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Turkish Press Review, 03-03-21
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr><LINK href="http://www.byegm.gov.tr_yayinlarimiz_chr_pics_css/tpr.css" rel=STYLESHEET type=text/css> e-mail : email@example.com <caption> <_caption> Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
21.03.2003FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 PRESIDENT SEZER: “WITHOUT EXHAUSTING PATHS FOR PEACE THROUGH THE UN, THE US OPERATION IN IRAQ IS NOT RIGHT”Before receiving Pakistani Ambassador to Turkey Sher Afghan Khan at the Cankaya Presidential Palace yesterday, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer told reporters that he had not altered his stance on the Iraq issue. “Before any operation, all the avenues at the UN should have been explored,” said Sezer, less than 24 hours after the US launched its first attacks. “Without waiting for the result of these developments, the US operation [in Iraq] is not right.” Concerning yesterday’s approval of a proposal allowing foreign warplane overflights in Turkish airspace, a measure the US had long sought, Sezer stated that this matter was Parliament’s business. /Turkiye/
 PROPOSAL ON IRAQ PASSES PARLIAMENTA proposal authorizing the government for six months to open Turkish airspace to foreign air forces and to deploy Turkish troops in northern Iraq was approved in Parliament yesterday. The final tally of the 535 deputies present at the balloting was 332 for the proposal and 202 against with one abstention. All of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies present at the session rejected the proposal. Meanwhile, following the vote, US Ambassador to Turkey Robert Pearson visited the Turkish Foreign Ministry to discuss coordination of civilian and military flights in Turkish airspace and principles of deployment of Turkish troops in northern Iraq. Reportedly, no agreement was reached on the topics during the lengthy discussions. /All Papers/
 NATO VOWS TO DEFEND TURKEY IN CASE OF IRAQI ATTACKNATO yesterday pledged that it would defend Turkey, a longtime member of the alliance, if it comes under attack from Iraq in response to the US-led war against that country. In yesterday’s statement issued after NATO met to hear US and British briefings on the war, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said, “The members of NATO assessed the situation with regard to Turkey, and expressed their determination to continue to fulfill their treaty obligations to a member nation under threat." He also stressed that NATO's deployments in Turkey were purely defensive and would remain strictly separate from other military operations in the region. /All Papers/
 FOREIGN MINISTER GUL, STATE MINISTER BABACAN TRAVEL TO BRUSSELS FOR EU SUMMITForeign Minister Abdullah Gul and State Minister Ali Babacan yesterday traveled to Brussels, Belgium to attend a European Union summit which began last night. Gul told reporters that during the summit, he would hold bilateral meetings with EU member countries’ officials to exchange views on regional and international issues. /Turkiye/
 BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER STRAW CALLS GUL, ASKS FOR AIRSPACE ACCESSIn a phone conversation with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw briefed his counterpart on the beginning of the US-British offensive in Iraq and also asked for access to Turkish airspace for British warplanes during the offensive. Gul reportedly replied that the government would consider this request after the upcoming Parliament vote on such foreign use of airspace, a measure that was later approved. /Turkiye/
 US STATE DEPT WELCOMES OVERFLIGHT AUTHORIZATION, SAYS US IS OPPOSED TO TURKISH “UNILATERAL ACTION” IN NORTHERN IRAQSpeaking yesterday after Turkey’s Parliament voted to grant US warplanes overflight rights in Turkish airspace, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher lauded the decision. “We welcome the support,” said Boucher. “We think this shows a desire of Turkey to support coalition efforts [in the war against Iraq].” Asked about the second measure approved by Parliament yesterday, one giving authorization for Turkish troops to enter northern Iraq, Boucher said that the US opposed any “unilateral action” in the region. “We have made clear that we oppose any military actions that are not under coalition control ... by Turkey or any party in northern Iraq,” stated the spokesman. He added, however, “We have been discussing with the Turkish government ways to keep tensions in Iraq’s northern border region at the lowest possible level.” /Milliyet/
 WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN FLEISCHER: “ECONOMIC PACKAGE IS NOT ON THE TABLE FOR OVERFLIGHT AUTHORIZATION, AND IT WON’T BE”Speaking after Parliament authorized US warplane overflights through Turkish airspace yesterday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that the US would provide no economic package to Turkey in return for this cooperation on its war with Iraq. “Previously there had been discussion of an economic package for Turkey that was contingent on Turkey’s acceptance of a total cooperation package,” Fleischer told a daily press briefing. “That didn’t develop, and that package is not on the table and it won’t be on the table.” At the same briefing, Fleischer declined to answer questions about what would happen if Turkish troops were to enter northern Iraq, an action which the US administration has expressed opposition to. /Milliyet/
 BABACAN: “WE WILL SEND OUR NEW LETTER OF INTENT TO THE IMF AS SOON AS POSSIBLE”State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan said yesterday that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government would send Turkey’s new letter of intent (LOI) to the International Monetary Fund as soon as possible, adding that it would also do its utmost to protect Turkey’s economy from the economic fallout of the current war in Iraq. “We have no problem with our domestic and foreign debt,” said Babacan. “We will continue to implement our program with determination.” Babacan added that the government’s agreement with the IMF had laid the groundwork for the new LOI. /Milliyet/
 BARZANI: “I WOULD CONSIDER TURKISH TROOPS ENTERING NORTHERN IRAQ TO BE INAPPROPRIATE”Turkish troops entering northern Iraq would be an inappropriate action, said one of the region’s two main Kurdish leaders yesterday. Massoud Barzani, head of the Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party (IKPD), added that his dream was for “independence for the Kurds” in the region, but that dreams were not always achievable, and that current conditions realistically called for a new postwar federation. In related news, the region’s other main Kurdish leader, Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) head Jalal Talabani, said yesterday that he expected a new federation to form “within 24 hours,” just a few days into the US-led war against Iraq. /Milliyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 WHY THE US IS CONTINUING ITS BUILDUP? BY TAHA AKYOLColumnist Taha Akyol comments on Turkey’s dealings with the US over the Iraq war. A summary of his column is as follows:
“With the proposal our Parliament passed yesterday, Turkey greenlighted US warplane overflights through Turkish airspace. The US jets will be soon able to fly over. So what’s the meaning of all the US activity around Iskenderun and Mersin? Why are they continuing to rent land and warehouses and dispatch hundreds of vehicles?
An Ankara bureaucrat I spoke to yesterday explained it like this: ‘The US will need logistics help through Turkey. For example, it will request a new proposal on the grounds of the need to send humanitarian aid supplies. It might even request permission again to send soldiers.’ Ankara thinks that the US will certainly request permission for ‘humanitarian purposes.’ I wonder if Turkey won’t enter Iraq for the same reason.
If the war stretches out, the US will have to ask Turkey to let it deploy soldiers [through Turkey]. In addition, the US will need Turkey’s help for it to send food, health and social aid supplies to Iraq to reconstruct the country in the years to come. It’s very important for Turkey to keep control in northern Iraq, and this might be one reason for the Turkish Army to enter the region for ‘humanitarian purposes.’ I guess Ankara’s decision to allow the US to stockpile and continue its buildup is based on such calculations. The US needs Turkey on this issue, which means that Turkey has an opportunity right now. I hope that we make good use of it. Turkey missed out on the military and economic advantages available during the recent bargaining. We should learn from this situation.
The US operation against Iraq is, of course, unjustified. During the bargaining, the US acted in an arrogant, hurtful manner. The Bush administration’s rudeness was also apparent in the negotiations. Bush only exacerbated the hatred of the US. These are all facts. Establishing rational policies to protect against unfair damage likely to be wreaked by this unjustified war is Turkey’s most natural and legal right. Over the past three months, Turkey delayed the war by doing some hard bargaining to maximize our security and economic interests. Nobody would have accused Turkey of favoring the war. However, that point was overlooked due to the government’s timid stance. From now on, Turkey should seize its opportunities in a bolder way. Turkey should seize the day so Iraq can emerge as a good neighbor and a valued commercial partner after the war.”
 TURKEY’S TWO GREAT CHALLENGES IN IRAQ BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI (STAR)Columnist Zeynep Gurcanli writes on Turkey’s stance on the war in Iraq. A summary of her column is as follows:
“The main goals of the US-led military operation against Iraq are to topple Saddam Hussein and disarm the country. However, Turkey wants to participate in this war not so as to overthrow Saddam but rather to protect its territorial integrity and control a possible rush of Iraqi refugees towards its borders. In other words, our two countries are to conduct two quite separate operations within the same country. Let me put it this way: This is an operation within an operation.
Time this around, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is very determined to hold back the flow of Iraqi refugees in northern Iraq. Turkey will allow only 80, 000 Iraqi refugees to enter its territories. That’s why Turkey has to deploy its troops in northern Iraq and provide Iraqi refugees with humanitarian aid at the refugee camps established there.
Turkey and the US held detailed discussions during their recent negotiations on the possible deployment of US troops on Turkish soil and reached an agreement at that time. But since the Turkish Parliament rejected the proposal on the deployment earlier this month, the guidelines laid down after those talks no longer apply.
However, when we ask Foreign Ministry officials how coordination between Turkish and US will be ensured, we’re struck by the lack of straight answers. In fact, despite all the intense negotiations, Turkey and the US failed to sign any written agreements covering these issue. Turkish diplomats said that the memorandum of understanding which Turkey and the US agreed would regulate all issues related to coordination between the two countries’ armies. But what about the US? Will the US troops remember their country’s agreement with Turkey?
The greatest challenge that Turkey will have to face is this lack of any written agreement. Conceivably, the two armies might come face to face when holding two separate operations within the same territories.
The second challenge facing Turkey is the Turkmen issue. Neither the US nor Kurdish groups has accepted including ethnic Turkmen groups into the Iraqi Leadership Council to be established in the postwar period. Turkish officials have stated that the Turkmen issue might be resolved after the war ends. How realistic is that? We must wait and see…
In brief, Turkey faces two important challenges which might lead to more serious problems in the future. Under such circumstances all we can say is, ‘May God protect our soldiers in northern Iraq!’ ”
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