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Turkish Press Review, 04-03-24
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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 : email@example.com <caption> <_caption> Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
24.03.2004FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS
 GUL TRAVELS TO SWITZERLAND FOR FOUR-WAY CYPRUS SUMMITForeign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday left for a four-way Cyprus summit set to begin today in Lucerne, Switzerland. Before his departure from Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, Gul said, “The recent violence in Bosnia and Kosovo has raised Turkey’s concerns about Cyprus.” Stressing that Turkey had always approached the Cyprus issue with good will, Gul said that he expected the same from the Greek side. The minister stated that the Turkish delegation would do its best to reach a just and permanent settlement on the island. “However,” he added, “that doesn’t mean we’ll just accept any resolution whatever the cost. Because some very vital points remain for us.” He also expressed his hope that all issues would be resolved during the summit, and there would be no need for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to fill in the blanks of his plan. Ankara and Athens plus the Turkish and Greek Cypriot governments are attending the summit. /Turkiye/
 GUL, ERDOGAN SET TO ATTEND EU SUMMIT IN BRUSSELSPrior to proceeding this weekend to the current four-way Cyprus talks in Lucerne, Switzerland, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to attend the European Union’s spring summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will take a reverse route, proceeding from Lucerne to the EU meeting in Brussels. Erdogan and Gul are scheduled to meet EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen and EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, among other leaders. /Sabah/
 CHIEF OF STAFF OZKOK: “THE MIDEAST IS IN A TENSE SITUATION”In an apparent allusion to Monday’s assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok warned yesterday that “dangerous developments” had led the Mideast to a “tense situation.” The top general made the remarks after a Pakistan Day reception at that nation’s embassy. Also present at the reception were Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, as well as Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen Ilker Basbug, who took the opportunity to underline Ankara’s expectation of help from the US in its fight against PKK terrorists. /Cumhuriyet/
 BABACAN: “OUR INFLATION HAS FINALLY FALLEN TO SINGLE DIGITS, BUT IT’S STILL TOO HIGH”Though recently Turkey’s inflation fell to single-digits for the first time in 28 years, it remains too high when compared with some other countries, said State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan yesterday. “Inflation on the wholesale price index [WPI] is 9.14%, but the consumer price index [CPI] is still at 14.3%,” reported Babacan. “There’s still much to be done to bring this down further. Our anti-inflation drive will continue with undiminished resolve.” Babacan added that the government was implementing tight disciplinary fiscal policies. “Previous governments used to print Turkish liras to bring down high budget deficits, but we will never do this, ” he pledged. Also touching on last week’s first meeting of the Turkish Investment Consultative Council in Istanbul, Babacan said that the fruits of this meeting could be seen in a year. Aksam_
 STRAW: “TURKEY’S MEMBERSHIP WILL BE A KEY TEST FOR THE EU”The acid test of tackling terrorism will be the treatment of Turkey's efforts to join the EU, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said yesterday as he argued that more must be done to bridge the differences between Europe and the Muslim world. Straw, speaking in Copenhagen, called on European leaders to push ahead with letting Ankaraa into the EU. “If we believe, as I strongly do, that Europe’s strength lies not in a Judaeo- Christian club but in a diversity of traditions underpinned by common and universal values, then we must fulfill our engagements to Turkey,” he said. “We have recognized Turkey as a candidate for membership. Now we must be clear that Turkey will be treated as any other EU candidate, without fear or favor.” Straw was speaking ahead of the EU’s spring summit set to officially begin tomorrow, with Turkey in attendance as an candidate country. /Turkiye/
 WITH POLLS LOOMING, PARTY LEADER WOO VOTERSIn the countdown to the March 28 local elections this Sunday, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday stumped for voter support in Adiyaman, while main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal did the same in Balikesir. In addition, True Path Party (DTP) leader Mehmet Agar campaigned in Osmaniye, and Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Bulent Ecevit sought voter support in Antalya. /Star/
 CB HEAD: “NEXT YEAR WE HOPE TO BRING INFLATION BELOW 10% AND ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE GROWTH”Speaking at a meeting of the Kahramanmaras Chamber of Trade and Industry yesterday, Central Bank Governor Sureyya Serdengecti said that next year the CB aimed to bring down inflation even more, below 10%, as well as achieve sustainable growth. Serdengecti said that Ankara’s International Monetary Fund-supported economic program was a national program, adding that in 40 years, Turkey had implemented a score of IMF-supported programs, most of them successfully. Touching on plans to erase six zeros from the lira early next year, Serdengecti said that this project was a decade in the making. “When we reach single-digit inflation in 2005, we will begin to use our new lira,” added Serdengecti. /Aksam/
 FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS … FROM THE COLUMNS
 AFTER YASSIN
 BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI (STAR)Columnist Zeynep Gurcanli writes on Monday’s assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin by Israeli forces. A summary of her column is as follows:
“Nothing in the Mideast will stay the same after the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin by Israeli forces on the orders of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The political balances will shift not only in Israel and the Palestinian territories but also in Washington.
As a country which has been surrounded by ‘enemies’ since its very establishment, Israel, beyond any doubt, planned the deadly attack very carefully, going over every single detail with a fine-toothed comb. Sharon must have calculated all the possible domestic and foreign consequences. He is currently weathering intense criticism from his coalition partners. The ultra-rightist wing within the coalition had already been hammering him over his decision to withdraw Israeli forces from Gaza. However, Monday’s attack is quite likely to mute their criticism.
Sharon believes that sooner or later Hamas will fall apart in the wake of losing its spiritual leader, its vows of revenge notwithstanding, as Yassin had united its moderate and extremist factions. Sharon also showed the world that although Israeli forces will withdraw from Gaza, this is no signal he would ever allow the region to be dominated by the Palestinians. Sharon killed two birds with one stone by eliminating a terrorist leader and re-affirming his determination to fight terrorism with a single stroke.
We all know that Sharon has never been satisfied with the Middle East road map. After Yassin’s assassination, Hamas will prepare deadly new attacks to shed more Israeli blood, a development which will cause Sharon trouble in the short term. However, in the long term, the escalation of violence will give Sharon a better hand to escape from the road map he never believed in anyway.
In the US, after Condoleeza Rice’s statement saying that the US administration knew nothing about the Israeli operation, the White House elected to remain silent on the assassination. This silence could be interpreted as tacit approval. However, later State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the US was ‘deeply troubled’ by the attack. The incident will ‘escalate tension and harm the efforts to achieve peace,’ he added. Therefore, this development may deepen the divide between the stances of the two key US institutions.
The incident may also make a mark on US-EU relations. The EU reacted harshly to the Israeli attack. Its sharp disapproval shows that even while they try to jumpstart the Mideast peace process, Europe and Washington’s viewpoints are separated by a deep chasm.
What about Turkey? After Sharon’s victory in Israeli elections, the ‘strategic partnership’ between the two countries was replaced by a ‘cautious cooperation.’ However, the assassination of Yassin deepened anti- Israel feelings in Turkey, a stance which is fed by the idea of Muslim brotherhood. The harsh reaction voiced by the prime minister himself might be a harbinger of Ankara suspending relations with Israel. In sum, this incident is a true turning point for the Middle East.”
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