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Turkish Press Review, 03-02-05
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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 Press & Information Turkish Press Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
05.02.2003FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 SEZER: “SHOULD AN UNSTABLE SITUATION EMERGE IN IRAQ, TURKEY WOULD MOVE TO PROTECT ITS INTERESTS”President Ahmet Necet Sezer said yesterday that if a war leads to an unstable situation in northern Iraq, Turkey would do whatever is necessary to protect its rights and interests. Addressing a delegation from the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD), Sezer emphasized that from the very beginning Turkey had been opposed to a war but that the nation was also ready to act against any contingency in the region which threatened its security. /Cumhuriyet/
 GUL MEETS WITH MGK SECRETARY-GENERAL TO DISCUSS IRAQPrime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday met with National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Gen. Tuncer Kilinc to discuss the latest developments in a possible US-led operation against Iraq. Also present at the meeting was MGK Deputy Secretary-General Gen. Baki Ustundag. No press statement was made after the meeting. /Turkiye/
 CHENEY PHONES GUL, URGES PREMIER FOR QUICK DECISION ON IRAQAhead of a possible war against Iraq, US Vice President Dick Cheney phoned Prime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday. Cheney reportedly urged the premier to speedily push a resolution through Parliament this week on US requests of Turkey, such as upgrading Turkish airbases and ports as well as stationing US troops in the country for a possible northern front into Iraq. In related news, the Justice and Development (AKP) government is due to bring a proposal onto Parliament’s agenda tomorrow regarding US upgrades and construction at the airbases and ports Washington wants to use. /Hurriyet/
 IRAQI OPPOSITION LEADERS TO CONFER WITH TURKISH OFFICIALSLeaders of several Iraqi opposition groups arrived in Ankara yesterday to discuss a possible US-led military campaign against Iraq. Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani, Iraqi Turkmen Front Chairman Sanan Ahmet Aga, and Necirvan Barzani, the nephew of Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) leader Massoud Barzani as well as prime minister of the so-called regional Kurdistan government, are all scheduled to meet with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials tomorrow to confer on a post-Saddam period and the future of northern Iraq as well as Mosul and Kirkuk, two oil-rich provinces in the region. Zalmay Halilzad, a special envoy from US President George W. Bush, will also be present at the meetings. /Star/
 ERDOGAN: “IF IT COMES TO WAR, TURKEY MUST PARTICIPATE TO PROTECT ITS INTERESTS AND SECURITY”The region is on the brink of war despite Turkey’s efforts, and now the nation must make difficult decisions in order to protect its best interests and security, proclaimed ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. Speaking at his party’s group meeting, Erdogan said Turkey was duty bound to support a US-led operation against Iraq for the nation’s own good. “Our government will make the best decision for the nation,” he stated. “If Turkey shrinks from supporting the US in case of a war, then it would be difficult for us to play a role in the postwar reconstruction process of the region.” /Milliyet/
 CHP LEADER BAYKAL TAKES STAND AGAINST STAGING US TROOPS IN TURKEYAddressing his party’s group meeting in Parliament yesterday, opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal said that Turkey should in no way allow US troops to be stationed in the country. Taking sharp exception to Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement yesterday that Turkey had to participate in an operation against Iraq so as to protect its national interests, Baykal said, “You can win a war with missiles, but you can’t establish your political power upon them.” Baykal added that the CHP did not want Turkey to be used as a US headquarters for a northern front into Iraq. /Cumhuriyet/
 LINDH: “SWEDEN OPPOSES A KURDISH STATE BEING FOUNDED IN NORTHERN IRAQ”Appearing on Turkish news channel NTV yesterday, visiting Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said that her country didn’t want a Kurdish state to be founded in northern Iraq after a possible US-led war against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Lindh added, however, that the region should continue to be autonomous and that there was no need to change its present borders. Northern Iraq is currently under regional Kurdish administration and US and British protection as a “no-fly” zone. Turkey should make its own decision whether to participate in an operation or not, continued Lindh, as it could face various difficulties if war comes. As for Sweden, she said, it would abide by the UN Security Council’s decisions. /Aksam/
 DENKTAS: “I CANNOT SIGN THE UN CYPRUS PLAN WITHOUT CHANGES BEING MADE”Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Rauf Denktas yesterday called it “impossible” for him to sign the United Nations Cyprus plan without making certain changes being made to it, charging that in its current form it violated the rights of the island’s Turks. Denktas said that he had proposed some changes to the plan, but that during their latest meeting Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides had come with new territorial demands instead of proposing changes. Denktas added that he wouldn’t sign the plan even if the Turkish Cypriot nation wanted him to. “I won’t sign a plan which would hurt our nation three or five years down the line, and there is no obligation for me to do so,” added Denktas. “I serve the nation’s interests, but I am not its servant.” /Turkiye/
 TUSIAD CHAIRMAN OZILHAN URGES ERDOGAN TO CONTINUE FIGHT AGAINST INFLATIONTuncay Ozilhan, chairman of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD), yesterday visited ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the economy as well political and international issues such as Cyprus, Iraq, and Turkey’s European Union membership bid. Speaking after their talks, Ozilhan said that he had urged Erdogan to continue the government’s anti-inflation efforts, adding that last year the rate had been brought down to 30%, but that it needed to go down still further. TUSIAD will continue to counsel the government on economic issues, Ozilhan concluded. /Milliyet/  FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 THE EU, WAR AND THE NEW GOVERNMENT BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI (STAR)Columnist Zeynep Gurcanli comments on how the European Union thinks an Iraq war might affect Turkey’s government. A summary of her column is as follows:
“If you read between the lines of various official statements, you can clearly see what sort of a game is being played in Turkey. Turkey has been hosting a great many high-ranking foreign guests over the last two weeks. Most of them came from European Union countries. This series of visits started with the German foreign minister. Then EU Term President Greece’s foreign minister, next Term President Italy’s foreign minister and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen visited Turkey. This week Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh will visit Turkey. All of those who came to Turkey gave the same message: Firstly, they praised the new Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Then they said that Turkey should certainly implement ‘administrative reform’ so it can reach EU standards as soon as possible. This desire for ‘administrative reform,’ which some expressed diplomatically and others more bluntly, amounts to nothing but increasing the civilian authority’s leverage vis-à-vis Turkey’s military establishment, that is, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). European diplomats told me that the issue of the TSK’s civilian control was urgent at this juncture, adding that the reason for this urgency was the expected US operation against Iraq.
Actually the Europeans are concerned about the stability of Turkey’s single- party government’s, in other words, its being hurt in the uproar over war. Europeans are also aware that the AKP government is reeling from an outcry from its grassroots against the US’ requests for military support. They also think that Turkey’s soldiers are certainly ready, even willing for the operation. They add that the TSK has a chilly relationship with the AKP, and from these three observations they conclude: ‘If the US launches an operation against Iraq and Turkey supports this and lets the US station soldiers in the country, the TSK’s political leverage would increase enormously.’
The greatest fear in this context is of a split within the AKP due to the government’s support for the US operation. A rift in Parliament over a vote to send Turkish soldiers abroad isn’t expected. However, the proposal for upgrading our airbases and ports will be the first indication concerning the AKP’s stance. The real sign concerning the AKP group’s future will emerge during the vote on stationing US soldiers in Turkey. Europeans think that the upcoming state of war will cause the scheduled by-election in Siirt to be postponed, thus holding off for now AKP leader Erdogan’s bid to become prime minister. They also emphasize that such a postponement could accelerate or exacerbate a split within the AKP ranks. The weeks before and after the Feast of the Sacrifice (Kurban Bayram) holiday are very critical for Turkey both in terms of the foreign political developments and domestic political balances.”
 THREE MESSAGES FROM THE US TO TURKEY BY TAHA AKYOL (MILIYET)Columnist Taha Akyol comments on Turkey’s stance on the Iraq issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
“The clock is ticking down to war in Iraq. US diplomacy with Turkey is intensifying as the war drums grow louder in Washington.
Ankara is getting prepared to both enter northern Iraq and allow US troops to use its bases and ports.
Three messages from the Bush administration have persuaded Turkey:
1. The US will protect Kirkuk. Turkey is especially concerned that if Iraq falls apart at the seams, Iraqi Kurds could seize the oil-rich cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. Turkey claims that Kirkuk and Mosul are dominated not by the Kurds but by ethnic Turkmen. Turkey asked the US to declare Mosul and Kirkuk ‘off-limits’ to any force but a limited contingent of US troops. What if US troops are unable to use Turkish soil as a staging ground to enter the region? Bush’s people warned. Who will stop the Kurdish groups? Who is to protect Kirkuk oil?
2. It would be very difficult for Turkey to act on its own. Kurdish groups are very likely to oppose Turkey’s entrance into the region. Such conflicts with Kurds or even other neighboring countries can be prevented if and only if Turkey acts together with the US.
3. Ankara and Washington should together ensure the international community’s stamp of approval. International legitimacy is a key for both countries.
During the 1991 Gulf War, Kurdish groups entered Kirkuk and burnt down a number of state offices in order to destroy the city’s political fabric. When Saddam then attacked them, these groups took shelter in Turkey and Iran.
Since the target is Saddam himself this time, who will protect Kirkuk? If Turkey doesn’t want to take part in a war, the US might encourage Kurdish groups to enter Kirkuk. How can Turkey possibly prevent such a development?
The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) wants Turkey to enter northern Iraq on its own. However, this might plunge the region into further chaos as Kurds and neighboring countries are likely to oppose such a move.
In order to prevent such dire scenarios, Turkey is set to keep its coalition with the US without getting involved in conflicts which are likely to break out in the region.
The first step is to get permission from Parliament for the base upgrades. Then Parliament is to take steps in accordance with Article 92, which gives it the authority to approve stationing foreign forces on Turkish soil as well as dispatching our own troops abroad.
Our government is waiting for US Secretary of State Colin Powell to present the US evidence to the UN Security Council today. If Turkey finds the US evidence convincing, I believe our government is planning to speed up its timetable. The National Security Council (NSC) last week endorsed basing foreign troops in the country and also called for government and parliamentary approval for sending Turkish forces abroad. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) should support this advisory decision. Turkish troops should enter northern Iraq to keep the US operation on a leash. This is what Ankara’s basic strategy is all about.”
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