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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 03-04-24

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.77/03 24.04.03

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Serdar Denktas says that the Turkish policy has not changed because of the limited free movement.
  • [02] Erdogan to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus.
  • [03] Headscarf crisis in Turkey during children's day celebrations.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [04] Columnist in AKSAM newspaper assesses the future of Turkish-US relations.
  • [05] AFRIKA assesses the reasons why the occupation regime permitted the limited freedom of movement.
  • [06] Mehmet Ali Birand: "Is this the time to trigger such a crisis?".

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Serdar Denktas says that the Turkish policy has not changed because of the limited free movement

    Ankara Anatolia (23.04.03) reports that the puppet regime's so-called "deputy prime minister and state minister for tourism," Serdar Denktas said on Wednesday that passage to the free areas was below his expectations while entrance in the occupied areas was above his expectations.

    Denktas told A.A correspondent that there was not a heap of people at the barricade on the first day when the occupation regime allowed the limited freedom of movement.

    ``This course is good. It is curiosity. It is a place where they see from a far distance, the lights of which they see, which they watch from the television but where they can`t go. This intensity will occur in first days. But, I guess there will be fewer people at the border gate 15-20 days later and a normal process will start. It is an extraordinary situation right now,`` Denktas said.

    Denktas noted that more Greek Cypriots would cross over into the occupied areas in coming days.

    The Greek Cypriots would go to Rizokarpasso and Kormakitis the following weekend upon the Easter, Denktas pointed out. He said that they had to be prepared for that.

    When he was reminded about the views that ``some were worried that there could be a provocation since the Greek Cypriots who crossed over to the occupied areas could want to see their homes,`` Denktas said: ``I said this on the Greek Cypriot television. I can consider their visit natural. But if they are to do this, they should do it through a Turkish Cypriot they know. They should not embark on an adventure because people living in that house consider himself/herself the owner of that house and it is so. Therefore, I can`t know what their reaction will be. I really want them to see their former places because if their longing is not erased from their minds and if they don`t see that the house they remember is not the same house, and the neighborhood and village have changed, this problem will continue. But, if they see it, I think we can be more relieved.``

    Furthermore, according to KIBRISLI (24.04.03) Mr Serdar Denktas said also that the Turkish side did not abandon its political positions on the Cyprus problem, despite the decision for limited freedom of movement between the occupied and the free areas of Cyprus.

    [02] Erdogan to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (23.04.03) reported from Ankara that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan said on Wednesday that he thought of visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus in May.

    When Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc asked Erdogan whether he planned any visit abroad, Erdogan said he thought of visiting the occupied areas of Cyprus in May, and that he would visit Japan in September. Erdogan said he also plans to visit Malaysia and Pakistan.

    Speaking about the participation in the reception hosted for April 23 Sovereignty and Children`s Day, Erdogan said: ``Whoever wants may come or not. Our nation covers and evaluates this.``

    [03] Headscarf crisis in Turkey during children's day celebrations

    Turkish Daily News (24.04.03) reports that the Children's day celebrations were shadowed by the tension that has emerged between Parliament Speaker and the state administration due to reception controversy. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, high ranking generals of the Turkish Armed Forces and main opposition Republican People's Party (RPP) leader Deniz Baykal decided on Wednesday not to participate in the reception organized by Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and his headscarved spouse Munevver Arinc.

    April 23 is the anniversary of the foundation of the Parliament and has been celebrated as National Sovereignty and Children's Day all over the country for 83 years.

    It is a tradition for the Parliament Speaker to hold receptions on April 23 but this year's celebrations were marred by the headscarf controversy.

    According to the dress code, women are not allowed to wear headscarves in state offices as well as universities. Strict secular circles view the headscarf as the symbol of political Islam while those who wear headscarves claim this ban is a violation of their rights and against freedom of religion.

    Wives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) ministers and prominent names wear headscarves causing an headscarf crisis at the top of the state.

    Although JDP was founded by the former members of the defunct Virtue Party (FP) that was banned by the Constitutional Court on charges of becoming the center of Islamist movements, it repeats that it is a conservative democratic party not based on religion.

    New tension emerged only a week after Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok noted that there are harmonious relations between the government and the military and cited this relation as a "poem" when Parliament Speaker Arinc announced that his spouse wearing a headscarf will host the Children's Day reception.

    After that Baykal said that JDP had entered into a path that may draw the country into a period that challenges the regime and added that he and his spouse won't participate in the reception to protest Arinc.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the Parliament Speaker in order to convince him not to bring his spouse to the reception. After that he also called the President, Baykal and Ozkok in an effort to relieve the tension.

    As a result, Arinc told reporters that his wife had decided not to participate in the reception.

    "No one can profit from this tension," Arinc said.

    Meanwhile, Erdogan announced that his spouse won't participate in the reception. Emine Erdogan also wears a headscarf.

    The new crisis came in the midst of the "National View" crisis at the top of the state.

    Turkish Daily News (23.04.03) reported that the JDP government recently sent a circular to all Turkish Embassies abroad demanding from them to support Turkish foundations in the country they are accredited.

    The Islamic "National View", to which most of the members of the banned pro-Islamic Welfare Party are affiliated, and the New Fethullah Gulen, were among the foundations the circular implicity said should be supported.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [04] Columnist in AKSAM newspaper assesses the future of Turkish-US relations

    Istanbul AKSAM newspaper (23.04.03) publishes the following commentary by Tuncay Ozkan under the title: "The other side of the coin: What does the United States say?":

    How does the US administration evaluate the problems it experienced with Turkey during the Iraqi War? I wanted to share with you some points I determined on this subject after talking with some influential people in the United States and the people close to them, because these contain details, which are very important in the subsequent road map for Turkey.

    First of all, the Americans are stating that they find it difficult to understand this point reached between Turkey and the United States on the subject of Iraq. For them, what was experienced has been a surprise. Now, I would like to convey as they are the notes I took during my conversations so that Turkey could learn the real thoughts, because we should not make mistakes on this subject.

    Here are what the Americans conveyed and some of my notes:

    "The policies followed by Turkey, which was one of our most important strategic allies for years, have harmed its own interests in the end. They harmed the United States. Both sides made serious mistakes in the negotiations on the subject of Iraq. Our most important mistake as the United States has been to trust the advisers close to Tayyip Erdogan. The unofficial contacts with these advisers had been carried out by the hawk team and they are also responsible for the point reached. At the point reached now, President Bush does not even want to hear the names of Tayyip Erdogan and President Sezer. Mr Erdogan was invited to Washington, D.C., although he was not yet the Prime Minister, and he was shown respect. Iraq was the only reason for it. Later on, his telephone conversations with President Bush were also important opportunities, but he wasted them all. Mr Erdogan did not behave sincerely. President Sezer only considered the issue from the aspect of 'international legality' and he overlooked the facts of real politics. On the subject of Cyprus, we would like to know how President Sezer interprets the UN resolutions defining Turkey as the occupying force. Furthermore, on which international legality would you have based your plans for sending the Turkish Army to northern Iraq? Turkey will continue to be the ally of the United States. But it will take a long time for Washington, D.C. to erase the traces of the disappointment it experienced on the subject of Iraq."

    Here, it is clearly seen that the United States does not take Turkey's dynamics and its administrators very seriously, within its own structure. The United States wants Turkey's position strategically. It does not even think about the rest. At this point, there are also things that the United States should learn, but as far as I can understand it, this will happen later.

    How will the new relations develop at this stage? That is, what will be Turkey's role in the restructuring of Iraq? Here are the answers:

    "Iraq's reconstruction will be realized from two aspects. In this connection, the United States has not considered any role for Turkey in the reconstruction of the country politically, because there is no serious contribution Turkey can provide on this subject. Whereas, we think that Turkey could make significant contributions in the restructuring of Iraq economically. Turkey should bring its own contributions to the process and it should make gestures that would eliminate the disappointment of the United States."

    All right, is the United States in favor of the formation of a Kurdish state? What does it think? On this subject, there is an earnest sympathy for the Kurds in the United States and after stating that it has provided the training for the cadres, which would form the Kurdish state, let me continue to convey my notes:

    "The United States does not want an independent Kurdish state in Iraq. Our targets are the same as Turkey's on this subject. The subject of Syria will gradually come onto the agenda more frequently. The US Secretary of State Colin Powell will go to Damascus and will request that the Baath regime should improve its behavior. This will be a warning visit. Turkey should refrain from creating an image of appearing to be on the side of Syria with unfounded assumptions, such as 'regional cooperation and solidarity', as it has done on the subject of Iraq. In this connection, the decision of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to postpone his visit to Syria was appropriate. We hope that this visit will also not be realized later on."

    Turkey's new perceptions are not taken into consideration at all in the United States. If Turkey does not return to economic and political stability with renewed moves, then major conflicts will be experienced with the United States on many subjects, including the present government. I can see this already. The United States could openly engage in activities against the JDP [Justice and Development Party] and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. All of the indications of this are present.

    What does the United States think on the subject of Iran? Here is the answer:

    "Iran is trying to establish its influence in Iraq behind closed doors. On the one hand, it displays an attitude open to cooperation in the delivery of humanitarian aid to Iraq, but behind the scenes, it is trying to turn the developments in Iraq in the direction it wants. We believe that Turkey would take this into consideration in its 'regional cooperation' theses."

    That is, the American side assumes that Iran's regional activities have also influenced Turkey. It is saying that Turkey should have an Iran alternative. The displeasure felt from the rapprochement between Turkey and Iran is being conveyed.

    It will take time for the relations between Turkey and the United States to be put back on the right track.

    Presently, Turkey is not on the agenda of anyone at a high-level in the US administration. That is, it is not on the agenda in a positive way. For this reason, it is unrealistic to expect that the US administration will take the necessary steps for improving the relations. What is realistic is for Turkey to explain clearly to the US administration the present situation, the new period and its political perception in accordance with its national interests. It is very important to behave very carefully in the relations with the United States from the aspect of our regional influence.

    [05] AFRIKA assesses the reasons why the occupation regime permitted the limited freedom of movement

    Sener Levent of AFRIKA (24.03.03) assesses the reasons behind the puppet regime's decision to permit the limited free movement between the occupied and the free areas of Cyprus. Mr Levent writes, inter alia, the following:

    ".The journalists of Astra radio and Mega TV came to me and asked me about my opinion. 'The doors are opened. What do you say?'

    Really, what do we say? The people are satisfied. Perhaps they are feeling free for the first time after so many years. It is as if the Berlin wall has collapsed. Everybody dances with joy. For the first time in many years I find positive the step made by Ankara, even if those who had made this step think one thing and I think another. Even if the aim of those who had made this step is to make permanent the division on the island. .

    I am surprised with those who are getting angry with the guard because he has opened the doors of the concentration camp. .As they always do, they are asking the reason from Denktas and Eroglu and not from Ankara. However, Denktas is not the one who opened the doors. Ankara did this. Ankara put onto the table one of its most important master cards when it felt itself cornered. For this it has gotten a big 'bravo' from the EU.

    Ankara is being prepared to face possible accusations by the EU with these steps it will make, without harming the status quo in Cyprus. And by doing this it is giving the Turkish Cypriots, who are being depressed and have difficulties in breathing, a trachea, even if this is artificial.

    The picture is the following: The people are satisfied. The opposition is very upset. Denktas is worried. The Greek Cypriots are troubled. Do not worry. Make the most of it!"

    [06] Mehmet Ali Birand: "Is this the time to trigger such a crisis?"

    Under the above title Mehmet Ali Birand writes in Turkish Daily News (24.04.03) the following commentary on the headscarf crisis:

    "Why?

    I cannot understand why we have been plunged into this totally unwarranted crisis.

    The Iraq War is continuing full speed. The situation changes from day to day. Turkey is going through a very sensitive period. In the Middle East an entirely new process is unfolding. We should be focusing on that.

    Yet, we act as if the Iraq issue is over and everything is on the right track. We act as if we are trying to change the agenda.

    We divert the public attention to other areas as if the economy has been put on the right track, the unemployment problem has been solved and the wheels of the economy have started to turn.

    We act as if the Cyprus problem has been solved and there is nothing else left to do.

    Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc used to be known as a person who knows all about the "balances", a politician with a soft approach to issues who calculates well the ramifications of every step he takes. Yet, since he was elected speaker, he has been acting as if he is a party leader.

    As soon as he took office he tried his hand at a protocol issue.

    When his move drew adverse reactions he backed down.

    On the Cyprus issue he followed an astonishing policy. He made headlines by making the kind of statements that went against the views of the leader of the party that carried him to his current position.

    He made headlines by adopting a similar approach to the Iraq War.

    And now he has caused the "April 23 reception" tension. Did he not expect the reactions that would draw?

    I can understand Arinc. For him "turban" has enormous symbolic value. No one can ask him to divorce his wife now that he has been elected Speaker, and find a new wife that does not wear a "turban". On the other hand, in this country there are certain balances, sensitivities -- with which Arinc is quite familiar.

    We know about the extreme nature of the "turban ban". We know that these restrictions deeply wound a certain part of the public. We believe that a solution must be found.

    However, has the time come to force the way to this effect? Should these policies be changed by forcing the way or by bringing about a consensus?

    Immediately after the election Tayyip Erdogan had said, on various occasions, that the country had other priorities, that he wanted to put the economy on the right track rather than causing tension on the turban issue. He has indeed acted in a consistent manner on this issue. He has not put that issue on the agenda. Turban has been put on the agenda always via Arinc.

    If that has been a political maneuver, it has not worked.

    In the face of growing adverse reactions, they backed down -- after needlessly provoking those circles who were waiting for such an opportunity.

    Similarly, Chief of Staff Gen. Ozkok is a commander who watches his step. He bears in mind the balances within his own organization and he refrains from taking the kind of stance that would cause tension among the people. He gives the impression that he does all he can to have the EU criteria get established in the country gradually. However, he is extremely sensitive when it comes to certain basic principles.

    Unfortunately, none of us is helping Gen. Ozkok.

    Though it claims that it is a champion of the EU cause, the JDP keeps trying to stretch the agenda in a needless manner. Meanwhile, our secularist civilians keep trying to incite the Chief of Staff. They keep saying and writing that he is not intervening adequately, that he is taking a hardline stance. It is as if they are winking at the rigidly secularist sections in the army.

    One side says: "These people are very dangerous. See how they are appointing their own men to official positions. They are trying to 'legalize' the National View Organization and the Fethullahcis. They use the turban as a symbol. They are struggling to puncture the restrictions imposed by the state. They must be told to stop."

    The others say: "No, we are not doing anything. Just like any other government we want to work with our own team. We believe that those organizations that have not been involved in terrorism should not be left out. We want to reduce the restrictions on turban to an endurable level. We believe that no one has the power to turn Turkey into an Islamic state."

    And there is a desire to use the army as an arbitrator or as a force that can impose sanctions.

    A very dangerous game is being played.

    The country's economy is in a mess. It is going through a delicate process where it cannot endure any tensions.

    A most important period has begun in foreign relations. Turkey's final rendezvous with the European Union is drawing near. There is very little time left.

    Having such a fight at such a critical time would only do Turkey great damage.

    For Heaven's sake, let us have some common sense.

    Being sorry afterwards would be meaningless.

    /SK


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