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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 09-12-03

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 <>



  • [01] The Turkish side has reportedly prepared a package of nine points for the Cyprus problem
  • [02] Talat has sent a letter to the Swedish Prime Minister regarding the ongoing negotiation process
  • [03] Talats programme during his visit to London
  • [04] Downer said he is satisfied with the acceleration of the negotiations for reaching to a solution to the Cyprus problem
  • [05] Erel noted that in reality there is no hope for solution until the elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [06] Baykal alleged that there are two sovereign entities on Cyprus
  • [07] Sener Elcil has gained the right to represent the whole of Cyprus in ETUCE
  • [08] Samsun womens basketball team says it cannot visit Cyprus for the return match with AEL due to economic problems
  • [09] Turkeys EU Negotiators views on the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus
  • [10] Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers meet; Cyprus among their issues of discussion
  • [11] Turkish government to appoint new deputy governors for EU affairs in all the 81 Turkish provinces
  • [12] EUs new foreign affairs chief calls for a debate concerning the reason of the completion of only one chapter for Turkey
  • [13] Egemen Bagis calls on Muslim countries to withdraw their money from Switzerland and deposit them in Turkey
  • [14] Turkey sent more troops to Afghanistan last month

  • [15] From the Turkish Press of 02 December 2009


    [01] The Turkish side has reportedly prepared a package of nine points for the Cyprus problem

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (03.12.09) reports that the Turkish side, which wants to intensify the negotiating process, is preparing to announce a comprehensive proposal package. Citing information published by the Turkish NTV television in its website, the paper writes that the package includes detailed information on the issue of Governance and Power Sharing. The package has been jointly prepared by Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot side and consists of nine points and many subheadings. The package proposals are that the president and the vice president of the new administration should be subjected to an election for approval by the two peoples. That is, the Greeks will be given the possibility to vote for the Turkish candidate and the Turks for the Greek candidate. In return of this, the Turkish side will demand from the Greek side equal or increased term in the rotating presidency. Moreover, the Turkish side demands the increase of the number of the Turkish members of the council of ministers. The paper writes that the package is expected to come onto the agenda of the meeting between Prime Minster Erdogan and President Obama on December 7. Erdogan is expected to ask from Obama active participation in the negotiating process.


    [02] Talat has sent a letter to the Swedish Prime Minister regarding the ongoing negotiation process

    Illegal Bayrak television (02.12.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica has underlined the necessity to move on to a new stage in the ongoing talks aimed at bringing a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus Problem. He also said that efforts by the Greek Cypriot side to use its membership to block Turkeys EU accession will only damage the negotiations process.

    The Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica told reporters at his weekly press briefing this afternoon that President Mehmet Ali Talat had sent the Swedish Prime Minister, in his capacity as the EU term President, a letter informing the EU of the latest stage reached in the negotiations process as well as the Turkish sides stance regarding the Greek Cypriot sides attitude.

    Underlining the need to adopt a different method in the negotiations so as to speed up the process, Ercakica said that intensive consultations were going on with Turkey in preparation for such a phase. Touching upon the Presidents recent contacts in Ankara, the spokesman said that President Talat had held a series of high-level contacts in the Turkish capital to assess areas where the Turkish side can exercise flexibility to a degree. Drawing attention to the fact that the Greek Cypriot Side has always been preoccupied with countering the positive steps taken by Turkey, the Presidential Spokesman said that efforts by the Greek Cypriot Administration to link the Cyprus issue with Turkeys EU membership process was damaging the talks.

    [03] Talats programme during his visit to London

    Illegal Bayrak television (02.12.09) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat prepares to hold a series of significant contacts in London. The President will fly to the British capital on Friday morning and the visit is perceived as fundamental, as Britain is one of the guarantor powers in Cyprus. A meeting with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is included in the Presidents agenda.

    President Talat will start his contacts on the day of arrival with a closed session on the Cyprus issue to be chaired by Sir Kieran Prendergast, who served as the Secretary-Generals Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at the United Nations from 1997-2005. The session is going to take place at the Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which is well-known world-wide for being the place for free speech with confidentiality protection.

    On Friday afternoon, President Talat will meet Gordon Brown at the Parliaments building. The Presidents Saturday agenda includes the inauguration ceremony of the TRNC-based Girne American Universitys campus at Canterbury and a meeting with Cyprus Turkish students. On Sunday, Mr Talat will meet the Greek Cypriot political party DISYs leader, Mr Nikos Anastasiades, at breakfast. This will be followed with a public reception to be given by the Britain-based Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce.

    The TRNC President will also be giving interviews to some leading British media representatives on Monday morning. He will then address the Cyprus Turkish society in London with a speech to be broadcast live on the London Turkish Radio.

    President Mehmet Ali Talat will finalize his contacts with a public lecture entitled Cyprus: The Settlement Process at the London School of Economics on Monday afternoon. The Conference is organized by the Contemporary Turkish Studies of LSE and will be free to all, tickets required.

    [04] Downer said he is satisfied with the acceleration of the negotiations for reaching to a solution to the Cyprus problem

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (03.12.09) reports that Alexander Downer, UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for Cyprus, met yesterday for one hour with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat. In statements after the meeting, Mr Downer said he is satisfied with the acceleration of the negotiations for reaching to a solution to the Cyprus problem. Responding to questions of the journalists after the meeting, Mr Donwer said they had a very good discussion with Mr Talat and took up the ongoing negotiations. He noted that the leaders, who meet twice a week, will meet again today and discuss the issue of the citizenship. He reminded that the leaders met yesterday as well and added that their representatives will meet tomorrow again. Mr Downer expressed his satisfaction with the very intensive process. Replying to a question regarding the wish of the Turkish side for further intensification of the negotiations, he said that the issue is focusing on speeding up the process at a reasonable level and added that the UN encourages this.


    [05] Erel noted that in reality there is no hope for solution until the elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Under the front-page title, Erel: Talat does not say the truth, Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (03.12.09) reports that the Chairman of the EU Association, Ali Erel has harshly criticized the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat. In statements during an interview with the Turkish Cypriot local KIBRIS TV television, Mr Erel told journalist Serhat Incirli that Mr Talat is bombarding the people with hopes for a solution for the sake of simply winning the elections. He noted that in reality there is no hope for solution until the elections.

    [06] Baykal alleged that there are two sovereign entities on Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (03.12.09) reports that the chairman of the Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Mr Deniz Baykal, has said that they are not informed enough regarding the negotiations in Cyprus and alleged that there are two sovereign entities on the island. In statements yesterday before meeting the Turkish Cypriot delegation headed by the self-styled speaker of the assembly, Hasan Bozer, Mr Baykal claimed, inter alia, the following regarding the negotiations in Cyprus:

    There is a need for a new start, the realization of a new political structuring from zero. ... There are two sovereign entities. These entities will come together with their own will and materialize a new political structuring, a common political structuring with their own will.

    Mr Baykal alleged that a last effort is carried out today for forming the final status of Cyprus and added that the CHP is in favour of an arrangement which will be giving the two separate communities, the two separate peoples in Cyprus the opportunity to live in stability in their own geographies. He claimed that a solution is needed by means of taking as basis the geographical separation.

    Moreover, in his statements Mr Bozer said that the Cyprus problem is not an issue of the Turkish Cypriots only and that it is a national cause which we have carried out together with the Motherland through history. Mr Bozer claimed that the essence of the Cyprus problem is that the Greek Cypriots want to unite the island with Greece and alleged that the proposals which come today onto the agenda of the Cyprus talks show that the Greek Cypriots have not made a step backwards from this view. We want an agreement for the Turkish Cypriots to live in the island forever, he said.


    [07] Sener Elcil has gained the right to represent the whole of Cyprus in ETUCE

    Under the title Bravo Elcil, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (03.12.09) reports that at the general assembly of the Organization of the European Teachers Trade Unions (ETUCE) held in Warsaw, Sener Elcil, General Secretary of the Turkish Cypriot Primary School Teachers Trade Union (KTOS), has gained the right to represent the whole of Cyprus in the above-mentioned organization for three years. KTOS and the Secondary School Teachers Trade Union (KTOEOS) organized a press conference yesterday and briefed the press on the results of the general assembly of the ETUCE and their stance on the law that regulates the wages and salaries of the public servants.

    Referring to the general assembly of ETUCE, the paper writes that Mr Elcil secured 2.232 votes at the voting, while the Greek Cypriot representative only 808. Afrika reports that the election of Elcil is considered to be the greatest success of the Turkish Cypriots at international platforms since 1963.

    Moreover, the chairman of KTOS, Guven Varoglu read out a joint statement issued by the trade unions regarding the above-mentioned law. The statement said, inter alia, the following: Our struggle against these laws, which aim at forcing the Turkish Cypriots to emigrate from the island and assimilate them, will continue in every field. It should not be forgotten that Turkey is on our Island within the framework of its duty as guarantor in order to restore the constitutional order of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974 and protect its territorial integrity. The authorities of Turkey are responsible for every kind of development experienced in the north of the island.

    The teachers said that messages of support to their struggle came from ETUCE, the Education International which has 36 million members and organizations in the field of education from Turkey, Bulgaria, Estonia, Great Britain, Italy and Spain. It was noted that protest was expressed against the policies of Turkey regarding the northern part of the island.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (03.12.09) refers to the election of Mr Elcil as the representative of Cyprus at the ETUCE under the title Elcil will represent Cyprus! The paper reports that this is the way by which the thing called recognition takes place.


    [08] Samsun womens basketball team says it cannot visit Cyprus for the return match with AEL due to economic problems

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (03.12.09) reports that the womens basketball team of Samsun Club from Turkey, which represents its country in the FIBA Euro Cup Women, has appealed to the federation not to visit Cyprus for the return match with AEL Limassol club, alleging that it faces economic crisis. Emir Turan, responsible for the foreign relations of the Turkish Basketball Federation, stated that such a situation might be turned into a diplomatic crisis between the two countries which have problems in their relations for years.


    [09] Turkeys EU Negotiators views on the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (02.12.09) reported the following from Brussels:

    Turkish State Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks, Egemen Bagis, said Wednesday he had the right not to listen to those mixing criticisms with insult. Addressing the Foreign Relations Committee of the European Parliament, Egemen Bagis said that if the foe of Islam and Chairman of the Party for Freedom Dutch Geert Wilders had a right to freely express himself, then he in return had a right not to listen to those mixing criticisms with insult.

    Asking for their support to Turkey's EU membership, Bagis told the European deputies that the EU can deal better with issues such as energy security, counter-terrorism, illegal migration, human and illegal drug trafficking, finding peaceful methods to overcome international conflicts, strengthening democracy and human rights by working with Turkey. Reminding that 1.5 billion Islamic world watched closely Turkey's EU membership process, Bagis said that Turkey played important mediatory roles in many international cases, including between Israel-Syria, Afghanistan-Pakistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina-Serbia, Georgia-Russia and Iran-the Western world. We have initiated a democratic move in Turkey after realizing that a certain part of the society had difficulties in benefiting from their democratic rights, Bagis stressed. Bagis called on the EU to extend more support to Turkey in the fight against terror and make it easier to take concrete steps in this process.

    Reacting to Greek Cypriot and Greek deputies who proposed that Turkey make a gesture by pulling her troops from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Egemen Bagis said that Turkey has been making gestures continuously since 2002. We have promised the United Nations that we will be a step ahead for a solution in Cyprus. We have made efforts in this direction as was seen in the case of the Annan Plan, Bagis noted.

    If Greece and Britain decide to pull their troops from the island, we can discuss this issue. When you talk about pulling your troops from the island the issue becomes a matter of sovereignty. However, when it comes to the Turkish troops, it becomes a matter of gesture. Let us make gestures together, Bagis said.If the EU, as it promised earlier, ends the isolations imposed on the TRNC and begins direct trade, Turkey would be ready to open her ports to the use of Greek Cypriots, Bagis said.

    Charged by an EP deputy from the Party for Freedom, Barry Madlener, with limiting the freedom of expression of Dutch leader Geert Wilders, Bagis said that Wilders had the right for freedom of expression. I have the freedom not to listen to those mixing criticisms with insult. He can state his own thoughts and so can I. The Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen also indicated that Turkish officials do not have to meet with Wilders. Wilders mixes criticisms with insult. He should read his statements before judging the reaction of others, Bagis stressed.Asked by Madlener if Turkey provided the same amount of rights to Christians as did Switzerland to Muslims, Bagis said that the Christians can erect churches in Turkey. The Christians in Turkey have benefited from such privilege for the past 800 years. Churches, synagogues and mosques offer peace to humanity side by side in my electoral district Istanbul. My children play with Christian and Jewish children in the street and exchange gifts on special days. Turkey is a country where different religions can live together, Bagis also said.

    [10] Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers meet; Cyprus among their issues of discussion

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (02.12.09) reported the following:

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with the Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday. Davutoglu, currently in Athens to attend meeting of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ministers Council, met with Papandreou for 45 minutes.

    Davutoglu gave a news conference after his meeting and described the meeting as very fruitful. The parties shared the vision pertaining to the future of the two countries. I see a very strong ground to boost Turkish-Greek relations, Davutoglu said. He said high-level political dialogue between Turkey and Greece would continue increasingly, economic relations would be strengthened and measures would be in question to foster cultural relations. Davutoglu said Turkey developed cooperation council with other neighbouring countries noting that it would be in the interest of the both parties in case a similar cooperation mechanism could be established between Turkey and Greece. I have explained this to Papandreou. Greek party said it would assess the matter, he said. He said foreign ministries of Turkey and Greece would carry out negotiations within this framework.

    Turkish foreign minister said: we have exchanged views on problems in the Aegean, exploratory talks, Cyprus question, mutual contribution to solution of Cyprus question, as well as roles to be assumed as countries having observer status aiming to find a fair and lasting solution in Cyprus. It is important to relay encouraging messages to the parties during negotiation process. Davutoglu said Turkey and Greece had very important roles to turn east Mediterranean into an area of peace, security and prosperity. He added that the parties "sincerely" expressed what should be done on minorities in Turkey and Greece and cultural relations.

    Turkish foreign minister thanked Greece for the support it extended to Turkey's EU bid. Referring to the climate summit that would take place soon, Davutoglu said: Turkey and Greece share the same fate as they share the same geography. We agreed that more negotiations should take place in international organizations regarding the matters affecting common future. Davutoglu will proceed to Brussels on Wednesday evening to attend NATO foreign ministers' meeting.

    Davutoglu said his talks in Greek capital of Athens were fairly positive. Davutoglu had meetings with foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Lithuania and Austria within the scope of the meeting of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ministers Council. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on members of OSCE to develop dialogue to solve problems as well as to make the organization more active. Speaking at a meeting of OSCE Ministers Council in Greece on Wednesday, Davutoglu said, "a renewed commitment in Athens to elevate and deepen our dialogue will enable all of us to explore how we may better implement our common commitments, more effectively address multidimensional and transnational challenges, further strengthen democracy and the rule of law and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, sharpen our crisis management, conflict prevention and conflict resolution tools and mechanisms, and consolidate the arms control and confidence and security building measures including through increasing their efficiency and relevance. Davutoglu thanked the efforts of Russia which sent the draft European Security Agreement to Turkish President Abdullah Gul. He said, We should continue to build upon the OSCE's assets to address the threats of terrorism, organized crime and all forms of trafficking more effectively."

    [11] Turkish government to appoint new deputy governors for EU affairs in all the 81 Turkish provinces

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (03.12.09) reported the following:

    The government is preparing to appoint new deputy governors for European Union affairs in all of Turkeys 81 provinces, a new step to boost Ankaras troubled bid to join the 27-nation bloc, State Minister Egemen Bagis, who is also the chief negotiator for EU talks, has said.

    Bagis, speaking to a group of journalists on the sidelines of his talks with senior EU officials --including Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn-- in Brussels on Wednesday, said the new appointments will be made soon. He said the EU process would gain new momentum if local administrators are also included in the efforts to bring Turkish standards into line with those of the EU. In every province, there will be a deputy governor who will be in charge of EU affairs. We are working with the Interior Ministry. We will send about 150 EU experts into the provinces. The EU membership process is now making an impact throughout Turkey, he said.

    Turkey opened accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, but there has been limited progress since then due to a dispute over Cyprus and objections in certain EU countries against Turkish accession. Surveys show public enthusiasm for EU membership has declined considerably in Turkey in recent years. Bagis said new units are being created within the Prime Ministrys Secretariat-General for EU Affairs --the main state body that specializes in coordinating the process of harmonization with the EUs extensive regulations, called the acquis communautaire-- to better deal with the technical requirements of the membership process.

    The chief negotiator also said the EU Commissions latest progress report on Turkey, released in autumn, showed that Turkey was in a good situation compared to previous years. Noting that past reports extensively highlighted issues of freedom of speech and human rights violations, Bagis said this years report has noted progress in all these fields. There is nothing in the progress report that would make us ashamed now, he added.

    Bagis also claimed that there are more obstacles in Turkey than in Europe towards Turkeys accession, saying illegal anti-government groups are hindering the process. There are criminal groups trying to hinder the EU membership process. We are very determined, as the government, and will not allow this, Bagis said, in apparent reference to the shadowy Ergenekon network.

    [12] EUs new foreign affairs chief calls for a debate concerning the reason of the completion of only one chapter for Turkey

    Ankara Anatolia reported the following from Brussels:

    European Union's new foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, said Wednesday countries with different viewpoints need to debate on why only one chapter has been completed in Turkey's entry negotiations in such a long time.

    Asked by an European Parliament deputy on Turkey's chances of joining the EU in the next 10-15 years, Ashton said that Turkey completed negotiations on only one chapter out of 32 in a very long period of time.

    Member countries have different thoughts on EU's enlargement. We need to discuss how we can make our relations with Turkey better. The fact that only one chapter has been completed in Turkey's entry negotiations, is definitely a reason to start a debate, Ashton stressed.

    [13] Egemen Bagis calls on Muslim countries to withdraw their money from Switzerland and deposit them in Turkey

    Hurriyet Daily News (02.12.09) publishes the following report under the title:

    Turkey's chief negotiator with the European Union has called on Muslims to withdraw their money from Swiss banks. A Turkish economist said that if the call, which is in response to the minaret ban in Switzerland, is followed by action, Turkey may indeed manage to divert some of the bank accounts to itself. Speaking on Tuesday about the controversial minaret ban, Egemen Bagis said he is sure that the ban would be an opportunity for our Muslim brothers to review their decision to keep their money in Swiss banks. Replying to a question on whether such a move would create a backlash by encouraging "Christians to withdraw their money from Turkish banks," Bagis said Turkey does not exercise any ban on Christian faith. There is no reason for Christians to do so, he told journalists in Brussels. All religions are freely practiced in Turkey. For 900 years, mosques, churches and synagogues in Turkey have been offering peace to humanity. Not only Turks, but many Muslims have investments and funds in Swiss banks. Last year, all global banks had losses or went bankrupt, but not even a single Turkish bank was at a loss, he said.

    The Turkish banking sector showed its resilience in the 2008 crisis. Thus, I am giving a message to those who wish to review their investments in Turkey [by saying] that Turkey should be taken into account. Turkey is a safe harbour and the right address for investments, Bagis said. In essence, Turkey is trying to attract Turkish investments in various countries in an effort to strengthen its foreign currency situation, said economist Kerem Alkin in relation to Bagis' statements. What Bagis said might be a wise tactic to widen the scope to all Muslims, he said. However, if Muslims who have Swiss bank accounts are keeping their money there for different reasons, such as for less taxes or [because of] sound banking, attracting them might be difficult, Alkin told the Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review. It may be necessary to follow these words with deeds, questioning why Muslims keep their money at Swiss banks, he said. Noting that Swiss banks did not do well amid the global crisis, Alkin said Bagis might be trying to seize an opportunity during a period when the image of Swiss banks is vulnerable.

    On the Swiss referendum Todays Zaman (03.12.09) reported that the Foreign Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu has had talks with his Swiss counterpart, Micheline Calmy-Rey, on how to contain growing global protests against a controversial referendum to ban construction of minarets.

    The two ministers have discussed a new referendum to reverse the ban as an option to ease tensions simmering in the aftermath of the weekend vote. Speaking on Wednesday to reporters in Athens, where he attended a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Davutoglu said he had told Calmy-Rey that the referendum could spark a crisis similar to the one that erupted following the 2006 publication of caricatures in Denmark insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

    He told reporters that Calmy-Rey was aware of how important the issue is and added that he sensed that the Swiss minister was ready to take measures to address the situation. When holding a new referendum on the ban was discussed, Calmy-Rey did not rule it out, saying such options are available. A new referendum requires 100,000 signatures demanding a new public vote to reverse the ban.

    The proposal to reverse the ban with a new referendum has supporters among the European Greens as well. In remarks to Swiss state television on Tuesday night, European Greens co-chair Daniel Cohn-Bendit said that a referendum to reverse the decision should be held in one years time.

    The minaret ban is a slap in the face to Muslims, and the issue should be taken to the polls again in a year, he said. Democracy doesnt always come up with the right answer. During World War II the vast majority of Germans were opposed to Jews, he added.

    Davutoglu requested a last-minute change in the text of his speech at the OSCE gathering on Wednesday when he found out that the earlier text did not include any reference to the minaret ban. The revised text included a paragraph, saying that the Swiss ban was not in line with freedom of religion, protection of which is a key responsibility for the OSCE.

    In a sign that the Swiss referendum could set an example across Europe, Italys far-right coalition partner Northern League said Italy, too, should adopt legislative changes to allow referendums on issues that are currently not put to public vote. The Northern Leagues proposal, however, is not expected to receive support from other parties.

    [14] Turkey sent more troops to Afghanistan last month

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (02.12.09) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Minister of National Defence, Vecdi Gonul, said Wednesday Turkish troops in Afghanistan will continue not to engage in clashes in Afghanistan. Reminded by journalists about a U.S. demand from Turkey to increase the number of her troops in Afghanistan, Gonul said that Turkey continues to provide support to the task in Afghanistan.

    We have sent an additional 958 Turkish troops to Afghanistan in the past month and there are presently 1,750 Turkish troops serving in Afghanistan, Gonul stressed. We continue our reservations on Turkish troops' involvement in military operations and hot clashes in Afghanistan, Gonul said.

    The issue of sending more troops to Afghanistan will be handled at the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on December 3 and 4, Gonul also said.


    [15] From the Turkish Press of 02 December 2009

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 02 December 2009:

    a) Swiss referendum on Minarets

    Viewing the Swiss ban on minarets in an article in Milliyet, Sami Kohen writes that it manifests the reaction of the Swiss toward Muslim communities, their beliefs and traditions, and their culture and life style. Noting that the votes cast are also an indication of the anger and hatred felt by the nationalist and racist circles toward foreigners, Kohen claims that certain politicians and a certain sector of the population in Switzerland have caught the "European virus," which is tantamount to "separatism, intolerance, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and populism."

    Wondering what the result of a similar referendum on churches in Turkey would be in an article in Hurriyet, Yilmaz Ozdil writes that one should not go so far as to hold a referendum on churches or synagogues, adding that the intolerance shown to Cem Evis, Alevis' place of worship, explains all. In conclusion, the writer laments about the evils of hypocrisy.

    The general impression we get from the Turkish media is that the minaret ban symbolizes intolerance, claims Can Atakli in his column in Vatan, adding that, however, he believes that the real reason is not intolerance but fear. Explaining that the Swiss people have voted as they have not because of their faith or because they reject Islam, Atakli maintains that they have voted against the minarets because they are afraid of the image radical Islamists have spread to the world. Noting that there is a "mass" fear of Islam in the Western world, Atakli adds: "They are not afraid of the philosophy of Islam, but of the terror created by those who claim to adhere to that philosophy, because they believe that the Islamic sector is the source of the terror that has been directed against human lives in the last decade. We will experience many more incidents such as the minaret referendum so long as this fear is not eliminated."

    In an article entitled "A little, a lot", in Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak argues that the results of the Swiss referendum on minarets have caused a beneficial debate on democracy, human rights, freedom, fascism, justice, and the rule of law that is much more important than the question of whether mosques in Switzerland will have minarets or not. He also comments on Prime Minister Erdogan's remark in response to an article by a Milliyet columnist that "the less columnists write, the sooner the country could solve its problems." After describing himself as the most prolific columnist in the Turkish press and explaining how he perceives the act of writing articles as a form of prayer, Dilipak criticizes Erdogan's remark as "a detail that should not have been included in an otherwise beautiful and meaningful speech."

    In an article entitled "Mosques in Switzerland, churches in Turkey", Today's Zaman writer Orhan Cengiz asserts that the "shameful and humiliating ban on minarets in Switzerland" should help "devout Muslims" in Turkey empathize with non-Muslims in this country as well as paving the way for "more solidarity between Muslims and non-Muslims."

    b) Kurdish problem

    One can say that we are going through a period in the Kurdish overture that is difficult to understand or to describe because of the uncertainty over the disarmament of the PKK, which constitutes the first and most difficult stage of the overture, writes Rusen Cakir in an article in Vatan, adding that the government has stepped on the breaks following the reaction shown to the Habur incidents. Noting that the PKK is more concerned about Abdullah Ocalan's living conditions in Imrali than it is about the overture, Cakir adds that the various demonstrations being staged in all regions of the country and the clashes with the security forces further cast a shadow over the overture. The biggest problem the Justice and Development Party, AKP, faces with regards to the overture is from within the party itself, claims Cakir, accusing Prime Minister Erdogan and his staff of not having prepared the party grassroots and the AKP administration to such an overture. Describing the current situation as "the quiet before the storm," Cakir raises the strong possibility of future tempests within the party on the Kurdish issue.

    The government is caught in the crossfire between the opposition and the recent PKK acts sabotaging the overture, maintains Bilal Cetin in an article in Vatan. The government was hoping to please the Kurds with a few measures aimed at democratization and to disarm the PKK through foreign pressure, writes Cetin, adding that, however, "the recent harsh statements issued by the Democratic Society Party, DTP, as well as the statements issued by the PKK, and the demonstrations held in metropolitan areas have placed the government in a difficult position. Therefore, in the future it will be inevitable for the government to hesitate even on the simple steps it can take." Enumerating all the new conditions the PKK has put forth, Cetin argues that they cannot be met and that, therefore, the government will lose the support of the DTP. Commenting on the efforts being exerted to evacuate Makhmur Camp and PKK attempts to prevent it, Cetin concludes: "The stand the Barzani Administration will adopt on the issue is important. Securing the return of those residing at Makhmur Camp and speeding up the disintegration of the PKK depends upon the cooperation and the effectiveness of the Barzani Administration."

    In an article entitled "Izmir cannot fall prey to fascism" in Zaman, columnist Mehmet Kamis criticizes the "wave of neo-nationalism" that has been "rising in [the Western city of] Izmir in the past ten years" and whose latest manifestations include protests against demonstrations staged by the Democratic Society Party, DTP, and PKK supporters. Kamis characterizes the pro-PKK demonstrations held in this city as an insignificant act of provocation that a "libertarian" city like Izmir should have been expected to deal with properly. He also claims that baseless fears in Izmir about the rise of religious reactionism in the country have turned this city into a breeding ground for Fascism.

    In an article entitled "A political vacuum and Kurdish Alevis" in Zaman, columnist Bejan Matur asserts that the Republican People's Party (CHP) has alienated its Kurdish Alevi supporters as a result of statements by its officials that endorsed the measures used the suppress the Dersim Rebellion in 1937 and objections by the CHP to the Governments latest democratization initiative that served to reveal the essence of this partys Kurdish policy. Matur claims that while Kurdish Alevis have burnt their bridges with the CHP, they have not yet decided which political party to support, adding that Prime Minister Erdogan should give some serious thought to the question of why he cannot obtain the backing of Kurdish Alevi voters despite his mass appeal and his performance as a political leader who has modified the countrys government structures.

    In an article entitled Parties and party members in Milli Gazete, columnist Zeki Ceyhan warns that the incidents in Izmir started by the stoning of a DTP convoy appear already to have touched off similar events in Mersin, Istanbul, Hakkari, and Urfa. He advises political parties to caution their supporters duly against starting or getting involved in any disturbances, asserting that otherwise the unrest in these cities could spill over into the rest of the country.

    c) Foreign policy issues

    Columnist Bulent Aras in his article in Sabah claims that Turkish-US relations are, to a great extent, determined by foreign factors with an inevitable dimension of risk management. Noting that a new era has begun with President Obama, Aras underlines that an opportunity has now been created to establish a model partnership in which Turkey and the United States can jointly contribute to regional and international security. The upcoming Obama-Erdogan meeting will give us serious clues on the course bilateral relations will take in the next decade, concludes Aras.

    In an article in Hurriyet Daily News, Joost Lagendijk expresses the belief that the current negotiations being held in Cyprus might bear fruit. Detailed opinion polls on both sides of the island suggest that well-calibrated compromises on properties and governance could get a majority in both communities, writes Lagendijk, adding that the real problem is security. Lagendijk stresses the need for Turkey and Greece, the two key players in the Cyprus issue, to step in to reach a comprehensive and sustainable solution on issues concern troops and the right to intervene and calls on these two countries to use the next 10 weeks to get together and decide on an effective strategy.

    Viewing President Obamas strategy for Afghanistan in an article in Taraf, Yasemin Congar writes that it is possible for the United States to seek more NATO contribution in Afghanistan and to pressure its allies to dispatch more troops, predicting that, however, this pressure might not yield positive results. A quagmire similar to that of Iraq might be awaiting Obama in Afghanistan, claims Congar, noting that she will not be surprised if Prime Minister Erdogan, in a gesture to President Obama, announces during his meeting with the US president that Turkey will be increasing its contribution to Afghanistan.


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