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Turkish Press Review, 03-12-31

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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>

31.12.03

Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning


CONTENTS

  • [01] ERDOGAN: “WE’LL WORK TO TACKLE UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE COMING YEAR”
  • [02] GUL TO PAY EARTHQUAKE CONDOLENCES VISIT TO IRAN
  • [03] CTP LEADER TALAT BEGINS BID TO FORM TRNC GOVERNMENT
  • [04] DP LEADER DENKTAS MEETS WITH GREEK CYPRIOT PARTY LEADERS
  • [05] FOREIGN MINISTRY CONTINUES WORK ON CYPRUS ISSUE
  • [06] INCOMING EU HEAD IRELAND EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR TURKEY’S MEMBERSHIP BID
  • [07] TUZMEN VOWS TO BOOST TURKISH-IRAQI TRADE
  • [08] EROGLU TO STAND FOR MAYOR OF ISTANBUL
  • [09] NEW MINIMUM WAGE SET AT TL 303 MILLION
  • [10] FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...
  • [11] EVALUATING 2003 BY CUNEYT ULSEVER (HURRIYET)
  • [12] DEMOCRACY AND THE NATION-STATE GUNDUZ AKTAN (RADIKAL)

  • [01] ERDOGAN: “WE’LL WORK TO TACKLE UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE COMING YEAR”

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that over the past year, Turkey’s economy had recovered and emerged from crisis, with dramatically falling inflation paving the way for single-digit inflation next year. Erdogan added, however, that the government needed to continue its tight monetary policy for some time, but not for much longer. Also speaking on corruption, the premier stated that next year the government would continue its fight against this menace. Next year the administration will work to tackle unemployment, he added, saying that it would try to boost growth and bring down unemployment by creating new jobs. /Milliyet/

    [02] GUL TO PAY EARTHQUAKE CONDOLENCES VISIT TO IRAN

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is set to travel to Tehran today to express Turkey’s condolences for Iran’s suffering in last week’s devastating earthquake, which took some 30,000 lives. During his visit, Gul will be accompanied by several government ministers. /Cumhuriyet/

    [03] CTP LEADER TALAT BEGINS BID TO FORM TRNC GOVERNMENT

    Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Republican Turkish Party (CTP) leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who on Monday was given a mandate by President Rauf Denktas to establish a new TRNC government, yesterday began contacts towards this end with meetings with the leaders of the Peace and Democracy Movement (BDH) and the National Unity Party (UBP), Mustafa Akinci and Dervis Eroglu respectively. Talat reportedly proposed to Eroglu the formation of a coalition government, and Eroglu replied that he would discuss the matter with other party officials. Talat is expected to meet today with Serdar Denktas, leader of the Democratic Party (DP). /Turkiye/

    [04] DP LEADER DENKTAS MEETS WITH GREEK CYPRIOT PARTY LEADERS

    Even while work to form a new government continues in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Democratic Party (DP) leader Serdar Denktas yesterday began a series of contacts with party leaders from neighboring Greek Cyprus. After meeting with Nikos Kleanthus, the deputy chairman of junior Greek Cypriot coalition partner the Democratic Party (DIKO), Denktas told reporters that both the Turkish and Greek Cypriots want a settlement, but not one imposed from outside. “A solution can only be reached by the two sides talking to each other and trying to overcome their differences, rather than through outside pressure,” said Denktas. He added that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Cyprus plan might form the basis for a settlement. /Turkiye/

    [05] FOREIGN MINISTRY CONTINUES WORK ON CYPRUS ISSUE

    A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said yesterday that work on the Cyprus issue was ongoing through contacts with all related institutions in Ankara. Underlining that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) hope to resume talks with the Greek side to find a just and lasting settlement on the island, the statement noted that after completion of the ministry’s work, its results would be presented to the political leadership and top officials for evaluation. The ministry also proposed a gathering in Ankara with the attendance of TRNC President Rauf Denktas and other officials for a final discussion of the matter. In related news, ministry officials yesterday briefed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on recent developments on Cyprus and its work on the issue. /Turkiye/

    [06] INCOMING EU HEAD IRELAND EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR TURKEY’S MEMBERSHIP BID

    The Irish Embassy in Ankara yesterday released a statement saying that it was determined to support Turkey’s European Union membership bid during its term presidency scheduled to begin tomorrow, Jan. 1. Ireland will be EU president for the next six months. /Cumhuriyet/

    [07] TUZMEN VOWS TO BOOST TURKISH-IRAQI TRADE

    We hope to boost trade between Turkey and Iraq as soon as possible, said State Minister Kursat Tuzmen yesterday after his meeting with Iraqi Transportation Minister Bahnam Ziya Bulus. Bulus also said that Turkish- Iraqi ties would improve in the postwar era. “The situation has changed. Now we can have free trade,” he added. Predicting that the transportation in Iraq would be more secure six months to one year from now, Bulus said that Turkish firms would be able to conduct trade in Iraq. /Turkiye/

    [08] EROGLU TO STAND FOR MAYOR OF ISTANBUL

    Veysel Eroglu, head of the State Waterworks Authority (DSI), yesterday stepped down to run for the post of Istanbul mayor in next spring’s local elections. Yesterday was the deadline for bureaucrats to resign from their posts in order to stand as candidates in the polls set for March. /Sabah/

    [09] NEW MINIMUM WAGE SET AT TL 303 MILLION

    The Minimum Wage Commission announced yesterday that next year’s minimum wage had been set at 303 million Turkish liras. Speaking after the commission’s meeting, Labor and Social Security Minister Murat Basesgioglu said that though this boost was the highest in five years, it still fell short of the ideal. “The government worked very hard with the commission to raise the wage considerably,” added Basesgioglu. /All papers/

    [10] FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS...

    [11] EVALUATING 2003 BY CUNEYT ULSEVER (HURRIYET)

    Columnist Cuneyt Ulsever evaluates the past year, particularly in terms of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). A summary of his column is as follows:

    “By now we’re used to the fact that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is one of the most important political actors in Turkey, and 2003 was no different. However, one of the year’s most important themes was the conflict between politics and the military, as military intervention in politics fell to a minimum. In this period, the TSK was careful not to come into conflict with civilian leaders. Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok made great contributions to this positive new development.

    However, there were also certain anti-democratic signals, just as in years past. Particularly in August, certain military commanders up for retirement resisted leaving their posts. It would be untrue to say that the TSK quit civilian politics completely after August. There are still certain commanders who think they have the right to warn civilians as if they were barking orders. However, I must admit that the presence of voices making difficult the ‘definition of the TSK’s duty’ fell sharply.

    In 2003, we entered an era in which fewer people than ever tried to play the ‘more-patriotic-than-thou’ card. The TSK made large efforts for this. I believe 2004 will usher in an age where everybody sticks to their own areas. This past year, marked by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was the beginning of an era in which such institutions as the media and the TSK begin a process of close self-examination.”

    [12] DEMOCRACY AND THE NATION-STATE GUNDUZ AKTAN (RADIKAL)

    Columnist Gunduz Aktan writes on the concept of the nation-state and Turkey’s development. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “Many newspaper columnists believe that the wide range of freedoms enjoyed by the West acted as a catalyst for its advanced development, which is why they also argue that the chief obstacle to Turkey’s further development is its habit of restricting freedom. This is an assumption which takes for granted that such freedoms led to high social welfare in the European Union countries.

    However, one can’t say definitively whether democracy and freedoms led to development or vice versa. In the Western world, economic and democratic development went hand-in-hand with long, bloody struggles. Freedoms which spurred economic development were adopted before political freedoms and then widened the political rights and freedoms of the bourgeoisie.

    The French Revolution created modern Western society. The concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘citizen’ were accepted after this radical transformation. Economic development was sustained on the basis of the nation-state, which created a national market protected by walls of customs. Rights and freedoms developed within the territories of the nation-state. For this reason, Jospin Lionel, France’s socialist former prime minister, says that democracy only exists in nation-states. In other words, without nationalism, democracy cannot survive.

    Countries which began developing later than the Western world are instructive in this context. Japan completed its modernization reforms as a nation-state prior to its transition to democracy. China and other far Eastern countries are still developing on the basis of the nation-state, albeit without full-fledged democracies. However, in Turkey our governments have failed to develop policies similar to these countries’, electing instead to pursue populist ones in order to protect their status quo. Unlike the far Eastern countries, there is no way for us to adopt a non- democratic mode of development. Ankara must find a democratic formula to develop our country. The key factor is, I believe, rationalist nationalism.

    Freedoms are good unless they go too far. Unfortunately some have split our country into ethnic and regional factions, and some have spread a damaging consumerist hedonism upon our citizenry and mentality. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be victims of the phobia of nationalism, forever shackled by past traumas. We must make way for progress, not degeneration.”

    NOTE: In honor of New Year’s Day, the Turkish Press Review will not appear tomorrow. Happy New Year, and please rejoin us on Friday, Jan. 2, 2004.


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