aims at attracting Japanese investments to Turkey. Noting that currently Japan sells $360 million worth of goods to Turkey and imports $2.4 billion worth of goods from Turkey and only 160,000 Japanese tourists visit Turkey because the Japanese basically regard Turkey as an unstable Middle Eastern country, Idiz says Turkey's membership in EU will change the Japanese perception of Turkey. Erdal Safak, however, says in his column in Sabah that there also political objectives behind Gul's visit. Turkey and Japan could support each other for the UN Security Council membership, for one. According to Safak Turkey would like to partner with Japanese construction firms for projects in the Middle East and Africa, adding that Turkey is supporting Japanese infiltration into Africa at the expense of European colonialists.

    EG/


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