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Anadolu Agency: News in English, 02-02-20

Anadolu Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Anadolu Agency Home Page at <http://www.anadoluajansi.com.tr/>

Anadolu Ajansı

ANADOLU AJANSI

NEWS

20 February

2002 Wednesday

Türkiye

Dünya

Parlamento

Ekonomi

Spor

Sanat-Magazin

Sağlık

HURRIYET (LIBERAL)

IMAM TEAM CAPTURED

One Palestinian and two Jordanian members of the Beyyiat El Imam Organization (Union of Imams) and seven Turks who helped them were caught in an operation in Van by the careful investigation of a policeman. The police followed the three suspects due to the false passports they provided from Turkey. The three suspects were planning suicide bomb attacks in Israel. A high ranking security official told the paper that ''these three persons entered Turkey months ago and went to Afghanistan with the passports their supporters in Istanbul provided for them. After finishing their training, these three militants called their supporters in Istanbul and asked them to provide them new identity cards, passports and tickets. Our security officials took measures in Van and these persons were captured after they entered Turkey.''

EU EXPRESSES UNEASINES OVER PUBLICATION OF FOGG'S E-MAIL MESSAGES

European Union (EU) officially conveyed its uneasiness to Turkey regarding the leakage of e-mail messages of Representative of EU Commission to Turkey Karen Fogg. EU Commissioner for Enlargement Verheugen summoned Turkey's Permanent Representative to the EU Nihat Akyol and told him that ''you should ensure the physical security and communication safety of our personnel in Turkey. If necessary, the EU Commission's President Prodi will meet with Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.'' Akyol said in his part that if Fogg continues to be in charge, this will cause uneasiness in the Turkey-EU relations as the public opinion reacted to Fogg.

MILLIYET (LIBERAL)

UNBELIEVABLE ILLEGAL ELECTRIC USAGE

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Zeki Cakan said that the ratio of using electricity illegally in southeastern Turkey changed between 70-92 percent. The terrorist organizations PKK and Hezbollah put pressure on citizens telling them that they should not pay money to the state for long years. ''Almost everybody in southeastern Turkey use electricity illegally. The annual loss of the state is 2 trillion liras. No country can ever stand that,'' Cakan said. Cakan noted that he would dismiss officals who don't fight with this illegal usage of electricity after the feast of sacrifice.

ANIMAL RIGHTS TO COME TO AGENDA AFTER HOLIDAY

Rahsan Ecevit, the deputy leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) who expressed sorrow over the death of street cats and dogs, brought onto agenda the bill on animal rights. DSG group deputy leaders Emrehan Halıcı and Aydın Tumen will visit the political parties after the Feast of Sacrifice about the adoption of the bill as soon as possible.

SABAH (LIBERAL)

TURKEY TO TAKE CIVILIZATION TEST DURING FEAST OF SACRIFICE

The prohibition to sacrifice sheep in the streets will be implemented during the Feast of Sacrifice this year. Municipalities will give a fine starting from 54,5 million liras for those citizens who don't abide by the prohibition. The amount of the fine will be two folds if the citizens don't leave the scene clean. Therefore, certain places have been allocated for the feast. If the citizens abide by the call, the modern image of Turkey will not be stained.

ENERGY MINISTER CAKAN SAYS ELECTRICITY PRICES TO DECREASE

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Zeki Cakan said that there would not be any energy shortage in Turkey until 2006. ''The thing that affects the energy cost is the fuel input. We will produce lignite cheaper and privatize mine pits. Therefore, we will decrease the price of electricity by 50 percent. I will announce the figures soon,'' he said.

CUMHURIYET (LEFT)

IP FILES SUIT ABOUT FOREIGN MINISTER CEM

Labour Party (IP) deputy leader Hasan Yalcın filed a suit about Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and some other ministry officials claiming that they exchanged secret information with Representative of EU Commission to Turkey Karen Fogg. Foreign Ministry issued a statement telling that the claims put forward by Hasan Yalcın were not true and they couldn't be taken seriously. Meanwhile, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Turkey requested the deportation of Fogg from Turkey.

ECEVIT REITERATES HIS CONCERN ABOUT IRAQ

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit received the U.S. delegation from the House of Representatives yesterday and told them that any operation against Iraq would bring damage rather than use. ''The Iraqi problem can be solved by methods other than military ones, and this is the correct method,'' Ecevit said. Wexler, the Chairman of the U.S. delegation said that the U.S. trusts Britain and Turkey, which are its real allies in the fight against terrorism. The delegation also noted that the U.S. would definitely take into consideration the sensitivities of Turkey if it takes a decision about Iraq.

RADIKAL (LEFT)

15 AMBASSADORS WANT SECURITY

The publication of e-mail messages of Representative of EU Commission to Turkey Karen Fogg set the European Union (EU) countries' 15 embassies in Ankara into action. The ambassadors who applied to Foreign Ministry wanted more security. The ambassadors of the countries except the EU's are also worried about that matter. The European diplomats, who share the view that Turkey supports this illicit matter secretly, had recourse to the measures which will increase their communication securities.

DISCUSSION IN DEATH PENALTY

The opening to the signature of death penalty draft within the framework of the adjustment to the Constitution increased the tension in the discussions. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy leader Sevket Yahnici, who shares Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk's view that the death penalty could also be lifted completely without rechanging the Constitution, said, ''if they find the ground in the parliament, they shall change it. However, if they will say clearly that we make this in order to rescue 22 people including Abdullah Ocalan, they shall do.'' State Minister Nejat Arseven said, ''I don't excuse anyone, but we cannot judge Fehriye Erdal and Cemalettin Kaplan due to the death penalty. In other words, shall those 22 people prevent the future of Turkey?''

TURKIYE (RIGHT)

COROLLA MORALE

Toyota launched on Tuesday an export breakthrough of the new generation Corolla automobiles produced in Toyota Adapazari motor vehicles factory. Toyota Automotive Industry Turkey (TMMT) which has become a strategic production center for Europe by Toyota is starting to export over 40,000 Corollas, Sedans and Station Wagons to 22 countries in a year. TMMT, as a producer and an exporter, participates in the ranks of Britain and France as a part of widining Toyota's being in Europe. TMMT will produce 47,000 vehicles, including also the production towards the domestic market, in 2002.

ORAL: ''VAT MAY DECREASE IN 2003''

Finance Minister Sumer Oral said that there would be no decrease in value added tax (VAT) in 2002 and adding that a decrease in the tax in 2002 could lead an imbalance in the budget. Oral stated that they could change the tax rates to revive the economy in the following year. He noted that the budget gave 1.4 quadrillion Turkish liras non-interest surplus in January. Oral added that a decrease in VAT might be in 2003 to revive the economy.

ZAMAN (CONSERVATIVE)

UNEMPLOYED BOSSES ALSO APPLY TO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Not only workers but also employers have applied to the umemployment insurance. Turkish Employment Service (Is-Kur) Director General Necdet Kenar said that even tradesmen who went bankrupt applied to the unemployment insurance in the first days when the applications to the insurance began. Kenar stated, ''the tradesmen who lost their jobs apply to the insurance.'' Kenar added that the number of the insured people who applied to the unemployment insurance was convenient to the expectations and possibilities of the institution.

-TOURISM MINISTER TASAR LEAVES FOR ITALY

ISTANBUL - Tourism Minister Mustafa Tasar said on Wednesday that he expected the number of tourists who would come to Turkey this year to increase by 25-30 percent when compared to 2001.

''We targetted 13-14 million tourists and a tourism income of 10 billion dollars in 2002,'' said Tasar at Ataturk Airport before leaving for Italy where he will attend the International Tourism Exchange Market Fair in Milano.

Tasar said that the fair in which 140 countries will participate will have the character of being a world wide tourism exchange market.

Noting that he aims to promote Turkey abroad and to get more shares from targetted markets by participating in such fairs, Tasar said that ''I attribute great importance to representing Turkey in this fair in Italy which is the most important tourism rival of Turkey in the Mediterranean in respect of tourism. There will be Turkish tourism operators and hotel owners in the Turkish stand in the fair.''

Tasar said that the number of Italian tourists who come to Turkey increased significantly, adding that the number of Italian tourists which was 218,000 in 2000 increased to 314,000 in 2001 by an increase of 45 percent.

-PRESIDENT SEZER WELCOMES KYRGYZ PRESIDENT AKAYEV IN OFFICIAL CEREMONY

ANKARA - President Ahmet Necdet Sezer welcomed Kyrgyz President Askar Akyev in an official ceremony on Wednesday.

Addressing the ceremony, Sezer said that the progress recorded by Kyrgyzstan in the last ten years following its independence pleased the Turkish nation.

Sezer listed these developments in Kyrgyzstan as strengthening of its sovereignty and independence, transition to free market economy and various successes in democratization.

Recalling that the year 2002 is the tenth anniversary of foundation of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan, Sezer said that the two countries benefitted well from this period of ten years and they formed the legal basis of the bilateral relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. ''We improved the political, economic, cultural and commercial relations and consolidated the ties between us,'' Sezer said.

Sezer added that the visit of Akayev will give the opportunity to review new cooperation areas between the two countries.

Kyrgyz President Akayev said in his part that Turkey immediately recognized Kyrgyzstan after it gained its independence, adding that Turkey always supported Kyrgzstan.

Noting that the bilateral relations are at good level, Akayev said that it will further improve by his visit to Turkey.

''I paid my first visit abroad to Turkey as the president of my country after the country gained its independence. I had told that the two countries would walk together on the way to democracy and market economy, I was not mistaken. Turkey and Kyrgyzstan walk on this path together,'' he said.

Akayev said that his country closely follows the success Turkey gained in international arena, adding that they would discuss with Sezer what the two countries did in the last decade and what could be done in the coming decade.

-CENTRAL BANK REDUCES INTEREST RATES

ANKARA - Central Bank reduced on Wednesday the overnight interest rates from 59 percent to 57 percent, but it didn't change the 62 percent borrowing interest rate.

Central Bank said in a statement that the Bank decided to reduce the short term interest rates which is the basic policy of the Bank in the fight with inflation.

The one-week borrowing interest rate was also reduced from 62 percent to 59 percent.

-FOREIGN MINISTRY EXPRESSES SORROW OVER COVERING OF

FOGG'S WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE BY TURKISH MEDIA

ANKARA - Foreign Ministry expressed sorrow on Wednesday over covering of Representative of EU Commission to Turkey Karen Fogg's correspondence by e- mail.

A Foreign Ministry statement reminded that a state which accepts a foreign mission to work in its country has to permit the free correspondence of this diplomatic representation for official aims and has to maintain this right. The concerned units of the Foreign Ministry transferred the issue to the judiciary organs, it was noted.

Underlining the fact that no intervention on the judiciary is possible, Foreign Ministry said that ''we believe that our judiciary organs will result the issue as soon as possible by taking into consideration the right to freedom of communication protected by the Constitution and the communication privileges of diplomatic missions covered by Vienna Convention.''

-A400M FUTURE LARGE CARGO AIRCRAFT PROJECT

ANKARA - Germany will have the highest work share with 37.24 percent in the 196 Airbus Military Cargo Planes which will be produced under the Future Large Cargo Aircraft (A400M) Project for which the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) participates in feasibility and design works.

Releasing a statement, TAI said on Wednesday that eight European countries (Turkey, Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Portugal) had committed themselves to start purchasing and production of 196 Airbus military cargo planes (A400M).

The project which costs 18 billion euro and was signed between Airbus Military SAS and Organisme Conjointe de Cooparation en Mattiere d'armament (OCCAR) on behalf of client countries, is at the same time the most comprehensive contract that has ever been taken up in regard to number of participating countries.

The supply contract which covers 196 cargo planes was signed by Airbus Military Board Chairman Alberto Fernandez and OCCAR President Klaus Von Sperber on behalf of founding client countries Turkey, Germany, Belgium, France, Britain, Spain, Luxembourg and Portugal.

In accordance with the contract which will enter into effect following official announcement by OCCAR, Germany will be delivered 73 planes, Belgium 7, France 50, Britain 25, Spain 27, Luxembourg 1, Portugal 3 and the Turkish Air Forces will be delivered 10 planes.

The first delivery is planned to be made in 2008 while the A400M Cargo Planes will replace C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall planes.

Meanwhile, work sharing of countries according to ''number of planes they will get'' became clear.

Germany will have a 37.24 percent share, France will have a 25.51 percent share, Spain will have a 13.78 percent share and Britain will have a 12.76 percent share while they are followed by Turkey with 5.10 percent, by Belgium with 4.08 percent and by Luxembourg with 1.53 percent.

Under the same project, the ''work sharing of participating countries' industries'' are as follows:

Germany 37.06 percent

France 24.74 percent

Spain 12.49 percent

Britain 11.84 percent

Turkey 6.70 percent

Belgium 5.19 percent

Luxembourg 5.19 percent

Portugal 1.99 percent.

-CENTRAL BANK REDUCES INTEREST RATES (2)

ANKARA - Central Bank said on Wednesday that the existing domestic demand didn't cause an inflationist pressure, adding that the Bank expected a significant improvement in both wholesale and consumer price increases.

A Central Bank said that it still maintained its cautious optimism regarding the inflation level in the coming period, adding that as long as the policies aiming to ensure the price stability are implemented, the foreign exchange rate will be in harmony with the economic factors and the current accounts won't cause a problem in respect of sustainable growth.

''Certainly we can reach such a result not only by the policies of the Central Bank, but also with the policies that will ensure financial discipline and implementation of structural reforms without any consessions, '' it was added.

Central Bank reduced the same day the overnight interest rates from 59 percent to 57 percent. The one-week borrowing interest rate was also reduced from 62 percent to 59 percent.

-FOREIGN MINISTRY DENIES CLAIMS SAYING IT REQUESTS RECALLING OF KAREN FOGG

ANKARA - Foreign Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said on Wednesday that it didn't take any action requesting the EU to recall Representative of EU Commission to Turkey Karen Fogg.

Responding to claims telling that Turkey requested the withdrawal of Fogg as soon as possible, Dirioz said that ''we didn't take such an initiative.''

The EU Commission spokesman requested Turkey to ensure the physical and communication safety of the EU Representation in Turkey in a regular news conference on Tuesday.

Turkey's Permanent Representative to EU Nihat Akyol met with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen yesterday. Certain circles claimed that Akyol told Verheugen in the meeting that the withdrawal of Fogg would be beneficial.

-PRESIDENT SEZER AND KYRGYZ PRESIDENT AKAYEV HOLD JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE (1)

ANKARA - President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said on Wednesday that the situation in Afghanistan was still worrying, adding that the international society has to continue fulfilling its obligations to this country.

President Sezer and Kyrgyz President Askar Akiyev held a joint news conference after their tete-a-tete and interdelegationary meetings.

The fight with terrorism and the developments in Afghanistan were discussed in the meetings, Sezer said and noted that all the concerned sides had responsibility for the process which started in Afghanistan with the Bonn Agreement, to be successful.

Akayev in his part congratulated Turkey for sending troops to Afghanistan, adding that this decision is important in respect of Afghanistan's getting the place it deserves in the international society.

-FOREIGN MINISTRY ASKS ''ADDITIONAL SECURITY MEASURES'' FOR

EU COUNTRIES' EMBASSIES IN ANKARA

ANKARA - The Foreign Ministry took action upon the applications of the European Union (EU) member countries' embassies in Ankara after content of EU Commission's Representative in Turkey Karen Fogg's e-mails were published in the press.

Foreign Ministry sources said on Wednesday that security authorities had been informed about the issue since the first day when Fogg's e-mails had come onto the agenda.

Sources said that they had contacted with the relevant authorities for additional security measures upon yesterday's applications of EU member countries' embassies in Ankara for tightened security.

Meanwhile, sources said that the Foreign Ministry had not revised its computer system and that the regular security measures continued.

Regarding the denunciation made by the Labor Party (IP), sources said that a legal factor should exist for opening of an investigation and that those claims were beyond seriousness.

-FM CEM SPEAKS TO PERES AND ARAFAT ON PHONE

ANKARA - Foreign Minister Ismail Cem held telephone conversation both with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat late on Tuesday.

Holding weekly press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said on Wednesday that the latest situation in the Middle East had been discussed during Cem's telephone conversations with Peres and Arafat.

Dirioz said that Cem had stressed importance of ending of clashes immediately and focusing on efforts for peace and reiterated that both sides should act with common sense and expend every effort to this end.

Cem had stated that he found it worthy to evaluate some opinions which had appeared during the meetings between Peres and Palestinian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Kurey and that Turkey would continue its support to efforts for peace, Dirioz said.

Dirioz added that the impression they had from those telephone conversations was that both sides attributed importance to continuation of their contact with Turkey and that both Peres and Arafat had the will to continue efforts which aimed at taking the situation under control and returning to atmosphere of peace.

-PRESIDENT SEZER AND KYRGYZ PRESIDENT AKAYEV HOLD JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE (2)

ANKARA - President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said on Wednesday that President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan and he had reached a full consensus of opinion to further improve relations between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan in every field.

President Sezer and President Akayev held a joint press conference after tete-a-tete and interdelegationary meetings.

Speaking at the Press conference, President Sezer said that President Akayev of Kyrgyzstan and he had held very beneficial talks.

President Sezer noted that relations between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan had been making valuable contributions prosperity, stability and security of Central Asia.

Noting that President Akayev of Kyrgyzstan and he had reached a full consensus of opinion to further improve relations between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan in every field, President Sezer told reporters, ''according to our point of view, economic and commercial relations between the two countries are far away from the desired level. Both sides are determined to assess their economic and commercial opportunities in a better way.''

''During the meeting, we exchanged views about some regional and global issues such as the international atmosphere in the wake of tragic events of September 11, 2001 in the United States, and recent developments in Afghanistan. We stressed that an international cooperation was required to achieve success in fight against terrorism. Both Turkey and Kyrgyzstan are determined to contribute to fight against terrorism. We think that there has still been a sensitive situation in Afghanistan. All ethnic groups in Afghanistan and all countries, especially neighbors of Afghanistan, have responsibilities in achieving success in the process that started with the Bonn Agreement. We believe that international community should maintain its commitments towards Afghanistan,'' he stressed.

Noting that Turkey had been attributing great importance to efforts to strengthen independence and to develop prosperity and stability of friendly Central Asian countries, President Sezer added, ''I wish that President Akayev's visit to Turkey would make a valuable contribution to common interests of the two countries, and accelerate bilateral relations.''

-PRESIDENT SEZER AND KYRGYZ PRESIDENT AKAYEV HOLD JOINT NEWS CONFERENCE (3)

ANKARA - President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan said on Wednesday that the relations between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan had witnessed progress in fields of politics, trade, military and culture in last decade and that there was potential for further development of bilateral relations.

Holding a joint news conference with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Akayev said that documents signed within framework of his visit would shed light on next ten years, adding that the Turkish-Kyrgyz Joint Economic Commission which would convene in near future was important for development of bilateral economic relations.

Recalling that during the meetings, they had exchanged opinions about the situation after September, Akayev said that they had discussed how Turkey and Kyrgyzstan could cooperate in fight against terrorism. Noting that both countries had consensus of opinion about the issue, Akayev thanked Turkey for its support to Kyrgyzstan's fight against terrorism. Akayev said that the Joint Statement on Fight Against Terrorism which had been signed during President Sezer's visit to Kayrgyzstan constituted the basis of the issue between the two countries.

Stressing that President Sezer had stated during his visit to Kyrgyzstan that terrorism threatened whole world and that this statement was confirmed on September 11, Akayev said that the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)-European Union (EU) Joint Forum in Istanbul had been ver beneficial in terms of enabling world civilizations to come closer to each other.

Congratulating Turkey for its decision to send troops to Afghanistan, Akayev said that this decision would help Afghanistan be a democratic, peaceful and stable country by taking its deserved place among world nations.

Meanwhile, Turkey-Kyrgyzstan Joint Statement, cooperation protocol between Turkish and Kyrgyz justice ministries, 2002-2010 commercial and economic cooperation program and cooperation agreement between Union of Turkish Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) and Kyrgyz Chamber of Commerce and Industry were signed.

-FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY SAYS THEY COULD NOT RECEIVE DETAILED

INFORMATION ABOUT YESTERDAY'S OPERATION IN VAN

ANKARA - Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said on Wednesday that they could not receive detailed information about yesterday's operation in eastern province of Van in which three people who are beileved to have been members of the al-Qaida network, were detained.

Speaking at the weekly press conference at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Dirioz told reporters, ''we could not receive detailed information about the operation in Van. Our security forces have been dealing with the issue.''

-DIRIOZ SAYS ALL DIMENSIONS OF RELATIONS BETWEEN TURKEY AND IRAN WERE TAKEN UP DURING AMINZADEH'S VISIT

ANKARA - Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said on Wednesday that all dimensions of relations between Turkey and Iran were taken up during Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh's visit to Turkey.

Speaking at the weekly press conference at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Dirioz told reporters, ''during Aminzadeh's contacts in Ankara, measures to remove commercial imbalance that can stem in economic relations from Turkey's purchase of natural gas from Iran were discussed. Also, issues such as joint industrial investments, cooperation between Turkish and Iranian small and medium scale enterprises (KOBIs) and production of natural gas and electricity were taken up.''

''Cultural issues were also brought onto agenda during Aminzadeh's contacts in Ankara. The sides exchanged views about efforts to put into practice project within framework of the cultural initiative programme. Meanwhile, the sides have reached full consensus of opinion to operate security cooperation mechanisms in the most influential way,'' he said.

-DIRIOZ SAYS IRAQI DELEGATION HELD ROUTINE POLITICAL CONSULTATIONS

ANKARA - Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman Husayin Dirioz said on Wednesday that the delegation headed by Iraqi Foreign Affairs Ministry Turkey Desk Chairman Muhammad Ahmed held routine political consultations in Turkey.

Speaking at the weekly press conference, Dirioz recalled that Turkish and Iraqi delegations were holding political consultations once in six months.

He told reporters, ''Iraqi delegation stressed that they attributed great importance to political consultations, underlined importance of consultation mechanism.''

Dirioz added, ''economic relations between Turkey and Iraq within scope of oil for food programme were reviewed.''

-YILMAZ SAYS ETHNIC NATIONALISM AND RELIGIOUS TERRORISM ARE TODAY'S MOST SERIOUS THREATS AGAINST EU

ANKARA - Mortherland Party (ANAP) leader, State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said on Wednesday that ethnic nationalism and religious terrorism were today's most serious threats against the European Union (EU).

''Turkey is the country which will make the most important contribution to the EU regarding these threats,'' he said.

Speaking to the private NTV television channel, Yilmaz said that the European Convention was not a forum where issues about Turkey were not directly discussed but it was a forum where the EU's future would be discussed.

Yilmaz said that the Convention was not a decision-making mechanism but it was a forum where a common opinion about the EU's future would be tried to be reached.

Recalling that communism had been the main threat while the foundation of the EU was being laid but the characteristics of this threat had changed in course of time, Yilmaz said, ''today, ethnic nationalism and religious terrorism are the most serious threats against the EU. There are very important things that Turkey will say about these issues. Turkey is the country which can make most important contribution to the EU regarding these threats.''

Noting that they believed that there was a powerful connection between Turkey's place in the EU Convention and its relations with the EU, Mesut Yilmaz said, ''as far as we express our opinions which will affect the EU's future during the convention, this will play a role which also develops our relations with the EU.''

Stressing that the earlier Turkey fulfilled short term targets, the stronger its place in the convention, Yilmaz said that they would hold meetings with representatives of several circles in Turkey during the convention.

Responding a question which said, ''there are criticisms that the separatist terrorist organization trying to politicize itself with the help of the EU. Do you think that this is a trap?'' Yilmaz recalled that relations with the EU had been cut after September 12, 1980.

Mesut Yilmaz said that they had applied for full membership in 1986, which constituted a turning point in relations with the EU.

Noting that 2002 was the most critical year in last fifty years, Yilmaz said, ''if we fulfil our commitments this yer, we will go one step ahead of candidacy and start full membership negotiations next year. The most critical month of this year is March. Our performance in this month is of vital importance in terms of our relations with the EU.''

When asked whether or not bills on short term targets would be brough to the parliament separately or as a package, Yilmaz said, ''our target is to present a package regarding the adjustment laws about our commitments in the national program to the parliament by mid-March. We foresee amendment to laws on press, meetings and marches, associations, music, cinema and video, police tasks and responsibilities and civil servants and we can present them as a package.''

''In addition, there are two important changes. One of them is the Law on Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK). We are planning to bring it onto the parliamentary agenda in a way which also includes our short term commitments to the EU. Our second work is about the penal code. The latest amendment to the Constitution foresees capital punishment to only terrorist and war crimes. In parallel to this, we should make a revision in the penal code,'' he said.

''At the moment, we are not obliged to abolish death sentence as a commitment to the EU. However, there is another reality. The EU is very strict about the death sentence and it adopted an attitude which is accepted by all countries,'' he said.

Recalling that they had expressed that Turkey had a special position about this matter and Europeans had understood it, Yilmaz said, ''on my personal view, there is no need for a constitutional amendment to annul capital punishment. The time to take this step independently from the relations with the EU has come. I believe that it would be a very contemporary step for Turkey and it would consolidate social peace in Turkey.''

-YILMAZ SAYS TURKEY WOULD NOT HOLD GENERAL ELECTIONS BEFORE AUTUMN 2003

ANKARA - State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, the leader of the Motherland Party (ANAP), said on Wednesday, ''I do not suppose that Turkey would hold general elections before autumn 2003.''

Speaking at a program on the private NTV Channel, Yilmaz noted, ''according to my point of view, there are serious difficulties in making some changes. Reconstruction in politics may be made probably after the next general elections.''

When asked whether or not general elections would be held in time, Yilmaz said, ''I do not see any chance of elections before autumn 2003. General elections are usually held in the autumn in Turkey and the polls in spring 1999 had been unusual. Turkey may hold an early election in autumn of next year. But it should not be described as an early election. According to my point of view, early election will not be beneficial for Turkey. I believe that differences of opinion among coalition partners would not reach the point of early election.''

Responding another question, Yilmaz said that progress recorded in efforts to solve the Cyprus question would positively affect friendly relations between Turkey and Greece.

When asked, ''if education in Kurdish is allowed, will Turkey be separated?'' Yilmaz said, ''I do not agree with these concerns. We annulled the law considering Kurdish as a banned launguage in 1991. No one asks us to accept another launguage besides the official language of the state. Also, no one asks us to teach another language except for Turkish at schools. But they want us not to prevent their desire to learn their mother tongue away from state schools.''

When asked ''there were allegations saying that education in Kurdish is nothing but a step in terrorist organization PKK's efforts to politicize itself. What do you think?'' Yilmaz said, ''I believe that unnecessary bans and preventions constitute material for PKK's propaganda. When we allow education in Kurdish, probably just a few people will benefit from it. We know that terrorist organization speaks with its members in Turkish. Boadcast organs of the terrorist organization use Turkish in their programs. Kurdish is, in fact, an accent rather than a language. If we lift the ban on Kurdish, we will destroy an important material of the terrorist organization. Turkey needs some courage and self-confidence in order to take this step. We should discuss whether or not these preventions have legal basis. These are usually administrative preventions. Some of those who want of benefit from this freedom, can have different aims. But we should also take into consideration the fact that there are people who are respectful to integrity of the country, who do not think about even leaving Turkey, who consider himself as the citizen of this country and who wants to learn his mother tongue.''

Responding another question, Yilmaz said, ''European Union Representative Karen Fogg's e-mails were leaked, but this does not mean that these mails were leaked illegally. These mails could be leaked from Europe. However, the source who revealed the incident, said that information was obtained in cooperation with a state unit. It means that there are circles in the state who try to sabotage EU membership and who do not want us to develop our relations with the EU. In that case we should be more careful.''

Responding a question about economic developments, Yilmaz said, ''we can reach our inflation target of 35 percent. However, we should not make concessions from our budget discipline and refrain from arbitrary interventions in currency policy. State Minister Kemal Dervis for Economy has an important function in putting forward and implementing economic program. Also, he is very successful. However, we have still some problems in coordination of economy. These problems stem from our being a coalition government.''


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