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Turkish Press Review, 03-06-26
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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
26.06.2003FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 ERDOGAN: “WE WILL POOL RESOURCES FOR A BETTER HEALTH CARE SECTOR”Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday attended an organ transplantation conference at Baskent University in Ankara. Addressing the gathering, Erdogan remarked that in addition to its scientific aspects, organ transplantation also had social and cultural dimensions. Stressing that his government would draw private hospitals into the health care system, Erdogan stated that state hospitals would be linked with private ones. “We’ll not allocate the nation’s resources separately as state and private, and thus we close the doors to exploitation,” added the prime minister. /Turkiye/
 GUL: “TURKEY’S ROLE ON CYPRUS IS AS GUARANTOR NATION, NOT OCCUPIER”Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday harshly criticized the European Council Parliamentary Assembly’s reports on Cyprus released this week. Regarding allegations that Turkey was an “occupier” on the island, Gul said, “Turkish troops entered Cyprus in 1974 within the framework of our role as a guarantor country. Turkey isn’t an occupier on the island.” Speaking to reporters while receiving a delegation from the Science Academy’s Turkish Historical Foundation, the foreign minister stated that the government would present the National Program to Parliament next Tuesday. In addition, Gul said that Turkey would host two important international meetings within the next year. Next May, a NATO summit will be held with the attendance of the heads of state or government from 46 countries and then, the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC) foreign ministers’ meeting will also be hosted by Turkey. /Turkiye/
 PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ARINC VISITS HUNGARYParliament Speaker Bulent Arinc yesterday flew to Budapest, Hungary for an official visit. During talks with his Hungarian counterpart Katalin Szili, Arinc sought her support for Turkey’s European Union membership, pointing out that Turkey had also given its support for Hungary’s NATO membership bid. Hungary is set to join the Union next year. Speaking after their meeting, Arinc said that the Turkish people wanted to join the EU. “We want to begin accession talks by the end of the next year,” he added, referring to the EU’s end-2004 summit. /Aksam/
 BUSH MEETS WITH GREEK PM PAPANDREOU, EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR TURKEY’S EU BIDUS President George W. Bush yesterday met with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and European Union Commission Chairman Romano Prodi to discuss a number of issues, including Turkey’s EU membership bid. Speaking afterwards, Bush reiterated that the US supported Turkey’s joining the EU. Touching on the Cyprus issue, Bush said that he would continue to support a resolution on the island. For his part, Papandreou said that they were in agreement on supporting Ankara’s EU bid, adding this would send a very important message to both Turkey and the rest of the world. /Aksam/
 GOVERNMENT EXPECTED TO PRESENT REPENTANCE DRAFT LAW FOR PKK_KADEK TERRORISTS TO PARLIAMENTThe Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is set to present to Parliament a repentance draft law which would encourage militants of the terrorist group PKK_KADEK to lay down their arms. The issue is expected to be debated during today’s National Security Council (NSC) meeting. Under the bill, terrorists who renounce their cause and lay down their arms would be eligible for amnesty. However, convicted terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan and other high-level militants of the group would be denied the amnesty. Although the terrorist group pledged to abandon armed attacks after Ocalan was apprehended in 1999, the PKK/KADEK is still believed to have an estimated 5,000 trained fighters in and around Turkey. /Hurriyet_
 FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN DIRIOZ: “ALLEGATIONS THAT TURKEY VIOLATED GREEK AIRSPACE ARE COMPLETELY GROUNDLESS”Athens’ escalating allegations of Turkish fighter jets violating Greek airspace are completely false and groundless, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz in a written statement yesterday, adding that these allegations were meant to justify Greece’s own years-long pattern of unlawful, unilateral actions in the Aegean. “Greece is the only country in the world to claim a 10-nautical mile zone of national airspace, even though its territorial waters in the Aegean extend for just six nautical miles,” stressed Dirioz. Stating that blowing the issue out proportion would serve neither the interests of Turkey nor Greece, Dirioz urged settlement of the problem through a bilateral approach. Earlier this month, Greece took its complaints of violations to the European Union Commission. Ankara, however, has long favored a bilateral approach to the issue rather than one involving international bodies or statutes. /Cumhuriyet/
 BABACAN: “AN APPRECIATED LIRA WOULD EASE IMPLEMENTING THE EU ECONOMIC CRITERIA”Speaking at the Istanbul Chamber of Trade (ISO) yesterday, State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan said that the Turkish lira needed to appreciate, otherwise it would be difficult to implement the European Union’s economic criteria. Touching on interest rates, Babacan said that these rates remained too high. “However, we predicted in our economic program that interest rates would be 45%,” he said, representing a reduction. The economy minister added that the government would continue to fully implement the program. /Milliyet/
 ENERGY MINISTER GULER: “I BELIEVE THE BLUE STREAM GAS PIPELINE DISPUTE WILL BE RESOLVED THIS WEEK”Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said yesterday that Turkish and Russian officials had begun a two-day meeting on the strategic Blue Stream gas pipeline project and that he expected a pricing dispute to be resolved at the gathering. During talks last week on the issue, Turkish officials demanded a reduction in prices, and the problem remained unresolved. /Turkish Daily News/
 DANISH OFFICIAL DISCUSSES TURKEY’S EU BID IN ANKARADanish Parliament’s European Union Commission head Claus Larsen Jensen, who is currently in Turkey for an official visit, yesterday met with EU Harmonization Commission head Yasar Yakis, Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission head Aydin Dumanoglu and Foreign Relations Commission head Mehmet Dulger to discuss Turkey’s EU membership bid. /Turkish Daily News/
 FIRST TURKISH TROOPS VISIT ARMENIA FOR NATO-PFP EXERCISESA group of Turkish soldiers arrived yesterday in Armenia for computer-based exercises, the first such military visit to Armenian soil since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The troops under Col. Ahmet Kabak are set to take part in NATO’s Cooperative Best Effort 2003 exercises, the first to be hosted by Armenia, a non-NATO member participating under the 27-nation Partnership for Peace (PfP) banner. Armenian President Robert Kocharian allowed the Turkish soldiers’ participation alongside 400 other multinational troops over the objections of the country’s Parliament. /Anatolia News Agency/
 ISTANBUL INTERFAITH CONFERENCE: “TERRORISM HAS NO RELIGION”The threat of terrorism cannot be traced back to or associated with any one religion, participants at an Istanbul interfaith conference declared yesterday. The gathering’s attendees, including Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders plus scholars and politicians, roundly denounced those who commit terrorist acts. Many recalled the centuries-long example of peaceful religious tolerance set by the Ottoman Empire and how people fleeing religious persecution in other countries had found refuge in Ottoman lands. Terrorism has no religion and geography and there is no excuse for perpetrating terrorist acts, the participants agreed. /Turkiye/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 TURKISH-US RELATIONS AND THE EU BY MURAT YETKIN (RADIKAL)Columnist Murat Yetkin writes on Turkish-US relations and the European Union. A summary of his column is as follows:
“While our government was working on the National Program yesterday, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis was in Washington for annual talks with US government officials. Other leading EU officials such as European Commission President Romano Prodi and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana accompanied Simitis, the most important figure of Greece which currently holds the rotating EU term presidency.
These meetings were important since they aimed to bring EU and US leaders closer together after the recent acrimony over the Iraq war. Prodi had recently stated that he was seriously concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and investments in nuclear energy, despite its holding more than 60% of the world’s known oil reserves. These words might be seen as an effort by the EU to mend relations with the US strained over the Iraq war. Brussels is trying to show Washington that this time it would not let the US go it alone. Let’s recall that the EU has also expressed support for the Israeli-Palestinian road map promoted by the US. In addition, Powell recently thanked Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for calling on all Muslim countries to move towards greater democratization during the Islamic foreign ministers’ meeting in Tehran. Not only Ankara and Brussels, but also Washington is trying to mend fences with its potential allies. There is a widespread opinion that growing worldwide anti-Americanism growing is very likely to damage the European countries in the long run. Under these circumstances, from now on Ankara should take ginger steps towards the future.
Washington is currently seeking a number of studies and efforts on the future of Turkish-US relations. For example, a joint group of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies are meeting with US officials to find new ground on which to build stronger Turkish-US ties. Furthermore, US think tank the Brookings Institute and the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) are set to begin a two-year project on the future of bilateral relations. Meanwhile, Washington Ambassador Faruk Logoglu is in contact with US State Department officials and congressmen in order to lay the groundwork for a positive atmosphere for Gul’s possible visit to the US capital in the near future.
Interestingly, my recent impression has been that the better relations Turkey has with the US, the closer it gets to the EU. Let’s take a look at some other recent developments: Turkey was fearful that the EU’s draft Constitution would include exclusionary statements against itself, based on the idea of a Christian Europe. However, it does not. Moreover, the EU recently announced that it would release a new loan for Turkey to be used for developing the southeastern Anatolia region. The General Staff’s Office recently prepared a proposal to shorten the duration of compulsory military service. In addition, our government has recently sped up its efforts on reform packages. We see that both the EU and Turkey are well aware that our relations are on the right track.”
 TURKEY’S GESTURE BY DERYA SAZAK (MILLIYET)Columnist Derya Sazak comments on Turkey’s decision to open its air bases and ports to the US. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Could the Turkish government’s decision to open its airbases and ports to the US be a ‘silent’ indicator of warm developments concerning Syria and Iran? Turkey’s gesture using Incirlik Airbase first surfaced during Foreign Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal’s recent visit to Washington. It became solid during Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Iraq administrator Paul Bremer in Jordan. Following the war in Iraq, the Bush administration called on Ankara to admit that it had made a mistake and signalled that the US might withdraw from Turkey, but now it’s talking about the importance of strategic partnership.
Turkish-US relations, which sank to the bottom after Ankara’s refusal of US troop deployments, are starting to normalize again. What caused Incirlik to gain value and the US to want to use Sabiha Gokcen Airport and the Iskenderun and Mersin ports? The basis for this is the ‘humanitarian dimension’! The government is opening its bases and ports to the United Nations and the US in order to ensure the necessary ‘bridge of aid’ for Iraq’s reconstruction. For this purpose, it doesn’t consider a Parliamentary proposal necessary and so gave permission with a Cabinet resolution.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul explained the reason for this decision, which will be valid for one year, as follows: ‘Countries that want to help Iraq and contribute to Iraq’s reconstruction under UN Resolution 1483 will be able to make use of Turkey’s facilities. This might also involve the entrance of certain foreign soldiers.’ Even if the government wants to enlarge the scope of its gesture for the US by including other countries, the origin of this demand is very clear. Following the war, the Bush administration declared that it would include only ‘coalition forces’ in the process of Iraq’s reconstruction and give priority to US companies. However, now it needs some way to include other countries in this.
Although the permission about bases and ports is based on the decision of the Cabinet, the government should inform Parliament under the Constitution. Of course mending Turkish-US relations is a positive development, but we should get out of this habit of making endless gestures just because we didn’t enter the war. The war is over, but developments in Iraq aren’t suiting the US’ interests. Unemployed Iraqi soldiers and ordinary Iraqis have been suffering from extreme poverty since the war, and are now protesting US soldiers even as hostilities continue. US operations recently went towards Syria and soon it will be Iran’s turn. While opening its bases and ports to foreign countries, Turkey should take into consideration the possible dangers of this.”
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