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Turkish Press Review, 03-02-17
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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 Press & Information Turkish Press Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
17.02.2003FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DISCUSS IRAQ ISSUEGovernment officials headed by Prime Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday convened to hold a comprehensive discussion on the Iraq issue. Following the three-and-a-half hour summit, State Minister and government spokesman Abdullatif Sener said that Yasar Yakis and Ali Babacan, foreign minister and state minister for the economy respectively, had briefed the participants on their just-completed visit to Washington. Stating that the stances of the United Nations, NATO and the European Union towards the issue had all been discussed, Sener added that dates for Parliament to consider a proposal to allow US troops to be stationed in Turkey and a separate proposal to send Turkish troops to Iraq had not been on the agenda. In related developments, Gul and Yakis are scheduled to fly to Brussels tomorrow to attend an EU meeting on Iraq and hold bilateral meetings with EU officials. Gul is also expected to meet with the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Brussels to discuss the Iraq issue. /Turkiye/
 IRAQI DEPUTY PM AZIZ MEETS WITH ERDOGANAfter stopping off to meet with Pope Jean Paul II en route to Baghdad, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz met with Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday in Istanbul. The two leaders reportedly exchanged views on Iraq. Commenting on massive antiwar demonstrations over the weekend held in major cities worldwide, Aziz said that the US should listen to the voice of the international public. For his part, Erdogan strongly urged Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein through Aziz to take major steps to prevent a war. /Turkiye/
 YAKIS: “THE US IS INSISTING THAT TURKEY DECIDE BY TOMORROW, BUT CHANCES OF THIS ARE WEAK”Speaking at a press conference yesterday after returning from a visit to Washington, Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said that the US administration was insisting that the Turkish Parliament decide on tomorrow, Feb. 18, whether or not to support a possible US-led operation against Iraq. Yakis explained that there were some difficulties on the timing of considering the proposal, which would specifically allow the stationing of US troops on Turkish soil, adding that the possibility of Parliament making a decision tomorrow was weak. Before last week’s holiday, Feb. 18 had been set as the target date for the vote. Also speaking upon returning from the US, State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan described as “firm” a US economic aid package to help compensate for Turkey’s losses in a war but that negotiations on the matter were still continuing. “We expect talks on the package to end in a few days,” he added. The two ministers later attended a summit on Iraq held at the Prime Ministry. /Aksam/
 GROSSMAN: “WE ARE WAITING FOR THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT’S DECISION ON SUPPORTING A US-LED OPERATION”Appearing on news channel CNN Turk yesterday, US Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman said that talks between Turkey and the US had been completed and that now Washington was waiting for the Turkish Parliament to make its decision on supporting a US-led operation against Iraq. Grossman urged the Parliament to issue a decision as soon as possible. “Both the US and the United Nations are trying to disarm Iraq through peaceful means,” said Grossman, who is also a former US ambassador to Ankara. “We still hope to find a peaceful solution to the standoff between the US and Iraq. However the chances of this seem extremely slim.” Grossman stated that the threat of military force was necessary in order to persuade Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to comply with UN resolutions and relinquish his weapons of mass destruction. “If Iraq doesn’t disarm itself as soon as possible, then the UN and a coalition of countries should be ready to do so,” he added. /Milliyet/
 NATO OVERCOMES DEADLOCK ON DEFENSE AID TO TURKEYA monthlong deadlock within NATO was finally overcome yesterday as the alliance greenlighted measures to bolster Turkey’s defense in anticipation of possible attacks from Iraq during a war in that country. Last week Germany, France and Belgium had blocked a mechanism to aid key member Turkey as initiated by Secretary-General George Robertson, but yesterday all except France relented after marathon meetings in Brussels. The decision was issued from NATO’s Defense Planning Committee, a body France voluntarily exited in 1966. Under the measures, alliance AWACS planes, Patriot missiles and chemical and biological defense units can begin deployment to Turkey. A NATO statement stressed the need for Iraq’s compliance with UN Resolution 1441, adding that its decision yesterday “relates only to the defense of Turkey, and is without prejudice to any other [possible] military operations.” Turkey is the only NATO member which shares a border with Iraq. /Turkiye/
 TURKEY ASKS UNHCR FOR HELP IN PREVENTING REFUGEE CRISISAmid bargaining between the US and Turkey on the scope of Turkey's contribution to a possible war in Iraq, Turkey is also busy preparing for a possible refugee crisis feared during conflict in the region. Turkish and UN officials are currently discussing ways to cooperate to hold back a massive refugee flow to Turkey and render humanitarian assistance in case of war. Towards this end, the Turkish government has applied to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to receive humanitarian aid. If the US launches a military operation in the region, roughly half of the war refugees are expected to flee to Iran while the other half are likely to head to Turkey in the north. Drawing up accommodation plans for these refugees, the Turkish government has applied to the UNHCR to request approximately $400 million in financial aid. The UNHCR is also expected to provide Turkey with food, tents and heating equipment. /Cumhuriyet/
 US SENATORIAL DELEGATION TO VISIT TURKEYA United States senatorial delegation led by John Warner, senator from Virginia and chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, is scheduled to pay a visit to Turkey on Thursday. The delegation is expected to hold meetings with officials from Turkey’s Foreign and Defense ministries in Ankara and then visit US troops stationed at the NATO Incirlik Airbase in southern Turkey. /Star/
 US MILITARY TECHNICIANS ARRIVE IN TURKEY FOR AIRBASE, PORT UPGRADESA group of some 500 US military technicians yesterday arrived in Turkey to begin work on airbases and ports set to be upgraded by the US government. The delegation is firstly to conduct inspections at facilities which are likely to be used by US forces during a possible war in Iraq. Before last week’s holiday Turkey's Parliament voted to allow the upgrades in anticipation of a possible deployment of US troops, which would require separate authorization. A vote on the deployment could take place this week. /Hurriyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
 ONE MORE CHANCE FOR PEACE BY DERYA SAZAK (MILLIYET)Columnist Derya Sazak comments on anti-war demonstrations held worldwide over the weekend. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Millions of people took to the streets this weekend to bring the madness of Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush to an end and to urge one more chance for peace. In London and Baghdad, Seoul and New York, and other major cities, throngs of people cried out, ‘No war!’ Nobody wants a war in Iraq. Under these circumstances, it won’t be easy for Parliament to hold a vote tomorrow as scheduled on the proposal to station US troops here.
During a recent football match in Izmir, the outcry against Prime Minister Abdullah Gul was significant. Gul felt the heat from this so much that it was even felt during Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis’s recent White House meeting with Bush. Yakis conveyed his concern to Bush about the fact that antiwar protests had spread from the matches to the streets. Bush is familiar with these reactions. Hundreds of thousands of people marched with signs saying, ‘No War, Stop This Madness’ in New York. In addition, many parents in the US who have sons and daughters in the US military are also opposed to war.
Certain leading TV channels in the US carried a ‘terror alarm’ logo this weekend. Responding to a rumor that a chemical weapons attack on Washington was imminent, the nation rushed to supermarkets and bought sheets to cover their windows and started to stock flashlights, batteries and medicine. The US nation is turning into a nation of paranoia. Bush must have been spooked by the warnings of terrorist attacks because he addressed the nation to calm its panic.
Obviously a war in Iraq would cause new madness but the deployment of tens of thousands of US soldiers in the gulf region continues unabated. In addition, the antiwar protests in Turkey are giving the White House pause. Obviously Bush is upset about these developments. If our Parliament holds its debates in open session, not a closed one, the proposal on stationing US troops here isn’t likely to pass. In sum, the nation is opposed to war.”
 TRYING TO FIND OUR WAY AMID FOG OF WAR BY MUSTAFA BALBAY (CUMHURIYET)Columnist Mustafa Balbay writes on a possible war against Iraq and Turkey’s stance on the issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Before we went on our Feast of the Sacrifice (Kurban Bayram) holiday, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared that Turkey would cooperate with the United States in case of war in Iraq. But it has begun wavering, as the US seems to prefer not to genuinely cooperate with our country but instead merely to use it in a possible war against Saddam Hussein.
The AKP government seems quite assured that the US is Turkey’s strategic partner, whereas Washington thinks that Turkey is a country which will automatically rubberstamp every US request. A very complicated situation indeed…
The government said before the holiday that it would put a proposal before Parliament on tomorrow, Feb. 18, regarding a US request to station its troops in Turkey for a possible northern offensive into Iraq. The US interpreted this as a ‘go-ahead’ message and put its military plans into work as if Parliament had already approved the proposal. Moreover, because it knew very well that the AKP’s grassroots were opposed to a war in Iraq, the Bush administration said, ‘We’re so pleased that your Parliament will discuss the proposal on Feb. 18. Turkey is a good ally to be trusted,’ which meant, ‘This is just what I was expecting. And because you have made such a binding statement, I want you to move forward. Don’t even think about using some silly excuse and changing your mind.’
Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis and Economy Minister Ali Babacan returned home yesterday from a trip to Washington to secure US compensation of Turkey’s economic losses in the event of a war. Yet what both men said at the airport showed that no agreement on the issue had been reached. In the wake of these developments, Parliament is not very likely to discuss the proposal tomorrow.
Just as in our relations with the US, Turkey is also in a situation where it cannot clearly see the future course of relations with Europe. NATO has been experiencing very trying times to decide on using its assets to protect Turkey in case of war. Germany, France and Belgium have held that Turkey is not under threat of attack from Iraq.
A clear, unified stance on the Iraq crisis must be put together, one shared by all the top levels of the state –- the government, president, General Staff, etc. Otherwise, Turkey will stumble in its efforts to take the proper path amidst this fog of war.”
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