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Turkish Press Review, 03-05-12
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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 <caption> <_caption> Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
12.05.2003FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS
 ERDOGAN PLEDGES TO BRIDGE THE DIVIDE BETWEEN TURKEY’S WEST AND EASTPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday visited his election constituency in Siirt, a city in southeastern Anatolia. Addressing citizens during a ground-laying ceremony for a divided road in the township of Kurtalan, Erdogan vowed to bridge the gap between the nation’s western and eastern halves. Stressing that the prosperity of Turkey’s east should be brought to the level of its west, Erdogan said, “Under a new initiative, our government has decided to lift taxes and social security premiums as well as assign lands to underdeveloped provinces where per capita income is below $1,500. In this way, we will encourage investors to come these regions.” Adding that the state was working to unify the nation, the premier said that his administration was doing its best to address and correct the pressing issues facing Turkey. /All Papers/
 MOTHERS’ DAY CELEBRATEDYesterday Mothers’ Day was celebrated throughout the country with various activities. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Motherland Party (ANAP) leader Ali Talip Ozdemir all issued messages to mark the special day. Pointing to mothers’ crucial importance in raising children to become productive members of society, the leaders showered praise on the institution of motherhood. /All Papers/
 ITALIAN PM BERLUSCONI DUE IN ANKARA TODAYItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to arrive in Ankara today to pay a two-day official visit. Berlusconi will meet with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc. During their meetings, in addition to Turkish-Italian relations, Turkey’s European Union membership bid and various international issues will be discussed. Italy is due to assume the rotating six-month EU presidency on July 1. Italian Gendarmerie and Naval Forces commanders are also expected to arrive in Turkey today. /Star/
 THE OBSERVER: “IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THE US MOVES TO DESTROY PKK_KADEK”An estimated 5,000 trained PKK_KADEK terrorists stand ready in northern Iraq to engage in armed action, said yesterday’s edition of British daily The Observer. Emphasizing that PKK_KADEK was a terrorist organization, the newspaper reported that the group was situated on a piece of land under the direct control of US military forces. “The US is in the middle of a war on terror. Turkey and … local Kurdish groups are its strategic allies,” added the newspaper. “In short, it is only a matter of time before the US moves to destroy the PKK/KADEK.” The terrorist organization PKK/KADEK is responsible for claiming over 30,000 lives in southeastern Turkey. /Hurriyet/
 DENKTAS: “FOLLOWING OUR OPENING UP THE BORDERS, THE TRNC IS DUE TO TAKE NEW INITIATIVES ON THE CYPRUS ISSUE”The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) plans to follow up on its successful border-opening policy with new initiatives designed to move the Cyprus peace process forward, TRNC President Rauf Denktas told news channel CNN-Turk yesterday. Denktas said, for example, that his administration was working on a bill which would enable Greek Cypriots to settle cross-border land disputes in TRNC courts. Denktas added that a new basis for peace talks was needed, as he found UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan proposed earlier this year to be inadequate. “The Serbia-Montenegro model could be a guide to our problem,” said Denktas, referring to the loose federation formed out of the ashes of Yugoslavia earlier this year. Commenting on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit last week to the TRNC, the premier’s first, Denktas emphasized that the TRNC and Turkey had formulated a joint stance on issues facing the island. /All Papers/
 BABACAN: “FROM NOW ON, POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS SHOULD HAVE LESS IMPACT ON THE ECONOMY”Speaking on television yesterday, State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan predicted that from his point onward political developments would probably have less impact on Turkey’s economy. “The government has shown how fiscal discipline and a stable foreign currency policy can make an economy highly resistant to domestic and foreign influences,” said Babacan. “As long as our government doesn’t deviate from these policies, we can avoid an economic crisis.” He remarked that Turkey’s debt had imposed a heavy burden on the nation, but that fiscal discipline and reducing inflation would help insulate the economy more strongly from political shocks. Asked about concerns over the rising lira, Babacan pointed out that previous years had seen a nearly 200% volatility in exchange rates, but that recently this volatility had dropped to about 10%. There is no need to worry about the exchange rate, said Babacan, adding that the lira’s rise is normal. When asked about last week’s controversial remarks by US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Babacan said that the United States had been eager to secure Turkey’s full cooperation in its Iraq war, but was disappointed when Parliament rejected a proposal for US troop deployment on Turkish soil. “However, Parliament represents the will of the nation,” he added. Touching on Turkey’s relations with the International Monetary Fund, Babacan said that the government had told IMF First Managing Director Anne Krueger last week in Ankara that Turkey still faces considerable problems but that the government had taken important steps to strengthen the economy, adding that the minimal economic impact of the Iraq war had been a considerable achievement. When asked about last week’s suggestion by Central Bank Governor Sureyya Serdengecti that the lira could be re- denominated, Babacan said that new currency and inflation targets were both matters that the government and the CB would decide on. He said that timing would be very important in any change of currency, adding that a low, steady inflation rate was needed for such a change. /Aksam/
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT ALIYEV DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL, LEAVES TURKEYAzerbaijan’s President Haydar Aliyev last night returned to his country after being discharged from Ankara’s Gulhane Military Medical Center. Aliyev’s condition was reportedly good. He had been receiving medical treatment in Turkey since May 3, after suffering a collapse in Baku. /All Papers/
 ERBAKAN RETURNS TO POLITICS AT FELICITY PARTY HELMNecmettin Erbakan, a former prime minister and one-time mentor to current Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, yesterday returned to Turkish political life after a five-year absence. At the Felicity Party’s (SP) weekend congress, Erbakan was elected to the party’s chairmanship, replacing Recai Kutan, who voluntarily stepped aside. Since 1997 Erbakan has been banned from politics, with his former affiliation the Welfare Party (FP) disbanded by order of the Constitutional Court. The SP, which many ex-FP members call home, currently has no seats in Parliament, having fallen below the 10% representation threshold in last fall’s elections. /Milliyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS
 THE AXIS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN BY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)Columnist Fikret Bila writes on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s visit to Turkey scheduled to begin today. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is to pay an official visit to Turkey today. His country is due to take over the European Union’s term presidency on July 1, so Berlusconi’s visit is very important to Ankara, as we are seeking to improve our relations with the EU. Ankara regards Italy as one of its biggest boosters within EU circles.
How will Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcome his Italian counterpart? What kind of messages will Ankara convey to Rome?
According to the sources in Ankara, our government is planning to suggest to Italy that the axis of the Mediterranean might be made the new center of the EU. Ankara is to ask Berlusconi to consider a project under which Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey might lead the EU, effectively shifting its center to the axis of the Mediterranean. Our government believes that if the EU’s Eastern European soon-to-be-members contribute to this project as well, these countries standing united can establish an effective center of leadership. Such an approach should not be considered an attempt to establish an alternative formation within the EU but rather an effort to enrich Union’s perspective. Ankara believes that both Italy and Greece would favor this approach.
Erdogan will also convey a message to Berlusconi that the EU should not be a mono-cultural organization but rather a multicultural body, one which respects all religions and ethnicities. According to Erdogan, the EU should present itself as a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith organization based on an integrated community of diverse political and social values. Likewise, Erdogan is also expected to remind Berlusconi that Istanbul is one of Europe’s most important cultural centers, just like his own country’s capital Rome.
During Italy’s term presidency, Turkey expects the opportunity to take concrete steps on its path towards EU membership. Our government is determined to continue preparing new reform packages aimed at improving democracy. Believing that Turkey has to take but a few more steps to fulfill the EU’s Copenhagen criteria, the Erdogan government is planning to put a sixth reform package into force by the end of June. This package will include amendments to certain important issues such as the Anti-terrorism Law and regulations on the establishment of religious foundations.
In addition, Erdogan is also expected to ask Berlusconi to contribute to the Cyprus peace process. Ankara hopes that if the communities on the island take significant steps towards a permanent settlement, Turkey will then be able to improve its relations with the EU. In brief, Ankara is preparing to launch new initiatives on the issues of both the EU and Cyprus this summer.”
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