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Turkish Press Review, 04-03-10
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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
10.03.2004FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS
 TWO DIE IN ISTANBUL SUICIDE ATTACKTwo suicide bombers last night struck a Masonic lodge in Istanbul’s Kartal district, killing two, including one of the bombers, and wounding six more. Some 40 people were in the building at the time of attack. An investigation is underway. Late last year, four suicide attacks against two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank killed 62 people in Istanbul. /All Papers/
 TURKISH ENGINEER SLAIN IN AFGHANISTAN LAID TO RESTTolga Erdem (29), a Turkish engineer killed in Afghanistan last Friday by unidentified parties, was laid to rest yesterday in Ankara. Erdem had been working for a Turkish firm constructing a road from Kabul to Kandahar. /All Papers/
 ERDOGAN CONGRATULATES NEW GREEK PM KARAMANLISPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday telephoned Costas Karamanlis, the leader of Greece’s New Democracy Party, to convey his congratulations for the party’s win in Sunday’s general elections. Erdogan expressed his hope that the warming of Ankara-Athens relations seen under the ousted socialists would continue under Karamanlis’ leadership, saying, “I hope you will also take a positive stance to further develop relations between our countries.” For his part, Karamanlis reportedly pledged he would do his best to strengthen bilateral relations. /Turkiye/
 GUL: “IF THE TRNC ACCEPTS THE UN PLAN BUT THE GREEKS REJECT IT, WE EXPECT THE EMBARGO TO END”The United Nations yesterday officially accepted a Greek Cypriot proposal to hold simultaneous referendums on the island’s future on April 20. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday that if the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) accepts the United Nations Cyprus plan in the referendum, but the Greek Cypriots reject it, then Ankara could urge the UN to lift the economic embargo on the TRNC. /Aksam/
 EDUCATION MINISTER CELIK MEETS WITH HIS AUSTRIAN COUNTERPARTContinuing his contacts in Vienna yesterday, Education Minister Huseyin Celik met with Elisabeth Gehrer, Austria’s education, science and culture minister. Speaking to reporters, Celik said that the two ministers had comprehensively discussed issues in education, and had both agreed to remove negative statements in history textbooks concerning the two countries. /Turkiye/
 CYPRUS TALKS CONTINUETurkish and Greek Cypriot leaders are continuing their negotiations to find a settlement to the Cyprus issue. Following yesterday’s talks, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) leader Rauf Denktas told reporters that the Turkish side had presented a document to the Greeks concerning properties and biozonality. He added that simultaneous referendums had been set for April 20. “The citizens must take the realities of the situation into consideration and decide on the matter,” said Denktas. “For there will be no turning back from this decision.” /Turkiye/
 GERMANY’S ROTH: “TURKEY BELONGS TO THE EU”Turkey belongs to the European Union, said German Commissioner for Human Rights Claudia Roth yesterday. Speaking to reporters, Roth praised Ankara’s recent reforms, saying that it had taken important steps for its EU bid. She further expressed Berlin’s support for the bid, saying that if Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen criteria, then it could begin its EU accession talks. “The EU would benefit from a democratic Turkey,” she added. Roth also criticized a recent suggestion by Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats, that Turkey be given a “special partnership” instead of EU membership. Such a move would relegate Turkey to a second- class status, charged Roth. /Milliyet/
 US REITERATES COMMITMENT TO END PKK_KADEK THREATA statement issued yesterday by Joseph Pennington, spokesman for the US Embassy in Ankara, reiterated President George W. Bush’s commitment to end the threat of the terrorist PKK_KADEK in northern Iraq. “This should be done so that Iraq will no longer pose a threat to any of its neighbors,” said the statement. Washington reportedly shares the same view as Ankara on the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq and believes these forces will leave the area once the PKK threat has been ended. /Star/
 TOBB HEAD MEETS WITH IMF DELEGATION TO DISCUSS ECONOMYTurkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu yesterday received a visiting International Monetary Fund delegation led by IMF Turkey Desk Chief Riza Moghadam to discuss recent economic developments. The delegation is currently in Ankara for the seventh review of Turkey’s economic program. Speaking afterwards, Hisarciklioglu said that he had briefed Moghadam on his economic expectations for this year. Hisarciklioglu added that high input prices were damaging Turkey’s competitive edge. /Aksam/
 SABANCI: “IN SECURING A STABLE SECULAR MIDEAST, TURKEY’S ROLE WILL BE VITAL”Over the last two years Turkey has made great strides towards meeting the Copenhagen criteria, said Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) Chairman Omer Sabanci at an opening ceremony for TUSIAD’s new Paris bureau yesterday. “Turkey is ready for EU accession talks, and it knows these talks will take many years to reach a successful conclusion,” he added. “Turkey will also fulfill its duty to help reach a resolution [for Cyprus], and I hope our Greek colleagues, especially those on the island, will do the same.” Sabanci also stressed that preventing a “clash of civilizations” is in the interest of the entire international community. “Securing stability and a secular system in the Middle East is in everyone’s interest,” he said. “Nor can this be done without Turkey’s participation.” /Hurriyet/
 EASTERN_SOUTHEASTERN DAMS CLOSE TO OVERFLOWING, WARN OFFICIALSOfficials warned this week that the level of water in dams in eastern and southeastern Anatolia had recently risen sharply as a result of heavy rains and melting snow, and warned citizens that floodgates might have to be opened. As a precaution, some villages along the Euphrates River have been evacuated. /Turkiye/
 FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS
 TIMETABLE FOR TURKEY’S EU MEMBERSHIP TALKS BY GUNDUZ AKTAN (RADIKAL)Columnist Gunduz Aktan writes on Turkey’s EU membership bid. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Many top EU officials have recently visited Turkey, and all of them have lauded our government’s efforts on both the Cyprus issue and their Copenhagen criteria. However, none could assure us that the Union’s summit this December will produce a date for the beginning of our membership talks. The European Commission will make its final decision according to our fall progress report, all of them said, stressing that the implementation of reforms is crucial. The EU officials are staying tight- lipped on this issue.
On the other hand, hopes that the Annan plan will be altered in line with our demands – what we consider ‘sine qua non’ for a permanent settlement on Cyprus – seem rather dim. In other words, even if the Turkish Cypriots join the ranks of the Union together with the Greeks on May 1 after the Annan plan is accepted by both communities, our status will remain uncertain.
In truth, with the recent reform packages our country has effectively fulfilled the Copenhagen criteria. The EU officials are using implementation as a delaying tactic with Ankara since their views of our membership are unstable. Naturally the government must attach the highest importance to the reforms’ implementation. However, other candidate countries’ lagging performance in practice didn’t damage their membership prospects. Besides, the EU might uncover countless deficiencies in such a complex area. Reports show that serious shortcomings exist even in the member countries. Moreover, how could a country which put forth the greatest effort on this path possibly deceive the EU here? Turkey, just like the others, can complete the missing sections in practice during its 10-year membership process.
While what German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in Ankara was quite encouraging, recent statements from some other German politicians, such as opposition leader Angela Merkel, were very disappointing. Even EU Commission head Romano Prodi himself said that the pros and cons of our membership must be explained to the European community. Keeping in mind other proposals suggesting referendums on our membership, we see how ambiguous and complicated the current view in the old continent is.
In Germany, parties opposing our membership are likely to win in the 2006 elections. These people have prejudices against our country, backed up by an unspoken racism. If our country remains outside the EU, in the future these negative views might become even more dangerous. In France, the situation is quite different. The French extreme right not only opposes our membership but also France’s own, as well as the new EU Constitution. The French fear that if Turkey is supported, the extreme right might win more power in the upcoming European Parliament elections.
Under these circumstances, our government must adopt a more proactive policy and insistently demand a timetable for its own membership process. We should try to take advantage of our ever-growing importance in the Greater Middle East Initiative. Our internal political stability also hinges on how successful the current government performs on these issues.”
 SECULARISM AND DEMOCRACY BY TUFAN TURENC (HURRIYET)Columnist Tufan Turenc comments on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its concept of ‘conservative democracy.’ A summary of his column is as follows:
“I’ve long suspected that one day the views and opinions of our ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Europeans says we should tolerate, would create an obstacle in our relations with the continent. When I recently met a Christian Democratic German in Brussels, he ignorantly told me, ‘Turkey can’t be an EU member, because you close churches in your country. Christians can’t worship freely.’ I was shocked by this nonsense. I tried to tell him that there was no such thing, that all the way back to the Ottoman era Turkey has enjoyed an atmosphere of multi-religious tolerance. I asked him to come see this tolerance with his own eyes and experience it for himself, but I couldn’t convince him. Actually I’ve heard such views from Europeans several times.
When I recently read a statement of German Ambassador to Turkey Wolf Ruthard Born in the Vatan daily, I realized that my concerns were not misplaced. ‘Turkey is a completely different world for Europe,’ he said, ‘from its religion to the societal roles of its men and women, to its clothes and traditions. A harsh, intolerant Islamic understanding… this is what we are afraid of.’ This is how Europeans see what the AKP calls ‘conservative democrat,’ an extremely mistaken and artificial formulation. Added Born, ‘Turkey isn’t a secular democratic country. Its state structure is secular, but Muslim as well. People still lead their lives according to religious rules, as do politicians.’ Everybody favoring a ‘conservative democratic’ identity should read these views very carefully. The AKP’s mistaken obsessions, such as ‘Turkey playing the role of a moderate Islam regime’ would be valued more by the West, will prove a great obstacle for us. A modern, secular and democratic identity cannot be proven by delivering speeches in public squares and making promises to foreign statesmen behind closed doors. Our opponents only care about whether our actions fit our words. They take immediate note of any discrepancy. If Erdogan and his friends really want to raise Turkey to the ‘level of modern civilization,’ they should assimilate the principles and revolutions of our secular democratic republic.”
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