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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 03-12-29

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.244/03 24-25-26-27-28-29.12.03

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after the swearing in ceremony of the so-called deputies.
  • [02] Eroglu rules out coalition with the Republican Turkish Party.
  • [03] Statements by Mr Mehmet Ali Talat on the anniversary of the Republican Turkish Party.
  • [04] Turkey's EU course assessed during meetings in Ankara.
  • [05] The "Ankara Summit" for Cyprus will reportedly take place after the New Year.
  • [06] CUMHURIYET publishes the document on Cyprus prepared by the Turkish Foreign Minister.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [07] Commentary on an opinion poll said to have been carried out on behalf the UN Secretary-General on his plan.
  • [08] Columnist in MIILIYET supports that the Kurdish issue is Turkey's most important issue today.
  • [09] Columnist in RADIKAL assesses the political developments in Ankara vis-a-vis the Cyprus problem.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after the swearing in ceremony of the so-called deputies

    Illegal Bayrak television (26.12.03) broadcast that following the voting on 14 December, the so-called Republican Assembly convened for the first time today. The elected "deputies" were sworn in during the convocation. National Unity Party leader and so-called Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu chaired the session as the oldest member of the "Assembly".

    The Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktas participated in the ceremony. Responding to the questions put to him by the journalists when he arrived at the "Republican Assembly", Denktas said: "I believe that the political party leaders maintain their effort to establish the new government."

    Question: Will you have a new round of talks with the political party leaders today?

    Answer: I will probably meet them again.

    Mr Denktas made statements after the ceremony, as follows: "Well, let the swearing in of the deputies be auspicious. Some 50 influential deputies took an oath to protect the independence of the `state/. This has significantly added to our strength. God willing, our `state/ will exist forever and form the basis of peace. Naturally, an effort will be made to that effect."

    Question: Have you held talks with the political party leaders?

    Answer: Yes, I met them in the `Republican Assembly/ for about 20 minutes. They maintain their talks for the establishment of the new `government/. We will meet them again.

    Question: Will you meet them again today?

    Answer: No, we will not do so.

    Question: Have you discussed when the new `Prime Minister/ can be designated?

    Answer: They will come to me when they are ready.

    Question: Have you received any sign?

    Answer: They are working.

    Question: Can you designate the new `Prime Minister/ before Monday.

    Answer: No, I do not think so.

    [02] Eroglu rules out coalition with the Republican Turkish Party

    Local daily KIBRIS newspaper (27.12.03) reports that the National Unity Party (NUP) Chairman Dervis Eroglu has said, "We shall either take part in a government to be set up under our leadership, or we shall remain in the opposition." He has, thus, stressed that it would be out of the question for his party to take part in a government that RTP [Republican Turkish Party] Chairman Mehmet Ali Talat might set up.

    Pointing to Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Serdar Denktas' statement that his party will not enter into a three-party coalition with the RTP and the PDM [Peace and Democracy Movement], and noting also the decision that the NUP and the DP made to act jointly, Dr. Eroglu expressed the belief that no party leader, including Talat, will be able to form a government that would win a vote of confidence.

    Dr. Eroglu said his remark, "the Annan Plan is on the table," was over-exaggerated, and added: "We did not say the plan will serve as a basis for negotiations."

    No party has a clear formula. Will the lock open?

    NUP Chairman and Prime Minister Eroglu, whose party ranks second numerically in the `Republican Assembly/ that was formed after the elections, responded to questions by the correspondent of the so-called Turkish Cypriot News Agency following the oath-taking ceremony.

    He said "President" Denktas met with him and Talat at the Assembly yesterday and suggested delaying the designation until after the developments in Turkey over the weekend. Noting that he and Talat approached the suggestion positively, Eroglu said: "The `President/ himself will decide whom to designate."

    Asked whether he expected to be assigned the duty, Eroglu said, "he might and he might not." Asked whether he was in a position to submit a formula if designated, Dr. Eroglu said:

    "As far as I can tell, no party is in a position to submit a definite formula. I had two meetings with our present partner, Serdar Denktas. I also met Talat twice. I visited Mustafa Akinci and met with him. I presume that no party leader seems to be in a position, at this moment, to submit to the president a list that would win a vote of confidence. The developments in the days ahead will naturally be assessed. We shall all see, in light of the developments, whether the point will be reached for winning a vote of confidence.

    "Otherwise, early elections, the very last alternative, will be inevitable. Efforts will be made, though, to form a government that will win a vote of confidence. The designated colleague, no matter who that person will be, will naturally get to work to set up a government that will be able to win a vote of confidence. What we have at the moment, though, seems like a deadlock. We shall all see whether it will be possible to unlock it."

    Asked whether his party would take part in a government led by RTP Chairman Talat, Dr. Eroglu said the grassroots of both parties were not sympathetic to the idea of either an NUP-RTP or a RTP-NUP coalition.

    [03] Statements by Mr Mehmet Ali Talat on the anniversary of the Republican Turkish Party

    Illegal Bayrak television (28.12.03) broadcast that the Republican Turkish Party (RTP) held a reception on its 33rd anniversary last night. The RTP leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, made the following statement on the occasion:

    "We shall continue to make a strenuous effort for the establishment of a government, the objective of which will be to facilitate the solution of the Cyprus problem by May through talks on the basis of the Annan plan and the accession of the Turkish Cypriot side to the EU in accordance with the Turkish Cypriot people's demand. We will maintain a constructive and willing approach to achieve that. We will not be misled by the pitiful and comical situation of those who described the Annan plan as a catastrophic document and a death sentence in the past. We will strive to establish a government that will not only call for a solution on paper but also possess the necessary means to solve the problem. Time is being lost. We cannot agree to the minority rights that will probably be given to us after May 2004. Nor can we agree to the conditions that existed prior to 1974. We have to find a solution without wasting time, before we reach a stage in which those who maintain a policy that will force the Turkish Cypriots to forfeit the rights they have gained will be ashamed to appear in public. There can be no excuse for failure. So, we will definitely achieve success. We will solve the Cyprus problem. At least, we will obstruct deadlock and allow the Turkish Cypriots to move on. No one will be able to try to deprive us of our rights after that. In this regard, we will consolidate our political equality and right to sovereignty as a partner."

    [04] Turkey/s EU course assessed during meetings in Ankara

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (26.12.03) reported from Ankara that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received on Friday the ambassadors of Turkey to the 15 EU member countries, the United States and the occupied areas of Cyprus. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal also participated in the meeting. The participants discussed what should be done to get a date for Turkey to start full membership negotiations in 2004, the time which has critical importance in the EU process.

    Erdogan stressed that this one-year period was short but important and addressing the ambassadors, he stated that "marathon is over now. We are in the last 100 meters. We should run not like a marathon runner but like the 100 meters runner."

    Erdogan said every necessary efforts would be exerted to put the reforms into practice in the EU process, and that deficiencies would be overcome. Erdogan stressed the importance of the steps that would be taken on the way to EU process and promotion of those steps by the ambassadors in the countries they work. He also stressed the importance of giving information to the public. Erdogan said the ambassadors should be in close dialogue with the governments, non-governmental organizations and the public of the countries they work.

    The ambassadors conveyed the views of the countries they worked toward Turkey's EU process. The ambassadors stated that 2004 should be Europe year for Turkey.

    It was stressed that high level visits and dialogue among parliaments should be increased. The view that diplomatic initiatives should be launched at the second half of 2004 was also adopted at the meeting.

    While discussing the Cyprus question at the meeting, it was stated that Cyprus was not a political criterion, and that meeting the Copenhagen criteria would be the only element in getting a date to start full membership talks.

    However, the ambassadors stated that Cyprus was important within the process although it was not a political criterion.

    Meanwhile, it was reported that Foreign Ministry bureaucrats would brief Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on December 30 about the preparations being carried out by Ankara for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Ankara Anatolia (26.12.03) further reported from Ankara that Turkey targets to meet political criteria in the first six months of 2004, which it considers as critical for its relations with the European Union (EU). Ankara thus aims not to leave any gap in political criteria to start full membership negotiations expected to begin in December 2004.

    Turkey's ambassadors to the 15 EU member countries, the United States and the occupied areas of Cyprus, who were summoned to Ankara, convened for a second time to evaluate EU and Cyprus policies that are to be covered in 2004.

    Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul chaired the meeting. The recent point reached in Turkish-EU relations, policies to be covered in 2004, and the Cyprus question within the EU process were under discussion at the meeting.

    Diplomatic sources said the ambassadors discussed not only the political, but also the economic dimensions of relations with the EU. The ambassadors also conveyed the views of the countries they work in toward Turkey's full membership.

    Ankara targets to meet the political criteria, which the EU put forward primarily, before the announcement of the 2004 Progress Report in autumn. Ankara targets not to leave an "empty or gray area" that may constitute an obstacle for EU to start full membership negotiations with Turkey.

    Diplomatic sources said the period till June was very important, stressing that whatever is done after this date would not have influence on the Progress Report. Sources said the European countries should have the conviction that Turkey fulfilled the political criteria in this period.

    Following are the fields which the EU considered in its recent Brussels summit as necessary for Turkey to record development and to which Ankara gave priority: "Independence of jurisdiction, formation of associations, freedom of expression and religion, adjustment of military-civilian relations with the EU countries, removal of economic and social imbalance between the Southeast and other regions, and cultural rights."

    Turkey will be in an effort to announce the steps it would take in 2004 on the way to EU within a Communication Strategy it has formulated recently. Ankara, which attributes importance to relations between parliaments and non-governmental organizations, will also explain the future contributions of Turkey to the EU in case it becomes a full member to EU countries which are afraid of Turkey's dimensions.

    Another meeting was also held with the participation of Turkey's ambassadors in Washington, Athens, occupied Nicosia and its ambassador to the U.N.

    The effects of the Cyprus problem on Turkey's EU process were discussed under three main topics in the meeting.

    Firstly, it was stated that the solution of the Cyprus question was not a criterion to start full membership negotiations. Yet it was also stated that a solution of the problem would have positive contributions for Turkey's full membership even if it would not be a determining element. And thirdly, it was stressed that both sides should exert efforts.

    A high ranking diplomatic source said the EU did not have the right not to start full membership negotiations if the Cyprus question is not solved, and stressed that what Turkey should do was to support the solution efforts and meet the political criteria.

    The results of the meetings would be conveyed to the ambassadors of countries whose membership to EU would become definite in May.

    [05] The "Ankara Summit" for Cyprus will reportedly take place after the New Year

    Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (28.12.03) reports that the meeting at the presidential residence in Cankaya, Ankara, is postponed until after the New Year. The paper notes that thus achieving the goal of reaching a solution until 1 May 2004 seems very difficult.

    Noting that "Ankara and Denktas are wasting time in spite of the fact that we are short of time", AFRIKA writes that it is not yet clear whether or not the Turkish Cypriot political parties will be invited to Ankara, but it is a fact that Denktas will be participating in the "Ankara Summit".

    According to the paper, the tendency in Ankara is keeping the Cyprus problem unsolved until December 2004 and use Cyprus as a trump card in getting a date for launching the accession negotiations with the EU. Turkey, concludes AFRIKA, wants to overcome 1 May 2004 without a solution in Cyprus, but at the same time without being considered responsible for the non-solution.

    [06] CUMHURIYET publishes the document on Cyprus prepared by the Turkish Foreign Ministry

    According to Turkish mainland daily CUMHURIYET newspaper (29.12.03), the Turkish Foreign Ministry (TFM) has prepared a document under the title "The Turkish Side's Stance" based on the Annan plan regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem. The report says that in the document it is accepted that the Cyprus problem could be solved within the framework of the Annan Plan. As regards the territorial issue 15 different new maps were prepared .In the document, says the report, the Morphou area is considered to be either shared or the majority of it to be left to the Greek Cypriots.

    The number of Turkish occupation troops following a settlement shall be reduced to six thousand, within forty months. The plan accepts the EU legislation in settling major issues following the solution of the problem. In the new Turkish document it is envisaged that if the island will be used for international military operations then it is necessary to get Turkey's and Greece's consent. As regards the fate of the international agreements that envisage Turkey's guarantorship they were left to the EU legislation. The seven points in the new Turkish document are:

    1. Sharing of Morphou,

    2. Acceptance of EU legislation ,

    3. British bases to be left out of the Plan,

    4. Greek Cypriots who will settle in the north should not be elected as parliamentarians,

    5. Turkish and Greek guarantorship should continue ,

    6. The number of Turkish troops should be reduced to six thousand in forty months,

    7. Those who come from Turkey and Greece should not exceed five percent in both sides.

    CUMHURIYET further reports that a small group within the Turkish Foreign Ministry has prepared the document and this week it will be distributed to the other departments of the state.

    In the Annan plan, reports the paper, 29.2 percent of territory is envisaged to the Turkish side. The Turkish Foreign Ministry took this percentage as basis and prepared 15 different maps with territorial arrangements varying between 28.7-31.8 percent territories to be left to the Turkish side.

    Five of these maps are considered as priority maps for discussion. In these maps territory varies between 29.22-29.24 percent, and it is envisaged that between 45 to 53 thousand Turkish Cypriots will be resettled.

    As for the Morphou area which is the main subject for discussion , priority is given to keep half of Mophou for the Turkish Cypriot side, one of the five maps is drawn with this idea in mind while the rest of the four maps are drawn in such a way that it leaves the whole of Mophou to the Greek Cypriot side. In the Annan Plan 57 thousand Turkish Cypriots were envisaged to be resettled and the Turkish Foreign Ministry plan accepts a figure close to this number.

    Subtitle: Greek Cypriots to be settled in the north

    According to the Annan plan the number of Greek Cypriots to be settled in the Turkish side was as follows:

    Seven percent of the population in seven years, after ten years this figure will be 14 percent, in 15 years it will reach to 21 percent. In the Turkish Foreign Ministry document these figures have been given as 6, 10, and 15. In these figures Greek Cypriots from Karpass peninsula and Greek Cypriots over 65 have been included.

    Subtitle: Return to the property

    In the Annan plan return to the property both in municipality boundaries and villages have been fixed as 20 percent and in the Turkish founding state this was 10. In the TFM document these figures are 10 and 5 percent.

    Subtitle: Greco-Turkish balance

    The TFM document accepts the percentage the Annan Plan envisages for the Turks and Greeks from Greece who will come and settle in each side, which is 5 percent. And when Turkey becomes full EU member these limits shall be removed. As for the settlers already living in the occupied area the Annan Plan envisages 45 thousand to stay there and the TFM document raises this figure to 50 thousand.

    Subtitle: Greek Cypriot deputies

    In the Annan plan it is envisaged that Greek Cypriots living in the Turkish component state could be elected as deputies, mayors and village council members. The TFM document opposes election of Greek Cypriot deputies but agrees to the mayors and village councils.

    Subtitle: Election percentage

    The TFM document wants the number of Turkish senators who will vote in favour of legislation on a special issue be raised from 10 to 13 Turkish Cypriot deputies. The Annan Plan considers this figure as 10 out of 24 Turkish Cypriot senators.

    Subtitle: Legal system of the common state

    The Article 19 Paragraph 8 of the Annan`s Constitution has been amended in the TFM document as follows. "Any amendments to be made to the Constitution shall not be contrary to the EU legislation, harm the provisions of the Treaty of establishment and to the new situation that it will create."

    Subtitle: Turkish troops

    The Annan Plan envisages reducing the number of Turkish troops to six thousand within 19 months after signing the agreement. The TFM document wants 40 months. When Turkey becomes EU member there will be no troops on the island

    Subtitle: The role of the UN Peace Force

    With a small amendment to the "Full Authority" in implementing the agreement based on the Annan Plan, the TFM document agrees with the Annan Plan. Following is the amendment added to the "Full Authority". "The UN Peace Force exercises its powers in full cooperation with the component states and the federal government".

    Subtitle: Guarantorship

    The TFM document reintroduces the permission issue as regards foreign military operations that will use the island's territories. It says: "Turkey 's and Greece's consent shall be taken in case of military operations which will use the island's territory"

    CUMHURIYET reports that the new document will be debated next week within the Turkish establishment.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [07] Commentary on an opinion poll said to have been carried out on behalf the UN Secretary-General on his plan

    HURRIYET newspaper (25.12.03) publishes the following commentary by Yalcin Dogan under the title: "Annan's poll about his own plan!":

    "Annan wanted to know what the Cypriots -- both Turkish and Greek Cypriots -- think about the plan that carries his name and that has led to such noisy arguments.

    To this end, Verso was assigned by a US institution to conduct an opinion poll for Annan.

    Despite the fact that some time has passed since the poll was conducted, it has recently become even more important. The poll had been hidden in a safe so far. If I am not wrong, both Denktas and Prime Minister Erdogan have copies of the poll.

    The poll, which consists of more than 40 questions, has yielded very important results:

    What do you think about the plan in general? Some 33.2 percent of the Turkish Cypriots find the plan positive, while 50.3 percent of the Turkish Cypriots define it as negative. Some 47.9 percent of the Greek Cypriots find it positive, while 47.1 percent find it negative. This point is of utmost importance. Despite the fact that 50 percent of the Turkish Cypriots find the plan negative, they want it to be negotiated. Furthermore, the percentage of those in favour of holding negotiations on the plan is very high. Some 82 percent of the Turkish Cypriots want the plan to be negotiated. Some 15.1 percent are against. This is a very important warning for Denktas, who does not even want to talk about holding negotiations on the plan!

    Some 89.9 percent of the Greek Cypriots are in favor of negotiating the plan.

    Subtitle: The people want a solution

    The people, both Turkish and Greek Cypriots, mostly oppose migration.

    Some 53.1 percent of the Turkish Cypriots and 42.9 percent of the Greek Cypriots oppose migration. The issues of migration and property cause pains for both sides.

    In general, both `peoples/ find the existence of two founding states and the political administration method reasonable.

    Whether or not the people are in favour of a solution constitutes the basic question. Some 58.9 percent of the Turkish Cypriots are in favour of a solution. Some 36.1 percent of the people are confused. Only a minority of five percent is in favor of maintaining the status quo -- in other words, they oppose a solution. This means that Denktas is in conflict with his own people!

    Denktas is in conflict with his people regarding the EU membership as well. Some 77.2 percent of the Turkish Cypriots are in favour of the EU membership, while 21.6 percent are against the EU. And just like everyone, they are also aware of the connection between the solution of the Cyprus issue and the EU membership. And they are also aware that the same solution constitutes a key element in Turkey's EU membership.

    Subtitle: Denktas' position

    Denktas' identity and role constitute the most striking side of the poll. As a matter of fact, the results of the poll resemble a puzzle.

    The people find the plan negative, but they are in favor of negotiating the plan. Denktas opposes the plan and he does not want to negotiate it. Despite this, however:

    Some 72.4 percent of the Turkish Cypriots approve Denktas' stand! Some 24.1 percent of the Turkish Cypriots do not !

    What is going on? They are in favor of negotiating the plan on the one hand, and on the other, they approve Denktas who is against holding negotiations on the plan! It is possible to interpret this as follows: In spite of everything, the Turkish Cypriots want Denktas as their leader! This is certainly a Gordian knot!

    Denktas can untie the knot. He can sit at the negotiation table for the sake of the Turkish Cypriot people, who are in favor of a solution and negotiations. This is of course, if he really loves Cyprus and his people as much as he claims!

    Subtitle: Tendency toward M. Ali Talat

    Following two tours of negotiations held with the Turkish Cypriot party leaders, the leaders have adopted a common view:

    Denktas might assign his rival Mehmet Ali Talat to establish the government.

    We are talking about Denktas and therefore, we have to be cautious. Certain people claim that if Denktas assigns Talat to establish the government, this is because he believes that Talat will not be able to establish the government! The truth is that it is only normal for Denktas to assign Talat to establish the government. After all, his party, the RTP [Republican Turkish Party], was the first party in the elections.

    Despite the fact that more than 10 days have passed since the elections, Denktas continues with the tours. It is obvious that he aims to waste time. Ankara, however, is losing its patience.

    We should not be surprised if the tension in the relations between Ankara and Denktas intensifies in the days ahead. Denktas might face problems in maintaining his seat as a result of this tension.

    It is not merely the JDP [Justice and Development Party] that is losing its patience. Some 80 percent of the Turkish people who want the EU door to be opened without any delay also see Denktas as an obstacle before their dream.

    Denktas does not have the right to play with the fate of 70 million people with a foot trap -- a trick that should have been left behind a long time ago."

    [08] Columnist in MIILIYET supports that the Kurdish issue is Turkey/s most important issue today

    Istanbul MILLIYET newspaper (25.12.03) publishes the following commentary by Taha Akyol under the title: "Three bombs: Cyprus, EU and Kirkuk":

    "Turkey is facing three political time bombs. The Cyprus question and Turkey's anticipated accession to the EU, which are among those time bombs, will be dealt with until the end of 2004. They will either explode or be defused.

    In both cases, implications on Turkey will be great. If the Cyprus question is resolved in a fair and reasonable manner and accession talks with the EU start, Turkey would be given a great impetus in the fields of economy, foreign policy and security. It would also strengthen our position vis-a-vis the Iraqi issue.

    The third time bomb is Kirkuk. 2004 will be a crucial year in that context. We can say that the Kirkuk issue is the most dangerous bomb posing a threat not only to Turkey, but also to the whole region.

    Kirkuk has virtually mutated into a "Red Apple" [pan-Turanian ideology] from the standpoint of the Arabs, Kurds, and the Turcomans due to its oil reserves as well as its strategic and political importance. If that bomb eventually explodes, it would trigger a civil war between different ethnic groups and thus present Turkey with unimaginable troubles.

    During peace talks held in Lausanne after Turkey's war of liberation, Ismet Pasha [Inonu] supported his argument that Mosul province, which also comprised Kirkuk sancak [a subdivision of an Ottoman province], belonged to Turkey by citing figures about the demographic distribution in the region, which, he noted, revealed that it was mainly populated by Muslims excluding Arabs:

    Kirkuk sancak: 97,000 Kurds, 79,000 Turcomans and 8,000 Arabs. Its total population was 184,000.

    Mosul province: 264,000 Kurds, 147,000 Turcomans, 43,000 Arabs, 18,000 Yezidis, 13,000 Christians. A total of 503,000 people were living in the province.

    Lord Curzon responded by arguing that the Turks could annex Mosul first and then capture Baghdad after joining forces with the Turcomans living in the south, adding that the United Kingdom would never let that happen.

    Although Turkey had no such ambition, Curzon was right in using the term "the Turcomans living in the south," because the Turcomans were in the majority in Kirkuk, which is located south of Mosul. There were, however, some differences between the figures, as Kirkuk sancak also comprised some Kurdish areas.

    David McDowal, who was known as a Kurdish sympathizer, also noted that Kirkuk was originally a predominantly Turcoman city (The Kurds, p. 305).

    Today, Mosul's population is three million while one and a half million live in Kirkuk province. Their demographic composition assumed an even more complex nature as a result of migrations.

    Permitting an ethnic group to control Kirkuk would be a great provocation from the viewpoint of other ethnic groups due to its complex ethnic composition as well as its enormous allure.

    The Kurds invaded Kirkuk and attacked vital statistics and land registry offices, which kept documents reflecting Kirkuk's ethnic composition, after they revolted in 1991 in response to an appeal made by Bush Sr. Their attacks could have precipitated Iraq into an ethnic civil war. Alarmed by the possible consequences of the central government's inability to bring the situation under control, Bush Sr. refrained from supporting the Kurds (David McDowal, The Kurds, p. 372).

    Saddam subsequently retaliated, which led to a tragic exodus of Iraqi refugees from the country.

    Nowadays, the Turcomans and the Arabs are disturbed by attempts designed to carry out an ethnic cleansing.

    Could the United States, which let the Kurds down in the past to avoid Iraq's fragmentation, today tolerate events that could pave the way for Iraq's division and an ethnic civil war that could eventually spread to all the neighboring countries?

    This is now the most important issue for Turkey.

    Turkey could strengthen its hand about that crucial matter if it manages to start accession negotiations with the EU while furthering its strategic ties with the United States."

    [09] Columnist in RADIKAL assesses the political developments in Ankara vis-a-vis the Cyprus problem

    Istanbul RADIKAL newspaper (27.12.03) publishes the following commentary by Murat Yetkin under the title: "Cyprus put off until next week":

    "Following a two-day review of the situation in a meeting held in Ankara by Turkey's ambassadors in the capitals of Europe, the United States, and at the UN, it is possible to establish certain things.

    But before going into these, it will be useful to recount some of the information that the ambassadors, in conjunction with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal, conveyed to President Sezer, Prime Minister Erdogan, and Foreign Minister Gul.

    First of all, the ambassadors are reporting that the top item involving Turkey currently on the agenda in Europe is Cyprus. The reason for this is the plan for the `Greek Cypriot Republic/ to be accepted as a member of the EU, representing the entire island, on 1 May 2004. The EU is determined to implement this plan. But the EU, which is the most successful project for peace and development of modern times, will thus end up having imported a serious border dispute into its own midst.

    Tensions that could go to the point of declaring the military presence of Turkey, which it has accepted as a candidate member, an occupying force on the island, would not only upset Turkey but the other EU capitals as well. The statement by the Netherlands' new Prime Minister [as published; actually Foreign Minister], Ben Bot, (who earlier served as Ambassador in Ankara), to the effect that a negotiations date may not be offered to Turkey by the end of 2004, can be interpreted as meaning that a solution of the Cyprus problem is not expected. Consequently, the recommendation of the ambassadors was along the lines that, even if it should not be possible to reach a settlement by 1 May 2004, an effort is required such as will make it quite plain that Turkey and the Turkish [Cypriot] side are in fact not unwilling to compromise.

    Secondly, there are obstacles, unrelated to Cyprus, before Turkey's being given a negotiating date by the end of 2004. The view of the ambassadors was that the decisive thing in this will be, first, the stances that Germany and France adopt, and secondly, those of countries such as Great Britain, Italy, and Spain. The controversy centered around religion that has been witnessed recently in Europe, and the suspicious attitude of the Vatican aimed at influencing Catholic voters, increase the obstacles standing before granting a negotiations date. And one of the negative surprises that emerged in the two days of meetings was the change in the tack of Denmark, which had previously had a relatively positive stance with regard to Turkey. It is reported that, among Danish politicians, the view that "Turkey will not be able to adapt to the EU" has gotten stronger.

    Subtitle: Government is awaiting summit

    Third is the stance that the United States will take. Prime Minister Erdogan is ascribing just as much importance, from the standpoint of relations with Europe and the Cyprus issue, to the meeting he will have with [US President George W.] Bush on 28 January in the US capital as to the meetings he will have with [German Prime Minister Gerhard] Schroeder during his 8-9 January visit to Germany. It is still a topic of debate in the Foreign Ministry whether or not, in these talks, it will be Turkey that will bring up the Cyprus issue. For this reason, it is being said in Ankara that the government may not announce its final decision on Cyprus prior to Erdogan's meeting with Bush.

    `President/ [Rauf] Denktas, however, who took part in yesterday's oath ceremony in the `TRNC/ says that he is waiting to see what Ankara will have to say in terms of a decision on Cyprus.

    What Ankara is going to say, and to do, is a topic of interest not only for Denktas, but for the European capitals and the United States as well.

    There was, until yesterday, an expectation for first the government to express its position and then a state summit meeting to be held at Cankaya [Presidential Palace in Ankara]. These atmospherics changed yesterday. The tendency for the government not to express any viewpoint prior to the Cankaya summit grew stronger. The reason for this is that, in the event of any change, during the Cankaya meeting, in a position that would be announced beforehand by the government, not only the government, but also all the decision-making mechanisms in Turkey, would be harmed by this.

    It is planned that, following this meeting, Denktas as well will be invited to Ankara and another meeting then held. It is a matter of the summit being held first without Denktas, and then later, on the same day, another meeting being held with the same participants but also including Denktas.

    It is clear that such a summit will not take place until next week, and most likely after the first of the year.

    The fact that Ankara is dealing, in the last days of the year and the first days of the new year, with Cyprus and the EU, in fact shows what the agenda of 2004 will be."

    /SK


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