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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-03-01
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 39/10 27.2-1.03.10
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Talat evaluates the contacts he had during his visit to SpainIllegal Bayrak television (28.2.10) broadcast the following:
President Mehmet Ali Talat returned to the republic last night after completing his contacts in the Spanish capital Madrid.
Speaking to the press in Istanbul on his way back to the republic, the TRNC President said the resolution of the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives, which rejected the Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance in Cyprus, was an attack to the ongoing negotiations. The Greek Cypriot House of Representatives was not helping but harming the negotiation process by taking such decisions on the issues which are on the agenda of the negotiations and by trying to interfere in the negotiation process with such decisions, Mr Talat said. Noting that the TRNC Parliament gave the necessary response to the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives, he said the resolution adopted by the Republic's assembly emphasized that Turkeys active and effective guarantee is vital for the Turks of Cyprus.
Explaining that his visit to Spain was very fruitful and positive, Mr Talat said he had a chance to explain the Turkish Cypriot sides views on the Cyprus issue to the EU term president, Spain.
Responding to a question about the Greek Cypriot sides initiatives to open new embassies or representative offices in some Muslim countries, Mr Talat said such a development would not be surprising as the Greek Cypriot side is unjustly recognized by the whole world.
Moreover, Ankara Anatolia news agency (28.2.10) reported the following from Istanbul:
President Mehmet Ali Talat of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said that he had a quite beneficial meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Angel Moratinos on the Cyprus negotiation process.
President Talat told reporters after his arrival from Spain as the guest of the Spanish government. Moratinos told me that he would do everything in his power to help the TRNC. Spain wants to deal with the Cyprus issue seriously as president of the European Union. The most important aspect of this visit was that Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the Union, invited us. No EU presidency has invited us before. Spain was the first.
President Talat paid a three-day visit to Spain and held a series of talks with Spanish authorities including Foreign Minister Moratinos and former Foreign Minister Marcelino Oreja.
Meanwhile, Illegal Bayrak television (27.2.10) broadcast the following:
As part of his contacts in Madrid, Spain, President Mehmet Ali Talat met with the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos at a working lunch where the Cyprus issue topped their discussions. In his statement at the end of the meeting, Talat said he is very hopeful that some initiatives will be taken in favour of the Cyprus Turkish side during Spains European Union term-presidency. The Foreign Minister told me that he will meet the Greek Cypriot Leader Demetris Christofias too and I guess they are going to take up Spains possible contributions to the solution process in Cyprus, like we did, he added.
The President noted that Moratinos praised his peaceful mission on the Cyprus issue. Talat went on saying that the Spanish Foreign Minister emphasized on the current big opportunity for the solution of the Cyprus problem and expressed his countrys desire to help the peace process on the island.
President Talat and his delegation are expected to return to the Republic tonight.
 Bagis alleged that Turkey always supports the solution of the Cyprus problem and that everyone shall trust Turkeys promises on these issues Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (28.02.10) reports that Egemen Bagis, the Turkish Chief Negotiator with the EU, stated that Turkey always supports the solution of the Cyprus problem. He also said that Turkey will accept the solution agreed by the two leaders of Cyprus and added that everyone shall trust Turkeys promises on these issues.Mr Bagis made these statements in a meeting of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot journalists organized by the Global Political trends Centre in Istanbul.
Mr Bagis said that there is a good chance for the solution of the Cyprus problem until April, since there are four important leaders in four countries: President Demetris Christofias, the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan. Mr Bagis said that these leaders support the solution and that this opportunity must not be missed because it is not clear how the situation will be after April. It can be worse, it can be better. However, it is the first time that such a serious opportunity exists, he stated.
 Turkish and Greek Cypriot journalists met with Erdogan and Bagis in IstanbulWriting in his daily column in Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (01.03.10), Hasan Hasturer reports that six Cypriot journalists, two Turkish and four Greek Cypriots, have participated in a meeting organized by the Global Political Trends Centre in Istanbul. The journalists met with the Turkish Prime Minister at his residence and with the Turkish Chief Negotiator with the EU at the EU General Secretariat.
Mr Hasturer writes that Mr Erdogan reiterated to the 15-member group that when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power he personally encouraged the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to launch an initiative for Cyprus and alleged that their support for a solution on the island continues. Referring to some speculations according to which Turkey will not implement the solution to be found in Cyprus, Mr Erdogan claimed:
I want to tell you sincerely and clearly the following: the new partnership to be established will in accordance with the agreement in the joint statement of the two leaders on the island on 23 May 2008, which constitutes the framework of the negotiations for the solution. There will be a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation on the basis of political equality as it is described in the UN Security Councils resolutions. Together with the federal government, which will have a single international identity, a Turkish Cypriot founding state and a Greek Cypriot founding state with equal status will exist in the partnership. This is the framework of the solution which Turkey supports. We support the constructive and sincere efforts of the Turkish Cypriot side just like during the process that led to the comprehensive UN plan in 2004 and we think that time should be evaluated well in order to intensify the negotiations which started in September 2008 and get a result. A solution in Cyprus is our debt to the future generations.
Mr Hasturer writes that the Turkish Prime Minister did not exert an effort to offer special support to the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, but he did not hide that he is complete harmony with Talat and that Ankara backs Talat on all the issues he brings to the table.
Moreover, the journalist reports that Mr Erdogan referred to the decision taken by the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus on the issue of the guarantees and described it as untimely, alleging that it deals a blow to the solution. Mr Erdogan claimed that the decision ignored that the treaties of guarantee in 1960 were fundamental international agreements having many sides and concerning the whole island. At the same time it ignores the reality that the Turkish Cypriots regards the guarantees as indispensible condition, he noted adding that the self-styled assembly stated on February 24 that the guarantees are of vital importance to the Turkish Cypriots.
Mr Hasturer writes that Mr Erdogan reiterated that Turkey is in favour of a four-party meeting on Cyprus and that he raised this issue during a meeting he had in New York with President Christofias.
Referring to the same meeting of the journalists with the Turkish Prime Minister, Aysu Basri Akter writes in her daily column in Turkish Cypriot Yeni Duzen newspaper (01.03.10) that Mr Erdogan devoted nearly two hours to explain the Cyprus problem to the journalists, in spite of the fact that he has a very heavy schedule.
One trillion dollars are spent to the defence industry, he said and added: Think of the money saved in defence expenses if a solution is found in Cyprus.
Mrs Akter refers also to the meeting they held with Mr Egemen Bagis who said that Turkeys EU accession course is very important and reiterated the Turkish view that the opening of the Turkish ports to Cypriot vessels is not possible as long as the opening of the ports is not mutual. He alleged that cooperation might start with an airplane which will land in the illegal Tymvou airport and a ship full of oranges which will come to the occupied port of Famagusta. Asked why the Turkish occupation troops continue to be present on the territory of an EU member state, Mr Bagis reiterated the Turkish view that if the Annan Plan had been accepted, the existence of the Turkish army in Cyprus would have been minimized.
 Avci said that Turkeys guarantees and Turkish army cannot be given upTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (27.02.10) reports that the leader of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) Turgay Avci visited yesterday the association of Families of Martyrs and War Veterans. During his visit, Mr Avci said that everybody wants a solution but Turkeys guarantees and the Turkish army cannot be given up because the Turkish Armed Forces brought peace to the whole island. Describing the resolution of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus rejecting Turkey's security guarantee as inhuman, Mr Avci said that his party has rejected all decisions entailing the withdrawal of the army from the island.
Ertan Ersan, chairman of the association, expressed his satisfaction with the so-called assembly's decision not to abandon Turkeys guarantees. He also added that he is against the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation forces from the island and that nothing should be done that will weaken Turkeys guarantees.
 The president of Gagauzia is visiting the occupied areas of CyprusTurkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (27.02.10) reports that Mihail Formuzal, the president of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia is visiting the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus on the invitation of Dr Suat Guncel, Rector of the illegal Near East University (YDU).
In addition, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (28.02.10) reports on Mr Formuzals contacts in occupied Cyprus, and writes that the president of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia held contacts with Dervis Eroglu, the self-styled prime minister of the occupation regime. Mr Eroglu stated during the visit that the launching of trade between the occupation regime and Gagauzia will be beneficial for all. Mr Eroglu also reminded that a delegation of Gagauzia participated in the celebrations for the July 20 Turkish invasion to Cyprus.
On his part, Mr Formuzal invited Mr Eroglu to Gagauzia. He also stated that he wants relations with the occupation regime to be strengthened and added that the launching of trade between businessmen of the two sides will be beneficial for both. He added that the Rector of the illegal Near East University (YDU), Dr Suat Guncel, safeguarded that 20 students of Gagauzia receive a scholarship to study at YDU and said that they have a lot of friends in the occupied areas and that the young people of Gagauzia want to come to occupied Cyprus.
Mr Formuzal also held a meeting with the self-styled speaker of the assembly, Hasan Bozer.
 Dr. Ozdemir Ozgur argues that Turkey should launch a campaign for the recognition of the breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of CyprusTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (01.03.10) reports the Turkish Cypriot professor Dr. Ozdemir A. Ozgur, who lives in the free areas of Cyprus, has sent a letter to the paper responding to a question asked by the journalist Akay Cemal, who wondered whether the TRNC, breakaway regime in the occupied areas of Cyprus should have retaliated the decision of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus on the issue of the guarantees.
Dr. Ozgur wrote, inter alia, the following in his response:
In my view, yes, we should have. This is even something that should have been made a long time ago. Because a long time passed since then and the conditions changed, we should launch an initiative for the recognition of the TRNC on the Rebus Sic Stantibus principle. We have many arguments in our hands: The agreement between the community leaders on 2 August 1975 for the exchange of population, the Document of the UN Secretary-General De Cuellar, the UN Secretary-General Butros Ghalis set of ideas, the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots in the referendum of 2004 etc.
In any case, the features of territory, people and administration, which are the legal conditions for the recognition of the TRNC, exist.
Unfortunately, the TRNC government could not do this, because it is not a recognized state in the world. However, the government of Turkey could and should do this. Turkey should carry this issue to the United Nations and it should be discussed there. And while this principle is discussed there, the principle of Pacta Sund Servanda (Loyalty to the Treaties) which the Greek Cypriots have violated should be raised there.
 How the Turkish Cypriot press covers the floods in the occupied areas of CyprusIllegal Bayrak television (28.02.10) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:
As works continue to heal the wounds of the flood hit areas, politicians are continuing on-the-spot inspections.
TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat, who returned to the republic last night, held inspections in Girne [occupied Kerynia] and [occupied] Lefkosia today. During his visits to the areas, President Mehmet Ali Talat who was accompanied by the Mayor of Girne Sumer Aygin, listened to the problems of citizens and tradesmen who were affected by the floods. Speaking to reporters, the President said it is saddening to see that some tourist resorts were also affected by the floods.
Explaining that the recent flood disaster in the country was caused by the global climate change but the main factor of the disaster was the interference with the environment, Mr Talat warned that conniving at the filling of water courses, and building on these fields, would cause more serious disasters in the future. Calling for an immediate scientific planning for infrastructure in the country, he said the government should take necessary measures as soon as possible to prevent such incidents.
Meanwhile, TRNC Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu continued his visits to the flood hit areas today. Mr Eroglu accompanied by the Parliament Speaker Hasan Bozer, some ministers, deputies and Girne District Officer Gurkan Kara held inspections in Girne region today. The Premier first visited Alsancak [occupied Karavas] village and listened to the problems of people and then he moved on to Lapta [occupied Lapithos] village where he obtained information from the Mayor of Lapta about the flood disaster and the precautions that have been taken. Mr Eroglu then visited Karsiyaka [occupied Vasilia] village and he listened to the problems of the villagers.
Speaking during the visits, Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu said works are continuing to solve the problems as soon as possible. Explaining that the Council of Ministers convened yesterday and took several decisions, Mr Eroglu reminded that crisis desks were immediately set up in many regions. Also drawing attention to the constructions built on the water courses, he said investigation has been started and necessary measures will be taken on the issue.
In addition, illegal Bayrak television (28.02.10) broadcast the following:
Damage assessment and cleaning operations are still underway following the flood disaster which hit many parts of the country on Friday. The Council of Ministers, which convened at an extraordinary meeting yesterday, has set up twelve teams for some areas that have been mostly affected by the floods. TRNC Red Crescent has begun distribution of food in the areas. Humanitarian aid sent by the Turkish Red Crescent is also expected to arrive in the country.
Meanwhile, illegal Bayrak television (26.02.10) broadcast the following:
Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has cancelled his visit to Istanbul, which was scheduled for this evening, due to the rain disaster in the TRNC. He would have been flying to Istanbul as a guest of the Turkish Minister of State Faruk Celik. As part of his contacts, Mr Eroglu would have attended a lunch with NGOs formed by the Turkish Same Race and Relative Communities.
The recent floods in the occupied areas of Cyprus and the problems they created continue to be the main issue in the Turkish Cypriot press of Monday 01 March 2010. The papers cover the issue under the following titles:
Kibris: Mayor Bulutoglulari revealed to KIBRIS the balance sheet of the flood: 50 million Turkish Liras. The paper writes that Mr Bulutoglulari said the damages reached 25 million euro and added that they will expropriate and demolish the residences built at the stream beds which are considered to be the reason of the floods. The paper writes that while efforts had been exerted for life to return to its normal course, water from the dam of Goneyli flooded once more the occupied area of Prosfygochori village last night.
Afrika: The demolition of the buildings constructed at the stream beds is being discussed If necessary they should be demolished, said Talat. The paper writes that the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat visited the flooded areas and stated that those responsible for the situation should be brought to account and the reasons of the floods should be examined.
The paper publishes a picture of an opening ceremony conducted by the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the former self-styled prime minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer in occupied Keryneia in 2006. It is the opening ceremony of the five-star Vouni Palace Hotel, which had been built at a stream bed and flooded during the recent heavy rainfall. Afrika reports also that Erol Seherlioglu, chairman of the doctors trade union (Tip-Is), confirmed that seven persons died in the state hospital during the recent heavy rainfall, but added that they should investigate and find out whether or not their death is due to the flood. The paper writes that the self-styled ministry of health stated that the information regarding the seven deaths due to the flood is not correct.
Haberdar: Look at a minister! The paper reports that the self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Huseyin Ozgurgun, who was visiting Istanbul during the weekend, preferred to watch a football match of Galatasaray instead of returning to the occupied areas and be interested in the situation of the people. The paper writes also that the self-styled minister of health, Ahmet Kasif stated that the Burhan Nalbantoglu so-called state hospital in the occupied part of Lefkosia which was closed due to the floods will be re-opened until Tuesday the latest.
Gunes: The wounds will definitely be relieved. The paper reports that the self-styled prime minister Dervis Eroglu visited the occupied villages of Agios Georgios, Karavas, Lapithos and Vasilia in Keryneia area as well as Vouni Palace hotel which have been influenced by the floods and stated that the committees and the teams they have established are working to determine the damages.
Yeni Duzen: Picture of shame. The paper publishes a photograph of the state hospital in the occupied part of Lefkosia which has been flooded.
Bakis: What is the fault of our people? The paper reports that surgical operations could not be carried out in occupied Lefkosia state hospital, all the urgent cases are transferred to the hospital in occupied Keryneia, the roads are full of water, the electricity has been cut off and the aid is coming slow and it is insufficient.
Ortam: Those responsible are wanted.
Vatan: The damage is big!
Halkin Sesi: Uneasy waiting.
 Lagendijk: There is a 50-50 chance of solving the Cyprus problemTurkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (27.02.10) reported the following:
Political analysts who dissected Turkeys domestic and international policies at a meeting held on Capitol Hill on Thursday also evaluated recent developments regarding civilian-military relations in Turkey.
Stressing that Turkey is one of the most important countries in the world, Graham Fuller, a historian at Simon Fraser University and a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) at the CIA, said many developing countries lack strong civil institutions. The military was better equipped than any other institution, he said while moderating the panel A New Turkey: What does it mean for the region and US? at a Capitol Hill luncheon on February 25 organized by the Texas-based Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians (TCAE). In the process of democratization, these hands on power are slowly pulled away, Fuller added. Turkey happens to be well advanced in this process when we look at other states in the region.
Omer Taspinar, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor at the National War College, said the days of military coups are over in Turkey, and there is a new elite who would like to share the pie. According to Taspinar, there is a power struggle, but it is not a struggle between Islam and secularism. Instead, it is one between the supporters of the status quo, which is represented by Kemalist ideology, and those who want to go beyond the supporters of the status quo.
Joshua W. Walker, a Transatlantic Academy fellow, said the days of military coups détat seem to be gone in Turkey. But I dont think days of military intervention are gone, he said indicating that the Turkish military lost its honest broker role, and that there is a civil war within the military. Regarding the opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Walker termed them parties that say no, a reference to the way the two react to change. Where do we look for stability? he asked. The only place there is stability is the AKP [the governing Justice and Development Party].
Another speaker at the panel, Joost Lagendijk, senior advisor at the Istanbul Policy Centre of Sabanci University and former member of the European Parliament, said there is still support and sympathy for the AK Party in Europe but that there are also growing question marks. He talked about fears that one system that we dont like is being replaced by another system that we also might not like. About the difference between European and American viewpoints on civilian-military relations in Turkey, Lagendijk said this is because Turkey wants to be a member of the European Union. He said the United States sees relations with Turkey in a much more strategic way. But he said that behind the scenes there is probably some pressure from the US military on the Turkish military to keep its hands out of politics. Lagendijk also said the EU had reacted to the Turkish militarys e-memorandum of 2007, which warned the civilian government, but that the US State Department had not.
One speaker touched on the Ergenekon case, an investigation into a deep state-related structure that attempted to overthrow the government, and said that some of the media organizations try to whitewash it. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, president of Turkeys Human Rights Agenda Association, said the Ergenekon case is the beginning of the end of state impunity in Turkey.
Another topic the speakers expounded upon was Turkish foreign policy. Fuller said Turkish foreign policy steered by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has been in the greatest shift since the founding of the Turkish Republic. Fuller added that Turkey, which had repressed its Muslim identity and did not establish ties with the Arab world but established relations only with the West, has a 360-degree vision in that regard and a more independent viewpoint.
According to Ian Lesser, an expert from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the question Who lost Turkey? is misleading. He said the problem in Turkish foreign policy is about not being able to prioritize. Lesser found Turkeys position similar to the Non-Aligned Movement. He added that the problem area between the United States and Turkey is in regards to Iran and Armenia. He said that American officials told Turkey to relay harsh messages to Iran in its relations with the country, but added that there are doubts that Turkey will do that.
Lagendijk said Turkey-EU negotiations are dependant on a solution to the division in Cyprus. According to Lagendijk, there is a 50-50 chance of solving the Cyprus problem. He added that 2010 should be a year for Turkey to realize EU reforms. Regarding the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, Lagendijk said normalization would increase the EUs ability to pressure Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. An Azerbaijani diplomat objected to this argument, saying that Armenia is currently occupying Azerbaijani territory, but Lagendijk countered, saying Azerbaijans policy has not worked for the past 15 years. Lagendijk was also critical of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who conditioned improved relations between Turkey and Armenia on a breakthrough between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
 EU Reform follow-up Group convened in AnkaraAnkara Anatolia news agency (01.03.10) reported the following from Ankara:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that Turkey would not be a burden to the EU, on the contrary, it would undertake the burden of the Union.
Speaking after the 19th meeting of EU Reform Follow-up Group in Ankara, Erdogan said that the Reform Follow-up Group undertook an important function to follow the reforms which had been implemented in Turkey's EU membership process as well as to institutionalize the process.
Erdogan said that studies on Foreigners Law and Asylum Law, which would build Turkey's basic policies about migration and asylum, would be completed in 2010. He added that a migration and asylum department would be established under the Interior Ministry.
Erdogan also recalled that they transferred to the Parliament a draft law on creation of a national human rights institution. We have also decided to set up a task force in struggle against discrimination under the reform follow-up group, he added. Erdogan stressed the importance of reforms which were implemented during EU membership process, and said that the reforms were made for higher standards, a functioning democracy and a law state.
 Turkish Foreign Minister due to EgyptAnkara Anatolia news agency (01.03.10) reports the following from Beirut:
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will leave for Egypt on Monday on a two-day official visit as the guest of his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit. Davutoglu is set to meet with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Sharm al-Sheikh on Tuesday morning. Following the meeting, Davutoglu will proceed to Cairo. The second ministerial meeting will be held during Davutoglu's visit under the "Turkey-Egypt Framework Document for Strategic Dialogue" which was signed by the two countries in Istanbul on November 3, 2007.
Davutoglu is set to meet with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Mohamed Nazif and Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit. Besides the bilateral relations, recent regional and global developments will be high on the agenda of the two ministers. The Turkish party is expected to reiterate its proposal to lift visa requirements between the two countries. After their meeting, Davutoglu and Aboul Gheit are expected to hold a joint news conference. He will take part in a dinner to be hosted in his honour by Turkish Ambassador Huseyin Avni Bosnali with the participation of members of the Foreign Relations Council formed by ambassadors in Cairo and several Egyptian intellectuals.
On the second day of his visit to Cairo, Davutoglu will attend the 133rd Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Arab League in Cairo on March 3. He is also set to meet with the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa to inform him on Turkey's recent initiatives in the region, as well as with Arab journalists in Egypt. Davutoglu will attend a conference at the American University in Cairo and deliver a speech on Turkey-Egypt Relations and Turkey's Middle East Policies. He will attend the inauguration of the Yunus Emre Turkish Culture Centre in the Egyptian capital. It will be the third cultural centre behind the first two in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania. These centres aim at promoting Turkey, Turkish language, art and history. Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu will also be in attendance at the inauguration.
Davutoglu is expected to return to Turkey on March 3.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 From the Turkish Press of 26, 27 and 28 February 2010Following are the summaries of report and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 26, 27 and 28 of February:
a) Government's Alleged Attempt To Influence Judiciary and Media:
"Attempt to influence the press and judiciary" is the title of Murat Yetkin's commentary in Radikal (28.02.10). The columnist recalls the virtual army coup of 28 February 1997 when the government headed by the first Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan had to resign following a memorandum by the Turkish army. "When we look back at that period," Yetkin points out, "what we remember about the independence of the judiciary was how members of high courts used to attend briefing sessions organized by the General Staff." As for today, Yetkin argues, what we see are intelligence reports of dubious veracity that help persecute many people, and he cites the continued incarceration of journalist Mustafa Balbay as an example. "Certain practices exceed every measure of conscience and of the feeling of justice," he stresses. According to Yetkin, "it is difficult to think of the current quarrel as a legal quarrel; it is rather an arm wrestling between the former owners of the established order and those who want to own it now. This arm wrestling is taking place in two places: the judiciary and the media." The columnist goes on to criticize the prime minister for calling on media bosses to fire columnists, calling the incident "a political intervention in the free media and freedom of expression." I wonder how Foreign Minister Davutoglu and EU Minister Bagis are going to explain that speech to the outside world, Yetkin wonders.
Cuneyt Ulsever censures Prime Minister Erdogan for calling on media bosses to fire those columnists who write "nonsense." In a commentary in Hurriyet (28.02.10), Ulsever adds: "I keep on saying that Turkey is trying to rid itself of military tutelage, but instead of moving toward democracy it is veering toward civilian tutelage. I thank the prime minister for explaining what I mean better than I can!"
In an article entitled "Messing with the Media", Yeni Safak columnist (28.02.10) Kursat Bumin criticizes Prime Minister Erdogan and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc for recent statements suggesting that they want to establish a "chain of command" within the news media that would make it impossible for columnists to express certain views without risking being fired. He also links Erdogan and Arinc's "inappropriate" remarks to "anger" at the way some commentators have failed to "appreciate" the "positive" steps that the Government has taken toward addressing the Kurdish and Alevi issues and redefining the military's place in the system.
In an article entitled "A kiss of life to a mistake", Yeni Safak columnist (28.02.10) Fehmi Koru expresses disapproval of the way Prime Minister Erdogan recently voiced his annoyance at certain columnists over their criticisms of the Government and called on their bosses to warn these writers appropriately and dismiss them from their jobs if necessary. Koru claims that Erdogan should consider himself fortunate that there are newspapers in Turkey that endorse his and the AKP's political views before he proceeds to assert that a press that thought alike on political issues would not benefit anyone's interests or serve the cause of democracy. He also argues that Erdogan's remarks are "tactically" problematic as well inasmuch as they have cast a doubt on the Government's policies in general and amounted to "a kiss of life to the current news media system established by the architects of the 27 May, 1960 coup.
In an article entitled "That does not do, Mr Prime Minister", Vakit columnist (28.02.10) Yavuz Bahadiroglu criticizes Prime Minister Erdogan for his "inappropriate," "offending," and "undemocratic" remarks urging news media bosses to "break certain columnists' pens." Bahadiroglu asserts that Erdogan in voicing such demands, is comparable to the architects of the "Sledgehammer coup" because the latter "prepared a list of columnists to be used or discarded, too. The architects of the 28 February process similarly declared certain writers 'problematic' and got their bosses to discontinue their columns. Were you supposed to learn politics from these guys, Mr Prime Minister? It did not suit you at all."
In an article entitled "Signs of an advanced democracy", Milli Gazete columnist (28.02.10) Mustafa Ozcan criticizes Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin for a recent statement claiming that a dependent judiciary is better than an independent judiciary that makes non-legal interventions in the governance of a country. Ozcan goes on to slam Erdogan for urging media bosses to call certain columnists to account over their "bizarre" interpretation of the recent three-way summit at the Presidential Mansion. He also comments ironically on Erdogan's remark that the latest political developments in Turkey signal the advent of an advanced democratic regime, saying that Ergin and Erdogan's remarks give an idea about "the place of the judiciary and the news media in an advanced democracy based on Erdoganism."
Oktay Eksi censures Prime Minister Erdogan's argument that the media patrons should dismiss the columnists who oppose the government. He claims in a column in Hurriyet (27.02.10) that a significant difference exists between Erdogan and many of the journalists on the concept of democracy and notes: Erdogan criticized some of the members of the media organs in the past. He accused them of lying. "It now seems that it is the turn of journalists who do not agree with him and refrain from publishing articles in accordance with his expectations. If he manages to have them dismissed, then the next will be those who remain silent instead of applauding him. Then, someone will appear on the scene to argue that democracy improved in Turkey."
Istanbul Sabah's (27.02.10) Nazli Ilicak criticizes Prime Minister Erdogan for arguing that the patrons of some of the media organs should dismiss their columnists. In a column, she draws attention to the importance of democracy in Turkey and warns that commendations for the ruling party will mean nothing if there is only one voice in the country. Ilicak says: "Prime Minister Erdogan, you should not have said that about us particularly on your birthday... You made justified statements during the meeting of the Justice and Development Party [AKP] provincial leaders. You explained your dreams and reiterated your view that you will be well-remembered. But, you should not have mentioned censoring the media organs among your dreams."
Mehmet Ali Kislali, in a column in Istanbul Radikal, lauds the summit Abdullah Gul held at the presidential palace to defuse the tension in Turkey. He urges the circles which comment on the military forces to establish how decisions are made and put into effect in the armed forces and notes that only then they will have the right idea when assessing the developments. Kislali notes that the military forces will never be guided by the supporters of a junta administration nor allow themselves to be controlled by them and says: "Allegations have been made in connection with preparations for a coup during the past few years. Why has a coup not been staged? The reasons for that must be appropriately assessed."
Under the banner headline "Prime Minister eases anxieties," Vakit (27.02.10) carries a front-page report which highlights a speech made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who called on the judiciary not to interfere in the executive's affairs and called on media bosses for preventing commentaries about tension between the government and the military which, he says, may be detrimental to stability in the national economy.
b) Columnists View Gul-Erdogan-Basbug Summit:
Under the column entitled "The Cankaya concord," Milliyet's Fikret Bila (26.02.10) says the statement issued after the summit showed that the sides agreed to solve all the problems within the framework of the constitution and laws and avoid undermining state institutions. Bila adds that the statement is in the nature of mitigating the accumulated tension and that even though there is no guarantee that the concord will last long, at least it will for now create the condition for the state institutions to return to normal work within the parameters of the constitution.
Under the column entitled "The summit and the aftermath," Radikal's Murat Yetkin (26.02.10) says that though the crisis persists, the summit has at least pulled the political crisis down from the dangerous level it had reached, adding that Gul is expected to contribute not only to the normalization of the country as it walks on the path of democracy but also normalize the ties between the judiciary and the government. Yetkin points out that it was after the summit that Prime Minister Erdogan reportedly instructed his ministers to normalize the ties with the judiciary without interfering in the workings of the courts.
While admitting that the summit has not ended the sharp conflict between the government and the army, Radikal's Oral Calislar (26.02.10) says in his column, "The photograph of the troika at the table," that the picture of three leaders sitting around the table to discuss these problems is also a sign that Turkey, despite every difficulty, is becoming a normal country. Such a thing would have been impossible some three years ago.
Under the column entitled "The crisis postponed, prosecutors to be blamed," Hurriyet's Mehmet Ali Birand (26.02.10) says the statement issued after the summit aimed at defusing the tension, but because it lacked details, one has to wait to see the actual results of the summit. Birand believes the crisis was whitewashed by probably putting all the blame for the crisis on the prosecutors investigating the Ergenekon and Balyoz. Birand also warns that the mass resignation of army commanders in reaction to ongoing trials would first of all cause an enormous confusion inside the army, as officers would vie for vacant positions, undermining in the process the chain of promotions.
In an article entitled "The military and risks", Yeni Safak columnist Ali Bayramoglu (26.02.10) interprets the statement issued after yesterday's "three-way summit" at the Presidential Mansion ["The public can rest assured that a solution based on the constitutional order and the law will be introduced to the existing problems. Everybody needs to act responsibly to ensure that state institutions are not brought into discredit"] as meaning that the military will not violate the constitutional order and that care will be taken in return to make sure the army is not discredited in the public eye.
In an article entitled "Three hours at Cankaya", Zaman columnist Mustafa Unal (26.02.10) asserts that the statement issued after the Gul-Erdogan-Basbug meeting at the Presidential Mansion suggests annoyance at the "generals' meeting" held at the General Staff in response to the detention of a number of high-ranking military officials in the investigation into Operation Sledgehammer. He also cites "tension" between the judiciary and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as the main factor in the process that paved the way for yesterday's meeting at the Presidential Mansion, adding that it does not make sense to represent the Government as a party to this tension.
c) Allegations by BDP's Sirri Sakik about Baykal:
In a commentary in Milliyet (28.02.10), Fikret Bila views the allegations made by Sirri Sakik, a deputy from the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to the effect that Deniz Baykal, leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) asked the BDP for 20 "militants" in order to have them run for the elections from the CHP ticket. Recalling Deniz Baykal's position which has always been against the Kurdish parties in parliament, Bila concludes that this allegation is ridiculous and cannot possibly be true.
Under the headline, "Bring along terrorists, we will make them MPs," Yeni Safak (28.02.10) publishes a front-page report which asserts that Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Deputy Sirri Sakik's assertion that Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal proposed to have some 20 PKK militants who would be named by the People's Democracy Party (HADEP) elected to Parliament in the 1999 elections has been confirmed by Cemil Aydogan, "who coordinated the election alliance talks between the CHP and the HADEP in 1999." The report quotes Aydogan as saying that Baykal told him to "bring those in the mountains if you like."
Under the headline, "New Sledgehammer slammed down on CHP," Vakit (26.02.10) publishes a front-page report which highlights Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Deputy Sirri Sakik's remarks in Parliament yesterday disclosing that Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal made an "alliance" proposal to them before the 1999 elections and asked them to "send us some 20 militants. We will nominate them as our candidates." The report compares the effect of this disclosure on the CHP to that of the recent military detentions in the investigation against the alleged coup plan called "Operation Sledgehammer" on pro-coup elements within the armed forces.
In an article entitled "The road from Silivri to Imrali", Vakit columnist Serdar Arseven (26.02.10) comments on the "alliance talks" between the CHP and the Democratic Society Party (DTP) that took place ahead of the 1999 elections according to Sirri Sakik's disclosures yesterday during the parliamentary debate on the CHP's censure motion against Interior Minister Ahmet Atalay accusing him of making a "secret deal" with the DTP over the return of PKK militants in northern Iraq to Turkey with impunity. Arseven asks sarcastically "whether it might have tormented Ataturk's soul to see the party that he established conduct alliance negotiations with those who are trying to bring down the republic that he founded." He also quotes former CHP Deputy Chairman Esref Eldem, in whose house some of the said negotiations are claimed to have taken place, as having told him [Arseven] that he cannot deny what Sakik said yesterday.