|Thursday, 2 April 2020|
Turkish Press Review, 03-01-10
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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> <map name="FPMap1"> </map> <map name="FPMap1"></map> Press & Information Turkish Press Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 GUL DOWNPLAYS DISPUTE, CITING “MORE PRESSING CONCERNS”Citing “more pressing concerns” in his role of head of state, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday declined to go any further on a recent public dispute with Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok over military dismissals. Notwithstanding Ozkok’s remarks to the press on Wednesday concerning the matter, Gul said that as prime minister, he had a responsibility under current conditions not to talk to the media about the issue, and thus deny fuel to the fire. “These issues are delicate, and I know when to talk about them,” he stated. “Now’s not the time. Turkey still faces economic difficulties, and the possibility of a US-led operation against Iraq grows every day. While Turkey faces such conditions, I must take special care to act responsibly.” /Milliyet/
 TWO MILITARY JETS COLLIDE IN MALATYA, KILLING FOUR PILOTSTwo F-4 fighter jets collided yesterday in heavy fog during a training flight in the southeastern province of Malatya. A Transportation Ministry statement said that all four pilots involved in the disaster had lost their lives, adding that an investigation into the cause of the crash was underway. The incident came just one day after a Turkish Airlines (THY) passenger jet crashed amid fog in the nearby southeastern province of Diyarbakir, killing 75 people and injuring five others. An investigation of Wednesday’s disaster is also underway. /All Papers/
 ERDOGAN MEETS WITH TURKMENBASHIRuling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, currently on a tour of Central Asian countries, yesterday arrived in Turkmenistan and was received by head of state Sapar Murat Turkmenbashi. Erdogan and Turkmenbashi signed a joint declaration proposing cooperation in highway construction, textiles, urban planning and the transportation of Turkmenistan’s energy resources to Turkey and international markets. Turkmenbasi expressed to Erdogan his deep sorrow and condolences over two plane crashes in Turkey this week, which together claimed nearly 80 lives. The AKP leader is set to proceed to Kazakhstan today to pay a two-day visit. /Turkiye/
 BARZANI MEETS FOREIGN MINISTRY UNDERSECRETARYIraqi Kurdistan Democrat Party (IKPD) leader Massoud Barzani yesterday met with Foreign Minister Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal. After the meeting, Barzani said that their talks had been very fruitful and that many topics had been discussed frankly and openly. Pointing to the importance of establishing a relationship based upon friendship and cooperation, Barzani stated that he hoped to clear up a number of misunderstandings between the two sides using a process of intense dialogue. The IKPD leader is expected to be received by Prime Minister Abdullah Gul today. /Turkiye/
 YSK ASKS POLITICAL PARTIES TO APPLY BY MONDAY FOR SIIRT BY-ELECTIONThe Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) yesterday sent letters to the political parties which took part in last November’s general elections asking them whether or not they intend to participate in a Siirt by- election scheduled for Feb. 9. The parties were asked to inform the YSK of their decision by next Monday, Jan. 13, at 5:00 pm, at the latest. The YSK called for a by-election to be held to correct irregularities it found in the November polls. /Turkiye/
 IRAQI OPPOSITION GROUP LEADERS TO VISIT TURKEYTwo leaders of Iraqi opposition groups based abroad, Iraqi Constitutional Monarchy Movement leader Sherif Ali bin Hussein and Iraqi National Acord leader Ayad Allawi, are scheduled to visit Turkey at the beginning of next week. The two leaders will hold a series of meetings with Turkish officials to discuss recent developments in the region. /Cumhuriyet/
 US, BRITISH PRESS: “TURKEY FACES ACUTE QUANDARY OVER US MILITARY DEPLOYMENT”With a bright spotlight being cast on Turkey ahead of a possible US military operation against Iraq, US and British dailies this week focused on the prospect of Turkish involvement, and in particular the question of whether Turkey would allow US troops to be stationed on its soil. The US and Britain are the only international actors apparently committed to such a war, though France has recently indicated that it, too, might take part. US daily the New York Times yesterday reported that US officials were increasingly concerned they were running out of time to persuade Turkey to permit the deployment of US troops in case of an Iraq conflict. The Times quoted a senior US official familiar with American preparations as saying, “From the military planning standpoint, we have just about reached the critical mass point for a yes or no from Turkey." Officials emphasized that the US would need several weeks for preparations ahead of a conflict, and that if Turkey waits until Jan. 27 – the day a UN weapons inspectors’ report is to be issued – to make a decision, as it has pledged, that may be too late. According to the influential daily, American officials said that they can conduct a successful attack to oust Saddam Hussein without access to land bases in Turkey, but acknowledge that such an attack would be “harder and uglier.” Meanwhile, the Times of London reported that among Iraq’s neighboring states, only Turkey is still struggling with how to deal with the issue of getting involved in a possible conflict. “Bahrain and Qatar have agreed to host American forces for as long as it takes to finish the job,” said the Times. “Even Saudi Arabia will probably swallow its pride and allow the US military to use the key Prince Sultan airbase to run the air campaign, the first phase of the war. Jordan, which shares a small but strategic border with western Iraq, has made its choice. Despite public opposition to the war from native Jordanians and the large Palestinian population, King Abdullah II has made clear that he will not stand in the way of any US-led operation.” According to the British daily, Turkey’s recently elected government led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is having second thoughts, trying to reconcile its loyalties to traditional ally the US and to the Turkish public, which is strongly opposed to war. /All papers/
 WITH AGREEMENT ON STATUS OF US MILITARY PERSONNEL, TURKEY AUTHORIZES AIRBASE, PORT INSPECTIONSAfter reaching an agreement on the legal status of visiting US personnel, Turkey has issued authorization for 150 military officials to conduct inspections on a number of Turkish airbases and ports ahead of a possible Iraq military operation. Under the accord to be signed between the two allies, Turkish courts will reportedly have jurisdiction over any criminal offenses committed by US personnel, with the notable exception of legal disputes between US service members, where US law will apply. Moreover, Washington will be responsible for compensating Turkey for any damage incurred during the inspections. The US delegation is expected to arrive in Turkey at the beginning of next week. /Turkiye, Hurriyet/
 BAYKAL: “GUL AND OZKOK SHOULD RESPECT EACH OTHER”Stepping in as an apparent mediator in a recent public dispute between Turkey’s head of state and top military leader, opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday called on Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok to treat each other with the appropriate respect. This week Ozkok objected to reservations placed by Gul late last year on a number of dismissals of military personnel by the Supreme Military Council (YAS), saying Gul’s action lacked legal standing and was hindering proper administration. Baykal yesterday took pains to praise both parties, calling the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) one of the nation’s bedrock institutions, and saying that the current government’s landslide win in last November’s elections proved that it had earned the nation’s trust. “Gul and Ozkok need to work within the framework of mutual respect,” he stated. “Anything which could harm their harmonious working relationship runs the risk of harming Turkey itself.” /Milliyet/
 ANAP TO ELECT NEW LEADER TOMORROWThe Motherland Party (ANAP) is set to elect a new leader tomorrow at an extraordinary party congress in Ankara. Longtime ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz stepped down last year following the party’s poor showing in November’s elections, in which the government coalition partner failed to attract enough votes to be represented in Parliament. The candidates to lead ANAP are Lutfullah Kayalar, Ali Talip Ozdemir, Ekrem Pakdemirli,Isin Celebi, and Adil Asirim, though Pakdemirli has shown signs of throwing his support behind Kayalar. /Milliyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 WILL TURKEY GET INVOLVED IN WAR?BY FERAI TINC (HURRIYET)
Columnist Ferai Tinc comments on Turkey’s possible role in a US-led military campaign against Iraq. A summary of her column is as follows:
“Not only Washington, but the Turkish military, too, is urging the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to make up its mind on the Iraq issue. At a military reception on Wednesday, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, deputy chief of General Staff, had this to say: ‘The government’s making a decision at once, be it positive or negative, is in our country’s best interests.’ About six months ago the US gave Turkey a ‘wish list’ for a possible military campaign in Iraq, but today the government’s reply is still not clear. That’s why the Bush administration has been sending sharp messages lately, conveying its impatience to get a firm response. There are even signs that the government’s hesitation may adversely affect Turkey’s economy. The US’ basic question to our country is crystal clear: ‘Will you or will you not cooperate and allow us open a northern front?’ This is critical to the course of a prospective US-led military operation on Iraq, in Chief of General Staff Hilmi Ozkok’s apt words: ‘A northern front would be decisive both politically and militarily. With such a front, it would be far quicker and less risky for the US to achieve its goal.’ What this all comes down to is that if Turkey agrees to cooperate on its end, this could even perhaps avert a war, as the US’ deterrent threat against Saddam would be that much higher. Even certain diplomatic analysts believe that Turkey’s current reluctance to clarify its stance could lead Saddam to make deadly miscalculations and thus hasten the dogs of war. Whereas Gen. Buyukanit confines himself to saying, ‘There is a need for deterrent cooperation with the US.’
The expected reply from the AKP government to Washington has so far been confined to getting permission to make necessary inspections at Turkey’s military bases, ones which the US wants to have use of in a possible Iraq operation. But this is just an initial step. Gen. Buyukanit stressed that there remains a need for a more comprehensive decision, one allowing the upgrading of military bases and dispatching Turkish troops to Iraq as well as stationing US soldiers in Turkey. This in turn requires a resolution from Parliament, as the Constitution lays out, yet the government is also reluctant to bring this issue to Parliament’s agenda. Buyukanit underlined another important point about Turkey’s dispatching troops to Iraq, saying that according to recent newspapers reports, the Pentagon doesn’t favor the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq. ‘We aren’t saying, “Let’s go and fight.” Yet no one has ever told us that we can’t join a military campaign, ’ he added.
When I reminded Buyukanit of the situation during 1991’s Gulf War, during which the Ozal government was pressing for Turkey to get involved in the war whereas the General Staff was resisting this, a virtual mirror image of the current situation, he told me, ‘In 1991, the situation was completely different. At that time, the US asked Turkey to open a northern front without putting forward any conditions. Their current requests are far more reasonable. We, as the military, want to hold back any possible wave of refugees from northern Iraq before they reach our borders, in order not to repeat the experience Turkey faced during the Gulf War. Moreover, we should assume a role if the country wants to have a say in the post-Saddam period.’
I favor Turkey having that say, but as a mother, I don’t want to send my sons to war. So what comes next?”
 RED LINESBY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)
Columnist Fikret Bila comments on Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok’s speech on Wednesday evening. A summary of his column is as follows:
“As soon as Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok ended his speech at Wednesday’s press reception, news of the plane crash came from Diyarbakýr. A wave of shock and sadness suddenly fell over the crowd. The ripples from this accident continue to spread. I’d like to extend my condolences to the family of the victims. Even while the shock from this accident was still fresh, two F-4 jets from Malatya also crashed, killing all four of their pilots. Unfortunately, there is nothing to do but hope that they rest in peace.
Gen. Ozkok’s speech carried a number of important messages for our political world. Putting it in the trendy language of recent weeks, this speech served to lay down a number of ‘red lines.’ Gen. Ozkok’s words, an apparent echo of the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) ‘memorandums’ to the government several years ago, were in effect warnings to the government and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Gen. Ozkok’s red lines were the fundamental principles of the Turkish Republic. He emphasized that nobody could be allowed to harm these principles, and that those who aim at this could not be forgiven. He referred to Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul’s recent action putting reservations on dismissed decisions of the Supreme Military Council (YAS) and making headscarves into a political issue. Gen. Ozkok requested that the decisions of Constitutional Court and Council of State should be taken as a basis concerning the headscarf matter, and he described such reservations on YAS decisions as violations of the Constitution. He said that Gul and Gonul’s reservations served as encouragement to those pursuing reactionary aims. With these words, Ozkok drew another red line around the disciplinary mechanism of the TSK. He gave the message that reactionaries were trying to infiltrate the TSK and that the army was actively working to counter this.
Looking at Gen. Ozkok’s speech in detail, the following can be inferred: The TSK thinks that reactionaries have succeeded in working their way into many state institutions in Turkey, and that they have even entered constitutional institutions and become active in them. Gen. Ozkok thinks that among state bodies, the TSK has had the most success at holding back this infiltration. Its high-ranking officers have conveyed this situation through many channels to the AKP administrators and to government and Parliament leaders. Gen. Ozkok’s action laying out these red lines for public view on the occasion of the AKP government’s 50th day in power carries hopeful messages for the future.”
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