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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-08-01

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 <>



  • [01] Statements by Talat before the meeting of the representatives of the two sides to exchange their views on the topics in the technical committees.
  • [02] Extracts on Cyprus from Erdogans address to the nation.
  • [03] More regarding the claims that a Greek Cypriot ring is selling Turkish Cypriot property in the government-controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus.
  • [04] Promotions in the military ranks to be discussed by YAS between 1 - 4 August.
  • [05] Erdogan to attend OIC conference in Malaysia on 2 August.
  • [06] Retired general admits that the Turkish army applied bombing tactics.
  • [07] Hardliner General Buyukanit appointed Chief of Staff. His curriculum vitae.
  • [08] Turkish Police detain 130 Kurds for attending DTP Diyarbakir meeting.

  • [09] Commentary in RADIKAL analyses the new stage of the plan to dissolve PKK.
  • [10] Commentary analyses the dilemmas faced by the ruling Islamic government of Turkey between the Islamic countries and Israel and the US.


    [01] Statements by Talat before the meeting of the representatives of the two sides to exchange their views on the topics in the technical committees

    Illegal Bayrak television (01.08.06) broadcast the following:

    The two sides in Cyprus have exchanged their respective views and proposals on guidelines under which they consider the Cyprus problem should be discussed.

    At a meeting this afternoon, the `TRNC Presidential Undersecretary´ Rasid Pertev and an aide to the Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos Tassos Djonis, met in the buffer zone in the presence of the UN Secretary-Generals special representative for Cyprus Michael Moller, for the occasion.

    Meanwhile, `President´ Mehmet Ali Talat has told the TAK news agency before the meeting, that the Turkish Cypriot sides lists of ideas and proposals encompassed all outstanding issues between the two sides in Cyprus.

    Without elaborating or giving any details, the `President of the Republic´ said that two separate lists of ideas have been prepared and are being presented to the Greek Cypriot side today.

    He said only, that the lists of ideas will include every single basic and other outstanding issues that have been discussed and negotiated between the two sides in Cyprus, in years.

    `President´ Talat reiterated the Turkish Cypriot sides position against any change in the present status of the Closed City of Varosha Maras (occupied Famagusta) before a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem is found.

    It is completely out of the question for the city to be handed over to the Greek Cypriot side in return for the EUs Free Trade Regulation being put into force, he said.

    It is unacceptable for any step to be made that would pull Varosha out of the context of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question - and this includes the handing of the city to UN control he stressed.

    It is clear that Varosha will be part of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, and be taken up, say, under the heading delineation of the borders, he added.

    As for the lists of ideas and proposals being exchanged with the Greek Cypriot side, the `President´ said he believes that despite disagreements over the nature of the problems and concerns being expressed mutually; the two sides would agree on the headings and guidelines, defining the issues making up the essence of the Cyprus problem.

    On the property issue, the `TRNC President´ announced that some Greek Cypriot displaced owners have already received compensation for their former property left in North Cyprus.

    He said this is an indication of the proper functioning of the Property Exchange and Compensation Commission set up to look into property claims by Greek Cypriots.

    As for the Arestis Case, he reminded that the commission has made a two-option offer; either to return the property after a solution has been found to the Cyprus problem, or immediate compensation for it.

    Asked how the compensation money is being met from the budgetary point of view; Mr Talat said this is already a budgeted sum, raised together with scarce resources of the `TRNC´ and Turkey.

    He warned, however, that he is not saying there would be no difficulties in meeting possible future compensations in connection with Greek Cypriot property claims.

    As for the ECHR´s possible ruling on the Arestis case; Mr Talat said he does not think the European Court of Human Rights will be ordering the immediate return of the Arestis property to its former owners.

    I think the court will be looking into whether or not alternative legal paths have been created for the family so that it could claim restitution of its human rights, he said.

    Time will show if the ECHR will accept the `TRNC Property Commissions´ work and functions as proper legal domestic path to achieving that, he added.

    Turkish Cypriot daily OZGUR DUSUNCE newspaper (01.08.06) publishes Mr Talat´s statements to illegal TAK under the title: They are playing with the non-solution. The paper cites Mr Talat´s statement on the fenced ghost city of Varosha, which is kept empty while the Turkish army is preventing its citizens to return, and which he argues that it is part of the solution. The paper argues that Mr Talat got the mandate of the Turkish Cypriots to change the status quo but he is preserving it.

    The paper also criticizes Erdogan who was elected declaring to solve the Cyprus problem and be one step ahead but he rallies addressing the public declaring that the Cyprus problem is the national cause of Turkey and maintains the status quo.

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

    [02] Extracts on Cyprus from Erdogans address to the nation

    According to the website of the Turkish Prime Ministry ( HYPERLINK "", Prime Minister Erdogan referred to Cyprus and said, inter alia, the following in his address last night (31.07.06) to the Turkish nation:

    Last week we realized an important visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We celebrated together the 32nd anniversary of the 20 July 1974 Peace Operation when the Turkish Cypriot people reached peace and freedom. This operation, which brought peace to the Island, did not only put an end to the oppression of the Turkish Cypriot people, it has also laid the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which rose on pluralistic and democratic values.

    As government, on the one hand we follow an active and determined policy in the direction of the solution of the Cyprus problem and on the other we make important steps for the development and the progress of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    As Turkish side we, from the first day, are sincerely searching for a solution to the Cyprus issue and we are following a constructive way, a constructive policy.

    The Annan Plan could come to the stage of the referendum with a diplomatic opening we had launched.

    This process is extremely important from the point of view of showing to the whole world that the Turkish side is the side which wants a solution. The fact that we were right has been accepted by the international public opinion.

    I am saying this very clearly: Today our hand became stronger than ever. At this point, we finally want the lifting of the unjust embargoes to which the Turkish Cypriot people is subjected.

    Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are always ready to do what is in their share for a just solution. We are still preserving our approach of being a step forward, in spite of the negative stance set forth by the Greek Cypriot side until today.

    Another sign of our sincerity, our effort on this issue is our new Action Plan we announced on 24 January. We propose that all restrictions must simultaneously be lifted by all the sides, until a just and comprehensive solution is reached in Cyprus. We think that this is the first step towards the solution.

    No one should think that he has the right to expect unilateral concessions from Turkey. No one can have such a right. Cyprus is a national cause for Turkey. We will continue to defend this cause until the end.

    We have another duty regarding Cyprus: Supporting the economic and social progress of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, by protecting peace and stability. As government, we will continue and increase our support on the issue of the development of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    During the past four years, the Turkish Cypriot people as well lived an economic development, in parallel to Turkey and entered into a development process, never seen before in its history. The economy of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus grows in a stable manner for the four last years. In this period a development exceeding 50 % was realized. When the 7.1 % target for 2006 is achieved, this percentage will increase to 60 %. Our target now is to increase the national income to 15 thousand dollars. I believe with all my heart that this target will be achieved.

    We as government consider that the economic and social development of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is of vital importance. We are encouraging the investments especially in the fields of tourism and the higher education, which are the leading sectors for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    I hope that with this climate of change, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will soon become one of the most important tourism centers of the region.

    At the moment, we are working with the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on more than ten projects. With the completion of these projects the tourism of Northern Cyprus will reach the capacity of about 20 thousand beds. We aim at increasing this number to 30 thousands in the end of 2009.

    In the field of the high education, which is one of the leading sectors, we are hoping to achieve great progress within the next period. The star of the universities of Northern Cyprus shines powerfully with the development during the last period in the field of the higher education, its quality standard and rich opportunities. While in 1999 21 thousand students were studying in these universities, this number reached 40 thousands in 2005. The new short-term target is 60 thousand students.

    Since we came to power, we emphasize with sensitivity on the realization of investments for roads, water, communication, health and education, which will facilitate the daily life in Northern Cyprus and increase the standards.

    Look, in the period 2003-2005 five electricity power plants were built. The work on the infrastructure in the field of energy continues speedily.

    In Ercan (occupied Tymbou) Airport an investment project of 35 million dollars is being realized.

    In the same way that the face of the motherland changed in this period, the face of Northern Cyprus has also changed and it is being changed.

    Look, from 1974 to 1996 the average aid granted to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was about 80 million dollars per year. This number was 210 million per year between 1997 and 2002. As for the last four years, the average annual aid increased to 360 million dollars.

    A Northern Cyprus, which moves forward to the future with self confidence being economically and socially strong, will be the most important guarantee for peace on the Island.


    [03] More regarding the claims that a Greek Cypriot ring is selling Turkish Cypriot property in the government-controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (01.08.06) under the title The Church is behind! claims that the Church of Cyprus has appeared to be the force behind the Greek Cypriot ring which is selling immovable Turkish Cypriot property in the government-controlled territory of the Republic of Cyprus by preparing and using forged documents.

    According to the paper, the Church of Cyprus which is in cooperation with Turgut Yasar Cavlan, is very pleased with the fact that Turkish Cypriot property in the free territories of the Republic of Cyprus passes to Greek Cypriots, therefore, it is actively supporting it.

    As AFRIKA claims, Sener Levent, Faize Ozdemirciler and Salih Hasan were questioned yesterday by the so-called TRNC Attorney Generals Office and the police, while Levent also presented to the authorities forged documents which were drawn up by Turgut Yasar Cavlan.

    According to the paper, arrests are expected to be made after the end of the police questioning.

    On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRISLI newspaper (01.08.06) under the title Provocateur! publishes statements of Salih Hasan´s advocate, Haris Kyriakides (spelling by the paper), who supports that the documents given to Turgut are the original, and not forged. I am not a side in the relation of Salih Hasan with Turgut. But when the problem came up I personally asked Salih Hasan about the powers of attorney. He did not refuse that he gave powers of attorney to Turgut Cavlan, he said. There are groups in the Greek Cypriot side against the selling of property, which are working for obstructing the solution of the problems individually. Sener Levent is a member of these groups. He is consciously lying, Mr Kyriakides added.


    [04] Promotions in the military ranks to be discussed by YAS between 1 - 4 August

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (31.07.06) reported the following from Ankara:

    The Supreme Military Council of Turkey (YAS) will convene under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan between August 1st and 4th at the General Staff Headquarters in Ankara.

    During its annual meeting, YAS will make decisions on promotion and retirement of several military personnel of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

    Several other military issues will be high on agenda of the three-day meeting.

    The council's annual meeting will end on August 4th.

    Besides Prime Minister Erdogan, General Staff Chief Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, Land Forces Commander Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, Naval Forces Commander Admiral Yener Karahanoglu, Air Forces Commander Gen. Faruk Comert and Gendarmery Commander Gen. Fevzi Turkeri will be in attendance at the meeting.

    The decisions which will be made at the meeting will be made public after they are approved by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

    [05] Erdogan to attend OIC conference in Malaysia on 2 August

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (31.07.06) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Malaysia to attend a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

    Sources said that Erdogan would fly to Malaysia on August 2nd and return to Turkey on August 3rd after participating in the OIC meeting.

    The latest developments in the Mideast are expected to be discussed at the meeting.

    [06] Retired general admits that the Turkish army applied bombing tactics

    Under the title: Uttering of an angry top retired general? The New Anatolian newspaper (31.07.2006) publishes the following commentary by Ilnur Cevik:

    An interview published in weekly Aktuel shocked us when a famous retired general declared that the Semdinli bombing was a botched job by soldiers, adding that during his command in eastern Turkey he too had ordered a few bombings to keep local authorities on their toes...

    We waited a few days to see the reactions and the attitude of the Turkish military leadership before we made any comment on the issue.

    The military leadership has distanced itself from these remarks and has ordered an investigation. That is what they should have done, and that is what they did. However, we feel any such investigation should not just be limited to the remarks of the general but to all the suspected covert operations of the military in eastern and southeastern Turkey directed at Kurdish activists.

    Retired Maj. Gen. Altay Tokat told Aktuel that the bomb attack on a bookstore owned by a Kurdish activist in Semdinli in the Hakkari province was a "message" to the Kurdish separatists by the military, but it was done in a clumsy manner and thus failed.

    The bomb in Semdinli was planted by a PKK informant and went off, killing one person. According to a court ruling the bomb attack was carried out under orders from two Gendarmerie intelligence officers who used the PKK informant. The soldiers were convicted to prison sentences and are now appealing...

    Gen. Tokat retired in 1999 when he was Turkish Land Forces commander heading the Inspection and Assessments Department. So he is privy to much sensitive information and should know what is going on in the army...

    The general said that when he was in command of forces in eastern and southeastern Turkey he too ordered the bombing of places as a "warning." He said state officials coming from the western provinces do not understand the severity of the separatist problem in eastern and southeastern Turkey and thus he felt he should make them see the reality. So he ordered bombings near the houses of these officials so that they would then be more alert...

    Of course these are serious revelations. Let us hope what the general said he did are exceptions and not the rule. But the Semdinli case shows that there are others like the general who are either taking matters into their own hands or they are ordered to do all this.

    If people take matters into their own hands this is very dangerous, but can be overcome with more training and penalties. If people with guns and the resources of the military start taking matters into their own hands and act on misconceptions, then we have a very dangerous situation which has to be halted.

    However, if the incidents are systematic and are ordered from a center then we feel there is a very serious problem which the military has to address. All this has to come out into the open.

    Why has the general made these statements at this time is a mystery. If he has a grudge and wants to settle some accounts because he was not promoted, then this is one thing. But if he realizes that his revelations are actually incriminating the armed forces and wants to do this to correct some mistakes, then that is another matter.

    What is important is that Gen. Tokat has let the cat out of the bag. Instead of putting it back in the bag, the military has a mission to investigate the issue from all angles and tell the nation the truth.

    [07] Hardliner General Buyukanit appointed Chief of Staff. His curriculum vitae

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (31.07.06) reported the following from Ankara:

    President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has signed the decree by the Council of Ministers appointing Ground Forces Commander General Yasar Buyukanit as Chief of the General Staff, effective as of 30 August 2006.

    General Buyukanit, who prior to the Supreme Military Council meeting which will begin tomorrow has been announced to replace General Hilmi Ozkok, who will retire as of 30 August 2006, was born in Istanbul on 1 September 1940. Buyukanit, who graduated from the Erzincan Military High School in 1959 and the Ground Forces School in 1961 as an infantry officer, completed the Infantry School in 1963. General Buyukanit served as Platoon and Commando Company Commander in various units of the Ground Forces Command during the years 1963-1970. Buyukanit, who in 1970 entered the Ground Forces Academy and graduated in 1972 as a Staff Officer, served as Operations Department Chief of the 6th Infantry Division during the years 1972-1973, on the Faculty of the Ground Forces Academy during the years 1973-1977, as Intelligence Directorate Department Chief at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe) Headquarters in Mons, Belgium, during the years 1977-1979, on the Faculty of the Ground Forces Academy during the years 1979-1980, as Department Chief in the General Staff Personnel Directorate during the years 1980-1983, as Commander of the Kuleli Military High School during the years 1983-1986, and as Commander of the Presidential Protection Regiment during the years 1986-1988.

    General Buyukanit, who completed the NATO Defense College and in 1988 was promoted to Brigadier General, served in this rank as Commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade and, during the First Gulf Operation, as Intelligence Department Chief at the AFSOUTH (Joint Force Command Naples) Headquarters in Naples, Italy.

    Promoted to Major General in 1992, Buyukanit served in this rank as General Secretary of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff and for three years as Commander of the Ground Forces School; he was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1996 and commanded the 7th Army Corps from 1996 to 1998 and then served as General Staff Operations Commander during the years 1998-2000.

    Promoted to Full General in 2000, he served as Deputy Chief of the General Staff during the years 2000-2003, and as 1st Army Commander during the years 2003-2004. He was appointed Ground Forces Commander in 2004.

    General Buyukanit, whose appointment as Chief of the General Staff as of 30 August 2006, decided upon by the Council of Ministers, was signed today by President Sezer, has been awarded the TSK (Turkish Armed Forces) Superior Service Medal, the Superior Courage and Devotion Medal, the Medal of Honor, the Italian Armed Forces Decoration of Honor, the US Armed Forces Superior Merit Decoration, and the Pakistani Armed Forces Order of Merit. Buyukanit, married to Filiz Buyukanit, has one child.

    Moreover, Ankara TRT 2 Television (31.07.06) broadcast the following:

    First message from Gen Yasar Buyukanit, whose appointment as chief of the General Staff will be effective on 30 August: No one must underestimate Turkey. Turkey can overcome every kind of difficulty with its potential.

    General Buyukanit attended the reception that was held on the occasion of KKTC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) Army Day. Speaking to journalists, he said that he recently observed that lack of self-confidence is the most serious deficiency in the country. Stressing that a difficult era exists in Turkey, he said: No one must underestimate Turkey. Turkey is a country that can overcome every kind of difficulty with its potential. What has Turkey gone through thus far? Compare the present situation with the time when the war of liberation was fought. Did a difficult situation exist at that time or does it exist now? In view of that, we must trust ourselves. Turkey can achieve success.

    Finally, Turkish daily HURRIYET newspaper (01.08.06) reports that in order to preclude General Yasar Buyukanit from being appointed as the Turkish Armed Forces Chief of the General Staff a slander campaign has started in Turkey where the campaigners make use of e-mail and other electronic information disseminating means. The e-mail campaign alleges that General Buyukanit is of a Jewish origin and that if he becomes Chief of the General Staff he will help Israel. In order to put an end to this kind of smearing campaign, Turkish President Ahmet Sezer contrary to accepted practices without waiting the Supreme Military Councils decision yesterday signed the necessary decree that appoints General Buyukanit as the Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces.


    [08] Turkish Police detain 130 Kurds for attending DTP Diyarbakir meeting

    Turkish Daily News newspaper (31.07.06) publishes the following report under the title: "Police detain 130 in Southeast meeting":

    More than 100 people were detained yesterday at a meeting organized by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) on the grounds that the function was linked to a separatist Kurdish "terrorist organization," security sources said.

    Police said the meeting in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa was held in the name of the "terrorist organization," the official term used by Turkish authorities to describe the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

    DTP Sanliurfa Chairman Ibrahim Binici dismissed that the meeting was linked to Kongra-Gel, a PKK offshoot.

    "There is no such thing," he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

    The detainees were expected to appear in court after testifying to police and some of them could end up facing criminal charges. The DTP was set up in November and has come under fire for sympathizing with the PKK ever since then.


    [09] Commentary in RADIKAL analyses the new stage of the plan to dissolve PKK

    Istanbul RADIKAL newspaper (31.07.06) publishes the following column by Ismet Berkan under the title: "Disbanding the PKK: Plan at new stage":

    In the days following the bombing in Semdinli Murat Yetkin and I had a chat in the office of the most senior official at the top of one of the state's most senior security units.

    To say "chat" does not really cover what we were doing; I mean it was not a small chat over coffee or anything like that. We were seeking information about the state's most important security problem. Our conversation was not what we call in journalism "deep background" or not for publication; it was more "informative" in nature while not stating the source. Our high ranking source says that he has been working for months now between various institutions of the state - in other words shuttling between various levels of the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces], various units in the government plus the Presidency, and has been trying to forge a consensus. In the end, all the offices he was speaking to reached a form of consensus and even got a National Security Council resolution made on the matter making it a form of state policy.

    The stages gone through when creating this consensus were important. Firstly, it was important to acknowledge the facts in Iraq, especially in northern Iraq. For, unless it was acknowledged that there really is a Federal Kurdish State on the other side of our border, and if we continued to deny that Mas'ud Barzani is the legal ruler of that federal state, if we continue to speak of him as "a tribal chieftain" or "a man whose pay checks we were writing up until a short time ago" or "the man who up until recently could not go anywhere before Ankara gave him a passport" then there was no way to implement the plan to disband the PKK.

    The biggest difficulty was the acknowledgement of these facts. Even if senior state officials and politicians did acknowledge this behind closed doors, further down the ladder there is still serious resistance being put up against this. That same climate exists in the media and to some extent in public opinion. Besides, politicians add to this resistance with their speeches from time to time.

    However, once these facts were acknowledged at the top and on paper the state moved into action. The first stage of the plan was for MIT (National Intelligence Organization) Under Secretary Emre Taner to visit Barzani, whom he calls "a close friend" and then Iraq's President Talabani. He informed them of Turkey's new state policy and what Turkey expected of these two important Kurdish leaders in the plan to disband the PKK.

    The meeting with Barzani went particularly well. Barzani said he would do all he could short of getting into a shooting war with the PKK, and it looks like he is keeping his word. But it is not enough that Barzani keeps his word. It is absolutely necessary that many actors here starting with Turkey and the United States take on duties in this and do what they must simultaneously.

    The Deputy Chief of Staff Gen Ilker Basbug told the press one important part of the disbaning plan in June 2005, many months before we had our conversation. Gen Basbug, who is expected to become Commander Land Forces on 30 August this year, said back then that the PKK had some 5,000 members in the mountains, that 3,000 or so of them had joined up after 1999, which meant that they had not taken up arms and therefore not committed any crimes, and that therefore these people could cross back into Turkey and enter the towns and villages with absolutely no legal action being taken against them.

    The senior security official with whom Murat Yetkin and I spoke said that this was the hardest point on which to reach a consensus, and that the Ministry of Justice, the Interior Ministry and some elements in the military were still offering considerable resistance to this notion.

    Work here was being conducted in secret because of public sensitivities regarding "amnesties" but was made public when Fatih Cekirge wrote about it in the HURRIYET newspaper a couple of months back. In one respect the news was leaked out. Was this a deliberate attempt to obstruct the work here? Most likely it was. But afterwards, certain people (not institutions but people, be aware of this!) who wanted to disrupt the disbanding plan, and I will go into detail later, did a few things, and are continuing to do things.

    One of the toughest parts of the plan was the question as to what would become of the leadership and command staff the PKK had in the mountains. Mas'ud Barzani introduced a proposal for this. Later on Jalal Talabani showed a similar path.

    Turkey should not speak out against this leadership cadre leaving Iraq and preferably going to any northern European country. Our source said that a consensus was reached on this point, albeit with some difficulty.

    While this plan was being worked on and its foundations built the PKK announced it was going to resume armed actions. Since then it has used remotely controlled land mines and other explosive devices to take many lives, and it continues to do so. As the plan slowly went into effect the PKK grew bolder and went back to its old tactics of hitting outposts and staging ambushes.

    In other words, the PKK was aware of the plan to disband it and decided to fight back. This in turn made it difficult for the plan to do any good. The plan to break up the organization had envisaged a veiled willingness. In other words, those who had not taken part in any action would return to Turkey while the leadership went to Europe. But, with PKK actions increasing it soon became apparent that this willingness no longer existed. Furthermore, unblooded PKK militants were rapidly becoming blooded criminals. But it was not as if nothing good came out of this misfortune. The increase in martyred soldiers was the last straw for Turkey. Its threats to enter northern Iraq were taken seriously by Barzani, Talabani and the United States. In the end things began happening in northern Iraq.

    Some of them we learned in yesterday's edition of the SABAH newspaper in an article by Ankara correspondent Asli Aydintasbas. The source she spoke to (presumably the same one as ours) told here that Barzani and Talabani's Peshemrga forces had begun breaking up the PKK and closing down its logistic channels. This was no doubt an important development.

    In other words, despite all the hold ups and efforts to hold it back this plan was still the best one that Turkey had to offer, and all the institutions starting with the government said they were behind it.

    So, does the plan stand any chance of succeeding? No doubt it does, and its success can be brought about. However, PKK resistance is an important problem. Furthermore, this resistance, in other words the stepping up of PKK violence, is already undermining the none-too-strong domestic support for the plan.

    When we were having this chat, the outline of which I have tried to explain here, the Semdinli bombing was still very fresh. Our source said that while he had no definite information on this he was suspicious that the bombing had been an attempt to resist the plan to disband the PKK. Finally, we should add to this chain the scandal exposed by Lt. Gen (ret) Altay Tokat in his interview with Aktual magazine. I have never taken seriously arguments that there are "war lobbyists" in Turkey whose interests occasionally overlap those of the PKK. However, I do have increasing suspicions that certain people, especially security personnel who have been serving in the region for a long time, wish for a climate of conflict.

    In fact, none of what I have written here is new. Both Murat Yetkin and I wrote what we had learned in RADIKAL in the days following the interview, and made headline news out of it. Afterwards, MIT Assistant Under Secretary Cevat Ones wrote a letter to RADIKAL defending the main points of the plan. He suggested a "democratic solution" to the Kurdish problem. In interviews we held later we learned more details about the plan to disband the PKK, which Murat Yetkin duly wrote about. Now, going by what Asli Aydintasbas has written, it is clear that the plan to disband the PKK is at a new stage.

    [10] Commentary analyses the dilemmas faced by the ruling Islamic government of Turkey between the Islamic countries and Israel and the US

    Under the title: Erdogan, Larry King and peacekeeping force in Lebanon The New Anatolian newspaper (31.07.06) publishes the following commentary by Huseyin Bagci:

    As a guest on CNN's "Larry King Live" last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that if the hot war ceases Turkey would consider taking part in an international peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

    What Erdogan stated was no surprise but rather a continuation of Turkish state tradition. Since the Korean War of 1950-1953, Turkey has been sending troops to areas of international conflict and in particular the country's contribution to international peacekeeping missions has been on the rise since the '90s.

    What's new now? Turkey, with this government, has great sympathy for both Hezbollah and Hamas, and for Erdogan it's also a question of prestige as his Islamist policies are now being questioned more than ever.

    Not necessarily by Israel but by Hamas and Hezbollah. Criticism in Turkey that Ankara should stay out of involvement in the Middle East conflict, even under the United Nations, is mostly ideological and such statements ignore a "realpolitik" term: Strategic depth.

    How can Turkey distance itself from this conflict if there's an urgent need to stop the war? Turkey's responsibility within the UN compels the country to be there with other countries, just like in Afghanistan, Bosnia or Kosovo.

    The Israeli government suddenly accepted a cease-fire and requested an international peacekeeping force on the Lebanese border. The question whether Israel is serious or if it's another tactic to gain time to inflict more damage on Hezbollah remains to be seen. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said over the weekend that they'll continue to fight Israel, a comment stating the impossibility of establishing peace in the region in the short term.

    The visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Israel was actually meant to stop the conflict. Israel has already fulfilled its military goals. It cannot push further under today's conditions because people throughout the world have been turning against Israel. Saturday's demonstrations from Australia and Asia to Africa and European capitals indicate that enough is enough. Israel should read the message properly.

    The Turkish prime minister's appearance on CNN was widely covered and cited in the international press. His possible answers were carefully selected by his advisors, who told him not to take a stern anti-Israeli stance.

    He employed a surprisingly soft rhetoric this time, and Larry King didn't seem that convinced by his comments. However, his appearance was important because Turkey is part of the "new Middle East" of which Rice spoke recently. Turkey's place in the Greater Middle East Initiative (GME) is greater than one realizes and the problem is whether Turkey will be able to deal with it.

    Erdogan is aware that his government's decision will face very strong domestic criticism and the more Turkey fails to fight the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the more the government will face criticism for sending troops abroad while carrying out a war at home.

    Arab countries are also criticizing Turkey's traditional pro-Israeli policy.

    Nowadays Iran, along with some other countries, considers Turkish-Iranian relations to be excellent at the moment. However Turkey's participation in the peacekeeping force isn't yet a fact. We have to wait and see whether Hezbollah and Hamas will attack Turkish soldiers under a UN mission. Both Hezbollah and Hamas are proxies of Iran and Syria, and Turkey enjoys very good relations with both countries. This is a challenge to the Turkey-Iran-Syria triangle. Erdogan assumes that it won't be the case. We'll see.

    Before Erdogan appeared on CNN, he invited some journalists close to him to his new Istanbul office on the Bosphorus. It was like wine selection, a selection of journalists with whom he feels comfortable.

    Understandable. However those journalists always praise him or at least write good things about him and his party. Again that's understandable, because he can invite who he wants. But the Turkish press is becoming more and more divided and this isn't good for him. Erdogan's confidence may be superficial. What former President Suleyman Demirel once said -- a party with no experience in opposition faces difficulties in elections -- is true.

    At the moment the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party seems to be coping with problems but there are no early elections and a year is a long time. During that year the Middle East problem will be there but we don't know what kind of Middle East we'll see. The greatest enemy of the government is an escalation of nationalism. Not Islam but the PKK fight and rising nationalism will determine the winner of the next elections.

    This week the leadership of the Turkish military, which is not free from criticism over its fight against the PKK, will be changed. The military has been accused of not being harsh enough.

    This is the strength of Israel in the eyes of the pro-Israeli masses: Israel quickly implements destructive measures. Now the prime minister's greatest problem will be the loss of many Turkish soldiers' lives and state officials. There's no end in sight. "Before solving other conflicts," strong critics of Erdogan say, "he should put out the fire at home."

    Until now Erdogan has given the image of a strong leader who's ready to take risks in the Middle East. He's relying on Arab and Iranian support in Middle East politics. Of course the U.S. is the strongest card in his hands and both Israel and the U.S. will force Turkey to take part in the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

    Should Turkey go to Lebanon? The answer to that question asked by many in the Turkish press is clear: There's no other option for the government. Turkey's presence seems to be a necessity in the historical context. However whether the UN will be successful in Lebanon is another question.

    Yes there's a new Middle East there and Turkey is already part of it. That's why Erdogan and all his advisors with "strategic depth" have followed a pro-Arab and pro-Islamist policy.


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