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					                             TURKISH PRESS
                            AND OTHER MEDIA


No. 61/09                                                     01-02.04.09
A. NEWS ITEMS
1. Talat is meeting with the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and the
UN Secretary-General
2. Babacan argued that the two community leaders should recourse to
arbitration in case they could not agree on the issues which they
discuss
3. Rehn said that Turkey could make progress in its EU negotiations
process if it backed UN efforts to reunite Cyprus
4. Gul’s statements to Euronews channel regarding Cyprus
5. Sua Saracoglu alleged that if Turkey opens its ports to Cyprus before
reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem a great blow will be dealt to
the Turkish Cypriot economy and to the possibility for a solution
6. The President of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce will
visit the occupied areas of the island between 13 and 30 April
7. YAGA will lease 68 donums of land in the area of occupied Kazivera
village
8. MPs from the AKP will visit the occupied areas of Cyprus next week
9. Avci met with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Cemil Cicek
10. Soyer said the proposal for turning the occupied areas of Cyprus
into a free trade zone is conflicting with the target of joining the EU
11. More immigrants arrived in the occupied Karpass area from Turkey
12. A new TV channel will start broadcasting in the occupied areas of
Cyprus
13. A three-party summit took place in Turkey with the participation of
Afghanistan and Pakistan. A common action plan has been announced
14. Turkey and Romania signed MoU on the ‘Operation Black Sea
Harmony’
15. Turkey’s economy grew 1.1 percent in 2008


B. COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
1. From the Turkish Press of 31 March 2009 and 1 April 2009
                                       2

A. NEWS ITEMS
1. Talat is meeting with the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and the
UN Secretary-General
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the
Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat is departing for Sweden today in
order to hold a meeting at 16.00 hours with the Swedish Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Carl Bildt. Tomorrow Mr Talat will visit France where he is expected to
meet in Paris with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon at 14.00 hours. Mr
Talat will also meet with the former prime minister of France, Michel Rocard.
Furthermore, he will brief French media on the Cyprus problem.


Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Ozdil Nami, Mr
Talat’s representative, told the illegal TAK news agency that the meeting
between the two community leaders planned for tomorrow within the
framework of the Cyprus talks is postponed for next week due to Mr Talat’s
visit to Sweden and France. He noted that the postponed meeting is expected
to take place next Friday.


Writing in her daily column in Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper
(02.04.09) Tumay Tugyan reports that the meeting of Mr Talat with Mr Bildt is
at least equally important with the meeting with Mr Ban Ki-moon. She notes
that the meeting is important because Sweden will undertake the EU term-
presidency in June and because of the European elections, which will be held
in the same month. She says that it would be a noteworthy step for the
Turkish Cypriots to be given the status of the observer in the European
Parliament.
(I/Ts.)


2. Babacan argued that the two community leaders should recourse to
arbitration in case they could not agree on the issues which they
discuss
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Babacan has said that the window of
opportunity offered by the negotiations between the two leaders in Cyprus
                                      3

should not be missed. In statements during a lunch he gave in Brussels to the
members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee between Turkey and the EU,
Mr Babacan noted that Turkey has been committed to support any
comprehensive solution agreed by the two sides within the framework of the
negotiations and approved by the two communities.


Mr Babacan argued that in case the two community leaders could not agree
on the issues, which they discuss, they should recourse to arbitration instead
of negotiating forever. He said that the arbitration during the Annan Plan,
which was accepted by the Turkish side and rejected by the Greek side, has
been approved by the then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.
(I/Ts.)


3. Rehn said that Turkey could make progress in its EU negotiations
process if it backed UN efforts to reunite Cyprus
Turkish daily Today’s Zaman newspaper (02.04.09) reports the following:
“Turkey needs to step up the reforms linked to its European Union
membership aspirations now that its local elections have been held, EU
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has stated. ‘The local elections have
consumed a lot of energy, as elections tend to do. Now that people have cast
their votes, it is time for Turkey to focus again on reforms’, Rehn told a
meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee held in Brussels on
Tuesday.


‘It is important to underline that the main fuel of the accession process
remains the reforms in Turkey. The pace of negotiations depends on the pace
and intensity of the reforms in your country’, he underlined, while mentioning
in particular the need to adopt new laws on the protection of workers. ‘These
reforms that enhance fundamental freedoms, reinforce the rule of law and
anchor democratic secularism are first and foremost in the interest of the
Turkish people’, he said.
                                         4

Turkey’s electorate has urged the ruling Justice and Development Party
(AKP) to stick strongly to its innovative and reformist identity via its choice in
Sunday’s local elections, and that is the core message for the AK Party, a
senior ruling party official said following the elections. Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan saw his ruling party’s share of the municipal vote reduced for
the first time in its seven-year rule to 39 percent, from 47 percent in the 2007
parliamentary elections.


The election results will have a positive impact on Turkey’s ongoing EU
membership process, Nihat Ergun, deputy chairman of the AK Party’s
parliamentary group, told Today’s Zaman on Monday.


‘Following the elections, we are entering a period of some three years without
elections and our prime minister has called on opposition parties for greater
cooperation to make the necessary reforms’, Egemen Bagis, Turkey's chief
negotiator with the EU, said at the meeting in Brussels.


‘We must use this period ... to get things moving better’, Bagis said.
Rehn also said Turkey could make progress in its negotiations to join the EU if
it backed UN efforts to reunite the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus,
where Ankara backs the northern part.


The commissioner, meanwhile, criticized Turkey on Tuesday for the way it
treats the press, citing a recent conflict between the Turkish government and
a major media conglomerate.


Dogan Yayin Holding, owned by Aydin Dogan, had to put up 45 percent of its
television station Kanal D and 92 percent of Star TV along with commercial
real estate in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district as collateral, worth nearly TL 915
million, for a TL 826 million fine levied against it by the Finance Ministry for tax
evasion last month, though this offer of collateral was rejected. The tax
evasion charges have been criticized by some in the EU as being unfair,
although the government vehemently denies having played a role in the
issuing of the fine.
                                        5

‘Unfortunately, certain recent developments bring me back to this topic again;
I am thinking this time of the freedom of the press, in particular the recent
procedure launched against the Dogan press group’, Rehn said.


He said his executive European Commission, which recommends how much
progress can be made in Turkey's EU entry talks, would monitor the case
carefully because ‘freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any open
society’.”


4. Gul’s statements to Euronews channel regarding Cyprus
Illegal Bayrak television (31.03.09) broadcast the following from occupied
Lefkosia:
“Turkish President Abdullah Gul has reiterated Turkey’s continued support to
a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, which he said is well-recognized and
acknowledged by the international community.


The Turkish President was speaking on Euronews, which is preparing to
broadcast news bulletins in Turkish later this year.


Speaking during the interview, Mr Gul stressed that a settlement will be found
to the Cyprus Problem by the two sides on the island, within the framework of
established UN parameters. ‘The existence of two separate entities in Cyprus
was already proved during the referenda on the Annan Plan in 2004’, Mr Gul
said.


Turkish President Gul also reminded of the fact that the UN sponsored
settlement plan had been approved by Turkish Cypriots, and rejected by
Greek Cypriots. ‘If this peace plan had been accepted, at the time of the
referendum of 2004… if the Greek Cypriots had not rejected the peace plan,
today Turkish forces stationed on the island would have withdrawn. Everyone
knows that, including the European Union. We are not against a solution’, he
added.
                                        6

Referring to Turkey’s EU accession process, he once again expressed the
view that the Cyprus issue should not be included as an obstacle in the way
towards Turkey’s membership.


Responding to a question on Turkey’s recognition of the Greek Cypriot
Administration as an EU member, Mr Gul said, although it is not a commonly
known fact, Turkey does not request visas from Greek Cypriots.


Responding to another question regarding the demographic structure of the
island, the Turkish President said that there were no illegal immigrants coming
from Turkey in Cyprus.”


5. Sua Saracoglu alleged that if Turkey opens its ports to Cyprus before
reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem a great blow will be dealt to
the Turkish Cypriot economy and to the possibility for a solution
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Sua
Saracoglu, chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, has
stated that if Turkey opens its ports to Cyprus before reaching a solution to
the Cyprus problem and before the Turkish Cypriot economy is included in the
Customs Union, a great blow will be dealt to the Turkish Cypriot economy and
to the possibility for a solution.


“Therefore we shall carry out any kind of struggle against this possibility”, said
Mr Saracoglu who met yesterday with Gerd Andres, member of the
Committee of Foreign Affairs of the German Federal Parliament, and
responsible of the Social Democrat Party’s (SPD) policies for Turkey and
Cyprus.


Mr Saracoglu alleged that the occupied northern part of Cyprus cannot use its
economic potential because of the “embargoes” and it is facing unfair
competition from the economy of the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus and
Turkey.
                                      7

In his statements, Mr Anders said they follow very closely the developments
regarding the Cyprus problem and added that they visited the island in order
to find out the latest developments. He said they support the efforts of the
Turkish Cypriots for a solution.
(I/Ts.)


6. The President of the Italian Chamber of Industry and Commerce will
visit the occupied areas of the island between 13 and 30 April
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the self-
styled ministry of economy and tourism signed yesterday an agreement with
Maestro DMC Tur Company for bringing 1200 tourists from Italy to the
occupied areas of Cyprus. According to the protocol, eight chartered flights
will be organized between 16 June and 14 July from Italy to the occupied
areas of Cyprus. In each flight, approximately 150 tourists will be carried to
the occupied areas. The flights will be organized twice a week.


Bora Ozgen, director of Maestro DMC Tur, said that if nothing goes wrong,
about 1500 persons will visit the occupied areas of Cyprus from the cities of
Bergamo and Berscia. He noted that the chairman of the Italian Chamber of
Industry and Commerce and a delegation of representatives from various
sectors will visit the occupied areas between 13 and 30 April and hold
meetings. The aim of these meetings, he added, will be to search for ways of
economic cooperation between the occupied areas of Cyprus and northern
Italy.
(I/Ts.)


7. YAGA will lease 68 donums of land in the area of occupied Kazivera
village
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.09) reports that the so-
called Investment Development Agency (YAGA) of the self-styled prime
ministry, has stated that it is accepting applications from investors who are
interested in investing in the tourism sector on a land of 68 donums (a land
measure of 1000 square meters) near the occupied village of Kazivera.
                                      8

Applications will be accepted until 5 June and the land will be leased for 49
years.
(I/Ts.)


8. MPs from the AKP will visit the occupied areas of Cyprus next week
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (02.04.09) reports that a
delegation of MPs from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are
expected to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus next week. According to the
paper, the Turkish MPs will hold various contacts during which the Cyprus
problem will be the main issue on the agenda.
(I/Ts.)


9. Avci met with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Cemil Cicek
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Turgay
Avci, self-styled minister of foreign affairs, attended the funeral of Mushin
Yazicioglu, leader of the Turkish Grand Unity Party (BBP), in Ankara. During
his visit to Turkey, Mr Avci met with Cemil Cicek, Turkish State Minister
responsible for Cyprus, and the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. No
statement was issued before or after the meetings.
(I/Ts.)


10. Soyer said the proposal for turning the occupied areas of Cyprus
into a free trade zone is conflicting with the target of joining the EU
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.09) reports that Ferdi Sabit
Soyer, self-styled prime minister and leader of the Republican Turkish Party
(CTP), has argued that the proposal made by the National Unity Party (UBP)
for turning the occupied areas of Cyprus into a free trade zone is conflicting
with the target of joining the EU. Addressing a meeting of his party the night
before yesterday in occupied Lefkosia, Mr Soyer said: “A great enthusiasm
exists in everybody everywhere in the country. The target of the Turkish
Cypriot people for unifying with the world exists in the basis of this
enthusiasm. Taking their place as equal people by the side of the EU and the
world also exists. …”.
(I/Ts.)
                                        9

11. More immigrants arrived in the occupied Karpass area from Turkey
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.09) reports that a group of 18
Palestinian and Iraqi illegal immigrants were found yesterday morning in the
occupied part of Cyprus. According to the paper, the immigrants have been
brought to the occupied areas of Cyprus from Turkey and were abandoned in
the Karpass peninsula. Nine of the immigrants are children, four men and five
women.
(I/Ts.)


12. A new TV channel will start broadcasting in the occupied areas of
Cyprus
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (02.04.09) reports that a new
television channel, Kibrisli TV, will soon start broadcasting from channel 47
(UHF band). The paper notes that Akdeniz TV is also broadcasting from the
same frequency. Due to the fact that Kibrisli TV was not able to find a
frequency, it decided to share the broadcasting time on channel 47 with
Akdeniz TV. Therefore, Kibrisli TV and Akdeniz TV will be broadcasting from
12 hours each from the same frequency.
(I/Ts.)


13. A three-party summit took place in Turkey with the participation of
Afghanistan and Pakistan. A common action plan has been announced
Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (02.04.09) in its inside pages reports that a
three-party summit with the participation of Afghanistan and Pakistan took
place at the Presidential Palace in Turkey. According to the paper,
Afghanistan and Pakistan leaders, participate in the summit hosted by the
Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara, just before President Obama´s visit
to Turkey, and writes that for the first time they created a common action plan
in the fields of politics, intelligence and military. The President of Afghanistan,
Mr. Hamid Karzai and the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zerdari
underlined that a positive atmosphere became visible in the area with the
election of Mr. Obama, and asked for a summit to take place in Turkey in
order to discuss the regional problems.
                                       10

In his statements, President Abdullah Gul said: “In the summit today, we
underlined the importance we attach to the cooperation and coordination
between our military and intelligence organizations on security issues at a
regional level”.


Moreover, Karzai and Zerdari, asked from President Abdullah Gul to host a
summit, which Afghanistan’s neighbours will also participate. In the summit,
which is tentatively scheduled to be held this year, together with Karzai and
Zerdari, the leaders of Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan will be
invited also. The “Ankara Action Plan” which was accepted at the summit
provides for:
1. The presidents of the three countries will meet once a year.
2. The ministers of Foreign Affairs, the armed forces and the intelligence
services of the three countries will meet once a year.
3. The three countries will establish a Joint Working Committee.
4. The countries will increase their economic cooperation.
(A.K.)


14. Turkey and Romania signed MoU on the ‘Operation Black Sea
Harmony’
Ankara Anatolia news agency (31.03.09) reported the following from Istanbul:
“A memorandum of understanding on Romania's participation in the
Operation Black Sea Harmony was signed in Istanbul on Tuesday.


Speaking at the signing ceremony, head of Turkish Naval Forces Gen. Metin
Atac said that Romanian Naval Forces' participation in the operation indicated
the importance Turkey and Romania attached to global peace and security.


Noting that Black Sea was an important energy corridor, Atac said
approximately 300 ships travelled in the Black Sea region everyday and
nearly half of them used the straits in Turkey.
                                         11

Atac said that there were currently several risks in the Black Sea region and
such risks could potentially turn into threats if they were not taken under
control.


Pointing to the importance of Operation Black Sea Harmony, Atac said that
the efficiency of the operation would definitely increase with Romania's
contribution.


Delivering a speech at the ceremony, the head of Romanian Naval Forces
Gen. Dorin Danila said his country was ready to fulfil its responsibilities for the
improvement of security in the region.


Danila also said that the cooperation launched between Turkey and Romania
within the framework of Operation Black Sea Harmony would contribute to the
improvement of the two countries' regional rights and benefits.”


15. Turkey’s economy grew 1.1 percent in 2008
Ankara Anatolia news agency (31.03.09) reported the following from Ankara:
“Turkey’s economy grew 1.1 percent in 2008.


Turkish Board of Statistics (TUIK) stated on Tuesday that the economy shrank
6.2 percent in the last quarter of 2008.


Turkey’s gross domestic product (GSYH) in current prices increased 5.7
percent to 232.1 billion Turkish liras in the last quarter of 2008 when
compared with the same period of 2007. GSYH in fixed-prices dropped 6.2
percent to 24.4 billion Turkish liras in the last quarter of 2008.


GSYH per capita was 13,367 Turkish liras (10,436 USD) in current prices in
2008. Growth target for 2008 was set as four percent.”
                                        12

B. COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
1. From the Turkish Press of 31 March and 1 April 2009
Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries selected items
from the Turkish press on 31 March and 1 April:
a) Local Elections:
In his article entitled "Military influence on elections," Milliyet columnist Fikret
Bila (01.04.09) asserts that contrary to the strategy pursued prior to the
general elections in 2007, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) preferred to
remain silent during the local election process. He says: "Chief of the General
Staff Gen Ilker Basbug has established an intense dialogue with the media
since he took over. The topics of the dialogue were limited to security and
fight against terrorism. He tried to avoid intervening in political matters."
According to Bila, the outcome of the local elections showed that the people
are capable of establishing political balances by using the dynamics of
democracy and that there is no need for external interference. He concludes
by noting that "the silence of the TSK shows that it learned a lesson from the
22 July elections."


An unattributed editorial in Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.09) welcomes the steps
taken by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on certain issues
concerning the EU, the Kurdish and Alevi communities, Armenia, and the
Caucasus and urges the government to avoid backpedalling on those policies.
Recalling the AKP's election slogan "think big," it says: "The post-electoral
contemplation in which the AKP is now engaged should not yield to the
temptation to, 'think small.' On the Kurdish issue as with others, we support
the AKP's effort to 'think big.'"


An article by Burak Bekdil of Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.09) says: "The will of
the nation tells us that 61 percent of Turks are discontented with Recep
Tayyip Erdogan's governance. Is that good news for the main opposition?
Well, not exactly. The will of the nation also tells us that 77 percent of the
Turks do not think the Republican People's Party (CHP) could be a
reasonable alternative."
                                       13

Writing in Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.09), Cuneyt Ulsever says in his article
that the Felicity Party (SP) increased its votes from 812,000 in the general
elections in 2007 to 2 million in 29 March local polls. Noting that the SP has
gained momentum with the election of Numan Kurtulmus as party leader, he
argues that the party has "become a new ray of hope for the said
conservatives." The columnist says: "If the economy professor Kurtulmus
criticizes the economic situation as the way the former President Suleyman
Demirel did in a common language of the ordinary and chases after corruption
claims in the way the CHP's Kemal Kilicdaroglu did, he will be able to
seriously knock around the AKP. I will curiously follow the Saadet and its
leader in the new term."


In his column entitled "Three regional parties," Hurriyet columnist Mehmet
Yilmaz (01.04.09) asserts that the election results showed that the Democratic
Society Party, (DTP), is not the only regional party in Turkey. Recalling that
the CHP and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) also managed to win the
elections only in specific regions, he urges the two parties to develop "projects
that will help them become a hope for the people living in eastern and south-
eastern Turkey." He goes on to note that "to ignore the problem in those
regions and to support the policies that proved to be useless do not mean that
the problem is solved." Meanwhile, he holds Erdogan responsible for the
decline in the AKP votes, saying that the prime minister has turned the
election rallies into a "battle field," underestimated the impact of the economic
crisis, and ignored the claims of corruption. Finally, commenting on the
messages Baykal conveyed after the elections, Yilmaz says that the
opposition CHP will be unable to overcome its popularity problem unless it
opens the "democracy channels" in the party and changes its administration,
including the leader.


An article by Ahmet Altan of Taraf (01.04.09) focuses on Deputy PM Cemil
Cicek's statement to Hurriyet on 31 March. Commenting on the DTP's election
victory in Igdir, Cicek said: "They [DTP] reached the Armenian border. The
AKP won the election only in Mardin in that region." Altan slams Cicek for
treating the citizens of Kurdish origin as an "enemy" and creating a rift
                                      14

between the Turks and the Kurds in Turkey. He ironically says that no need
for Ergenekon, military coups, or Constitutional Court's party closure cases,
adding, politicians like Cemil Cicek will be enough to dissolve the AKP. He
laments that instead of thinking about the reason behind the loss of support in
the Southeast, the deputy PM acts like a general talking about an enemy.


In an article entitled "voters get bored and the elected make mistakes" Yeni
Safak columnist Fehmi Koru (01.04.09) criticizes the way the results of the
local elections are being described as a "major defeat" for the ruling AKP by
certain commentators. He asserts that the election results have proven voter
loyalty to be strongest among AKP supporters and that if any other political
party were in power, popular support for it would have plummeted in Sunday's
elections, triggering calls for an early election. Koru also discusses the
reasons for the decrease in the AKP's votes before he proceeds to emphasize
the "need" for the AKP leadership to come to terms with the fact that all ruling
parties are certain to be voted out of power one day.


In an article entitled "Will the people's message go home?", Vakit columnist
Serdar Demirel (01.04.09) argues that the results of the 29 March elections
indicate a shift of support from the AKP to the Felicity Party (SP) adding that
the "synergy" that the SP has achieved under its new leader, Numan
Kurtulmus, could enable this party to increasingly become a challenge to the
AKP. He proceeds to claim that this situation should lead the AKP to
reconsider its political identity because the sort of "hollow democratic
conservatism" espoused by the AKP has started to prove weak against what
the SP stands for. He also warns that while political parties like the AKP which
lack a clear worldview could capitalize on their leaders' charisma to command
public support for some time, they can collapse very fast once they are
deprived of circumstantial advantages.


In an article entitled "AKP: A losing winner", Zaman columnist Ali Bulac
(01.04.09) analyzes the results of the local elections from the viewpoint of
what they indicate about the "paralysis" of the AKP's capacity to embrace the
entire country by using a style and language that appeals to all sections of
                                         15

society, an ability that Bulac claims the AKP displayed in 2007. He claims that
the AKP has long since dissociated itself from value-based politics, preferring
to denounce identity politics in such a way as to provoke the formation of
"identity ghettoes" instead of gathering different identities under a single
umbrella.


In an article entitled "A modest contribution to chaos", Milli Gazete columnist
Ibrahim Tenekeci (01.04.09) links the decline in popular support for the ruling
AKP to "inconsistencies" in the behaviour and public statements of the AKP
leadership exemplified variously by Prime Minister Erdogan's criticism of
former CHP leader Ismet Inonu's practices during the so-called single-party
era in Turkish politics and his tendency to "condone" references to the AKP by
some supporters as "the only party" in Turkey; his objections to provinces like
Diyarbakir, Eskisehir, and Izmir being described as the strongholds of certain
parties on the grounds that "you cannot take votes for granted in a
democracy" and his endorsement of AKP propaganda in the election run-up
which took the form of warnings that "every vote not cast for the AKP will work
to the CHP's advantage;" and his complaints about pro-Opposition news
media during his election campaign which conflicted with his choice of pro-
AKP correspondents as journalists to pose questions at his first news
conference following the elections.


In an article entitled "What happened to the AKP?", Yeni Safak columnist Ali
Bayramoglu (31.03.09) argues that while the economic crisis is a factor that
could help explain the "damage" that the ruling AKP sustained on 29 March,
the real cause of the decline in this party's popularity should be sought in what
has been its tendency since 2007 to deemphasize reforms and follow a "pro-
system, pro-state, and even occasionally authoritarian" line. He also cites the
AKP's "sterile emphasis on public services," its "complete rejection of identity
policies and the notion of identity," its adoption of a "militaristic" line after the
PKK's raid on an outpost in Daglica in August 2007, and its criticism of the
campaign of apology for the events of 1915 as being among the causes
behind the "erosion" of this party's public image.
                                     16

In an article entitled "Reading the election results in another way", Vakit
columnist Yavuz Bahadiroglu (31.03.09) draws the following conclusions from
the results of the local elections on 29 March: 1. "Only some five percent of
our people consist of PKK sympathizers." 2. The Government cannot win over
the people of the southeast through increased public services and "Kurdish
initiatives" including a Kurdish-language television. The people of the
southeast expect political initiatives. 3. The Government has not reaped any
benefits from its row with part of the news media. 4. "The economic crisis has
not missed Turkey narrowly," as Prime Minister Erdogan has maintained. 5.
The "ostentatious" behaviour of the AKP leadership excluding Prime Minister
Erdogan has estranged part of the people.


In a "news analysis" entitled "AKP takes steps to draw its road map", Zaman
writer Erdal Sen (31.03.09) asserts that a cabinet reshuffle is in the offing
following the decrease in the ruling AKP's share of the vote in the local
elections, adding that a mood of "nothing will be as before" has been created
within the AKP in response to the election results. Sen goes on to argue that
the AKP's "aggressive" line against the CHP and the Nationalist Action Party
(MHP) has backfired by causing voters supportive of opposition parties to
form a "front" against the AKP amid "ideological fears" about the AKP's
policies.


In an article entitled "Time for reforms", Today's Zaman columnist Lale
Sariibrahimoglu (31.03.09) argues that while representing a decline in the
AKP's popularity, the election results nevertheless mean that voters have
provided the AKP with "a mandate to make a fresh start, refocus on
constitutional reforms that have long been neglected, and focus on economic
recovery."


b) President Obama’s visit to Turkey:
In his article, Sabah columnist Erdal Safak (01.04.09) says that President
Obama's request to meet the representatives of the political parties in the
parliament is an "important development" for the DTP prior to the
announcement of the Constitutional Court's decision on the closure case
                                       17

against the party. Safak also says: "Obama's gesture will definitely strengthen
the hands of [DTP leader Ahmet] Turk and his colleagues in the debate
concerning the legitimacy of the DTP." Obama's gesture will also help the
DTP take a strong position at the Kurdish conference to be held in Arbil in
early May.


In an article in Radikal, Murat Yetkin (01.04.09) asserts that President Obama
is not interested in the Alliance of Civilizations meeting to be held in Istanbul
by Turkish and Spanish leaders. Contrary to the Bush Administration, Obama
does not see Turkey from the perspective of "moderate Islam," he says.
Recalling US Ambassador Jeffrey's former remarks, Yetkin says that the US
president is visiting Turkey just because he sees it as an "important country."


In an article entitled "CSIS issues bizarre report: Increased General Staff
influence in Turkey would not end Turkish-US Alliance", Zaman's Washington
correspondent Ali H. Aslan (01.04.09) comments on a CSIS report on Turkey
disclosed ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to Ankara. He claims
that the report, entitled "Turkey's Evolving Dynamics: Strategic Choices for
US-Turkey Relations," is characterized on the whole by a "constructive,
reasonable, and realistic approach" while including "confusing" sections
where it is maintained that an increase in the political influence of the Turkish
military would not mean the end of the Turkish-US alliance "because more
limited cooperation on common interests could probably be sustained."


Viewing Obama's visit to Europe and Turkey in an article in Sabah (31.03.09),
Erdal Safak says: "At the Strasbourg-Kehl summit, NATO's identity and
mission will be discussed, but more important than that, a decision will be
reached on the reinforcement troops to be sent to Afghanistan, which Obama
refers to as 'my war.' That issue is not only important but also quite
problematic for Turkey. During Obama's visit to Ankara, Turkish-US relations
will be redefined, and during his visit to Istanbul, new aspects will be added to
Turkey's mission as a bridge country in the Alliance of Civilizations."
                                       18

In an article in Taraf (31.03.09), Temel Iskit looks at the foreign policy issues
on Turkey's agenda. On the upcoming visit by the US President, Iskit writes
the following: "Obama is coming. There is no need to emphasize the
importance of this visit. Many issues will be discussed during the visit under
the general headline of 'reviving the strategic alliance.' What kind of a
momentum will the visit give to our policies? How will the United States'
cooperation be manifested in the solution of the Kurdish problem and the
neutralization of the PKK? Will the US support for our EU membership have a
meaning? Will the United States actively get involved in the search for a
solution in Cyprus? Will it be able to do anything to lift the isolation of the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus? In return, to what extent will US
expectations from Turkey be met in the former's withdrawal from Iraq, and in
the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan? What will Obama's
demands from Turkey be in connection with the Middle East?"


In an article in Cumhuriyet, columnist Ozgen Acar views the upcoming NATO
summit and says the following three questions are important for Turkey: Will
James Stavridis who is of Greek origin be nominated Supreme Allied
Commander?      Will the delegates veto the appointment of Danish Prime
Minister Rasmussen -- "who encourages terrorism and is anti-Islam" -- as
NATO secretary general? Will Turkey accept France's return to NATO after
France prevented Turkey's EU membership?


c) Turkey's Reaction to Rasmussen's NATO Bid:
A commentary by Sami Kohen of Milliyet (01.04.09) asserts that Turkey has
not yet clarified his position on Danish Prime Minister Ander Fogh
Rasmussen's bid to replace Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as secretary general of
NATO in July. Outlining the reasons behind Turkey's possible "veto" of
Rasmussen's NATO bid, Kohen says: "It is common knowledge that Turkey is
not very fond of the 56-year-old Danish leader. That is mainly because of
Rasmussen's failure to make a 'gesture of apology' following the 'cartoon
crisis' that created indignation in Turkey and the Muslim world when it
occurred in Denmark four years ago. Another reason is Denmark's failure to
give a satisfactory response to Turkey's initiatives to close down Roj TV for
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years. The last reason is Denmark's objection to Turkey's accession to the
EU." However, the columnist says, regardless of Prime Minister Erdogan's
negative stand on the matter, President Gul signalled in Brussels that Turkey
is not against Rasmussen's candidacy. Stressing that the "conflicting"
messages conveyed by the Turkish leaders confused the NATO circles,
Kohen says that Turkey is expected to clarify its position before the NATO
summit to be held on 3-4 April.




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