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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 01-11-14

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.218/01 14.11.01

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Rauf Denktas sends second letter to President Clerides calling for`face-to-face/ talks.
  • [02] The EU Progress Report on Turkey was released.
  • [03] EU Commission Statement expects positive attitude from Turkey on Cyprus and ESDP.
  • [04] Turkish Foreign Ministry reacts to EU Progress Report.
  • [05] Mesut Yilmaz comments on the EU Progress Report on Turkey.
  • [06] Devlet Bahceli/s reactions to the EU Progress Report on Turkey.
  • [B] COMMENTS AND EDITORIALS

  • [07] Columnist in CUMHURIYET urges Ankara to consent to the accession of Cyprus to the EU.
  • [08] It is high time Turkey took a decision on Cyprus.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Rauf Denktas Sends Second Letter to President Clerides calling for 'face-to-face' talks

    Ankara Anatolia (14.11.01) reported that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktas, wrote another letter to President Glafcos Clerides and reiterated his proposal to meet face to face.

    Denktas sent the letter by U.N. to Mr Clerides on Tuesday morning without any title just like the case in his first letter.

    Rauf Denktas said in the letter that he was worried about the developments in Cyprus and that a face to face meeting would be better and called Clerides to review the situation and take into consideration his call.

    Denktas sent a letter to Clerides last week and invited him to meet face to face. Clerides said, in the letter he sent to Denktas as a response, that if Denktas accepts to attend the Cyprus negotiations supervised by U.N., they could meet face to face in Nicosia.

    Rauf Denktas criticized Clerides` accepting the meeting on condition, noting that his letter didn't have any conditions, but Clerides had conditions in his letter.

    [02] The EU Progress Report on Turkey was released

    Ankara Anatolia (13.11.01) reports from Brussels that the European Union (EU) Commission handed out the annual progress reports of 13 candidate countries to the press on Tuesday.

    In the Progress Report for Turkey, the EU Commission defended that developments in the human rights in Turkey were not sufficient.

    The report said that constitutional reforms made by Turkish parliament paved the way for noticeable progress in the human rights. It said that scope of implementation of death sentence was narrowed, and changes were made in restrictions in fundamental rights and freedoms.

    The report said that the EU Commission would pay attention from now on to implementation of these reforms.

    Noting that the Turkish parliament had been maintaining its works within the framework of the reform process, the report said that Turkey would fulfil priorities of the accession partnership with the reform process.

    The report noted that despite all those developments, some restrictions still continued in fundamental freedoms in Turkey.

    Pointing out that Turkey had not been executing death sentence, and had lifted death sentence except for terrorism and war crimes, the EU Commission claimed that the exception of terrorism was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. Noting that war crimes could be an exception, the Commission proposed to Turkey to amend the relevant law to this end.

    Noting that reforms about economic, social and cultural rights had brought forth some positive factors, the Commission said that one of these factors was the parliament's shedding green light to the use of banned languages.

    The Commission defended that Turkey could not record any progress in cultural rights from which all Turkish citizens whatever their ethnic origins are, would benefit.

    Noting that some important reforms were approved by the parliament about prisons and that these reforms should be put into practice soon, the Commission claimed that harsh reactions to demonstrations held to protest conditions at prisons were distressing.

    The Commission said that death fasts should be prevented whatever the political motives of death-fasters were.

    Noting that reforms started about the judicial system, the Commission expressed its concerns about the independence of judiciary, authorities of the State Security Courts (DGMs) and of military courts, and respect to verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). - The Commission said that despite initiatives bringing transparency to the forefront, corruption remained a serious problem in Turkey.

    It welcomed Ankara's signing some agreements of the Council of Europe on fight against corruption.

    Underlining the importance of improving the economic conditions in South-eastern Anatolia region, removing regional differences and broadening economic, social and cultural opportunities of citizens, the Commission stressed that emergency rule had still been continuing in four provinces in South-eastern Anatolia region.

    Noting that the main factors of democratic system existed in Turkey, the Commission said that some problems like civil inspection in military affairs should be resolved in an influential way.

    The Commission added that Turkey should record more concrete progress in human rights.

    In the Progress Report for Turkey, the EU Commission defended that Turkey did not fulfil the political criteria of the EU, and gave the message that it would support Ankara's efforts to make reforms.

    Underlining the importance of developing political dialogue on the issues of human rights, the Cyprus question and solution of border disputes, the Commission stressed that these key problems should be given political priority.

    Noting that Ankara's attitude should turn into concrete actions in order to solve the Cyprus question, the Commission called on to return to the proximity talks process sponsored by the United Nations.

    In its report, the Commission underlined the importance of Turkey's active participation in the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

    Referring to the impacts of economic crises in Turkey, the Commission drew attention to obstacles and difficulties stemming from these crises.

    Recalling that Turkey had put into practice a new and pretentious economic program, the Commission said that Turkey had been expending efforts to remove deficiencies and risks of the national finance sector.

    Stressing that Turkey should prioritise the settlement of macroeconomic stability in the short term, the Commission underlined the importance of the fight against inflation, and called on Turkey to expend more efforts to create a sound ground for economic development.

    Noting that Turkey required comprehensive restructuring in agriculture and public sectors, the EU Commission requested Turkey to redetermine its budget priorities to create finance sources for education, health, social service and infrastructure.

    Referring to Turkey's adjustment process with the EU, the Commission said that Turkey had taken important steps within the framework of the Customs Union. The Commission expressed its concerns about state monopoly in alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

    Making detailed analyses in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, transportation, finance and statistics, the EU Commission claimed that Turkey was far away from adjusting itself with the EU criteria.

    Pointing out that Turkey had been leading towards a new era in its accession strategy, the EU Commission added that Brussels extended support to Turkey`s accelerating its political and economic reforms.

    [03] EU Commission Statement expects positive attitude from Turkey on Cyprus, ESDP

    Ankara Anatolia (13.11.01) reports that the Turkish Representation of the EU Commission has announced that Turkey should display a positive attitude with regard to resolving its differences of views on the Cyprus problem and the European Security and Defense Policy [ESDP].

    The representation's statement on the progress reports issued in connection with Turkey and the other candidate countries said that all member countries registered progress in implementing EU accession criteria, but greater efforts are needed to ensure the orderly implementation of the EU acquis.

    Noting that the candidates other than Turkey continue to comply with political criteria, the statement recalled that the Commission proposed to Turkey a new phase based on the principle of making preparations for EU accession requirements in a more detailed way. The Commission's proposal stipulates a more detailed treatment of the timetable that aims at achieving harmony between Turkish procedure and the EU acquis.

    The statement declared:

    "Turkey must display a positive attitude with regard to the efforts to solve the Cyprus problems and the details pertaining to the ESDP. Cyprus' accession to the EU as a whole on the basis of a solution that safeguards the mutual interests and concerns of the sides would serve as an inspiration for the whole of Europe as well as for the entire world."

    The statement also declared that if the constitutional amendments are to bring about concrete progress in the field of human rights, the necessary measures must be adopted. Referring to Turkey's economy, the statement noted: "Turkey has not been able to register much progress toward a functioning market economy. However, significant sections of its economy are already competing in the EU market within the framework of the Customs Union."

    [04] Turkish Foreign Ministry reacts to EU Progress Report

    Ankara Anatolia (13.11.01) reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared that the progress report on Turkey prepared by the EU [European Union] Commission is worded more carefully in comparison with the one last year, but that the shortcomings observed have also been listed one by one with the same careful tone.

    A written statement issued by the Foreign Ministry stated that certain shortcomings cited in the Progress Report would gradually be remedied. The statement continued as follows:

    "The strategy set forth by our country with the goal of accession to the EU is a dynamic process that is comprehensive, continuous, and developing. Our country set out the outlines of this process clearly in our National Program; they were set out in a way that conformed as well to the priorities contained in the Accession Partnership Document drawn up by the EU. In this regard, it is natural that certain shortcomings cited in the Progress Report will gradually be remedied. But the essential thing at this point is for the Union, during the process in question, to demonstrate without delay the will to reflect the concrete cooperation foreseen for Turkey in its Pre-Accession Strategy."

    The statement noted that, from the standpoint of engaging in more comprehensive work aimed at the future, the Progress Report, apart from certain controversial criticisms, was in general considered to be positive in terms of its essence, but stated as well that the report did not fully satisfy expectations.

    The statement also said that the EU, with certain concrete steps to be taken visa-a-vis Turkey during the 14-15 December 2001 Laeken Summit, could contribute greatly to the acceleration of the work that Turkey has already begun.

    Constitutional amendments

    The written statement issued by the Foreign Ministry noted that, in the Progress Report prepared with regard to Turkey, the observation that "The realization of the Constitutional amendments was an important step in terms of meeting the Copenhagen accession criteria" was a positive and constructive development.

    The statement pointed out that the expectations expressed in the report for the Constitutional amendments to be put into practice, and for the scope of these implementations to be further broadened, were in conformity with the current agenda of both the government and the TGNA [Turkish Grand National Assembly], and noted that the report also stated that certain deficiencies cited with regard to basic rights and freedoms would be eliminated with the implementation of all the elements in the National Plan.

    The statement also pointed out that certain isolated incidents should not obscure the noteworthy developments that have taken place in Turkey during the recent period.

    The Foreign Ministry statement, with regard to that portion of the Progress Report which drew attention to the lack of full conformity between the National Program and the Accession Partnership Document, stated that "It has already been announced that the National Program, which was drawn up for the first time in the context of our country's priorities, will be fundamentally reviewed, and that work will shortly begin on the second Program, which is anticipated to be released in March 2002."

    The statement, noting that the report cited a need for the development of administrative and judicial capacity in Turkey, said that work in this framework is already underway, and that the personnel reform effort is also aimed at this need.

    Cyprus

    Noting that, on the topic of Cyprus, Turkey continues to support efforts, within the framework of the UN [United Nations] Secretary-General's good will mission, aimed at reaching a comprehensive solution that will be both acceptable to both sides and appropriate to the realities on the island, the statement read as follows:

    "Turkey also greets with pleasure the constructive approach and contributions shown by the Turkish Cypriot side towards these ends. And in fact, `TRNC President/ Denktas recently called upon Southern Cyprus Greek Administration Leader Clerides to engage in talks, but this invitation was first rejected by Clerides, and later made dependent on preconditions.

    "The continuation of the illegal EU membership process of the Southern Cyprus Greek Administration without an acceptable solution acceptable to both sides on Cyprus will bring negative consequences with it. In this context, we expect the international community to make the proper diagnosis on the issue of Cyprus."

    Strategy document

    The Foreign Ministry's statement stated the following with regard to the lack of a recommendation to begin the screening process for Turkey in the Strategy document, which briefly evaluated all the candidates and provided suggestions aimed at the future:

    "This is the most negative aspect of the document. In the framework of sub-committee work which has been going on for more than a year, 16 meetings have been held, and the relevant legal documents have been studied. But there is a need for work that goes deeper.

    "The way to do this is to initiate a screening process, as has been done with all the other candidates.

    "For a number of EU members to make the screening process a political issue and equate it with accession negotiations is an unfortunate development. It cannot be denied that there is a close connection between the screening and the accession negotiations. Yet there is no requirement that all the political criteria sought in order to begin accession negotiations be fulfilled before initiating the screening process.

    "From the standpoint of Turkey's preparing in a more detailed fashion for EU membership, efforts will be made to interpret positively the Commission's suggestion of going more deeply on the topic of harmonization with the legal regime, despite its being insufficient and vague from this standpoint. In this context, it was considered positive that the Commission spoke of a new phase in the process of Turkey's accession to the EU. These topics will be taken up in detail in the coming Partnership Committee meeting."

    [05] Mesut Yilmaz comments on the EU Progress Report on Turkey

    Ankara Anatolia (13.11.01) reports that the State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, stating that the EU [European Union] Progress Report and Strategy Document was drawn up in a careful style, has said that "It is based as much as possible on objective data."

    Yilmaz, in a press conference he arranged following the presentation of the progress report, stated that the report and strategy document released today by the EU Commission is of a constructive nature. Yilmaz said that he evaluated them as "a constructive contribution to Turkish-EU relations."

    State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, pointing out that the progress report and strategy document prepared by the EU Commission contains criticisms of Turkey's shortcomings in the areas of human rights and democratization, said that "The majority of these criticisms are unfortunately accurate. We have to remedy these things as soon as possible."

    Yilmaz continued as follows:

    "The report does indeed give space to the important advances we have made recently, such as the improvement in human rights performance over the past year, in particular, and the limitation of the pre-trial detention period, which had occasioned so many claims of torture, to the European norm of four [days]. However, what is clear to see is the need for us to take a good many additional steps, both on the level of the laws and in terms of implementation."

    Pointing out that the report makes extensive note of the progress that Turkey has made recently, particularly in the context of the political criteria, Yilmaz said that "We see, however, that certain isolated incidents, which cast a shadow over the overall trend, are also noted with almost the same degree of stress."

    Yilmaz, stating that the government is closely monitoring these individual incidents and is taking the necessary measures, said that "We evaluate the criticisms directed towards our country as constructive contributions towards Turkey's progress in terms of EU membership."

    Saying that the report gives considerable space to the reforms and harmonization efforts in Turkey, Yilmaz spoke as follows:

    "The 34-article package of Constitutional amendments, which our Grand National Assembly realized with the participation of all the political parties, was pointed out as a significant advance, and the need was stressed for the necessary implementation laws to be passed without delay so that these amendments can be put into practice. Our government is of the same view on this."

    Noting that the report contained certain criticisms of Turkey's National Program (NP), Yilmaz said that the main rationale for these criticisms was that there are aspects of the NP and the Accession Partnership Agreement (APA) which do not completely conform to one another in terms of scope and the timetable for implementation.

    Pointing out that [the government] had designated the harmonization activities in the NP as being two-staged, Yilmaz said that there are still four months remaining for those items designated for implementation within a one-year period.

    Noting that yet another criticism cited in the report was that the financial dimension of the reforms in the NP, as well as the necessary institutional architecture for the application of established regulations, have not been given sufficient attention, Yilmaz continued as follows:

    "Although these criticisms are indeed accurate, they cannot be considered entirely justified. For when the Program was being drawn up, the 2001 budget was still in force, and the financial assistance to be provided by the EU hadn't yet been clarified. As for institutional structuring, we have in fact been awaiting more assistance from the EU."

    Stating that beginning the screening process would accelerate Turkey's harmonization activities vis-a-vis the EU, Yilmaz said that "It is for just this reason that we would like the screening process, which we envision as having not a political but rather a technical nature, to begin as soon as possible."

    Noting that the Progress Report and Strategy Document also mentioned the Cyprus issue and the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) issue, Yilmaz said the following:

    "On the topic of Cyprus, the expectation was expressed that Turkey contribute in concrete ways to the efforts of the UN [United Nations] Secretary-General to find a comprehensive solution. On ESDP, we were asked to be helpful in resolving, prior to the Laeken Summit, the issue of participation in the decision-making process for operations to be conducted under European leadership. The resolution of these problems cannot be expected to come from Turkey alone, however. On both of these issues, it is necessary that the EU also display an approach that will facilitate and encourage a solution."

    Yilmaz also said the following regarding the positive approach and careful style that are immediately notable in the reports:

    "This should not deceive us or lead us into complacency. There is a stark reality that these documents lay out. Turkey, despite having taken a number of important steps, especially with the Constitutional amendments, along the path to harmonization with the EU, still has not been able to completely meet the Copenhagen political criteria. As a result, the report is not yet such as to give a possibility for the opening of negotiations towards full membership. The scene portrayed in the Strategy Document of the other candidate countries is something that should give all of us something to think about."

    Noting that he expected decisions supportive of the process of Turkey's full accession to the EU to be taken at the Laeken Summit, to be held 14-15 December, Yilmaz said that "Such a development will give a great impetus to our preparatory work for EU membership, and will speed up our process of reform."

    Yilmaz, stating that a solution of the Cyprus issue will only be possible by means of steps on both sides, said that "I think that the EU itself will be able to play a facilitating, encouraging role that will aid in reaching a solution."

    Yilmaz, at the press conference held in conjunction with the EU commission's publication of the Progress Report and Strategy Document for Turkey for the year 2001, also responded to questions from journalists.

    In response to one question on the topic of Cyprus, Deputy Prime Minister Yilmaz stated that a rather cautious tone had been used in the progress report on the Cyprus issue, and said that "The EU is well aware of Turkey's sensitivity on the topic of Cyprus, which has been stressed once again at various levels in recent days. I believe that, in taking certain steps in the near future, they as well will take note of the sensitivity on this topic."

    In response to another question, Yilmaz, pointing out that the report was an objective one and justly noted the positive steps that Turkey has taken, spoke as follows:

    "The deficiencies have been expressed openly. These deficiencies are things that are known to us. But it is very important for Turkey, taking account of the speed which the EU expansion has now reached, to take without delay the steps that it has agreed to take. The portion devoted to Turkey in this Progress Report and Strategy Document, the first ones published following the Accession Partnership Agreement and National Program, makes it clear that if we continue to progress with this degree of resolution, but perhaps with a bit more speed, we will be able to attain the goal of EU membership."

    In response to a question from one journalist as to whether or not the government would be able to include in the new National Program a concrete promise to eliminate the death penalty, Yilmaz answered as follows:

    "Perhaps. We had envisioned the elimination of the death penalty in the medium term, but we made an important step on this topic in the short term with the Constitutional amendment. We limited the death penalty only to certain very specific crimes. Now, when the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) comes to the TGNA [Turkish Grand National Assembly], a compromise could be reached to move up our commitment on this even more in the National Program."

    In reply to a question as to whether or not there will be any delay in the calendar of Turkey's reaching its goal of full EU membership, Yilmaz spoke as follows:

    "There is no such danger, from two standpoints. First, we are in fact doing this with our own resources. And in these documents, as well, it is suggested that a more detailed effort be initiated. The screening process is a completely technical activity. At the moment, the important thing for Turkey is not the screening work, which aims at harmonization of law, but rather the fulfilment of the political and economic criteria. Consequently, we have to give our full priority to meeting these criteria. Efforts at legal harmonization are in fact already underway as well. When we fully meet the political criteria, the screening process will start automatically, and will be completed in a very short time. For the infrastructure will, with these efforts, largely have been completed by that time."

    Mesut Yilmaz also responded as follows to a question as to whether or not he had ongoing concerns regarding those circles in Turkey who do not want EU membership:

    "The public opinion surveys that have been carried out indicate that two-thirds of the Turkish public support the EU. Among those who do not support it, just as there are some who have justified concerns, there are also some who have certain fixed ideas. But the important thing is the work that needs to be done in order to reach the goal of EU membership. And actually, these are things that Turkey needs to do in any event in order to become a modern country, even if the EU were not on the agenda. My own humble suggestion to those who do not want EU membership is that they not come out against the steps that we take on the path to EU membership, that they not work to hinder them. For the place in the world order that is being established of a Turkey that does not take these steps will be in the boondocks, a backwards neighbourhood. The real issue is not just EU membership, but whether or not Turkey is going to take its rightful place in the contemporary world."

    In reply to another question, Yilmaz said that the EU continues to have certain expectations of Turkey on the topic of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), but that the EU is also aware of the expectations that Turkey has of it on this topic.

    Stating that he considered that this topic, because considerable progress had been made in talks between Turkey and the EU, was not played up overmuch in the report, Yilmaz said that "I am hopeful that, very soon, a joint solution will be found that will meet both our own justified expectations and the EU's own security and defense policy goals."

    [06] Devlet Bahceli/s reactions to the EU Progress Report on Turkey

    Ankara TRT 2 Television (13.11.01) broadcast that Devlet Bahceli, Deputy Prime Minister and Nationalist Action Party [MHP] leader, has declared that the MHP vehemently condemns and rejects the EU's insincere attitude, which is guided by ulterior motives. Bahceli said: Turkey will never accept the second class role and status accorded to it via these policies.

    Addressing his party's parliamentary group meeting, Bahceli said that the economic difficulties experienced by Turkey do not call for inaction in the face of hot developments. Turkey must pursue a more active foreign policy, he stressed. Bahceli remarked that the EU is pursuing a contradictory policy toward Turkey, and a fanatic one with regard to the Cyprus issue.

    Devlet Bahceli said: "The MHP vehemently condemns and rejects this insincere attitude on the part of the EU. We call on the EU to adopt a more open, sincere, and honest approach.

    In the same way, similar double standards and prejudiced stands are manifested in the efforts to formulate the European Security and Defense Identity. It must be known, however, that Turkey will not agree to the second class role and status accorded to it in these policies.

    Our country wants an equal and just status to be applied with regard to the decision making process, as is the case in the sharing of costs and risks. As it happens, this is a requirement of democracy and the spirit of mutual cooperation and solidarity, which constitute the essence of European values and the EU project".

    Bahceli also stated that Turkey is in favour of a lasting and just solution in Cyprus, adding that there is no question of its making concessions from its just cause. Bahceli also called on the EU to cease viewing the Cyprus problem through the glasses of the Greek Cypriots.


    [B] COMMENTS AND EDITORIALS

    [07] Columnist in CUMHURIYET urges Ankara to consent to the accession of Cyprus to the EU

    Istanbul CUMHURIYET (Ankara Edition) (11.11.01) publishes the following commentary by Aydin Engin under the title: "Rescuing Cyprus - Getting rid of Cyprus".

    "I am going to express the main judgement of this article right at the very beginning:

    Cyprus' full membership in the European Union is the only solution to rescue Cyprus and to rid Turkey of the Cyprus question. Furthermore, this is the only alternative available for breaking the deadlock in Cyprus.

    Let me elucidate. One day my teacher in the primary school told us to form a line and march on the streets chanting the slogan "Cyprus is Turkish and will remain Turkish."

    One day my teacher in the middle school told us to form a line and march on streets chanting the slogan "Either Division or Death."

    One day my teacher in the high school told us to form a line and march on streets chanting the slogan "Red priest Makarios and EOKA [National Organization of Cypriot Fighters] leader Grivas, dig yourselves a grave."

    I recall another event I witnessed when I was a university student. Some students from higher grades forced everybody to form a group and march on Bayazit Square (I sneaked away, but I watched them as a bystander out of curiosity.) They told everybody to memorize and chant the following slogan: "Cyprus is our soul and we are ready to sacrifice our blood for its sake."

    During the first months of my career as a journalist I covered a news conference held by Rauf Denktas, whose name I had memorized even before seeing his face.

    "We will never make concessions as a result of threats issued by Makarios, who is the chief supporter of the Enosis (unification of Cyprus with Greece) and has violated the principle of having two communities with equal rights," he said. I wrote a story about his press conference which was later published.

    While I was working as the editor in chief of a newspaper, our Ankara bureau dispatched a report which argued that "the coup staged by fascist Samson to oust the legitimate government in Cyprus constitutes an adequate reason for Turkey to exercise its rights as a guarantor." We published the report on the first page.

    In the summer of 1974 troops dispatched by the Turkish Armed Forces landed on the island. The fascist "junta of colonels" in Greece collapsed a couple of days later. We were delighted. The government in Cyprus, controlled by Samson, who was a supporter of Greek chauvinism and had usurped power as a result of a coup, was also overthrown, making us even more delighted.

    Later it was announced that "the Turkish Armed Forces would maintain its presence on the island until security of Turkish Cypriots and their property has been ensured completely."

    I begun to ponder. I was experienced enough to understand the real meaning of "ensuring security completely" in the diplomatic jargon.

    My conviction was vindicated by subsequent events. "Federation... No, a bi-communal confederation... Let us hold bilateral talks... No, we should meet through mediation of the United Nations...We should better discuss the confidence-building measures...No, these will not produce any result. Therefore we should leave the negotiating table...Alright, let us sit at the table...No, we should not sit at the table. We had better stand..."

    Enough is enough!

    I have spent my childhood, youth and adulthood and I am now spending my older age listening to continuously changing targets and policies aimed at finding a solution to the deadlock in Cyprus.

    We have had really enough of them. If a problem has remained unsolved for 45 years and it steadily becomes even more complicated, should not it be scrutinized right from the very beginning?

    Has Turkey ever said it will annex Cyprus?

    No.

    Does Turkey suspect that Greece will eventually try to find a way to annex Cyprus?

    Yes.

    Does Turkey believe that it would be confronted by a major military threat if Cyprus is annexed by Greece?

    Yes.

    Does Turkey consider that it is responsible for ensuring security of the Turkish Cypriots?

    Yes.

    Does Turkey advocate the view that the Turkish Cypriots should become citizens of the island with equal rights rather than being treated as second-class citizens?

    Yes.

    The question is what would happen if Cyprus (please pay attention to the fact that I am referring not to the Greek Cypriot side, but the Cyprus island which was once an independent country subsequently plunged into a deadlock) becomes a full member in the EU and this membership embraces the whole island including the north?

    Let me analyze the possibilities one by one:

    Could Greece, also a EU member, attempt to annex Cyprus which would then be another EU-member country?

    Could Greek Cypriot nationalists in Cyprus pursue an assimilation policy towards the Turkish Cypriots, which would then be EU citizens enjoying equal rights with the Greek Cypriots? Could they pose a threat to their security or prevent them from exercising their citizenship rights without facing any restriction?

    Could EU-member Cyprus pose a military and political threat to Turkey from the south?

    Would not the long-standing hostilities between the two communities in the island be resolved by uniting them under a superior political umbrella?

    Would not Turkey's concerns for the safety of the Turkish Cypriots be considerably dispelled in a Cypriot Republic admitted by the EU as a full member?

    Would not then a solution, which would be acceptable to all the parties involved, be found to -probably- the longest political dispute in the world?

    Would not Turkey thus get rid of Cyprus question, which has been transformed from a national issue into a diplomatic and especially an economic burden? In other words, would not both Cyprus and Turkey get rid of this problem if Cyprus joined the EU?

    I am sure some people will advocate views contrary to the opinions expressed in this article.

    Yet, those advocating opposing views are under an obligation to prove their arguments.

    [08] It is high time Turkey took a decision on Cyprus

    Mehmet Ali Birand writing in his regular column "OPINION" of Turkish Daily News (14.11.01) says the following:

    "From the strategic standpoint will Turkey never give up Northern Cyprus at any cost? Or, taking into consideration the changing conditions in the world, will Turkey flash the green light for the splitting of the island between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots after obtaining all kinds of guarantees for the Turkish Cypriot community? If we act without giving answers to these basic problems we will waste time and we will pay an unduly high price We are unduly preoccupied with such issues as to who wants a solution to the Cyprus problem, who wants a continued lack of position, who is in the right, who is in the wrong and what kind of intentions do the United Nations and the European Union harbour. We are wasting time.

    The problem gets tangled in Ankara. It is high time Ankara took a definite decision. As long as it fails to reach a decision -- otherwise completely unnecessary -- prices will have to be paid. The decision to be reached pertains to the crux of the matter. What does Turkey want to do in Cyprus?

    There are two options:

    1) Sitting on it: to protect the people of Turkish origin on the island.

    At the base of the Turkish intervention lay strategic interests. Greece had kept intervening in Cyprus, striving to achieve Enosis, that is, the annexation of the island to Greece. After the Dodecanese and Crete, it seemed totally unacceptable from Turkey's standpoint that Cyprus too should fall under Greece's control.

    Greece was already in the Aegean; and its "extending into the Mediterranean" as well and becoming entrenched in Cyprus, an island situated in an area considered to be Turkey's soft underbelly, was a development which absolutely had to be prevented with military and strategic considerations.

    Turkey and Greece had entered into a climate of constant crisis. The Aegean was almost like a battle zone. And Cyprus was almost like a hostage, a hostage who could be suffocated by Turkey if Greece pulled a fait accompli in the Aegean.

    These were the Cold War years. And Makarios, the leader at the head of the island, was playing the Third World card. He was flirting with the Soviets. This situation was highly upsetting America. In the 1960s and 1970s Turkey fed the Turkish Cypriot population on the island, armed them to the extent that they would be able to defend themselves and made efforts to ensure that they would be able to maintain the Turkish presence and to resist.

    It wanted these mujahids "to die for Turkism should that be necessary."

    All these strategic considerations converged. And, when Greece made a big error in 1974, Turkey landed on the island thanks to the junta of the colonels in Athens. Turkey attained its strategic goal because of the Greek mistake. Turkey gave to the Turkish Cypriots the northern part of the island, that is, the strategically most vital part. It has secured both itself and the maritime lines in such a way that these would not fall into other hands ever.

    Nearly three decades have passed since then. The Soviet Union has disintegrated and the Cold War is over.

    The tension in relations with Greece are over. For the first time winds of peace began to blow in the Aegean. In such a climate, Athens made significant cuts in its defence budget. And the EU abandoned its old approach of keeping Turkey out. It changed its policy. Turkey's EU membership process began. Greece has not only become a full member of the EU itself but also it has secured a full membership guarantee for Cyprus as well. And that left no country or climate for "suffocation." The EU membership of Greece and Cyprus has caused all plans to change.

    Under the circumstances, now we have to give answers to the following questions:

    Is Cyprus still indispensably, vitally important from the strategic standpoint as it was in the past despite all the aforementioned factors that have changed? If it is still extremely important, why exactly?

    Or have the changing world conditions, the increased military capabilities, changed Cyprus's position strategically compared to the past? If a change has taken place, what kind of change is this?

    If the answer to be given to these questions is, "No, nothing has changed; and Cyprus remains vitally, indispensably important," then this means that Turkey will sit on Northern Cyprus and refuse to accept any formula at the risk of completely severing its ties with the West.

    2) Splitting it with Greek Cypriots:

    The second option amounts to determining a new approach in the face of the changing world conditions.

    Turkey may make an assessment in the following vein: "Cyprus is still important for Turkey but cannot be considered to be as 'vitally important and indispensable' as in the past."

    In that case one has to agree to split up Cyprus with the Greek Cypriots after securing all the necessary guarantees in the framework of a solution that would give the Turkish Cypriot community a sizable enough region, enable them to deal with their own affairs, rid them of the embargo -- a solution under which the guarantee provided by the Turkish troops would continue for quite a long time, a solution under which they would not be swallowed up or bought out by the Greek Cypriots.

    3) Let us choose one of the two options and be done with it:

    The first option entails a very high price for Turkey. And the way to make the public accept that bill is not to make patriotic statements or to use heroic slogans but to put forth substantial and plausible data.

    Unless proven otherwise, the second option seems to be much more in line with Turkey's long-term basic interests.

    Whatever is to happen, which one is going to be chosen, must now be revealed. Ankara must make up its mind.

    And this decision must be told with priority to the Turkish Cypriot administrators, especially to Denktas. No games should be played with them. Policies -- as the currently-conducted type -- that seem to be in favour of a solution while giving the -- wrong or otherwise -- impression that no effort is being spared to make a solution more difficult, achieve nothing other than wearing out our country. And if we are going to "sit" on Cyprus, let us prepare both the Turkish and the international public more wisely. Let us know about the price to be paid and let us act accordingly".

    KV/SK


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