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Turkish Press Review, 03-05-16
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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
16.05.2003FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 SEZER VISITS TUNISIAPresident Ahmet Necdet Sezer yesterday flew to Tunis to meet with his Tunisian counterpart Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Speaking after their meeting, Sezer said that this was his first official visit to Tunisia and that he had proposed establishing a free trade agreement between the two countries. For his part, Ben Ali said that he was pleased with Sezer’s visit, as he believed it would contribute to better relations between Ankara and Tunis. “Our nation has much in common with the Turkish nation,” said Ben Ali. “Every year our relations move forward.” Also present at the meeting were Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal and Turkish Ambassador to Tunisia Selah Koruturk. /Aksam/
 GUL: “THE AKP IS PLANNING TO APPLY TO JOIN THE EUROPEAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT PARTY”Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who is currently in Brussels to participate in meetings of the European Convention, said yesterday that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was planning to apply to join the European Christian Democrat Party (ECDP). Speaking at a conference called “Turkey’s EU Membership Path” organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Gul stated that he had held a meeting with a group of ECDP officials where both sides decided that the AKP could apply to join the party. The AKP has sometimes characterized itself as a “Muslim Democrat” party, similar to Europe’s various “Christian Democrats.” In related news, Gul met with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou. Afterwards, Papandreou told reporters that Greece would continue to support Turkey’s efforts to join the EU. Papandreou also called for work to build on recent positive steps regarding the Cyprus issue. Greece holds the rotating EU presidency until July 1. /Cumhuriyet/
 ECONOMY MINISTER BABACAN INCLUDED IN BILDERBERG MEETING IN FRANCEThis year, the venue for the annual two-day meeting of the Bilderberg group, a secretive gathering of international financial and political elites, was set at Versailles, just outside Paris, in the immediate leadup to this weekend’s G-7 meeting in the French capital. The meeting, scheduled to end today, is rumored to control international policy from behind doors. Turkey’s Islamist circles have accused the Bilderberg group of being a “Zionist organization” trying to manipulate world affairs, and other international figures have also criticized it for being “sinister” and “conspiratorial.” This year, despite Islamist opposition, Treasury Minister Ali Babcan is said to be among the attendees, together with a handful of state bureaucrats. While the Bilderberg has no members as such and no list of participants is given to the press, other attendees are said to be German Foreign Minister Otto Schilly, European Convention Chairman and former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing and US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a traditional friend of Turkey whose criticisms of Ankara caused a row earlier this month. /Hurriyet/
 CABINET DISCUSSES EMERGENCY ACTION PLANYesterday’s Cabinet meeting discussed a new Emergency Action Plan and decided to push for the passage of certain crucial bills now before Parliament as soon as possible. Briefing the press on the meeting, Justice Minister and government spokesman Cemil Cicek said that the Emergency Action Plan had 205 articles, 45 dealing with state reforms, 91 with economic restructuring, 24 with democratization and legal reforms and 45 with social reforms. Cicek said that due to Constitutional Court’s rejection of a bill lowering the retirement age from 65 to 61 as unconstitutional, the government would draft a new bill to address the court’s objections. The Cabinet also discussed such issues as the nation’s European Union membership bid, said Cicek, adding that Turkey’s joining the Union’s ranks was very important. Addressing a much-speculated-upon issue, Cicek said that the government had no programs or plans to alter the structure of or abolish the National Security Council (MGK). The EU Commission recently stated that the military-dominated MGK should be abolished and the military subordinated to civilian control before Turkey could be admitted to the Union. /Turkiye/
 FINANCE MINISTER UNAKITAN: “TURKEY’S CONSOLIDATED BUDGET POSTED A PRIMARY SURPLUS OF $4.5 BILLION IN THE FIRST QUARTER”Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said yesterday that the government’s tax amnesty program had contributed TL 7.9 quadrillion to the nation’s coffers, TL 6.5 quadrillion of this from the private sector. Unakitan said that Turkey’s consolidated budget posted a primary surplus of $4.5 billion in the first four months of this year. The primary surplus excludes interest payments on debt and is a key indicator of whether Turkey can pay down a massive domestic debt load. Unakitan told reporters that budget revenues for the first quarter totalled TL 27.6 quadrillion, while the target was TL 27.24 quadrillion. Unakitan declined to give any details on budgetary expenditures. /Milliyet/
 EU PLANS TO LIFT EMBARGO FROM TRNCThe European Union Commission is planning to lift the EU’s trade and commercial embargo on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), reports said yesterday. The Commission is expected to prepare a proposal for the lifting of the EU embargo on the TRNC and calling for EU member states to invest on the island. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, currently in Brussels for meetings of the European Convention, yesterday discussed this issue with both his Greek counterpart George Papandreou and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenther Verheugen. Gul and Papandreou reportedly reached an agreement on the issue. /Hurriyet/
 US TREASURY’S TAYLOR: “THERE ARE A GREAT MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR TURKEY IN IRAQ’S RECONSTRUCTION PROCESS”US Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs John Taylor said yesterday that there were a great many opportunities Turkey could avail itself of in Iraq’s reconstruction process. “I believe that Turkey can greatly help Iraq to establish stability and rebuild its infrastructure,” stated Taylor, adding that Turkey could play an important role in Iraq’s economy in the postwar period. /Cumhuriyet/
 US: “AT PRESENT, CRUSHING PKK_KADEK TERRORISM ISN’T OUR TOP PRIORITY”The Bush administration has reportedly conveyed to Ankara the message that fighting against the terrorist group PKK_KADEK in northern Iraq is not its top priority concern for the time being, as for now it needs to concentrate on the safety of its own forces in Iraq. However, Washington has assured Turkey that the US’ position in the face of PKK_KADEK remains unchanged and that it would not let any terrorist group gain a foothold in Iraq or attack any nearby country, especially Turkey. /Cumhuriyet/
 PAPANDREOU GIVES REPORT TO VERHEUGEN ON ALLEGED VIOLATION OF GREEK AIRSPACE BY TURKISH FIGHTER JETSGreek Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday presented a report to EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen on recent alleged violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets. The report claims that on Tuesday two Turkish fighter jets violated Greek airspace and engaged in dogfights with Greek aircraft participating in maneuvers between the Aegean islands of Limnos and Mitilini (Lesbos), off Turkey’s western coast. The report also alleges that over the last five months Turkish jets violated Greek airspace more than 1,500 times. In related news, the Turkish General Staff issued a statement denying Greece’s version of the incident. The statement said that Greek fighter jets had intercepted two Turkish F-16s patrolling over the Aegean outside the NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) zone and that the Turkish planes had reacted “rapidly and efficiently” to the Greek aircraft. /Hurriyet/
 VERHEUGEN: “BERLUSCONI WAS OVERLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT TURKEY’S EU ACCESSION DATE”Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s recent prediction that Turkey could join the European Union by 2007 is overly optimistic, not realistic, said EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen yesterday. Verheugen added, however, that the EU appreciated the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) encouraging steps on democratization and its political determination to carry out EU reforms. /Cumhuriyet/
 KYRGYZ PM TANAEV URGES TURKISH ECONOMIC INVESTMENTKyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolay Tanaev, currently in Turkey for a two-day visit, yesterday participated in a meeting of Turkish and Kyrgyz businessmen. Addressing the gathering, Tanaev praised the existing military and technical ties between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan. However, he added that economic and commercial relations were not satisfactory and so needed further development. “We have made reforms in our country to the law, bureaucracy, finance, and security,” said Tanaev. “Turkish companies can also make bids in Kyrgyz tenders. There are no obstacles to these companies, but they should have good international references.” /Turkiye/
 FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…
 LET’S NOT FORGET THE FACTS BY ISMET BERKAN (RADIKAL)Columnist Ismet Berkan writes on Turkey’s EU accession and the Cyprus issue. A summary of his column is as follows:
“‘Well now, Turkey should become a European Union member in 2007 together with Romania and Bulgaria,’ said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during a conversation with a few Turkish businessmen. Can we regard this as a promise from the EU, since Italy will take over Union’s term presidency in July? Of course we can’t! What Berlusconi said during an unofficial conversation might only be considered a heartfelt wish. That’s all. However, unfortunately our politicians seem to take his statements very seriously!
Even our foreign minister recently said that Turkey’s aim was to fulfill the Copenhagen criteria this year and begin our membership negotiations in 2004. However, we all know that the EU Commission is due to make a decision on Turkey’s membership only in December 2004. So if our foreign minister was speaking seriously, that means Turkey will have to complete all necessary legal regulations, and eliminate all practical obstacles to implement these changes within very short order. Furthermore, Turkey will also have to find permanent solutions to its Aegean problems with Greece, including the Cyprus issue. The clock is ticking, especially for Cyprus. However, we’re still deceiving ourselves as if we’ve already won the game! But in truth, from now on, Turkey must exert even more efforts to break the deadlock on the island.
Let me put it this way: I believe that the Greek Cypriots will do their utmost to escape from the negotiations table. They’ve already reached a ‘final victory’ on their own terms. They will probably resist Turkey’s effort and try to maintain the status quo, which is why Turkey could seize this situation by demonstrating to the world that our government is striving for a solution even as the Greek side remains obstinate. Let’s not forget that Turkey needs to win international support on this issue.
In brief, the issue of EU membership is still very important to Turkey, which is why we should not fool ourselves with illusions. Let’s not forget that many steps remain ahead of us. We need to come round to the facts. That’s the only way we can win.”
NOTE TO OUR READERS: In observance of the May 19 Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day holiday, the Turkish Press review will not appear on Monday. Please join us again on Tuesday.
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