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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-02-21

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.36/06 21.02.06

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] An international seminar is being organized in the occupied areas.
  • [02] Statements by Mr Talat to TRT on the expected UN initiative.
  • [03] Talat: Strengthening our economy is more important than the Cyprus problem.
  • [04] Turkish Minister of Tourism: There are positive developments as regards the direct flights issue.
  • [05] Suggestion from Erdogan to Ozgurgun: Do not recourse to the Constitutional Court, be partner to the government.
  • [06] Public survey was conducted in the area of occupied Lefka similar to the one carried out in occupied Morphou recently.
  • [07] US military aircraft not allowed to enter Turkish airspace.
  • [08] Turkey-Iran High Security Commission convenes in Tehran.
  • [09] The Israeli Ambassador rejected invitation for briefing on HAMAS visit.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [10] How the Turkish Press assessed the visit to Turkey by a HAMAS delegation.
  • [11] Columnist in Turkish Daily News argues that the Presidential elections will dominate the political agenda.
  • [12] Columnists in The New Anatolian see interesting developments in the Kurdish issue.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] An international seminar is being organized in the occupied areas

    Illegal Bayrak television (20.02.06) broadcast the following:

    An international seminar organised by the `TRNC´ Development Bank got underway today.

    The five day seminar under the title Administrative Development, is being held at Salamis Bay Conti Resort Hotel.

    Besides the `Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus´, representatives from Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan, Uganda, Yemen and Malaysia will attend the seminar being held in cooperation with the union of Development and Finance Institutions from member countries of the Islamic Development Bank.

    In his opening speech, the Minister of Economy and Tourism Dervis Kemal Deniz predicted serious development in tourism in the `TRNC´ in 2009, and said he believes this years performance will be at least as good as last years.

    Pointing to the big progress achieved in the `TRNC´ economy after the 2004 referendum, Mr Deniz said the developments recorded have been seen by everybody.

    He also said that this progress has had a boosting effect on the Turkish Cypriot `Peoples´ morale, in a way that shows clearly the Turkish Cypriot `Peoples´ capability to improve its economy if a chance was given to them.

    (Tr. Note: Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is an illegal regime set up by the Turkish Republic in the areas of Cyprus occupied by 40,000 Turkish troops since 1974).

    [02] Statements by Mr Talat to TRT on the expected UN initiative

    Ankara TRT 2 Television (20.02.06) broadcast the following:

    Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos' disclosure that the UN has accepted his call for changes in the effort that is made to solve the Cyprus problem led to reaction on the island. `TRNC´ [`Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus´] `President´ Mehmet Ali Talat described Papadopoulos' disclosure as completely untrue and noted: The UN adopting an understanding approach is unthinkable.

    Replying to the questions put to him by a correspondent of the Turkish Radio and Television Network, Talat said that the Greek Cypriot leader does not intend to adopt a serious approach for the solution of the problem and that he is trying to strengthen the rejection front prior to the elections in the Greek Cypriot side in May.

    Mr Talat said: `Mr Papadopoulos´ disclosure is completely untrue. The UN adopting an understanding approach on what he said is unthinkable. Had that been the case, then the UN Secretary-General would not have asked Mr Papadopoulos to submit his final and clearly written proposals for the changes he wants in the Annan Plan. The UN Secretary-General has not changed his approach. In fact, that is confirmed by his reluctance to take up the Cyprus problem again´.

    Stressing that he does not expect the UN Secretary-General to quickly make a very clear statement and adopt an approach on the proposals for the solution of the Cyprus problem, Talat described the Turkish side's proposals as a speck of light in complete darkness. He noted: `In view of that, the UN Secretary-General has adopted a sympathetic approach on the Turkish proposals.

    [03] Talat: Strengthening our economy is more important than the Cyprus problem

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (21.02.06) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, has said that strengthening their economy is more important than the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking yesterday at a conference in Morphou on The recent Developments in the Cyprus Problem, Mr Talat reminded that they have a development plan for Morphou and called on the people of the area to make investments there.

    Addressing the conference organized by the so-called Association for the Development of the Area of Morphou (GUKAD), Mr Talat argued that the recent public opinion poll conducted by GUKAD had significant influence both in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus and abroad.

    Reminding that the majority of the inhabitants of the area of Morphou voted yes in the referendum for the Annan plan, he said that GUKADs opinion poll was a significant sign that the views of the persons changed and that the European Parliament and other circles have been forced to evaluate this change of views.

    Mr Talat said, inter alia, the following regarding the current situation:

    The applications of our civilian organizations to international institutions are received with more tolerance. However, the efforts exerted by the Greek Cypriot side to prevent this, turn them into arenas of very strong conflicts. I believe that we will end this process with success. Every new term presidency of the EU learns the Cyprus problem from the beginning. Some countries look at us in a very different way compared to the past. These things need patience and efforts, but the things have taken their course and will go towards the right direction. Patience and solidarity is needed for this. We must strengthen this in the internal policy with policies that will increase the power of our people to resist and with social policies. The economic and social structure, which will make us stronger in a possible bargaining, must be strengthened. The internal structure is very important while the Cyprus problem is discussed. A country with a strong economy is very durable and has power to bargain. A weak country cannot make a strong bargain. Strengthening our economy is more important than the Cyprus problem. We must not underestimate this. .

    Mr Talat alleged that the role of the TRNC (breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus) is very important as a mechanism, the administrators of which came on duty with elections and has democratic institutions by which the Turkish Cypriots administrate themselves. He said that the Turkish Cypriots need institutions which will ensure a democratic, modern and civilized life for them. Pointing out to the importance of these institutions, Mr Talat argued that these are needed so that the Turkish Cypriots are strong when they sit at the negotiating table in the future for reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Turkish Minister of Tourism: There are positive developments as regards the direct flights issue

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (21.02.06) reports that Mr Atilla Koc, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, stated that there are positive developments as regards the issue of direct flights to the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus. Mr Koc made these statements to KIBRIS newspaper.

    The Turkish Minister said that the lack of direct flights (to the occupied areas of the island) has a negative effect on the islands tourism. He stated that Turkey does everything possible and continues to work on this matter and added that he believes things started to move as regards the issue of the direct flights.

    He also stated that in order for the lack of direct flight not to create a negative atmosphere, Turkey and the breakaway regime in occupied Cyprus are preparing common tourist package tours. He said that Turkey takes very seriously these packages and that the Turkish government supports them strongly.

    (C/S)

    [05] Suggestion from Erdogan to Ozgurgun: Do not recourse to the Constitutional Court, be partner to the government

    Subtitle: An UBP source close to Ozgurgun: There will be recourse to the court at the latest on 22nd March. A delegation from the UBP will visit Ankara and will meet with Erdogan, Gul, Turkish Foreign Ministry Officials and political parties.

    Turkish Cypriot daily VOLKAN newspaper (21.02.06) reports under the above title and says: According to reliable information within the National Unity Party (UBP), Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan called on Huseyin Ozgurgun and congratulated him on his success for being elected as the chairman of the UBP. Erdogan then referred to the law regarding the Greek Cypriot Property issue and demanded from Ozgurgun that they should not recourse to the Constitutional Court.

    In his turn Ozgurgun said that on this issue there was a party decision and that there was a strong inclination within the party to recourse to the Court and that he had made binding public statements regarding this issue. He had suggested to Erdogan that an UBP delegation visit Ankara and the issue be evaluated there.

    It is said that Prime Minister Erdogan looked favorably to this

    suggestion and said that during the coming days there will be important developments in the Cyprus problem and suggested establishment of a broad based government.

    We have asked the views of a source that is very close to Huseyin Ozgurgun. First, he confirmed the telephone conversation and said: The Prime Minister Erdogan called and congratulated our general chairman Huseyin Ozgurgun. It is true that he referred to the new property law and demanded not to recourse to the Constitutional Court. In fact similar suggestions came to the party administration while the said law was being debated. As a matter of fact a delegation from Turkey, during a meeting with our former chairman Dervish Eroglu and his delegation, had asked to support the law. However, the UBP organs evaluated the issue, and despite Eroglus suggestions, had decided to recourse to the Constitutional Court because it was clearly against the Constitution. And in line with this decision there will be recourse to the Court until 22nd March, the last day for recourse to the court.

    Regarding the broad base government proposal by Erdogan where the UBP as well will take part in, the said source had said: These suggestions are not new. They demand a government where the UBP will take part. The UBP has sin quo non, conditions. It was announced earlier that if these conditions are accepted the UBP is ready to form government with the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) or another party. Therefore, what Prime Minister Erdogan said on this issue is nothing new .

    (MHY)

    [06] Public survey was conducted in the area of occupied Lefka similar to the one carried out in occupied Morphou recently

    Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (21.02.06) reports that the Lefka Environment and Advertising Association conducted a public survey in the area of occupied Lefka.

    According to the surveys results, 79.2 % of the persons who participated in the survey, believe that there will be no solution to the Cyprus problem in the near future. In addition, 41.5% stated that they trust Turkey the most in the issue of the solution of the Cyprus problem, while, 13% trust the European Union, 6.4% trust the TRNC (breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus), 4.4% trust the USA and 20% stated that they trust others.

    To a question whether the Turkish and the Greek Cypriots can live together in the island, 59.8 % stated that they can live together but the Turkish Cypriots must live in the north and the Greek Cypriots in the south. In addition, 13.7 % stated that the two communities can live together while 26.5 % stated that the two communities must live separately without mixing at all.

    Moreover, 78.8% stated that the cause of the deaths in the area is cancer.

    As the paper writes 400 persons participated in the public survey. These persons live in the occupied villages of Morphou, Karavostasi, Ayios Andronikos, Potamos, Peristeronari, Xeros, Ampelikou and Limnitis.

    [07] US military aircraft not allowed to enter Turkish airspace

    Istanbul HURRIYET newspaper (20.02.06) reports that Turkey did not allow a US military aircraft carrying six Iraqi citizens to land at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on 19 February. The report quotes Baris Tozar, Deputy Under Secretary of the Transportation Ministry, as saying that the US plane, which was not allowed to enter the Turkish airspace yesterday, may land in Istanbul today if it gets the necessary flight permission.

    [08] Turkey-Iran High Security Commission convenes in Tehran

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (20.02.06) reported the following from Tehran:

    The 11th meeting of the Turkey-Iran High Security Commission has started in Iranian capital of Tehran.

    The Turkish delegation is headed by Interior Ministry Undersecretary Sahabettin Harput.

    Making opening remarks of the meeting, Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr of Iran said that there have been high-level relations between the two countries for 200 years.

    Zolqadr stated that the fight against arms and drug trafficking and border security would be discussed in the meeting.

    On the other hand, Harput underlined that Turkey wanted to boost its relations with Iran in every area, and stressed that Turkey was ready to cooperate with Iran in the fight against illicit drug smuggling.

    The meeting of Turkey-Iran High Security Commission will end tomorrow.

    The Turkish delegation had also a meeting with Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pur-Mohammadi.

    [09] The Israeli Ambassador rejected invitation for briefing on HAMAS visit

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (20.02.06) reported the following from Ankara:

    It has been reported that Ambassador Bozkurt Aran, director of the Middle East Desk of the Foreign Ministry, spoke to Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Pinhas Avivi on the phone this morning and that currently there is no need for holding a face-to-face meeting.

    According to the information received from diplomatic sources, following the briefing that was given to Israel in the aftermath of the visit conducted by HAMAS in Ankara, Ambassador Aran spoke to Avivi on the phone this morning. Foreign Ministry officials noted that apart from these meetings there is no need for a meeting between the officials of the two states for the time being.

    According to the same sources, Ambassador Avivi has not requested a meeting with Abdullah Gul, foreign minister and deputy prime minister, for taking up the issue.

    It was reported that Ambassador Avivi has rejected the Foreign Ministry's invitation for a briefing on HAMAS's visit. The briefing was slated for this morning.

    Following HAMAS's visit, the Foreign Ministry had briefed the chiefs of the diplomatic missions of the United States, the EU, Russia, and the United Nations in Ankara. The United States, the EU, Russia, and the United Nations are also known as the Palestinian Quartet.

    Israeli Ambassador Avivi was invited to the Foreign Ministry for a similar briefing today. However given that HAMAS refused to recognize Israel's existence during the oath-taking ceremony that was held in Palestine, Israel reportedly rejected this invitation due to the fact HAMAS's stand has been clarified during the oath-taking ceremony and that there is no need for receiving additional briefing in this regard.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [10] How the Turkish Press assessed the visit to Turkey by a HAMAS delegation

    Istanbul MILLIYET, newspaper (20.12.06) publishes an article by Yasemin Congar who makes an analysis of the recent HAMAS visit to Turkey from the viewpoint of the United States. Stressing that Washington sees Turkey's decision to host HAMAS leader Khalid Mish'al as a "mistake," Congar notes that the visit "dealt a blow to the Justice and Development Party, (AKP), prestige in the United States." Pointing out that the "correct messages" Ankara conveyed to the HAMAS delegation are seen as the only positive aspect of the visit, Congar says that "the Bush Administration made reference to this positive factor in its official statement in order not to create a new problem in bilateral relations." She concludes by noting that the Jewish Lobby's strong reaction to the visit might weaken Turkey's hand at a time when it seeks Washington's "active support" for the Cyprus problem and the Armenian claims of genocide.

    Istanbul HURRIYET newspaper (20.02.06) publishes a column by Ahmet Hakan who challenges those who hold Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu, responsible for the HAMAS visit, ironically asking whether Davutoglu "allowed HAMAS leader Khalid Mish'al to enter Turkey through a secret operation." Hakan says that regardless of the fact that Davutoglu is an "influential" adviser, he is not in a position to make risky decision without the approval of Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. He goes on to note that "it is obvious who will account for the problems caused by the HAMAS leader's visit to Ankara."

    In his article in RADIKAL (20.02.06) Omer Taspinar says: "The AKP initiative was a courageous step showing Turkey's willingness to become part of the solutions rather than the problems in the region." Noting that the Israeli and Pakistani foreign ministers' Istanbul summit and Sunni leaders' meeting with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Istanbul should be seen as Ankara's "diplomatic achievements," he welcomes the AKP move to contribute to the solution of "the most serious problem" in the Middle East. He adds that regardless of the fact that he finds the comparison made by an Israeli official between HAMAS and PKK irrational, the government should evaluate the Kurdish issue from a "realistic and democratic" perspective and "separate the Kurdish issue from terrorism in order not to harm the AKP and Turkey."

    ZAMAN newspaper (20.02.06) publishes an article entitled "Bitter Facts in the Matter of HAMAS" by the paper´s London correspondent Kerim Balci who argues that while it was "very bold," the meeting with HAMAS in Ankara was not a sensible move and that "mediation in a dispute is a job to be undertaken only when the right medium exists. Israel has never sat and will never sit at a negotiating table not controlled by the United States."

    He goes on to claim that Israel's comparison of HAMAS to the PKK, while "unacceptable," is "understandable" since Israel does not regard itself as an occupier in Palestinian land and HAMAS as a freedom fighter. He also claims that HAMAS has to remove the "stain" of its "terrorist" activities "not for the sake of being taken as a counterpart by Israel but for the sake of humanity and Islam."

    In another article entitled "The background of the meeting with HAMAS" in ZAMAN (20.02.06) columnist Ali Bulac lauds the meeting with HAMAS in Ankara as one of two developments in the past three years (the other being the rejection of the 1 March authorization Bill) that have gained Turkey great prestige in its region.

    Bulac asserts that the sharpest reaction to the meeting has come from circles "affiliated in one way or another with the Israeli lobby." He also argues that if HAMAS had held its first meeting with Iran instead of with the Turkish government, Israel would now be able to create a "legitimacy crisis" for HAMAS by saying, "See, HAMAS is holding talks with a country that wants to wipe us off the map."

    Milli Gazete (20.02.06) publishes an article entitled "An Embarrassed Initiative" by columnist Hakan Albayrak who says that while normally he would not refrain from thanking the ruling AKP for arranging the HAMAS visit, he does not feel inclined in the least to do so because of the "bad treatment" given to Khalid Mish'al during the visit. He objects to the visit being praised as a move indicating that the Government has taken an important initiative as part of its efforts to make Turkey an influential player in its region, asserting that Prime Minister Erdogan canceled a meeting with Mish'al at the last minute and that Abdullah Gul was not courageous enough to meet with the HAMAS delegation in his capacity as Foreign Minister.

    BUGUN newspaper (20.02.06) under the headline, "The Man in the Crosshairs," carries a front-page report which refers to Professor Ahmet Davutoglu, Chief Advisor to Prime Minister Erdogan, "who has become a target for criticisms because he was the architect of the HAMAS visit," as the brains behind many "diplomatic successes" and policies that broke with the traditional approaches in Turkish foreign policy on various issues including Cyprus and Iraq.

    In an article under the title "Faded Hopes of Mediation: Supporting HAMAS or Undertaking to be Israel's Advocate", BUGUN newspaper (20.02.06) publishes a column by Cengiz Candar who blasts the Erdogan government for "acting like Israel's lawyer at least as far as what it is saying is concerned" in urging HAMAS to "recognize Israel's right of existence, stop cooperating with terrorist groups, renounce violence and stop armed struggle, and not to move away from democracy.

    [11] Columnist in Turkish Daily News argues that the Presidential elections will dominate the political agenda

    English language Turkish Daily News (20.02.06) publishes the following editorial by Yusuf Kanli under the title: "Fight over presidency":

    The real political fight in Turkey is over the presidential elections next year. Pressure is building on the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to call for early general elections and let the new Parliament select the president next year rather than the current overwhelming majority of the ruling party electing the successor to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

    While we retain our view that, unless it becomes absolutely unavoidable, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not agree to an early election and risk him, or someone chosen by him, being elected as the next president, we agree as well with the argument that, although no one can question the legitimacy of the president who will be elected with the parliamentary majority of the AKP, from a moral approach to the issue, election of a president with a political majority that only had 34 percent support of the nation will plunge the issue of the presidency into political controversy. Furthermore, if we are to consider that, because of the high 10 percent national election threshold for a party's representation in Parliament, together with invalid votes, the percentage of votes that are not represented in Parliament exceeds 35 percent and recalculate the actual popular support behind the ruling AKP, we will see that it barely exceeds 25 percent. Thus, sending someone to be seated at the highest post of the republic, a position considered the "seat of Atatürk," with such small minority support will not be a development compatible with the notion of democracy.

    On the other hand, the rules of the game were the same for all participants in the November 2002 vote; the AKP did not enjoy anything special but, due to a reaction vote, benefited from a crooked election law that was specifically designed by prior major political players to keep Islamists and ethnic Kurdish political groups away from the helms of the Turkish state. It was clear back in those days that if an early election was not called, the Parliament to be elected would very much likely elect the next president as the president's term would expire on May 17, 2006 (and the process of election of the new president would start on May 16, 2007) while the 5-year tenure of the new legislature would expire in November 2007. Therefore the AKP with its overwhelming parliamentary strength, has the legitimate and moral right to elect the next president.

    The question should not be the legitimacy or morality of the present AKP-dominated Parliament electing the new president. Then what is it? Why is it that a new debate has started on the "real support" the AKP has?

    Surely we will see more of that kind of discussion as the calendar pages of 2006 are exhausted and 2007 draws closer. The Hamas invitation controversy, problems at the doorstep with the European Union over the unfulfilled pledges regarding Cyprus as well as trivial domestic contentious developments will all be used in this fight to force the AKP to call for early elections. We do not expect such a courageous move from the current main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leadership, but there is even speculation that the CHP will at some point resign en masse from Parliament and force an early election.

    The swords are drawn and the fight is to not lose the last stronghold of the secularist state mechanism to the AKP. Secularists, anti-Islamists, AKP skeptics, people still fearing that the AKP has a secret agenda have all united in one single bloc to force the ruling party to abandon its hope of electing a president from its own ranks for the seat of Atatürk.

    Strategists are out with all kinds of creative ideas to guide this anti-AKP bloc in this campaign. Some are suggesting that "complaints must be taken to the National Security Council" and some sort of a "Feb. 28, 1997 process" -- which brought the then Islamist Necmettin Erbakan-led coalition government to an end -- must be initiated by activating the "civilian powers" of the state. Some are suggesting a sort of a civilian disobedience campaign, like the recent Adana case, that would ruin the morale of the government.

    This fight will continue and intensify. But we suspect the AKP has some plans as well and in their plans there is as well one to produce a consensus candidate for the presidency together with the CHP as part of a bigger plan for reforming the state administration in a radical manner. The "5+5" [presidential terms] speculations might not be empty talk after all.

    [12] Columnists in The New Anatolian see interesting developments in the Kurdish issue

    English language The New Anatolian newspaper (20.02.06) publishes the following article by Onder Aytac and Cem Uslu under the title: "Interesting developments on the Kurdish issue":

    We've witnessed new developments regarding the Kurdish issue over the last fortnight which have the potential to transform the problem forever. If these developments are understood correctly and managed appropriately, Turkey might have a chance to lessen the hostility of nationalist Kurds towards the state.

    Let's first recollect the recent developments, before attempting to analyze them.

    1) The mayor of Diyarbakir paid a visit to the U.S. from Feb. 5 to 16, which took place shortly after Iraqi Kurdistan region leader Massoud Barzani's visit. He's the first Kurdish figure -- from Turkey -- to visit the U.S. and we assume that this move was made in large part because of its psychological impact in Turkey. It obviously hasn't made much of a splash in the US. Except for his meetings with Chris van Hollen and David Filner, two not particularly prominent Democratic Party Congressmen in Washington DC, Osman Baydemir didn't receive much attention in Washington.

    2) On Feb. 7 the Associated Press falsely reported that terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan had a heart attack but survived. This report has an interesting background dating back to last December. On Dec. 13, one of the ultranationalist columnists wrote, "Note this: Before March 2006 there will be a new development regarding Ocalan." At the end of December and around the middle of last month, the same columnist wrote twice on the same topic, and asked, "What if Ocalan's health gets worse now?" In addition to that, in December some magazines also reported that in the first couple of months this year "Ocalan's health condition will get worse." Surprisingly, on Feb. 6, an ultranationalist (Ulusalci, Kizil Elmaci) webpage reported that Ocalan had a heart attack. A day after that, the AP used the webpage, which was again interesting because the webpage is not particularly known to be followed by AP every day, and a government official as sources for its report. As soon as the AP report came out, Ocalan's lawyers and the PKK started capitalizing on Ocalan's health condition to urge its supporters to join the protests on Feb. 15 to mark the seventh anniversary of Ocalan's capture. The Justice Ministry denied the report immediately. In reality, Ocalan had no such heart attack.

    3) On Feb. 11, Kani Yilmaz, former European representative of the PKK, was killed in his car by a bomb detonated by a PKK militant. In response to Yilmaz's killing, as usual, the PKK denied any involvement by the organization. However, two days later, a pro-PKK webpage and newspapers ran a report that Yilmaz was part of an international conspiracy through which Ocalan was captured. The report was essentially implying that Yilmaz was a traitor and therefore his death could be justified.

    4) The people of Diyarbakir didn't follow the PKK's instructions and didn't participate in the PKK-planned protests on Feb. 15. For instance, they stood against the PKK's demands and opened their shops as usual, and didn't take part in street demonstrations either.

    5) On Feb. 15, Ocalan and his lawyers had a scheduled meeting. However the lawyers could not visit Ocalan because local gendarmerie told them that the boat used to transport the lawyers to Imrali island, where Ocalan is imprisoned, was "out of order." In response to this development, people in Cizre, a town in Sirnak province, organized a massive violent street demonstration, which was otherwise unlikely to have been held by them.

    6) The PKK detonated bombs in an Internet cafe and a supermarket in Istanbul, wounding innocent civilians and a few police officers frequenting the cafe.

    How should we read all these developments?

    Despite the fact that Kurdish people in the region are getting more politicized, it's also true that they are fed up with violence. Therefore, they don't welcome the PKK's violent tactics. However the PKK is also aware that without violence and its oppressive strategy, and without terrorizing the region, it's impossible for them to maintain their political power. For this reason PKK members are murdering their former friends and leaders to sustain their "oneness."

    On the other hand, the European Union project and urbanization process in the region are the two biggest threats to the PKK. Despite the fact that the PKK's leadership would never put down their guns because for them using violent tactics and terrorizing the region has became a way of life, globalization (Turkey's EU membership process) and urbanization will eventually overcome the ethnic conflict in the region. This will not take decades. Thus, in order to force the government to a modus vivendi, the PKK started to extend its violent strategy toward the western provinces, by targeting innocent civilians in the western part of Turkey.

    Baydemir's visit to the U.S. is an important development for the Kurdish issue as well. This visit, we believe, is somehow related to the question of why people in Diyarbakir didn't obey the PKK's calls to protest on Feb. 15. Although we accept the fact that the urbanization process in Diyarbakir had a positive impact on diminishing terrorism, the latest surprising silence toward the PKK's call in Diyarbakir cannot be fully explained by the urbanization theory. This is so because the city's urbanization process is too new to absorb the immigrants and change people's attitude. Yet Baydemir's visit to the U.S. could be the very reason behind the city's silence. While he was in the U.S., it was very likely for Baydemir to show the Bush administration that he had as much power as Ocalan to control the Kurds. In addition, he might have wanted to have demonstrated to the U.S. that he has no record of involvement in terrorism. By sending such a signal and by showing his power against Ocalan on the anniversary of his capture, he proved to the biggest player in the region, to the U.S., that he was willing to and capable of leading the Kurdish movement. His modest statements to Voice of America are indicative of his ambitions to lead the Kurdish movement. On the other hand, hardline PKK terrorists accused mayors and municipalities of being responsible for the failure of the demonstrations, which could be interpreted as another sign of Baydemir's ambition.

    Ocalan's false heart attack news was obviously an attempt to agitate his sympathizers for the Feb. 15 demonstrations. Once this plan failed, after the Justice Ministry's pre-release denying the news, it seems that Plan B was initiated. Coincidentally, on Feb. 15, on the day of the demonstration, the boat was broken and Ocalan's lawyers could not make it to their scheduled meeting in the prison. As a result, the people of Cizre were outraged and organized the biggest and the most devastating demonstration of the day after hearing the "agitating" news that the lawyers weren't allowed to meet with Ocalan.

    As a last point, all of a sudden the infamous dark figure of the bad old days, Mahmut Yildirim, a.k.a. "Yesil," has resurfaced. What the name Yesil reminds Kurdish people in the region of is agitation, killing, kidnapping, and harsh punishment.

    Of course, all of this can be considered a great coincidence, and it will be more interesting to watch new, coincidental developments towards Nevruz on March 21. Do you think the government has plans to prevent or manage these developments? Put another way, do you think the prime minister's advisors, the cover boys, are even aware of these developments?

    We hope so.

    /SK


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