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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 11-03-08

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] Alakopru dam foundation-laying ceremony; Eroglu again refers to the realities in Cyprus; tension with Turkey is reportedly diminishing
  • [02] Eroglu's statements after meeting with Christofias; comments on Ban's report
  • [03] Turkish Cypriot daily argues that the UN will submit a new plan in Cyprus
  • [04] Serdar Denktas says the Cyprus talks lead to nowhere
  • [05] Excavations at Sychari will continue this week
  • [06] Turkish Cypriot "MPs" participate in PACE meetings
  • [07] UBP general secretary on the economic situation in occupied Cyprus
  • [08] Women are 45.3% of the population in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [09] Basin-Sen criticizes journalists' arrests in Turkey
  • [10] Illegal municipality of occupied Kerynia to take part in Moscow's travel and tourism exhibition

  • [11] Erdogan: "Alakopru Dam project shows the world that Turkish Cypriots were not and will never be left alone"
  • [12] "Turkish Prime Minister urges Greek Cypriots to respond to Turkish Cypriot steps for solution"
  • [13] Ozgurgun evaluates UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's new report on Cyprus talks
  • [14] "Turkey says won't sacrifice Cyprus for EU membership"
  • [15] Davutoglu holds contacts in Brussels; Turkey's EU membership and Cyprus on the agenda
  • [16] Highlights


    The main issue in today's Turkish Cypriot newspapers is the foundation laying ceremony of Alakopru dam in Turkey and the statements made by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot politicians during the event. In addition, evaluation by Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu and so-called foreign minister Ozgurgun of the UN Secretary-General's latest report on Cyprus, statements by Serdar Denktas that Cyprus talks lead nowhere, and a statement by the Turkish Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons were also reported in the press. Moreover, statements by the UBP general secretary on the economic situation in the occupied areas, the participation of two so-called MPs in a PACE meeting, the participation of the illegal municipality of occupied Kerynia in the Moscow tourism exhibition, and other internal issues were covered by the press today and over the three-day holiday.

    [01] Alakopru dam foundation-laying ceremony; Eroglu again refers to the realities in Cyprus; tension with Turkey is reportedly diminishing

    Illegal Bayrak television (07.03.11, online) broadcast that the foundation stone of Alakopru dam was laid yesterday in Anamur, Turkey. The dam will collect water from the Dragon River and pump it to the occupied areas of Cyprus via an 80 km underwater pipeline.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu, the self-styled prime minister Irsen Kucuk and the "minister" of agriculture and natural resources, Zorlu Tore attended the ceremony as guests of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The water project, which is expected to be concluded within four years, aims to meet the needs of the occupied areas of Cyprus within a 50 year period.

    In statements before departing for Turkey, Irsen Kucuk described the pipeline project as the "motherland's biggest assistance to the Cyprus Turkish people" since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. He said that the construction of the dam in Anamur, Turkey, would be completed over the next 4 years while work on expanding the occupied Panagra village reservoir in Cyprus would begin as of next year.

    Moreover, under the front-page title "The banner crisis was buried in the water", Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi (08.03.11) reports that in statements during the ceremony yesterday in Anamur, Kucuk noted that the project will expand land fertility in the occupied areas of Cyprus. He emphasized the aid granted for years by Turkey to the Turkish Cypriots and argued that those who attempt to cultivate hatred and enmity between the "two countries" will not succeed. "We are brothers. We are a whole. We are like the flesh and nail", he noted.

    Addressing the same ceremony, Dervis Eroglu said this project will water the thirsty lands of occupied Cyprus and make them more productive. "Thus, a new bridge will be established between the motherland and us", he added. Reiterating that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are like "flesh and nail", Eroglu said the Turkish Cypriots know the interests of the Turkish nation and added that unity is needed in order to achieve their targets in the "national cause". He argued: "Turkey is a motherland for us. For us, there is absolutely no difference between those people who came to Cyprus between 1571 and 1974 and those who came after 1974. We are certain that Turkey will exert every necessary effort for the existence, exalting and strengthening of the TRNC financially".

    Eroglu said the economy of the breakaway regime is going through a difficult period and noted that measures to overcome these difficulties are inevitable. He alleged that the main aim of the Greek Cypriots is to lead the economy of the Turkish Cypriots to collapse or at least prevent its growth. Eroglu reiterated that the aim of the Turkish Cypriots is to increase the bed-capacity in the hotels in the occupied areas of Cyprus to 30 thousand and the number of students in the illegal universities to 60 thousand. He said they act together with Turkey to achieve these goals and argued that the water project will undertake an important mission in this direction.

    Eroglu alleged that this project will strengthen him in the negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem, adding that once a solution is reached, water could also be transferred to the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Referring to the negotiating process, Eroglu reiterated that the Turkish side wants a solution as soon as possible and added, inter alia, the following: "If the realities on the island are digested, this will not be difficult. What are these realities? Two peoples, two languages and two religions exist in Cyprus. When the new state is established, equality should be the fundamental principle. The effective and active guarantees of Turkey are important for us. We will not accept anything which will threaten Turkey's security. They could not demand something like that from us?"

    Eroglu argued that some circles might attempt to create disorder on the island at a time when efforts to solve the Cyprus problem are being exerted, but the Turkish Cypriots know where they were, how far they have come and who helped them get so far.

    The Turkish Cypriot press gives extensive coverage to the issue today.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (08.03.11) refers to the issue under the banner front-page title 'The project of the century".

    Turkish Cypriot daily Haberdar (08.03.11) covers the issue under the banner front-page title "The problems were solved in the water" and reports that the water project and Erdogan's gesture reduced tension between the Turkish government and the "TRNC", breakaway regime in the occupied part of Cyprus.

    Moreover, Vedat Yorucu comments on the issue in his column in daily Yeni Duzen (08.03.11). He wonders whether the aim of this project is to be used as material for propaganda in the forthcoming elections in Turkey or to strengthen Turkey's strategic position in the region. He also relates this project with the explorations for natural gas and oil in the Mediterranean Sea.


    [02] Eroglu's statements after meeting with Christofias; comments on Ban's report

    According to illegal Bayrak channel (online, 05.03.11), speaking to reporters after the meeting with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said that the work of their special aides on the chapter of Governance and Power-Sharing was evaluated. He said Christofias brought the issue of citizenship on the table which will be taken up at their next meeting with the presentation of mutual proposals.

    Commenting on the UN Secretary-General's latest report on Cyprus, Eroglu said his first impression is that it is balanced, adding that the "TRNC could not say it had complaints about the report". He added: "There are points that satisfy our expectations".

    Moreover, according to Ankara Anatolia news agency (04.03.11) Eroglu said Ban's report was not discussed during the meeting with President Christofias and they would take up the report in detail later.

    On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (05.03.11) reports that Eroglu, responding to a question regarding a population census, said that a population census will be useful in making a correct evaluation of the measures to be taken. He added that he thinks that a decision should be taken soon.

    [03] Turkish Cypriot daily argues that the UN will submit a new plan in Cyprus

    Under the title "A new plan", Turkish Cypriot daily Demokrat Bakis (08.03.11) reports that the UN Secretary-General will publish his report on Cyprus on 15 March and on the same day he will invite the two Cypriot leaders to a new summit where he will submit a plan prepared by the United Nations.

    Citing information obtained from reliable sources, Bakis writes that Ban Ki-moon will give the sides two months the most for negotiating this plan. The UN is reportedly exerting pressure in the direction of not having open-ended negotiations, because of the elections to be held in Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus. According to the new plan, the sides will discuss all chapters of the negotiations simultaneously. As a result of the insistence of the Turkish side, the "security" issue will be discussed in an international conference with the participation of the guarantor powers within the framework of the above-mentioned timetable.

    The sources said the UN gave to the Greek Cypriot side what it wanted by including in the plan the latter's proposal to discuss all the issues simultaneously. They added that in parallel to this, the Turkish side's position to have a timetable in the talks was also included in the plan. The sources said the UN wants an "interim agreement" to be signed in May.

    Bakis notes that the plan is similar to the Annan Plan on some points, but on some substantial issues "new openings" are made because the situation has changed.


    [04] Serdar Denktas says the Cyprus talks lead to nowhere

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (07.03.11) reports that Serdar Denktas, leader of the Democratic Party (DP), said his party believes that the negotiations to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem will lead to nowhere and that the only thing the Turkish Cypriots achieve by negotiating is to "steal the future" of their children.

    In a written statement the day before, Denktas noted that the DP considers that these negotiations should stop and the Turkish Cypriots should continue their way with their own "state". All our efforts aim at this, he added.

    Denktas said that a referendum or "elections" or both will most probably be held by the end of this year and added that they should be prepared for this.


    [05] Excavations at Sychari will continue this week

    According to Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak television (07.03.11, online) the Turkish Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons, Gulden Plumer Kucuk, told the press that the excavation works in the village of Sychari have been postponed for a week. She said this was decided for security reasons as 'a military exercise was scheduled to take place. Kucuk said that remains of 28 missing persons have been discovered adding that remains of 39 others are believed to be in the area.

    [06] Turkish Cypriot "MPs" participate in PACE meetings

    Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak television (07.03.11, online) reports that a delegation of the so-called parliament of the breakaway regime is attending the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in Strasbourg.

    So-called deputies from the National Unity Party Ahmet Eti and the Republican Turkish Party Mehmet, who left for Strasbourg" last Sunday, are expected to return to the "TRNC" on Thursday.

    [07] UBP general secretary on the economic situation in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris (05.03.11) reports on statements of the National Unity Party's (UBP) general secretary, Ertugrul Hasipoglu, regarding the economic situation in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Speaking during a meeting with a delegation by the "Businessmen Association" headed by Metin Sadi, Hasipoglu said that with the preventive measures taken, the situation improves every passing day, and called on the people not to sink into despair, underlining that they will be successful. Citing economic indices, he said that 2010 was a year of progress, compared to 2007, 2008 and 2009, noting that exports increased by 43%.

    Stressing that due to the economic situation, measures must be taken and that everyone should be aware of that, Hasipoglu stated that privatisations will continue and that "laws" regarding the economy will come on the agenda, adding that 2011 will be a year of acceleration.

    Hasipoglu, inter alia, stated that the Turkish Cypriots' bank deposits reach 6 billion 500 million dollars, every household owns two vehicles. He added that once tomatoes were imported from Turkey while now tomatoes are exported to Turkey, and that revenues from citrus fruits trade reached 40 million dollars.

    [08] Women are 45.3% of the population in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (08.03.11) reports that in 2009 women were 45.3% of the population in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The paper writes that 2.057 of the women in the occupied areas are disabled.

    According to the "State Planning Organization" (DPO), the percentage of the women in the working population in the occupied areas of Cyprus is 32.8%. Only 13 women have been elected "MPs" since 1960. Four are currently members of the "assembly".

    According to "DPO", 66.7% of the teachers, 41.7 % of the "civil" servants and labourers and 37.5% of the doctors are women. According to the results of the population census in 2006, 5.7% of the women were illiterate.

    According to data of 2009, the age distribution of women living in the occupied areas of Cyprus is the following:

    Age Group Number Percentage (%)

    0-14 22.812 17.6

    15-64 95.478 73.8

    65 and above 11.097 8.6


    [09] Basin-Sen criticizes journalists' arrests in Turkey

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika (07.03.11), the Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Journalists' Union (Basin-Sen) Kemal Darbaz, criticized harshly the arrests of journalists in Turkey within the framework of "Ergenekon" search. He said that their Union and the Turkish Cypriots condemn the actions against journalists and the press in Turkey, describing them as murder of democracy.

    Darbaz also said the stance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) towards these arrests is inconceivable. He also said that they will continue to support the struggle of Turkey's journalists Union for freedom of the press.

    [10] Illegal municipality of occupied Kerynia to take part in Moscow's travel and tourism exhibition

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris (08.03.11), under the title, "The TRNC flag to be hoisted in Moscow", reports that the illegal municipality of occupied Kerynia will participate in the 18th Moscow International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (MITT) to be organised on March 13-16. According to the paper, the so-called municipality, with a stand next to Turkey's, aims to promote the occupied area of Kerynia and its hotels by distributing brochures.

    Speaking to the paper, the so-called mayor of occupied Kerynia, Sumer Aygin, inter alia, stated that last year 1000 Russian tourists visited occupied Cyprus, while this year this number will reach 3000.


    The main issue in today's Turkish newspapers is the foundation-laying ceremony of the Alakopru Dam, which will provide water for the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus and statements by Erdogan and Eroglu during the ceremony. The speeches delivered by Ozgurgun and Cicek at a seminar in Ankara, Bagis' statements to Spanish journalists that Turkey will not sacrifice Cyprus for EU membership, reaction on journalists' arrests, as well as other internal issues are covered by the Turkish press over the weekend.

    [11] Erdogan: "Alakopru Dam project shows the world that Turkish Cypriots were not and will never be left alone"

    Turkish News Agency Ankara Anatolia (07.03.11) reports from Mersin that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid foundation of Alakopru Dam, in Anamur town of Mersin, as part of a project to carry potable and irrigation water from Turkey to the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)."

    Erdogan said that carrying water from Turkey to the "TRNC" had been the dream of many governments in the past, and the first step to achieve such goal had been taken with an agreement signed last July.

    He noted that Turkey would construct Alakopru Dam while the Turkish Cypriot party would build Gecitkoy (Panagra) Dam as part of the project which would have the capacity to carry nearly 75 million cubic meters of water via a 107 km long pipeline annually. Almost 80 km of the pipeline would be constructed underwater and pipes of 1.6 m diameter would be located at 250 m depth below sea level.

    "This is a spectacular project at global scale. This is a project that befits the Turkish nation," said Erdogan, who also added that Alakopru Dam would not only provide "TRNC" with water, but it would also generate electricity and would be used in the irrigation of the fields in Anamur region.

    Pointing to "TRNC's" importance for Turkey, Erdogan said, "TRNC is not only a relative and brother, but it also has a unique place in our hearts. Despite all obstacles and embargoes, TRNC has managed to stand on its feet and made the world feel its presence. We have supported TRNC's glorious cause under all circumstances and we will continue to do so".

    Erdogan also said the Alakopru Dam project showed the world that the Turkish Cypriots were not and would never be left alone.

    [12] "Turkish Prime Minister urges Greek Cypriots to respond to Turkish Cypriot steps for solution"

    Under the above title Turkish News Agency Ankara Anatolia (07.03.11) reports that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony of Alakopru Dam, called on Greek Cypriot administration to respond to efforts made by the Turkish Cypriot side in Cyprus reunification talks in order to achieve a fair solution to Cyprus problem.

    "The Turkish Cypriot side has displayed its will for a settlement and pushed for a solution by taking constructive steps. However, a settlement can only be achieved if this will for compromise is mutual? South Cyprus has been trying to run out the clock. They have been waiting for TRNC to get weak. But they have been waiting in vain," said Erdogan.

    Calling on Greek Cypriots not to waste the chance as in 2004 twin referendums, Erdogan said that nobody should try the patience of Turkish Cypriot people who have been persevering for a solution for 47 years. He also stated that the entire island could benefit from Turkey's project to pump water to north Cyprus, and added: "we would be pleased if this project is considered to be something that would help achieve peace."

    [13] Ozgurgun evaluates UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's new report on Cyprus talks

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 04.03.11) under the title "Turkey, northern Cyprus looking for 'smoother' discussion on fiscal policies" reports that "the strain between Turkey and northern Cyprus caused by a workers' protest in late January has calmed down in the wake of a more subdued protest Wednesday in Nicosia", Ozgurgun said.

    The two parties are now discussing ways to implement new fiscal policies, which have angered trade unions, in a "smoother" fashion, so-called minister of foreign affairs Huseyin Ozgurgun told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Friday. Ozgurgun also said that "protocols have been signed and will be implemented," adding that "early elections are not a part of the solution, since there have been 10 elections in the last 10 years."

    Elaborating on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's new report to the UN Security Council on the Cyprus talks, Ozgurgun said the leader's call for "scheduled talks" was very important. "But I'm suspicious of whether the report will be approved by the Security Council," said Ozgurgun, implying China and especially Russia. Recalling that Russia vetoed the Cyprus report of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he said the same could happen again. Drawing attention to the trade ties between Russia and Greek Cypriots, Ozgurgun said: "Therefore the text will be probably changed, if it is accepted in Security Council."

    If Greek Cypriots insist on continuing talks without a time schedule, "We should give the message that northern Cyprus will seek to be recognized as a state," Ozgurgun said.

    [14] "Turkey says won't sacrifice Cyprus for EU membership"

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Today's Zaman (07.03.11, online) reports that a Turkish deputy prime minister said during a workshop on Saturday that Turkey will not sacrifice Turkish Cypriots rights and interests for an institution like the EU, whose future is shrouded in doubt.

    Cemil Cicek, who is also the state minister for Cyprus affairs, told participants in the workshop called "Turkish Cyprus in 2011 -- Opportunities and Threats" held in Ankara that the Cyprus problem is bigger than party affiliations and is a national cause for all governments in Turkey.

    "If you place Turkish Cyprus on one side of a scale and EU membership on the other, Turkey would prefer Turkish Cyprus a thousand times," Cicek stressed, adding that the EU cannot be a political force without Turkey. Cicek acknowledged that there is a standstill in Turkey's EU membership talks because of Cyprus, but that Turkey is ready to pay the price.

    [15] Davutoglu holds contacts in Brussels; Turkey's EU membership and Cyprus on the agenda

    Ankara Anatolia (04.03.11) reports from Brussels that the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Friday the leader of Liberal Group in European Parliament (EP) Guy Verhofstadt and Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere in Brussels.

    Visiting Verhofstadt at his office in the EP, Davutoglu conveyed Ankara's expectations prior to the EP General Assembly's vote on a resolution concerning Turkey next week. In a meeting that lasted almost an hour, Davutoglu and Verhofstadt also discussed Cyprus in details.

    In his meeting with Vanackere, Davutoglu discussed Turkish-Belgian relations, Turkey's EU membership process and Cyprus. Davutoglu and Vanackere also evaluated preparations for the "Conference on Least Developed Countries" to take place in north-western province of Istanbul between May 9 and 13.

    Moreover, Davutoglu, as the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe, had meetings with CoE Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland and EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton at the meeting of "CoE-EU High-Level Dialogue." He also had a separate meeting with Ashton, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule and Commissioner for home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom.

    "Time has come to take more serious steps and make more serious decisions about Turkey's EU process. We expect EU to make a more comprehensive assessment," Davutoglu told a press conference following his talks in Brussels. He urged EU to speed up efforts for opening of negotiation chapters, saying, "we cannot walk this way wondering during every rotating EU presidency if a new chapter will be opened. We started on our journey to see the end of the road, not to go round in circles."

    [16] Highlights

    Following are summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 05-07 March 2011:

    Detention of journalists in Ergenekon probe

    Hurriyet (4.3.11) columnist Sedat Ergin, expresses solidarity with his colleagues detained and comments: "I believe that the operation conducted yesterday as part of the Ergenekon probe will further reinforce already deep-seated question marks and suspicions in the Western world about the freedom of the press in Turkey.

    Milliyet (4.3.11) columnist Taha Akyol says that neither Sener nor Sik could be a member of a terrorist organization and attempt to set the stage for a military coup although they are among the government's critics. Pointing out that their detention has fuelled concerns that the ongoing probe against Ergenekon is deviating from its original objective, Akyol also emphasizes that attempts to incite protests against the government and to set up associations in a bid to discredit it without resorting to violence do not constitute a crime in democracies.

    Yeni Safak (5.3.11) columnist Hakan Albayrak criticizes the detention of journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener on charges of having links with Ergenekon and notes that both journalists are critical of the Gulen community. He also warns that unless the prosecutors who ordered the operation against Sik and Sener disclose evidence justifying their "radical" decision, the "impression" that the Ergenekon case is being abused as a means of settling personal scores will be consolidated.

    Yeni Safak (5.3.11) columnist Kursat Bumin criticizes certain dailies for what he describes as their efforts to justify the latest detentions through reports that represent the documents seized in the police search at the offices of OdaTV as conclusive incriminating evidence. He also warns that if allegations that Nedim Sener's detention has to do with his articles on the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink are true, then freedom of speech is under threat in this country.

    Zaman (5.3.11) columnist Mehmet Kamis warns against arriving at "hasty" conclusions regarding the detention of a number of journalists in the latest police operation in the Ergenekon probe. Kamis claims that the news media in Turkey have always allowed the Establishment to use them as a means of carrying out disinformation campaigns against perceived opponents of the regime and that as a case in point, the architects of the 28 February coup exploited certain newspapers and television channels virtually as weapons in bringing down an elected government in 1997.

    Bugun (5.3.11) columnist Gulay Gokturk claims that the detentions of Nedim Sener And Ahmet Sik have dealt a severe blow to the Ergenekon investigation and provided "professional or amateur defence lawyers of Ergenekon" with a "solid" instance of miscarriage of justice that they can exploit at will as a means of representing the entire case as "bogus."

    Writing in Milliyet (5.3.11), Fikret Bila points out that contrary to the previous detentions, this time there was a joint reaction among the journalists and columnists, who expressed their protest, were those who are close to the government. Numerous columnists, who observed Ergenekon from a different angle, criticized and said that let alone that the detentions are not in line with public conscience, they are also against freedom of press.

    Cengiz Candar in Radikal (5.3.11) warns that "if Ergenekon turns into a second Susurluk, a blow will be dealt to everything, Turkey's struggle for democracy, and the government especially."

    [Note: In 1996, during Tansu Ciler's term as prime minister, suspicions of a deep state were confirmed when a car crashed in the town of Susurluk. Susurluk revealed weird connections between state officials and those who operate outside the limits of the law]

    In his commentary in Star (5.3.11), Ergun Babahan describes the recent detentions as "blatant blow to freedom of press."

    Ferai Tinc of Hurriyet (6.3.11) finds the situation confusing and emphasizes an overall diminishing hope in the public opinion regarding the sincerity of the intention to uncover deep state elements. The writer expresses big disappointment over the arrest of Nedim Sener who wrote a book on the Hrant Dink murder and changed the course of the case. She explains: "No step has been taken during the last six years to change certain laws which violate the press freedom. The number of journalists in jail goes up constantly. Some accusations are related to the Kurdish issue while some others are related to Ergenekon. At the same time many journalists work under self-censorship due to intimidating conditions and pressure against their bosses." The writer says that many people are worried now about the emergence of new deep state elements as opposed to eliminating the existing ones.

    In Milliyet (6.3.11), Kadri Gursel emphasizes the strong need for a free press particularly in times of elections. He also highlights that some "absurd" accusations are made against certain journalists who helped to uncover the deep state entities. "In the absence of free press, no elections can be called democratic or free. A choice has to be made between democracy and authoritarian regime in the upcoming general elections", he concludes.

    Taraf's (6.3.11) Murat Belge draws attention to the prolonged detention period, up to two years for some journalist, and writes: "The detention of certain investigative journalists does not help anything but merely undermines the ongoing process and damages the credibility of the process, the writer ends."

    Cumhuriyet's (6.3.11) Emre Kongar also writes about the extended detention problem and gives the example of Mustafa Balbay, a writer for the paper, who has been in jail for two years and he has not been convicted yet. He expresses concern over the continuation of prolonged detention as "a means of punishment" in the aftermath of the recent detention of journalists.

    Gungor Mengi in Vatan (6.3.11) finds the current situation concerning journalists very negative for a healthy election process. Mengi says that the government cannot afford to merely observe the situation because public opinion still remembers the government's strong stance against court decisions on the headscarf. The writer finds "insulting and shameful" the act of intimidating one's opponents by accusing them of organizing coups, and then concludes by saying: "It is a betrayal against democracy to go for general elections under these circumstances."

    Mehmet Metiner of Star (6.3.11) disagrees with the argument that press freedom is at stake. The writer asserts: "In a very slick and deliberate manner, efforts are underway to put the political blame on the Justice and Development Party (AKP) about the detention of journalists." Metiner argues: "Some slogans like press freedom are used by many as an excuse [to accuse the government]. If I have to say it boldly, the recent protests are providing abundant signals of a psychological warfare."

    Commenting in Yeni Akit (6.3.11) on the detention of journalists Kenan Alpay questions whether activities and articles aimed at diluting the Ergenekon case can be considered a crime. These, he argues, may at most be viewed as immoral and opportunistic behaviour. Alpay asserts that detentions and arrests that do not correspond to serious evidences can only raise certain doubts regarding the Ergenekon process.

    In his article entitled in Sunday's Zaman (6.3.11), Joost Lagendijk welcomes all efforts to shed light on illegal actions undertaken in the past including recent attempts to undermine and eventually topple the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. However, he underlines that "supporting the good intentions of the case has become more difficult with each new wave of arbitrary arrests." Questioning how the arrest of Sik and Sener can be explained, Lagendijk's advises: "Concentrate on the hard core already in jail and try to get them convicted on the basis of solid evidence that cannot be denied by anybody. If that does not happen quickly, the Ergenekon investigation will destroy itself."

    Mumtazer Turkone, in his article in Zaman (6.3.11), argues that the Oda TV arrests have nothing to do with the freedom of press and warns that no one should hide behind the freedom of press. None of the crimes attributed to those journalists are within the scope of the freedom of press, Turkone asserts, underlining that although judges and prosecutors have overwhelming authorities they lack the power to defend their individual rights while performing their duties.

    Writing in Milliyet (7.3.11), Kadri Gursel argues that the arrest of Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik is a "turning point" for Turkey. In an article entitled "The difference between the new Turkey and the old," Gursel emphasizes that "6 March 2011 will be remembered as the date of the "dramatic leap" in the transition from the old to the new Turkey." There was a deep state in old Turkey but there are two deep states in the new one, he argues and concludes: "The taboos of the old Turkey were the Kurdish problem, the Armenian problem, and the army," "while the taboos of the new Turkey are the Gulen movement, the corruption of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government, the powerful, and their close family members."

    Star's (7.3.11) Samil Tayyar, is critical of the detentions. The columnist praises the Ergenekon trial, but admits that many mistakes are being made. These are birth pains, he says, because what is being born is a democratic and transparent country. He warns: "If this case is turned from a legal one to one of revenge, then everyone should realize that this will only serve the interests of Ergenekon, even if the aim is different."

    Yeni Akit (7.3.11) Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya criticizes "a group of journalists led by the media cartel" for staging a demonstration in Istanbul recently in protest at the detention of a number of journalists in the Ergenekon investigation. He accuses the protesters of "double standards," asserting that they did not "lift a finger" to support any of the journalists sent to prison during the 28 February process. He also expresses the hope that the prosecutors conducting the investigation will disclose solid evidence warranting the latest detentions and arrests so that the credibility of the probe may not be harmed.

    Yeni Safak (4.3.11) columnist Ali Bayramoglu criticizes the detention of journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener on Ergenekon-related charges along with a number of other journalists as an "unacceptable" and "anti-democratic" situation.

    Today's Zaman (4.3.11) columnist Huseyin Gulerce objects to the latest police searches and detentions that took place in a "second operation launched against" as part of the Ergenekon probe being represented as an attempt by the ruling AKP to "intimidate journalists and opponents."

    Turkish Cypriot discontent with Ankara

    In an article in Milliyet (4.3.11) entitled "TRNC the hypocrisy rally" columnist Metin Munir writes that the rally was aimed at forcing the Turkish Cypriot administration to discontinue the belt-tightening programme supported by Turkey and to deport Turkish immigrants who have settled in north Cyprus. Pointing out that trade unions are as culpable as political parties for the current economic crisis, Munir says: "If the Turkish Cypriots want to overcome the crisis that they are facing, they should understand that they should stage protests not in collaboration with but against political parties and trade unions."

    In an article in Today's Zaman (4.3.11) entitled "A gangrene called Cyprus" Editor-in-Chief Bulent Kenes comments on what he describes as "unease" in north Cyprus caused by "the presence of Turkey and Turkish citizens on the island." He cites the recent "apparently anti-Turkey protests" held by Turkish Cypriots as an indication of how relations between North Cyprus and Turkey are "becoming increasingly complicated and gangrenous."

    Today's Zaman (4.3.11) columnist Yavuz Baydar argues that the protests against Turkey in north Cyprus do not make much sense "in the context of Arab unrest as some sort of uprising against dictatorial rule. The growing dismay of the Turkish Cypriots is more complex. It contains elements of continuing mistrust of the Greek south as well as profound disappointment with the way the international community has treated the issue."

    In a commentary in Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review (5.3.11), entitled "No to assimilation" Cengiz Aktar, views the discontent of the Turkish Cypriots from Ankara and the difficulty of the government "to manage this crisis when it doesn't even call it as such." Explaining that efforts by the government "to reduce the issue to 'economic rationality' or 'Mediterranean lethargy' of Cypriot Turks is grossly inadequate," Cengiz Aktar concludes: "From now on, exactly like people of Tunisia or Egypt, Cypriot Turks are rising up, asking to determine their fate. They are becoming new social actors."

    Writing in Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review (5.3.11) about "the rally organized by a coalition of labour unions of all political inclinations people who perhaps would never ever want to come together were in the same square, chanting slogans, waving Turkish and Turkish Cypriot flags and carrying placards", Yusuf Kanli views the extent that "it must be difficult for the 'absolute ruler' in Ankara to understand such a democratic mentality and appreciate the Turkish Cypriot people."

    Arab unrest and Libya

    Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review (4.3.11) columnist Semih Idiz says that Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Egypt should be looked on positively by all those who are interested in seeing that Egypt attains the democratic values desired by its people after they successfully toppled the Mubarak regime. "This is the kind of role that we expect a liberal and democratically oriented person like Gul, who has respect for human rights, to play in the region. It does him and Turkey much more credit than appearing to 'chummy' with leaders whose democratic credentials are highly questionable, if they exist at all."

    Milliyet (4.3.11) columnist Hasan Cemal quotes Gul as criticizing the West for disregarding demands for democracy in the Middle East for the sake of maintaining stability which, he noted, has backfired. This, he says, brought Turkey to the fore as far as the Arab world is concerned and President Gul's one-day visit to Cairo should be considered in that context.

    Today's Zaman (4.3.11) columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz asserts that while Turkey is the only country that could wage "democratic opposition to Western hegemony in this region" and "contribute to peace and stability in this problematic corner of the world," it cannot be a "fair broker" in the Middle East before it improves its democracy and "advance[s] its own human rights standards [...]"

    Today's Zaman (5.3.11) columnist Abdulhamit Bilici comments on Turkey's reasons for objecting to any NATO intervention in Libya and calls on the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, to correct the foreign image of Turkey as a supporter of the Gaddafi regime created by the Government's "cautious" stance on Libya.

    In an article in Yeni Akit (6.3.11) entitled "Are we the regional suppliers?" columnist Cuneyt Arvasi argues that developments in North Africa are just the beginning, the great earthquake is yet to come, posing the rhetorical question whether we [Turkey] should support the West, Arvasi argues that "given the situation, doing nothing is the most effective political model." It was not very elegant to visit the junta marshals and to convey the message to the Egyptian people that they should find the solution in a western-style democracy, writes Arvasi, finding fault with the interlocutor as well as the message. The harsh stand adopted by Prime Minister Erdogan against the possibility of a military intervention on the part of the West reflects Turkey's inclination and summarizes our national view, asserts the writer, concluding: "We are not the regional suppliers of the West. It should not be our job to market their values to the Muslim world."

    Turkish-EU relations

    Amanda Paul of Sunday's Zaman (6.3.11) assesses the current state of Turkish-EU relations and argues that Turkish-EU negotiations "have entered a period of siesta." Arguing that waking from this siesta is dependent on two issues, namely the resolution of the Cyprus problem and a change in leadership in France and Germany, Paul concludes: "I have never believed the current stalemate represents the end of the road for Turkey's EU goal. Turkey and the EU simply share too many strategic interests. Unfortunately, today's leaderships lack courage and vision."

    Turks in Germany

    Writing in Yeni Safak (6.3.11), Kursat Bumin refers to the remarks Prime Minister Erdogan made during a recent visit to Germany to the effect that children of citizens of Turkish origin should first learn Turkish and then German. Bumin agrees with German Green party co-chairman Cem Ozdemir, of Turkish descent, who is critical of Erdogan's remarks and who is reported to have said: "Ankara cannot solve the problems of my children, Ankara should first solve its own problems. Berlin and not Ankara can solve the problems of children living in Germany." Also criticizing Erdogan's remarks that he is in favour of integration but not assimilation, Bumin relates the views of Ozdemir who believes that such remarks are used by the rightists in Germany to block the immigrants' search for their rights.

    President Gul and the Government's approach on the press freedom debate

    Fikret Bila in Milliyet (7.3.11) recounts his telephone call with President Abdullah Gul regarding the latest detentions and quotes President Gul as saying "prosecutors should be meticulous." The writer notes that Gul expressed his worry cautiously since the issue is in the hands of the judiciary. Bila further quotes President Gul as saying, "After following the incidents, I have an observation regarding some developments which are unacceptable by the public conscious. It casts a cloud on Turkey's current image which has received everyone's appreciation. I am worried about this." The writer also quotes President Gul expressing his expectation from prosecutors and courts "to act meticulously when they exercise their duties" and not to harm anybody's pride and be compatible with the law and ethics.

    Also in Milliyet (7.3.11), Hasan Cemal calls on Prime Minister Erdogan to take a political step on press freedom now as strongly as he displayed his political will earlier in favour of the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases. In an open letter to Erdogan the writer stresses: "There is a judicial system as well as a judicial mentality which considers thought a crime. It also tries to intimidate journalists, reporters, writers, and thinkers by putting them in prison. Under these circumstances, a political will is needed to change the system. This is a must for democracy and for democracy culture." Cemal ends by saying "If you fail to show the political will on the freedoms, not only will this be an act against democratic interests but it will also help to derail the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials."

    Murat Yetkin in Radikal (7.3.11) says the government cannot be a mere spectator on the issue of press freedom, while he expresses disappointment about the statements of cabinet members. Yetkin considers press freedom as a litmus test of a real democracy and says that the comments made by Minister of State in Charge of the EU Affairs Egemen Bagis and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu regarding the detention of journalists were incompatible with any first-rate democracy criteria. Yetkin observes that the absence of high-level criticism from the United States and the EU is conjunctural because of the need for Turkey in the midst of regional turmoil. The writer asserts: "Press freedom is a precondition for a first-class democracy along with an independent judiciary. Is Turkey going to be inspirational for third-class [countries] by putting itself into a second-class democracy?" TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION


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