|Monday, 25 May 2020|
Turkish Press Review, 03-03-18
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>
Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 NEW CABINET CONVENES, DISCUSSES IRAQ CRISISThe new Cabinet headed by Prime Minister and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened yesterday to discuss recent developments in the Iraq crisis. During the meeting, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul briefed his fellow ministers on the situation. Speaking to the press afterwards, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said that the government’s decision on Iraq would be one made to protect Turkey’s interests. Erdogan later met with Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to Ankara. /Aksam/
 POWELL URGES AKP GOVERNMENT TO ACCEPT US TROOP DEPLOYMENT, REITERATES US COMMITMENT TO IRAQ’S TERRITORIAL INTEGRITYSpeaking at a Washington press conference yesterday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that negotiations between Turkey and the US on the Iraq issue were still continuing. “We are in the closest touch with [the new Turkish government] on the possibility of resubmission [of a proposal to deploy US troops in Turkey], and [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan] has committed to do that at a time that he believes is appropriate,” said Powell. “And we have also assured the Turks that in anything the future might hold, we are committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq.” Later Powell made a telephone call to Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, reportedly telling him that the US administration wanted Parliament to approve the proposals on cooperation with the US military as soon as possible. /Aksam/
 GOVERNMENT EXPECTED TO SUBMIT US TROOP PROPOSAL FOR RECONSIDERATIONAs the prospect of a US-led war against Iraq drew closer than ever on the eve of US President George Bush’s expected ultimatum to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government yesterday signaled that it could introduce a second proposal allowing deployment of US troops in Turkey for a northern offensive into neighboring Iraq. Following a late-night meeting between President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok as well as other top-level officials, presidential spokesman Tacan Ildem told reporters that recent political developments had made military intervention inevitable and that Turkey had “decided to take urgent steps to protect its national interests.” After the meeting, Erdogan and his close aides as well as senior ministers held a second meeting at the Prime Ministry to discuss recent developments. The Cabinet is expected to discuss the US troop proposal today and introduce it to Parliament for a fresh vote tomorrow. Earlier this month, the Turkish Parliament narrowly rejected a bill which would have let US forces use Turkey as a launchpad for an invasion of northern Iraq. /All Papers/
 ERDOGAN MEETS WITH MIT UNDERSECRETARY ATASAGUN TO DISCUSS IRAQI REFUGEESPrime Minister and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogn yesterday met with National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Undersecretary Senkal Atasagun in order to discuss recent developments concerning Iraq. During their talks, Erdogan asked Atasagun how many refugees would try to enter Turkey in case of a US-led war against Iraq and what measures the MIT would take in such a situation. After the meeting, Erdogan met with members of the AKP Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK). Members of the board reportedly said that the AKP government should accept a US troop deployment proposal, arguing that the current atmosphere of uncertainty was damaging Turkey. /Milliyet/
 NORTHERN IRAQ OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET IN ANKARAKurdish opposition group leaders yesterday met in Ankara with Turkish officials to discuss northern Iraq and the future of the country in the event of a war. Before that meeting, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal met with Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani as well as Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) representatives Nechirvan Barzani and Hoshyar Zebari. Talabani and Barzani told reporters that their talks and exchange of views had been very fruitful. The talks are to continue today. /Turkiye/
 SYRIA DELIVERS TWO CAPTURED TERRORISTS TO TURKEYTwo terrorists captured in Syria have been delivered to Turkey, sources reported yesterday. Selahattin Canavar and Hayri Kaner, so-called Syria and Lebanon representatives of the terrorist organization PKK_KADEK, were arrested in Syria over the weekend, the sources added. The terrorist organization PKK/KADEK is responsible for claiming over 30,000 lives in southeastern Turkey. /Cumhuriyet_
 88TH ANNIVERSARY OF GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN COMMEMORATED TODAYThe 88th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, a victory by Turkish troops defending the Dardanelles during World War I, is being commemorated today. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok and Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul issued messages yesterday to mark the anniversary. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 students coming from throughout Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) yesterday arrived in Canakkale to attend various commemorative activities to be held today in the city. /All Papers/
 BABACAN: “US ECONOMIC PACKAGE HINGES ON UPCOMING VOTE”Following the government’s indication yesterday that reconsideration of a US troop deployment proposal was in the offing, State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan said yesterday that an economic package from the US depended on Turkey’s passing such a proposal, adding that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to make sure there were sufficient votes to pass the proposal. The measures were narrowly defeated in Parliament two weeks ago, and over the weekend some US officials indicated that the economic package was “off the table.” Babacan also stated that Turkey would like to see the US Congress approve the package before Parliament does so. /Milliyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 AN IMPORTANT CHANGE AT RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS BY OKTAY EKSI (HURRIYET)Columnist Oktay Eksi comments on the recent resignation of Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Even as new Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stated that he was retaining the staff of the previous government, he must have taken note of an important development yesterday: Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz resigned from his post, one which he had held for 11 years running.
Obviously resignation is a unilateral act, so you might say that this wouldn’t interest Erdogan. But this isn’t the case. Erdogan knew that State Minister Mehmet Aydin doesn’t care for Yilmaz, who impressed many countries with how he successfully carried out his duties. Likewise, under the previous government, Aydin laid the groundwork for either Professor Bekir Karliga or Professor Omer Faruk Harman, both of Marmara University, being appointed in Yilmaz’s place. However, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer opposed this since he considers Yilmaz to be the protector of the basic values of the secular republic. We come to this conclusion from Yilmaz’s own statement at a press conference on his resignation: ‘Except recently [meaning under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government], I have never been put under political pressure by any government or minister. Religion shouldn’t be involved in politics. If everybody speaks just how he pleases and delivers political speeches in Turkey’s 72,000 mosques, our nation would be engulfed in chaos. I have worked with both leftist and rightist parties for many years. I have never interjected the ministry into politics. I have learned many lessons from the troubles caused by the involvement of religion in politics.
Yilmaz was devoted to the basic philosophy of the secular republic and bolstered the role of Religious Affairs Directorate within the state. Under his leadership, the construction of mosques was dependent on certain rules for the first time. Distancing religious services from political and ideological influence was given top priority during his tenure. Under Yilmaz, those who conducted religious services were given training.
State Minister Mehmet Aydin has said, ‘The era of religion depending on the state will end in Turkey. The Religious Affairs Directorate will no longer be an institution extending religious services, but will instead be transformed into a civilian institution.’ If this view gains ground and goes into practice, effectively giving the religious order sovereignty, we will see the chaos to come.”
 IRAQ WAR LOOMING BY DERYA SAZAK (MILLIYET)Columnist Derya Sazak comments on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s stance on the Iraq crisis. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The countdown for an Iraq war began in earnest when US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar issued a final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein Monday night from the Azores, demanding that Iraq’s leader leave his country by Wednesday or face the military might of the US and its allies.
There is no doubt that the US and Britain are both determined to attack Iraq without waiting for another UN resolution. The war might be averted if and only if Saddam accepts going into exile, a development which would inevitably culminate with a regime change in the country. However, some believe that even if Saddam accepts disarming Iraq and relinquishing power, the US will never waver from its plans to send troops in the region.
We are currently facing a truly strange picture:
Although the Turkish Parliament recently rejected a proposal authorizing US troops to be stationed at Turkey’s military facilities, the Bush administration is even now stockpiling ammunition in Iskenderun and continuing to rent land in the region for logistical purposes. But if Turkey and the US have failed to reach an agreement on such a proposal, why is the US still continuing its military preparations within our territories?
The government’s stance and actions right now are quite baffling!
An Iraq war is looming, but new Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prefers to busy himself with the government program by meeting with the members of the old Cabinet. Due to such misguided policies, yesterday the stock markets plummeted and interests and foreign exchange rates skyrocketed.
The cost of proposal negotiations between the Bush administration and our government has been quite high. Since Erdogan failed to keep his promises, US Secretary of State Colin Powell recently stated that he was not sure what the Bush administration was going to do about a financial assistance package for Turkey. “I’m not sure whether the aid package would be brought onto the agenda even if the Turkish Parliament approves the second proposal, ” said Powell. Consequently, foreign investors have once again lost their confidence in the Turkish markets.
Since Erdogan and Gul rejected US financial assistance, they will have to find new resources to run the Turkish economy. Maybe the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is trying to indirectly persuade the Parliament by pointing out how a US-led Iraq war without Turkey’s support could harm the country. We also know that the Turkish Army doesn’t want to lose its ties with the US Army, since it is fearful of the prospect of an independent Kurdish state being established in northern Iraq in the postwar period.
As a matter of fact, Ankara’s political circles believe that once the US attack begins, the government will present a second proposal to the Parliament. Then the proposal will be discussed even before the government program and vote of confidence.”
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