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Anadolu Agency: News in English, 02-02-06

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From: The Anadolu Agency Home Page at <>

Anadolu Ajansı



06 Fabruary

2002 Wednesday












    These are some of the major headlines and their brief stories in Turkey's press on February 6, 2002. The Anadolu Agency does not verify these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


    International Monetary Fund (IMF) European One Department Director Michael Deppler described the inflation rate in January as ''disappointment'' and noted that the inflation was very obstinate in Turkey.

    Deppler said although the inflation rate was above the expected figure, he still believed that 35 percent inflation target could be reached.

    Deppler said IMF Executive Board was very positive about Turkey's program.

    Michael Deppler said, ''the IMF Executive Directors Board is very positive about Turkey's program. However, there is also a strong warning about the importance attributed to continuation of program with determination.''

    When asked whether or not the 35 percent annual inflation rate target was realistic as the rate in January was higher than the expected, Deppler said, ''today's inflation rate was a disappointment. Also the bad atmosphere has an effect on this. Inflation was higher than our expectation. However, we believe that this year's inflation target will be achieved.''

    Hasan Mezarci, a former parliamentarian of the banned Welfare Party (RP), was sent to Ipsala Prison to serve his one-year imprisonment terms which was given to him on charges of insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

    Hasan Mezarci, who came to the province with his son Fatih, applied to the prosecutor's office and said he wanted to serve his imprisonment terms in Ipsala Prison.

    Mezarci was put to the prison after going through health check.

    Under the Execution Law, Mezarci will be kept in prison for four months and 24 days.


    The New York Times said Osama Bin Laden was inspired by Kaplancilar terrorist organization when he was planning September 11 attacks. In October 29, 1998, Kaplancilar had attempted to attack Anitkabir, the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Modern Turkish Republic, with a plane. They were planning to kill almost all high raking administrators of Turkey, who gathered there for October 29 celebrations. The terrifying plan had been prevented at the last moment.

    The news report, written by Douglas Frantz, the representative of The New York times in Istanbul, said Turkish and German intelligence officials got the information that a group of Kaplancilar supporters went from Germany to Afghanistan to talk to bin Laden one year before the attempt to attack Anitkabir. The newspaper said many terrorists of the Kaplancilar terrorist organization went to Afghanistan to be trained after this meeting.

    State Minister Kemal Dervis said, ''I can not undertake the responsibility if political determination sways in implementation of the economic program.'' Dervis said he could only think of resignation if this happens.

    Dervis said continuation of the program depended on keeping away from cheap and populist policies.

    Dervis said the important thing was the political determination in implementation of economic reform.


    Merve Kavakci attended the CNN program Q&A discussing the ban on headscarf in Singapore.

    Kavakci said Singapore was not the only country banning headscarf, noting that there were tens of thousands of headscarf victims in Turkey.

    When asked, ''Turkey is a secular country, isn't Turkey more modern when compared with its neighbours?'' Kavakci began to make propaganda instead of responding to the question.

    Upon this the announcer intervened and did not allow Merve to speak more saying that they were out of time.

    Istanbul Mayor Ali Mufit Gurtuna said a reinforcement project was underway to strengthen the buildings in Istanbul which could be collapsed or damaged in case of an earthquake.

    Pointing out that contacts continued for the 500-600 million U.S. dollars, Gurtuna said the credit would be given to the citizens with 20-30 year maturity. Gurtuna also said the Bogazici Strait was also in danger in case of a quake.

    However, Dincer Yigit, the Director General of Highways, said the Istanbul Strait was the last construction tha will collapse in case of an earthquake.


    Istanbul Faculty of Medicine Mecial Rescue and Support Group left for Afghanistan. The group, comprised of five doctors, will give health service and train the Afghan doctors for three weeks in Takhar region.

    Dr. Ahmet Usta, who left for Afghanistan on Saturday, said civilian people in Afghanistan always needed medical help, stressing that, ''we had this project long before. I had visited the region in August, but we had to postpone the project when war broke out.''

    Usta said they set up a health center in Hocabahauddin township, and that necessary medicine and equipment were sent there.

    Usta said they would give health service and train the Afghan doctors for three weeks.

    The U.S. Ambassdor to Turkey Robert Pearson said Washington administration would not allow the formation of an independent political formation in Northern Iraq.

    Pointing out that they were pleased over the contributions of Turkey in fight against terrorism, Pearson said nearly 4,000 sorties were made from Incirlik Base in southern Adana province to Afghanistan.

    Responding to a question, Pearson said terrorist organizations such as PKK and DHKP-C should be included in the list of ''universal terrorist organizations''.


    State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli, who also acts as the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), refused the call of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit for a summit.

    Bahceli's response to the request of Ecevit to discuss draft law limiting freedom of thought was that: ''Those who have different ideas and targets should agree in the parliament.'' Bahceli gave the message to the two other coalition partners to search for a solution apart from the MHP.

    Turkish side of the Turkey-U.S. Joint Commission was set up. The commission was decided to be set up during the visit of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to the U.S. in February 15-18.

    The co-chairmenship was given to the foreign ministry. The commission will expend support to the improvement of trade relations by enlarging the economic dialogue. The commission will also exert efforts for the increase of investments and implementation of economic program.


    Two thirds of the personnel in State Economic Enterprises will be dismissed, and 800 branches of public banks will be closed.

    The intent letter, bearing the signature of State Minister Kemal Dervis, said, ''savings will continue in public. The inflation rate was determined as 35 percent. Privatization procedures will be finished, and some public directorates will be closed down till March.

    Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, Deputy Prime Minister Devlet Bahceli and Mesut Yilmaz said the coalition parties had full support in the economic program which aimed to better the economy.

    The coalition leaders sent a letter to International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Horst Koehler together with the letter of intent.

    The three leaders, in the letter, said that after a very difficult year, the Turkish economy was beginning to show concrete and promising signs of recovery. The letter said, ''the letter of intent presents a medium-term strategy which has the full support of the coalition parties and which is designed to take Turkey forward on a path of rapid, sustainable and equitable growth.''


    Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit found an interim formula for the articles 312 and 159 which brought the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Motherland Party (ANAP) against each other.

    According to the compromise, the draft will be discussed at the Parliamentary General Assembly today, and an improvement will be provided in articles 312 and 159 with the motions that will be submitted by the Democratic Left Party (DSP).

    Fitch upgraded Turkey's local currency rating to 'B' from 'B-'. The long term foreign currency rating is affirmed at 'B', while the Outlook is revised to Stable from Negative.

    The decision to upgrade Turkey's international local currency rating and assign a Stable Ourtlook reflects the government's adherence to tough fiscal targets and continued structural reform, notably of the banking sector.

    Other important factors include the stabilisation of the lira and lower real interest rates, as well as the commitment by the IMF to provide and additional 12 billion U.S. dollars of financial support.

    ANKARA - The Motherland Party (ANAP) Istanbul Parliamentarian Aydin Ayaydin called for a parliamentary investigation to be opened to determine the resistance of straits and viaducts, and to determine the measures that would be taken.

    The motion, submitted to the Parliamentary Chairmanship, recalled that there were statements that Istanbul Bogazici and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges and the viaducts on the connection roads were affected by the quakes.

    The motion called a Parliamentary Investigation to be opened to reveal the resistance of the bridges and the viaducts against a probable quake, and to determine the works in this respect.

    ANKARA - Culture Minister Istemihan Talay on Wednesday invited Sayed Makhdoon Raheen, who was appointed as the Information and Culture Minister in the newly established cabinet in Afghanistan.

    Culture Minister Talay, who made the invitation through Foreign Ministry, said projects between the two countries in the field of culture could be discussed during the visit.

    Pointing out that friendship between the two countries were based on history, Talay said Turkey always appreciated the support of Afghanistan which was shown during the period of the War of Independence.

    ISTANBUL - State Minister Recep Onal said on Wednesday that efforts were underway between Izmir and Tunisia for ferryboat tours, noting that, ''there may be important developments in tourism and exchange of property in case the tours start.''

    Onal, who left for Tunisia to attend Turkish-Tunisian 9th Term Joint Economic Commission meetings, made a statement at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport before his departure.

    Stressing that relations between Turkey and North African Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria were based on historical as well as religious relations, Onal said the relations were carried out positively.

    Onal said there were important initiatives between Turkey and Tunisia for exchange of property and service, adding that Turkey had 50-million U.S. dollars investment in this country.

    Pointing out that Tunisia was in the position of bridge in respect to the exchange of property and contractor services, Onal said, ''we attribute great importance to relations with those three countries in North Africa. Currently, Tunisia ranks the third in exportation we make to North Africa. It ranks the 7th among the countries which we make importation in Northern Africa. Our total foreign trade volume is around 230 million U.S. dollars.''

    Onal said cooperation was foreseen in naval transportation, noting that Free Trade Agreement was the biggest target of Turkey.

    ANKARA - Finance Minister Sumer Oral said on Wednesday that 22 quadrillion Turkish liras (TL) of interest payments in 2001 stemmed from the interest expenditures in 2001 of the Specially Arranged Debenture Bonds which were issued to consolidate financial structure of state banks.

    Holding a news conference, Oral said that 1 quadrillion 10 trillion TL which belonged to the social security organizations was the amount recorded due to technical obligations as there was not sufficient allowances in the relevant figure.

    Noting that incomes had risen by 55 percent, tax incomes had increased by 50 percent and expenditures had climbed by 81 percent, Oral said that there was a 54 percent increase in non-interest expenditures, 116 percent increase in interest expenditures nad 60 percent increase in non-interest surplus.

    Oral said that regarding the non-interest expenditures, there was a 1 quadrillion 583 trillion TL difference between the realization and the total amount of allowances foreseen in budget laws.

    Noting that 175 trillion TL of this difference stemmed from the treatment expenditures which are included in personnel expenditures as the medicine prices had risen by 100 percent, Oral said that 25 trillion TL of this difference stemmed from the severance pay which was included in personnel expenditures as more than the expected number of workers had retired.

    Oral said that 115 trillion of this difference stemmed from green card payments which were included in other current expenditures, 868 trillion stemmed from tax return, and 360 trillion TL stemmed from the expenditures which were shown as allowances due to external project loans.

    Oral said that consolidated budget revenues were 51 quadrillion 812 trillion TL, tax incomes were 39 quadrillion 768 trillion TL, non-tax normal incomes were 7 quadrillion 398 trillion TL, special incomes and funds were 3 quadrillion 977 trillion TL and added budget incomes were 669 trillion TL in 2001.

    Noting that when budget incomes in 2001 were compared to those in 2000, tax incomes rose by 50 percent, non-tax normal incomes increased by 112 percent, special incomes and fund incomes rose 30 percent and added budget incomes increased by 68 percent, Oral said, ''so the tax incomes in 2001 was 5.4 percent above the targeted amount.''

    Oral added that budget incomes were 49 quadrillion 60 trillion TL, tax incomes were 37 quadrillion 710 trillion TL, expenditures were 79 quadrillion TL, interests were 41 quadrillion 268 trillion TL, budget deficit was 29 quadrillion 940 trillion TL and primary budget was 11 quadrillion 328 trillion TL in 2001.

    ANKARA - Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said on Wednesday that Turkey aimed to begin European Union (EU) full membership negotiations until the end of 2002.

    Prior to his meeting with Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moller, Cem told reporters that Denmark was supporting Turkey's EU membership.

    Cem said that besides bilateral relations, Turkey-EU relations would be taken up at their meeting.

    Foreign Minister Cem noted that they hoped to begin full membership negotiations by the end of Denmark's six-month Term Presidency that would start in June.

    Cem stated, ''of course, we don't know if it will be or if it won't be (possible) but this our firm goal and we will work for it.''

    The two countries assumed a parallel approach in NATO, Cem pointed out.

    Cem said that they supported the enlargement of the Alliance and especially, they were very sensitive about the memberships of Bulgaria and Romania.

    They were at a ''very supportive'' position for Bulgaria and Romania's NATO membership, Cem added.

    Moller expressed condolence to the relatives of people who lost their lives in Sunday's earthquake of Afyon and said that they would take up the EU and European Convention during their meeting.

    He guessed that Cem would also attend the Convention, Moller said.

    Upon Moller's words, Cem said, ''no, I will not be there personally.''

    Danish minister said that they also wanted the enlargement of NATO and stated that they would support Bulgaria and Romania's membership if their conditions were sufficient for membership.

    Moller will depart from Turkey after being separately received by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

    ANKARA - Finance Minister Sumer Oral said on Wednesday that the framework and essence of Turkey's mission was ''contemporary civilization'' and the current target which was appropriate to this was ''European Union full membership''.

    Holding a press conference, Oral explained structural change targets in 2002.

    Noting that as the Finance Ministry, their vision in 2002 was to fulfil each of their responsibilities for opening of accession negotiations, Oral said, ''we pledge for complete adjustment with all EU acquis related to our ministry until 2004.''

    Noting that adjustment with EU meant ''structural change'', Oral said that structural change could not be made without public opinion's approval and interest.

    ''The aim of this news conference was to have public opinion's interest focused on structural change and adjustment with EU. Our informative works will continue in order to let public opinion to follow the process of change,'' he said.

    Stressing that structural change was getting shape over three factors, Oral said that those factors were transparency, participation and explanation.

    Oral said that as long as those factors were consolidated, society would gain a functioning democracy and public would gain an influential state structure and tax payers would not hesitate in adjustment with taxes, strengthening the economy.

    Oral said that Turkey should have an economy which worked according to market rules and was powerful enough to bear competition in order to become a EU full member.

    Recalling that the EU, under the headline of economic criteria, had presented three-lane road map to candidate countries as economic stability, adjustment with EU acquis and administrative capacity to implement this acquis, Oral said that they had gained IMF's support regarding economic stability.

    Stating that cooperation with EU had been shaped up and broadended regarding adjustment, Oral added that adjustment laws would help economy work according to market laws and that they had put into practice the projects which would create influential state by receiving the World Bank's support.

    LEFKOSA - Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Rauf Denktas and Greek Cypriot administration leader Glafcos Clerides will meet for the tenth time within the scope of the direct talks.

    The direct talks were started on January 16 to find a permanent solution to Cyprus question.

    United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy to Cyprus Alvaro De Soto is participating in the talks as observer.

    Today's meeting will start at 5.00 p.m. At this meeting, the two leaders are expected to conclude the security issues which were started to be discussed on Friday.

    The two leaders will start debating territory and ownership issues following the security issues.

    ANKARA - Finance Minister Sumer Oral said on Wednesday that the aim of the 2002 Activity Program was not to cope with the economic crisis but to make the recovery lasting with structural change.

    Oral said, ''we pledge to start process of European Union full membership negotiations this year and conclude the structural change by the end of 2004, which will provide complete adjustment with the acquis for our ministry.''

    Holding a press conference, Oral said that as the Finance Ministry, they were the object of six documents with three international organizations as European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

    Noting that they were the collocutor of the EU with Accession Partnership Document, Annual Progress Reports, Turkey's National Program for Undertaking of EU Acquis and Pre-Accession Economic Program, stand-by deal with the IMF and Adjustment Loan with the World Bank, Oral said that common target of the works carried out with these three organizations was EU full membership.

    Noting that laws which had been prepared by the 57th government showed that great progress was recorded regarding adjustment with EU, Oral said that those laws prepared the basis of a sound and disciplined public finance, macroeconomic stability, powerful market economy and more influential state management regarding the factors of transparency, participation and explanation.

    Stating that preparations for Public and Finance Sector Adjustment Loan to be received from the World Bank were about to be finalized, Oral said that this loan faresaw Public Sector Reform and that Budgetary Reform, Accounting Reform, Personnel Reform and Tax Reform were the Public Sector Reform's parts which directly concerned his ministry.

    ANKARA - Finance Minister Sumer Oral said on Wednesday that they were not thinking of giving salary below the inflation to civil servants and the rule about the salaries of the Budget Law would be implemented in exactly the same way.

    Oral held a news conference on structural reforms and 2001 budgetary performance and answered questions of reporters.

    Responding a question about the committent in the letter of intent given to the IMF for not reflecting inflation difference to civil servants' salaries, Oral said that they had always increased civil servants' salaries according to the inflation rate. ''Also today, we are not thinking of giving salary to civil servants below the inflation. There is not such a commitment. There is a rule in the Budget Law and it will be implemeted exactly in the same way.''

    Stressing that the state should work more rationally, Oral said that within this framework, a work would be carried out on personnel regime.

    Noting that the state would employ necessary workers at necessary places, Oral said that he agreed with the opinion that there was not a sufficient level of salary in Turkey and at the same time there was not a just salary regime. Oral recalled that a committee comprising three ministers had been set up to coordinate the works on this matter.

    Responding a question about the new letter of intent's social effects, Oral said that all economic policies basically targeted human beings.

    Stressing that citizens had made great self-sacrifices, Oral said that also the state would make self-sacrifices and spend every lira appropriately.

    Responding questions about real-estate tax, Oral said, ''a committee comprising four ministers was set up. We could not discuss this matter as the earthquake was taken up during the latest Council of Ministers meeting. We will discuss it in the next meeting.''

    Responding another question about decrease in value added tax (TAX) on natural gas and medicine, Oral said that the five percent VAT rate would be decreased to three percent together with special consumption tax.

    IZMIR - Aegean Region Chamber of Industry (EBSO) Assembly President Kemal Colakoglu and Executive Board President Salih Esen sent on Wednesday letters of condemnation to Anne Dismorr, the Swedish Ambassadress to Turkey.

    A statement of EBSO said that Colakoglu and Esen sent letters of condemnation to Dismorr due to the brochure which was distributed to participants of Swedish Business Culture Day and which included unjust accusations against Turkey.

    The statement noted that Colakoglu said in his letter that the part of the brochure related with the so-called Armenian genocide consisted of ''worthless and unfounded'' claims.

    Colakoglu said, ''we harshly condemn you due to these unfounded claims. We respect to the right of every person and section to express their views freely. However, there is not any reason which can excuse the distribution of this booklet that did not have any connection with the issue, that did not reflect the realities and that hurt the feelings of nation, in such a meeting held to increase social and economic cooperation opportunities between two countries. Even if it has been noted that this was not made intentionally, it is obvious that there was a big lack of information and indifference.''

    There were good relations between Turkish and Swedish people, the letter noted.

    The letter pointed out that saying that the aim of the distribution of the booklet was the improvement of historical and commercial relations did not suit the level of an ambassadress.

    ''Mutual affection and respect should be the basis of improvement of our relations. We cannot improve our economic and cultural relations by distributing a booklet covering some unilateral and unfounded claims which did not have any historical value. This unnecessary and meaningless incident will not harm Turkish-Swedish friendship. However, refraining from such irresponsible behaviours should be one of the most important responsibilities of diplomatic missions, the duty of which is to improve social and economic relations between two countries,'' the letter said.

    Colakoglu noted, ''with these feelings, we believe that such incidents which hurt Turkish people will not occur again and call on you not to evaluate the history unilaterally.''

    EBSO Executive Board President Salih Esen said in the letter that he had difficulty in understanding the reason of the distribution of a booklet including unfounded and worthless information by the Swedish Embassy at a meeting that was foreseen to improve social and economic relations between the two countries.

    Esen noted, ''although there were good moments in the histories of the two countries which could satisfy both of the sides, bringing such an issue into the agenda over which Turkish people are very sensitive led to reactions of Aegean industrialists. To this end, although we attribute utmost importance to freedom of thought, we harshly condemn you for this incident which we think was unnecessary and mala fides incident and we believe that you owe us an apology.''

    ISTANBUL - Bogazici University Kandilli Observatory Center and Seismology Institute Director Ahmet Mete Isikara said on Wednesday that he was satisfied that natural gas networks in Istanbul were quake-resistant.

    Isikara told a press conference that safety valves had to be installed to all the buildings to minimize the risks.

    Professor Isikara said that the mentioned safety valves costed between 400 and 1000 U.S. dollars.

    They would set up early warning system to 28 network departments of Istanbul Gas Distribution Inc. (IGDAS), Isikara noted.

    Isikara stated that the teams would go to the regions as fast as possible when they were warned and discharge the gas in the pipelines.

    Thus, Isikara said, probable fires following the earthquakes could be prevented.

    ANKARA - Motherland Party (ANAP) leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said on Wednesday that Turkish economy had not passed the test yet.

    Speaking at the group meeting of his party, Yilmaz reminded ANAP members about the warnings he had made earlier that some betterments in economy should not cause drowsiness and said, ''Turkish economy has not passed the test yet.''

    Yilmaz noted that some developments proved that his warning was right.

    The inflation rate in January was above the expectations, Yilmaz stated.

    Yilmaz said that there were some developments which encouraged them, but warned that those positive developments were the result of the loans provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    The IMF was giving almost one-third of the total loans it extends to whole the world to Turkey, Yilmaz pointed out.

    Yilmaz said, ''this is a big risk for Turkey. This is not a donation. This is a loan. This is a money which will be repaid together with its interest. Turkey has not undertaken such a big risk by using such a big loan so far. But, the IMF has also taken the similar risk by extending one-third of its loans to a single country.''

    Both the IMF and Turkey had undertaken a common big risk, Yilmaz noted.

    Yilmaz stated that the accomplishment of the economic program was obligatory for Turkey as well as IMF.

    Structural reforms had to be fulfilled to maintain stability, Yilmaz said.

    Yilmaz pointed out that if the reforms were not completed, Turkey would face a crisis again.

    ''If Turkey faces a crisis again, any of the powers in the world, and neither September 11th incidents nor any other incident, can provide the sources that Turkey needs,'' Yilmaz said.

    Yilmaz noted that so, the year 2002 was very important for Turkey.

    ANAP leader Yilmaz said that the letter of intent presented to the IMF included commitments that had to be fulfilled in this year and stated that the government was aware of this responsibility.

    Noting that the problems related with inflation would be overcome after March, Yilmaz said that a certain revival could be marked in economy after the decrease in inflation.







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