|Sunday, 23 February 2020|
Turkish Press Review, 07-01-23
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE IRAQ ISSUE IN CLOSED SESSIONIn light of recent developments in Iraq and especially in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Parliament will hold a special closed session today. The session, the fifth of its kind in the last four years, will begin at 7 p.m. Following an opening address by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, representatives of political parties will exchange views on the matter. Only state ministers and deputies will be allowed into the assembly. Discussions during these sessions are recorded and classified as state secrets which can be made public after 10 years. /Hurriyet/
 DINK TO BE LAID TO RESTA funeral ceremony for murdered journalist Hrant Dink today is expected to be attended by large numbers of people from all walks of life. Dink's funeral will begin at 11 a.m. in front of the newspaper Agos office in Sisli, Istanbul. Following a religious ceremony to be held at the Kumkapi Virgin Mary Patriarchate, Dink will be buried at the Balikli Armenian cemetery. A group in charge of the funeral issued a statement calling for a silent march without the chanting of slogans or the display of signs or banners. /All papers/
 ITALIAN PM PRODI VISITS TURKEYPaying an official visit to Turkey, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi yesterday met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two premiers held talks about bilateral ties and regional as well as international issues and then signed a strategic pact to promote economic cooperation between Turkey and Italy. Prodi was also received by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc. The Italian premier, accompanied by Erdogan, is also expected to attend the opening ceremony of the Mt. Bolu Tunnel, constructed by Italian company Astaldi, on the highway linking Ankara and Istanbul. /Turkiye/
 EU VOWS SPED UP EFFORTS FOR DIRECT TRADE WITH NORTHERN CYPRUSEU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to speed up work to establish trade ties with Northern Cyprus, with an aim to promote efforts for a settlement on the island. During yesterday's meeting in Brussels, the ministers did not have a detailed discussion on the issue but adopted a draft text by EU Term President Germany, which urged quick resumption of work to launch direct trade with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which has been blocked by the Greek Cypriot administration for two years. "Work aiming at the adoption of the [European] Commission proposal for a council regulation on special conditions for trade with the areas of the [Greek] Republic of Cyprus [sic] in which the government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control [meaning the TRNC] must resume without delay," the text adopted by the ministers said. /The New Anatolian/
 GEN. BASBUG VISITS TRNCLand Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug yesterday traveled to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to observe the Peace 2007 Plan Exercise and inspect Turkish Peace Forces on the island. After meeting with President Mehmet Ali Talat, Basbug said that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) wanted a comprehensive, just and permanent settlement on the island. Pointing to the Greek Cypriots' escalating arms purchases, Talat called the development disturbing, saying that it revealed the Greek Cypriots' true intent. /Turkiye/
 SPEAKING AT PACE, FENER GREEK PATRIARCH PRAISES TURKEY, BUT CRITICIZES HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONFener Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos, invited with his disputed "ecumenical" status, yesterday spoke at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) about interfaith dialogue. Bartholomeos emphasized the importance of human rights, and both praised and criticized Turkey. He stated that interfaith dialogue was a way of life and cited Turkey as an example, saying, "We're not only in academic dialogue with our Muslim brethren, but we also live side by side." The patriarch claimed that he is unable to completely exercise his human rights, complaining of the legal status of the patriarchate and Turkey's rejection of his "ecumenical" status. Bartholomeos also said that he fully supports Turkey's EU bid. /Milliyet/
 BARZANI: "WE'RE NOT SCARED OF TURKEY"Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, who claims that the northern Iraqi oil-rich city of Kirkuk is a Kurdish city despite its large Turkmen population, said yesterday that northern Iraq's Kurds were not afraid of Turkey's "threats." Criticizing what he called Ankara's recent aggressive policy, Barzani said that these threats were empty. Stressing that Turkish leaders were acting in an election atmosphere, the Kurdish leader stated that he paid no mind to Ankara's remarks. /Sabah/
 MT. BOLU TUNNEL TO OPEN TODAYThe Mt. Bolu Tunnel, 12 years in the making at a cost of some $900 million, is set to open today. The tunnel is expected to cut average highway travel time between Istanbul and Ankara nearly in half, from six hours to three- and-a-half. The inauguration ceremony will be hosted this morning by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his visiting Italian counterpart Romano Prodi. /Turkiye/
FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS
 SESSION ON THE PKK AND KIRKUKColumnist Hasan Celal Guzel comments on today's closed session in Parliament on Iraq. A summary of his column is as follows:
"A closed session will be held in Parliament today, where up for discussion will be the terrorist PKK's presence in Iraq, the situation of Kirkuk and what measures Turkey should take. Actually the situation is clear. After the motion to deploy American soldiers in Turkey was rejected on March 1, 2003 Turkey was excluded from developments in Iraq and we started to be unable to protect our national security and interests. Not only Turkey, but also the Iraqi nation, its ethnic Turkmen and even Americans paid the price for this exclusion. Before the rejection of this motion, I wrote the following: ‘Turkey is at a turning point. Actually we don't want war. What's more, it's sad for us to take a stance on a neighboring country whose people are Muslim and which used to be part of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, the justification for the war doesn't satisfy us. However, Turkey did its best to prevent the war, but to no avail. If we can't take an active policy during the war, we can neither have a protective role for the Iraqi nation nor protect Turkey's own national interests.' Then I warned what would happen if the motion were rejected. Unfortunately, all these warnings have come true. Parliament is convening in light of a bad experience.
Before today's closed session, the ruling party and the opposition have reached a consensus that if necessary, Turkey might carry out a military intervention for its national security and interests. The whole world will be watching this session, and everybody will evaluate Turkey's sensitivity about its own security and interests. So this session shouldn't be treated lightly with idle talk and perfunctory assessments, but serious decisions should be made. Actually, we all know that we've lagged behind on this issue since early 2003 and become a bystander to incidents over the last four years. Now it's time for an active foreign policy.
Two decisions should be made during the closed session.
1. Cross-border operation: Actually, there's no need to get permission on this, according to Article 92 of the Constitution. However, it would be useful for Parliament to take a decision confirming a comprehensive operation against the PKK.
2. Intervention on Kirkuk: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's six conditions concerning the Iraq issue are of the utmost importance for Turkey's interests. It's particularly unacceptable to be a bystander to the massacre of Iraq's Turkmen. In this respect, a decision to give permission to send the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to foreign countries should be made under Article 92 as soon as possible. If Turkey can act decisively and put its army behind its foreign policy, it can protect its security. If it acts in a cowardly, passive way after all these reactions and remarks, it won't be able to overcome the PKK terrorism and people will question its determination for its own continued integrity and existence. Turkey's decisiveness won't cause war, but it could have an impact on preventing war. To those who ask what will happen if the US Army comes against us and our economy is damaged, let me say this: If this nation had thought this way during the national struggle in Canakkale, there would be no Turkish Republic now."
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