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Turkish Press Review, 03-05-14
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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 : firstname.lastname@example.org <caption> <_caption> Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
14.05.2003FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 GUL URGES BULGARIA TO DESIGNATE KADEK AS TERRORIST GROUPForeign Minister Abdullah Gul, who is currently in Bulgaria for an official visit, yesterday met with his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Passy to discuss a number issues, including the threat of international terrorism. During their meeting, Passy said that last month Bulgaria had added the PKK to its official list of terrorist organizations, but Gul informed the diplomat that the PKK had changed its name to KADEK. “We also want KADEK to be on that list,” Gul told him. He added that Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish population contributed to healthy relations between Ankara and Sofia. /Milliyet/
 BERLUSCONI: “THE MERGER OF ARIA AND AYCELL AIMS TO CREATE OPERATIONAL AND FISCAL SYNERGY”Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday returned to Rome after a two-day visit to Turkey. Speaking to Italian reporters, Berlusconi said that a new agreement to merge Turkish-Italian GSM network Aria and Aycell, Turk telecom’s cellphone network, aimed to create an operational and fiscal synergy. Also speaking yesterday, the CEO of TIM, Aria’s Italian partner, said that the merger would improve Aria’s market standing in Turkey. Aria had complained that a failure to enforce roaming agreements had led to limited Turkish coverage for the network. The details of the merger are to be finalized by June 30. /Aksam/
 EU ENLARGEMENT OFFICIAL: “I BELIEVE TURKEY WILL COMPLETE ITS REFORMS BY THE END OF 2004”Eneko Landaburu, director general of the European Union Commission for enlargement, said yesterday that he believed Turkey would complete all the reforms needed to begin its EU accession talks by the end of 2004. Speaking at a meeting organized by the Center for European Politics think tank, Landaburu stated, “We think that Turkey will fulfill the reforms by fall 2004. Turkey’s current government has the necessary desire and determination.” He argued that reaching a settlement on the decades-long Cyprus issue would bolster Turkey’s chances of beginning accession talks. The EU member countries’ leaders are scheduled to evaluate Turkey’s progress towards EU standards at their December 2004 summit. If the evaluation is positive, then Turkey could begin negotiations in the first half of 2005. /Turkiye/
 AMENDED PENAL CODE WOULD IMPOSE HEAVY SENTENCES FOR CRIMES OF TORTUREIn line with Turkey’s European Union membership bid and its efforts to comply with the Copenhagen criteria, the government presented to Parliament yesterday a new bill amending the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). The new bill would make torture a separate category of crime and impose heavy sentences to its perpetrators, such as 5-10 years in prison or a life sentence in case of death caused by torture. /Star/
 DE SOTO ASKS TURKISH AND GREEK CYPRIOT LEADERS FOR COMMITMENT TO ANNAN PLAN TO MOVE PEACE PROCESS FORWARDUN Special Envoy to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said yesterday that in order to resume peace talks on the Cyprus issue, both the island’s Turkish and Greek leaders had to make a commitment to the plan proposed by UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan, a plan which both sides rejected earlier this year. Appearing on a Greek Cypriot TV channel, de Soto added that Ankara and Athens, too, should take binding steps to move the peace process forward. “Secretary-General Annan sees very limited hopes in current efforts to reach a resolution,” said de Soto. “That’s why tboth sides on the island must pledge to negotiate the issue on the basis of Annan’s plan.” /Cumhuriyet/
 BAYKAL CRITICIZES LABOR BILLOpposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal claimed yesterday that the labor bill currently before Parliament would roll back the cause of worker’s rights. Addressing his party’s parliamentary group meeting, Baykal said, “This is an anti-worker bill. It will both discourage union participation and lead employers to hire unregistered workers.” Stressing that the bill was a huge mistake, Baykal said, “The government still has a chance to stop it.” Criticizing the administration’s privatization drive, Baykal charged that privatization was creating a new army of the unemployed rather than increasing productivity and production. Commenting on the government’s recently announced initiatives to help regions where per capita annual income is less than $1,500, the CHP leader said, “Such plans are not new. They are again putting into force a law which passed in 1998 and then expired last year.” Baykal also praised Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statements made during his recent visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), adding that he expected Erdogan would maintain Turkey’s stance on that issue. /Turkiye/
 KURDISH LEGISLATURE ASKS TURKISH TROOPS TO WITHDRAWNorthern Iraq’s regional parliament yesterday requested that Turkey withdraw troops that have been deployed in the region for several years to prevent clashes between the Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) and the Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP). The legislature is not an officially recognized body of the postwar Iraqi administration. An IKDP representative said that the legislature had passed a bill asking for the withdrawal of the troops. Stressing that there had been no clashes between the Kurdish groups since 1997, he said, “Thus, there is no longer any need for the troops.” /Turkiye/
 GOVERNMENT PREPARING NEW BILL TO DISARM PKK_KADEK MILITANTSThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is currently working on a repentance draft law which would encourage militants of the terrorist group PKK_KADEK to lay down their arms. Under the bill, terrorists who renounce their cause and lay down their arms would be eligible for amnesty. The new bill came in the wake of recent US announcement that it would disarm PKK_KADEK militants in northern Iraq following the war in the country. Although the terrorist group pledged to abandon armed attacks after its terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured in 1999, PKK_KADEK is still believed to have an estimated 8,000 trained fighters stationed in northern Iraq. The 15-year terrorist campaign of Ocalan and his terrorist PKK/KADEK group was responsible for the loss of 30,000 lives in southeastern Turkey. /Cumhuriyet_
 TURKEY PLACES NO. 25 ON WORLD COMPETITIVENESS RANKINGTurkey’s economy ranks number 25 in terms of international competitiveness, according to a prestigious annual listing released yesterday. The World Competitiveness Yearbook 2003 by the International Management Development Institution (www.imd.ch), a leading world business school based in Switzerland, ranks countries in terms of economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and national infrastructure. In 2001, Turkey ranked 20, and in 2002 it placed 23. /Aksam/
 PEARSON: “HAIFA PROJECT WON’T DIMINISH IMPORTANCE OF BAKU-TBILISI- CEYHAN OIL PIPELINE”US Ambassador to Ankara Robert Pearson yesterday visited Energy Minister Hilmi Guler to discuss the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline. During their meeting, Pearson said that he appreciated the government’s determined steps forward on the BTC project, adding that prospects of restarting a pipeline from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to Haifa, Israel would not diminish the importance of the BTC. “The Haifa pipeline won’t be an alternative to the BTC,” said Pearson. Speaking after their meeting, Guler said that the meeting had been very fruitful and that Pearson had welcomed Turkey’s approach on the subject. /Turkiye/
 JP MORGAN CALLS LIRA OVERVALUED BY 13%Global investment firm JP Morgan said yesterday that by its estimates, the Turkish lira was overvalued by a margin of 13% according to real exchange rate calculations based on foreign trade. It said that since late March the lira had appreciated 15% against the US dollar and 8% against the euro. Should the Central Bank raise its foreign exchange buying and Turkey’s trade deficit rise, spurring a demand for foreign exchange, the lira’s value might go down, added Morgan. In related news, US investment firm Merrill Lynch said that Turkey’s CB needs a strong lira for disinflation, but faces a dilemma of reducing interest rates and intervening in exchange rates. It added that the expectations regarding high real interest rates and privatization were instrumental in the lira's appreciation. /Aksam/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 UNUSUAL IDEAS (OR MADNESS)! BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)Columnist Sami Kohen writes on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Turkey’s just-completed visit to Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The Turkish people won’t soon forget a certain remark of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during his two-day official visit to Ankara this week. ‘We have realized that we are both a bit loopy,’ he said, referring to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. ‘One needs to be a bit insane in order both to challenge the status quo and sign significant reform packages while risking making enemies.’
There is no doubt that some of the Italian PM’s ideas, especially concerning foreign policy issues, are a bit ‘unusual.’ However, there is a method to Berlusconi’s madness, since he is primarily a dynamic businessman of action rather than a rational politician, which is why he is often criticized by certain European circles for not only his commercial wheeling and dealing but also for his ‘authentic’ and ‘unusual’ political ideas.
However, his remarks this week on both the European Union and Cyprus issues will probably endear him to the Turkish people. In fact, Berlusconi has his own original perspective on the EU. He dreams of a ‘Greater Europe.’ In Ankara, he made an astonishing remark on the admission of Turkey and the Russian Federation to the European Union: ‘Europe will only be able to look at the United States not from the position of a subordinate if it becomes a ‘Greater Europe,’ not only great in the economic sense but also in terms of military power.’ That’s what he calls the ‘Greater Europe Project.’ As a matter of fact, isn’t the adventure of the EU itself a step-by-step realization of such a dream? Weren’t prominent figures such as Jean Monnet and Robert Schumann criticized as being a bit nuts back in the 1940s whenever they talked about a European Union?
Anyway, the important point here is that Berlusconi wants Turkey to become an EU member, and he openly expressed that his country would do its best to achieve this goal. This is very important because Italy will take over the rotating EU term presidency from Greece on July 1. Under these circumstances, Italy’s presidency will constitute a great opportunity for our country to make significant progress on its path towards the Union. Our politicians should not pass up this chance, because Ireland and the Netherlands, the presidents for 2004, may not be as enthusiastic about Turkey. In a significant development, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek both recently proclaimed that the government was planning to complete the reform packages necessary to fulfill the EU’s Copenhagen criteria by the end of this year. This is indeed a hopeful sign.
The second ‘crazy’ idea put forth by the Italian prime minister was on the Cyprus issue. He suggested organizing a trip on his personal boat, sailing to Cyprus together with Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis in order to find a solution to the island’s problems. I don’t know whether this unusual suggestion would work, however, maybe we’d do better to rely on creative madness this time! It’s a fact that sometimes such strange ideas provide people with new opportunities. Therefore, his ‘romantic’ suggestion sounds good even if it seemed like a joke!”
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