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Turkish Press Review, 03-03-25
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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
25.03.2003FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 SEZER: “WE CAN OVERCOME OUR CHALLENGES THROUGH WORKING IN HARMONY AND COOPERATION”President Ahmet Necdet Sezer yesterday received the new 59th Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a visit said to focus on the Iraq war and economic issues. Pointing out that Turkey was facing a difficult period due to the current war in Iraq, Sezer said that the days to come might be even harder and more critical. “Our challenges can only be overcome working with harmony and cooperation,” said Sezer. For his part, the prime minister stressed that his government placed great importance on the harmony between all government institutions. We will do our best to ensure harmony and cooperation, as we know that it is the only way for us to succeed, said Erdogan. /Turkiye/
 CHIEF OF STAFF GEN. OZKOK VISITS ERDOGAN, BAYKAL TO DISCUSS NORTHERN IRAQChief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok and Turkey’s force commanders yesterday held separate meetings with Prime Minister and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal to discuss the situation in northern Iraq. During the meeting with Baykal, Ozkok said that there was currently no need to be concerned about the region. “We have taken into account the sensitivities of the United States and the European Union on northern Iraq. As of now, Turkey has no plan to enter the region,” he added. For his part, Baykal said that the AKP government should take defensive measures in the region, adding that he didn’t want Turkey to be involved in the Mideast plans of the US. Speaking after his meeting with Erdogan, Ozkok said that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were preparing to send troops to northern Iraq and that authorizing foreign overflights through Turkey and sending Turkish troops to the region -- both of which were authorized last week -- were two entirely different subjects. He added that the TSK was ready and would put its plans into effect when the time is right. /Aksam/
 CICEK: “OUR INTENT IS CLEAR, TURKEY HAS NO HIDDEN DESIGNS ON NORTHERN IRAQ”Following a three-hour Cabinet meeting yesterday, Justice Minister and government spokesman Cemil Cicek said that Turkey’s sole reasons for possibly sending troops to northern Iraq were humanitarian purposes and its concerns over terrorism. Stressing that Turkey had no ulterior motives regarding northern Iraq, Cicek stated that Turkey’s intent was very clear. Certain countries are distorting the facts, he explained. Following the Gulf War, a power vacuum led to terrorist activities in the region, and now we want to prevent the same thing from happening again, he emphasized. The minister added that Turkey had no hidden purposes or colonialist aims in the region. “We are in favor of Iraq’s territorial integrity and believe that Iraq’s resources should be used only by the Iraqi people,” said the spokesman. He added that Turkey would decide on its own whether to enter the region if need be. /Turkiye/
 POWELL: “TURKEY SAYS IT HAS NO TROOPS GOING INTO NORTHERN IRAQ, AND THERE IS NO NEED RIGHT NOW FOR ANY”In an interview with US Channel Fox News yesterday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell denied recent rumors that Turkish troops are currently crossing the border between Turkey and northern Iraq, adding that the Turkish government is working with the Bush administration on this matter. “There are no troops flowing across the border,” said Powell. “Turkey has reassured the international community over the weekend -- they did it in NATO this morning and there have been other statements -- that they have no plans at the moment to send any troops across the border. We are examining what requirements might emerge in that part of Iraq with respect to humanitarian requirements and things of that nature. We are in closest consultation with the Turks. But right now, they have said they have no plans to cross the border with large formations or even … medium or small formations. They have no plans for an incursion at this time. That is not to say that the situation might not change in the future. The important thing is that's what they have said and the important thing is that there has not been a humanitarian crisis in that part of northern Iraq of the kind that we were worried about. There are not large numbers of refugees flowing toward the Turkish border and we see no need for a Turkish incursion. And that is what we are saying to our Turkish friends: There is no need for Turkish troops to cross the border.” /Cumhuriyet/
 IKDP CALLS TURKISH TROOPS IN NORTHERN UNWELCOME IRAQ FOR ANY REASONSpeaking on television yesterday, Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) Turkey representative Safin Dizayi said that his group would absolutely not welcome Turkish troops in northern Iraq, no matter their rationale for coming in. Remarking that they appreciated what Turkey had done for their people in the past, Diyazi added, “However, we don’t want Turkish troops here now, even for humanitarian aid or due to terrorism concerns.” Stressing that Turkey already had a small military unit in the region, the IKDP representative said, “We are working peacably with them. However, there is no need for additional forces.” /Turkiye/
 US JOINT CHIEFS GEN. MYERS: “REFUGEE AID IS SOLE JUSTIFICATION FOR POSSIBLE TURKISH DEPLOYMENT”Appearing on television yesterday, US Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers said that Turkish airspace had been used by US forces for the first time on last Saturday. Answering questions on possible Turkish troop deployment in northern Iraq, Myers said that US administration would only welcome Turkish troops there in case of a huge flood of refugees. “As no such flood as yet exists, there is currently no need for Turkish troops’ intervention,” added the general. /Turkiye/
 KHALILZAD: “WE WILL CONTINUE TO DISCUSS DETAILS ON NORTHERN IRAQ WITH TURKEY”US presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, accompanied by US Ambassador to Ankara Robert Pearson, yesterday met with Ali Tuygan, a Foreign Ministry deputy undersecretary, to discuss the issue of Turkey’s sending troops into northern Iraq. Speaking after their meeting, Khalilzad said the trio had talked about the concerns and interests of both Turkey and the United States in what he called “fruitful” discussions. Khalilzad added that there was no deal between the two sides on Turkey’s sending troops into northern Iraq, but that they would continue to discuss the matter over the coming days. /Milliyet/
 BLAIR: “TURKEY’S ENTERING NORTHERN IRAQ WOULD BE ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE”British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that Turkey’s entering northern Iraq would be, in his words, “entirely unacceptable.” Speaking to the British Parliament, Blair stated, “We have told this both to the Justice and Development Party [AKP] government and the Turkish General Staff,” adding, “I believe that this has been understood.” /Milliyet/
 GERMAN OFFICIALS, VERHEUGEN WARN OF CONSEQUENCES IF TURKEY ENTERS NORTHERN IRAQEven as Turkish and US officials discussed if and under what circumstances Turkish forces might enter northern Iraq, the controversial issue continues to make diplomatic waves, with the latest reverberations felt in Germany and the European Union Commission. Yesterday German Interior Minister Otto Schily reiterated his government’s vow to withdraw its NATO military personnel should Turkish troops enter the region. “In such a case, German soldiers manning AWACS planes and Patriot missile systems in Turkey will leave,” said Schily. “But it hasn’t come to that yet.” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer echoed this statement, underlining that as yet NATO’s German forces stationed in Turkey to defend against possible Iraqi attack could stay put. Gernot Erler, Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) parliamentary group chairman, also warned of possible adverse consequences of Turkish intervention. “This could lead to a crisis within NATO,” he said. “NATO members should warn Ankara that intervention could violate the alliance’s defense union status.” He added that Germany was concerned about Turkish-Kurdish clashes in northern Iraq. Turkey and Germany are both longtime NATO members, but whereas Turkey is counted among the US’ “coalition of the willing” against Iraq, Germany steadfastly opposes the ongoing war. Finally, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen also weighed in yesterday, cautioning Turkey not to take active part in armed conflicts in Iraq or any situations which violate international law. /Cumhuriyet/
 ITALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: “AN EU WITHOUT TURKEY WOULD BE POLITICALLY MEANINGLESS”Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino yesterday arrived in Ankara to meet with his Turkish counterpart Vecdi Gonul. Remarking that a European Union excluding Turkey would be politically meaningless, Martino stressed that Turkey should be considered a “natural member” of the Union. For his part, Gonul stated that Turkey valued Italy’s close friendship and support for its EU membership bid, adding that he hoped Turkish-EU relations would improve after Italy assumes the Union’s term presidency this July. Among the other issues that the two ministers discussed were the latest developments in Iraq, regional developments and the international fight against terrorism. /Cumhuriyet/
 IMF LAUDS GOVERNMENT PLEDGES TO STICK WITH ECONOMIC PROGRAMThe International Monetary Fund is pleased with recent high-level government pledges to abide by Turkey’s economic program and policies to that end, said IMF Turkey representative Odd Per Brekk yesterday. “The IMF is pleased with the commitments and statements made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government on economic policy,” said Per Brekk. “It welcomed Erdogan’s recent speech pledging his devotion to sound economic policies. We look forward to getting the final version of the new letter of intent [LOI] from the government so we can complete the fourth review.” Brekk later added that economic measures recently announced by government spokesman and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek were also welcome, explaining, “If the government puts forth great efforts to meet its obligations, the IMF Executive Board might meet mid-month next month to discuss the fourth review.” /Hurriyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 WHY SO SUSPICIOUS? BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)Columnist Sami Kohen comments on Turkey’s stance on the northern Iraq issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Turkey’s possible intervention in northern Iraq is one of the hot issues which recently leapt to the top of both our domestic agenda and that of the world at large. A quick glance at the foreign press will find many articles and commentaries about Turkey’s possible military intervention in the region.
Meanwhile, many prominent US politicians, from the president himself to the secretary of state, have recently warned Turkey not to send its troops into northern Iraq. They are trying to prevent Turkey from conducting a ‘unilateral’ military operation. Furthermore, the EU countries along with Russia and the Mideast countries have also voiced their concerns about Turkey’s stance on the northern Iraq issue. They are all fearful that our country might try to take advantage of the Iraq war to attain its ‘secret’ goals in the region. Thanks to past statements by certain official or even unofficial sources arguing that Turkey has historical claims to the area, these countries believe that Turkey might even try to occupy the region. Furthermore, recent statements and reports that Turkey would consider the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq as a ‘casus belli’ and would never even allow a federation to be formed in the region have only exacerbated these suspicions.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek yesterday stated that Turkey has never had imperialist or ulterior motives concerning northern Iraq. As a matter of fact, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul also recently stated that Turkey’s reason for entering the region would be to provide Iraqi refugees with humanitarian aid, underlining that Iraq’s territorial integrity should be protected and the country’s oil resources be shared by all the Iraqi people.
The message that the AKP government is trying to convey to these countries is that Turkey emphatically does not have any colonialist or imperialist goals, stressing that fears about Turkey’s possible intervention in the region are laughable and baseless.
In order to be more persuasive, Turkey has to clarify its long-term northern Iraq policy. The world believes that Turkey wants to undermine the authority of Kurdish groups in the region. The world doesn’t consider Turkey’s opposition to the establishment of a federation to be justifiable. Does Turkey really intent to intervene in northern Iraq if such a federation is established? This point should be clarified. In brief, the Turkish government should develop more detailed, realistic strategies on this issue and present more persuasive arguments to the world.”
 SINCE 1995 BY MURAT CELIK (STAR)Columnist Murat Celik comments on developments in 1995 vis-à-vis the current situation in northern Iraq. A summary of his column is as follows:
“In 1995, Turkey was conducting intensive operations against the PKK terrorist organization, and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was involved in a weeks-long campaign in northern Iraq. Following this large military operation, a ‘site survey team’ of US military officers told the Turkish military that it would carry out a site survey in Iraq’s Serseng region. Ankara decided that high-ranking officers from the Turkish army would accompany the US military delegation, which got to northern Iraq from NATO’s Incirlik Airbase.
So a group of expert Turkish military officials went to Serseng with their colleagues from the US. The US was planning to establish a base in northern Iraq to be used as part of the Operation Poised Hammer. This was a project for establishing an extra field in the region, that is, an alternative to Incirlik. The place which the US delegation went to survey was an airport which had been built in 1991 but later bombed and abandoned. This site investigated then is now the Bamerni Airport. The US put forth certain reasons of technical and humanitarian purposes for transforming this airport into an airbase. The US delegation asserted that a base to be established in that region could be used for reconnaissance and might be necessary for urgent landings, and also that it could facilitate the speedy distribution of humanitarian aid.
However, Turkey replied that the establishment of an air base in that region would be dangerous. Ankara believed that it would be inappropriate due to the presence of the PKK in northern Iraq, the region’s close proximity to Iraqi forces, the great hazards of flight and the existing humanitarian distribution from Incirlik through helicopters.
This situation, which emerged in 1995, was evaluated at a meeting in Ankara as follows: ‘The US is targeting the establishment of an alternative to Incirlik Airbase. Permitting such a step would deprive Incirlik of its functions. This situation would mean Turkey’s losing a very important strategic opportunity.’
Eight years have passed since these developments. Today the US is bombing Iraq without using Incirlik Airbase. Today the US has turned Bamerni into a place which only helicopters can use but which could also conceivably be used for jet and transport planes in a limited fashion. Today the US has a ‘mobile military base’ in Shirkat, in the heart of the region. Today the US can also use a field in Diana, near Salahaddin, in northern Iraq.”
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