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Turkish Press Review, 04-11-03
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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
03.11.2004FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 ERDOGAN ADDRESSES AKP DEPUTIESPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday criticized groups opposed to government plans to give jurisdiction over all state-owned health facilities and services to the Health Ministry. Speaking at his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting, Erdogan said that under new reforms, all citizens would have health insurance. He added that education, health, justice and security were basic areas of state responsibility and that they should be strong. In related news, certain employee unions, including DISK, KESK, and Turk-Is, yesterday held a demonstration in Istanbul to protest the government’s recent decision regarding Social Security Authority (SSK) hospitals. /Turkiye/
 ERDOGAN MEETS WITH GERMAN GREENS LEADERPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday met with visiting German Greens Group Co-Chair Claudia Roth and an accompanying delegation. During their meeting, Erdogan thanked Germany for its positive stance on Turkey’s European Union membership bid. Roth’s Greens is a member of Berlin’s ruling coalition. He also told Roth about Ankara’s recent strides towards harmonization with the EU’s acquis communautaire and its efforts to reduce regional differences and protect the environment. /Turkiye/
 ERDOGAN, OZKOK VISIT VETERANS AT REHABILITATION CENTERPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok yesterday visited the head of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) Rehabilitation and Maintenance Center, Gen. Mehmet Ihsan Ongun. Following the meeting, Erdogan and Ozkok visited veterans receiving treatment at the center. /Turkiye/
 GUL RECEIVES GERMANY’S ROTH, SEEKS SUPPORT FOR TURKEY’S EU TALKS IN PORTUGALForeign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday received Claudia Roth, German Greens Group co-chair, to discuss a number of issues, including a recent controversial government report on minorities. Gul stated that the report had been discussed by the Human Rights Advisory Board (IHDK). Later, Roth met with Parliament Human Rights Commission Chairman Mehmet Elkatmis. In related news, Gul later travelled to Portugal to seek support for Turkey beginning its European Union accession talks. During his visit, Gul is expected to discuss a number of issues with his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Monteiro, including Turkish-EU relations, bilateral relations, the Cyprus issue, and Iraq. Gul is also expected to meet with Portuguese Prime Minister Santana Lopes and Parliament Speaker Mota Amaral before returning to Ankara tomorrow. /Cumhuriyet/
 PARLIAMENT COMMISSION CONTINUES WORK ON 2005 BUDGETThis week Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission is continuing debates on the 2005 state budget. Yesterday the commission approved budgets for the Office of the President, Parliament, Court of Auditors and Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK). Budgets for the Prime Ministry and related institutions are expected to be taken up during the commission’s meeting today. /Turkiye/
 DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER KIRKUKDeputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug yesterday held a press briefing to give the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TKS) views on recent domestic and foreign developments. Warning that Kurdish groups were trying to transform the Iraqi city of Kirkuk into a Kurdish-dominated province, Gen. Basbug said that Ankara had launched a diplomatic initiative to help resolve the oil-rich city’s problems, tensions which could, he said, spark a civil war in the region. Basbug also criticized the EU definition of “minority” contained in a recent European Commission report on Turkey’s membership bid, arguing that this definition contradicted the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne. “Turkey is a unitary state,” he said. “This is not open for discussion.” /Sabah/
 EU AMBASSADOR TO CYPRUS PLEDGES SUPPORT TO IMPROVE GREEN LINE COMMERCEThe European Union wants to boost commerce along Cyprus’ Green Line border, yesterday said Adrian Van Der Meer, the EU’s Ambassador to the island. “The EU is currently working on a number of regulations governing bilateral commerce between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot administrations along the Green Line,” he added. “I hope that this work will be completed by the end of the year.” Last year the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) unilaterally opened the Green Line border between itself and Greek Cyprus before the latter rejected a UN reunification plan and joined the EU. /Star/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 TURKISH, OR FROM TURKEY? BY YALCIN PEKSEN (AKSAM)Columnist Yalcin Peksen comments on recent discussions in Turkey about minorities. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The recent wrangling over ‘Turkish or from Turkey’ shows that it’s difficult to have a meaningful discussion about meaningless concepts. We supposedly started talking in order to head off a conflict about ‘minorities.’ But we couldn’t, and so ended up with a debate over whether we are ‘Turkish or from Turkey.’ Could such a discussion really result in agreement on one of the concepts? If this were possible, then we would already solved the problem of the chicken or the egg by now. All this is related to our desire for a solution. There’s another matter which should be beyond debate: We have to accept that there are minorities and a concept of minority rights. There are minorities in Turkey, as in many other countries. The existence of minority rights is also clear. Even if we seem not to know them, the entire rest of the world does. A solution will be easier if we accept this. We just have to look at how European Union countries have solved their problems concerning minorities and follow their examples. For example those who identify themselves as ‘not Turkish’ would be able to choose their own identity.
If the aim is to leave the problem unresolved, then one can say that everyone must accept a Turkish identity. Furthermore, one can start a debate over being Turkish or from Turkey and create new problems.
We could also look at this from another angle. There are about 3 million Turks living in Germany. Some have German citizenship, some have Turkish citizenship, and some have both. German citizens of Turkish origin can identify themselves as German, or Turkish, or German-Turkish. They have their rights, which are unproblematic. If the German government wanted to let the problem lie, then it would ask all Turks in Germany to identify themselves as German, which would create a problem. Everyone would try to solve the problem, but new unsolved ones would only mount.”
 WILL THERE BE A WAR? BY ISMET BERKAN (RADIKAL)Columnist Ismet Berkan comments on recent reports in Turkish dailies Ortadogu and Milliyet and their influence. A summary of his column is as follows:
“According to recent reports in Turkish dailies Ordadogu and Milliyet, if Iraqi Kurds were to shift the population balance in Kirkuk to the detriment of the city’s Turkmen, Turkey would send nearly 20,000 soldiers into Iraq to take control of Kirkuk. In addition, the US has also reportedly given the go-ahead for such an operation. When I read this news, I immediately thought that it was a typical manipulation campaign meant to weaken the government. Probably some groups wanted the public saying, ‘Look, the military is making necessary preparations, it’s even making an agreement with the US, but the government is neglecting Turkey’s interests.’ Maybe the same groups thought that during these critical days for Turkey’s European Union membership bid, reports indicating that we have expansionist aims would make the EU think twice.
Actually they were addressing the government. However, the government kept silent on the issue for almost a week. It neither denied these reports, nor started an investigation into their sources. The government did nothing, and so took tacit part and contributed to this campaign of sowing confusion by failing to issue a concrete denial. As a result, maybe some people gave credence to the reports. Then, fortunately, a blanket denial came from Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug, and so those who were concerned about a war starting could breathe a sigh of relief. Such reports and their ripple effects should be a lesson for us, that is, we journalists. Just a couple of newspapers report that Turkey might start a war and nobody is influenced by this news, and none of the other papers report on this, nor the TV channels. Don’t you find this thought provoking?”
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