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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-08-31

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] The Italian tourism Boscolo Firm will invest in occupied Cyprus
  • [02] The occupation regime introduced eco tourism to an Italian family
  • [03] The Turkish Armed Forces Day was celebrated in occupied Cyprus. Messages issued to mark the event
  • [04] Talat continues his contacts with the Turkish Cypriot political parties prior to his meeting with President Papadopoulos- He met with the Freedom and Reform Party
  • [05] Talat meets with Malta´s St Jones church chorus
  • [06] DTP accuses the Turkish army of using chemical weapons against PKK
  • [07] The first trip of President Gul and PM Erdogan will be to the US to attend the UN General Assembly Session
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [08] Turkish Think Tank Panel assesses foreign policy problems facing new government. Cyprus among them
  • [09] Columnist assesses the Turkish foreign policy that will be followed by the new Erdogan government


    [01] The Italian tourism Boscolo Firm will invest in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.08.07) reports that the self-styled minister of foreign affairs Turgay Avci met yesterday with Mr Angelo Boscolo, chairman of the executive committee of the Italian Boscolo Firm, who came to the TRNC with the aim of making investments.

    Speaking during the meeting Mr Angelo Boscolo stated that the Boscolo Firm, which was established by four Italian families, is active in the areas of travelling, engineering, restoration and the hotel sector and it also runs schools which offer education in the fields of catering and hotel services.

    Giving detailed information on the activities of the firm, Mr Angelo Boscolo stated that the firm has a fleet of aircraft and offers airport management services as well and that all the services they offer contribute to the countries they invest and not only to their firm.

    Mr Boscolo expressed admiration for the TRNC where he will invest, as he said, and added that they will be happy if they provide employment and offer help. We wish to make investments which will leave their mark in time and will be a deposit for tomorrow, he said.

    On his part, Mr Avci stated that as a result of the conferences he participated recently in Italy and because of the Italians who asked for the TRNC citizenship, the relations with Italy have rabidly developed.

    He said that Boscolo met with various officials and examined the investment areas and that the Italian businessman is thinking of making large tourism investments in fields like hotels, golf and shopping centres.

    Mr Avci also stated that they will open the TRNC to the world, but this will take place step by step and gradually. As he said the Turkish Cypriots will become united with the world and this event is just a part of it.

    The self-styled minister of economy and tourism Erdogan Sanlidag was also present at the meeting.


    [02] The occupation regime introduced eco tourism to an Italian family

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.08.07) reports in its inside pages that some Italian tourists were introduced to eco tourism in occupied Galatia village. The paper writes that the Nitovikla Garden Hotel, which is located in occupied Koma tou Yiallou village, the construction of which started last year and which will start operating soon, introduced Karpass to the first Italian group. The officials of the hotel, who continue their efforts for the hotel to operate with a capacity of 10 rooms and 20 beds, introduced to the Italian music composer Manfrini Maurizio, along with an Italian family consisting of nine persons, first Keryneia and then Karpasss sun, coast, history and special products.


    [03] The Turkish Armed Forces Day was celebrated in occupied Cyprus. Messages issued to mark the event

    Illegal Bayrak television (30.08.07) broadcast the following:

    Turkey is celebrating its 85th anniversary of the Victory Day today.The day is also dedicated to the Turkish Armed Forces.

    The 30th August Victory Day is also being celebrated in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus with various events.

    The celebrations of Turkeys Victory Day in the TRNC kicked off this morning with the Commander of the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces- Lieutenant General Hayri Kivrikoglu receiving well-wishers during a reception held at the Cyprus Turkish Regimental Headquarters in Lefkosia.

    The reception was attended by President Mehmet Ali Talat, the Acting Speaker of the Parliament Mehmet Bayram, Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer, and the Turkish Ambassador to Lefkosia Turkekul Kurttekin, commanders, ministers, political party leaders and representatives from civil society organizations.Various ceremonies are being held in the capital Lefkosia, Girne (occupied Keryneia), Gazimagusa (occupied Famagusta), Guzelyurt (occupied Morfou), Iskele (occupied Trikomo) and Lefke (occupied Lefka) to celebrate the Turkish Day of Victory.

    The ceremony in Lefkosia, which was attended by President Mehmet Ali Talat, high ranking government officials and military officials as well as many other guests, started with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Ataturk Monument which was then followed with a military parade at the Doctor Fazil Kucuk Boulevard.The ceremony in Iskele was held in front of the Ecevit Square where wreaths were laid, and a minute of silence was observed.

    The ceremony in Iskele ended with a military parade.

    Meanwhile, the Commandership of the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces will also be holding public receptions in 7 locations, which will take place between 7.30 and 9.30 pm this evening.

    The 30th August- Victory Day marks the victory of the Turkish army against the invading imperialist forces in Anatolia during the Turkish War of Liberation which then led to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.

    On the same issue, illegal Bayrak television (30.08.07) broadcast messages issued for the anniversary as follows:

    Government officials and political party representatives have issued messages marking the 85th anniversary of the Turkish Day of Victory.

    In his message, Foreign Minister and the Leader of the Freedom and Reform Party, Turgay Avci, stated that the Republic of Turkey gained its sovereignty and independence following the victory at the Turkish War of Liberation.Mr Avci said the support of an independent Turkey paved the way for the Turkish Cypriot People to maintain its existence stronger.

    The Leader of the main opposition National Unity Party, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, said in his message that the Turkish Armed Forces is the only provider and protector of peace in Cyprus.

    Mr Ertugruloglu pointed out that Turkey gained its strong sovereignty with a Turkish history full of victories.

    Messages were also issued by various associations throughout the Republic which underlined the fact that Turkey proved its independence to the whole world with its victory of the Turkish War of Liberation.

    Commenting on the parade, Turkish Cypriot Afrika newspaper (31.08.07) reports under the title These are peace missiles and writes in its first page about the celebrations of the Victory Day which took place yesterday in occupied Cyprus and publishes a picture of the military parade. Under the picture the paper puts the following caption: Is this a peace island or a powder keg? As the paper writes, for one more time the military power of Turkey in the island was proved because of the 30 August Victory Festivities which were organised yesterday in Lefkosia. At the parade, which took place at the Dr Fazil Kucuk Boulevard, heavy weapons, cannons and missile lunching-site pads were displayed. Mehmet Ali Talat, Ferdi Sabit Soyer, Rauf Denktas and the commanding officers of the army participated in the ceremony. Mehmet Ali Talat and Kivrikoglu congratulated together the units of the army.

    [04] Talat continues his contacts with the Turkish Cypriot political parties prior to his meeting with President Papadopoulos- He met with the Freedom and Reform Party

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (31.08.07) reports that Mr Mehmet Ali Talat continues his contacts with the Turkish Cypriot political parties which are represented in the self-styled assembly in order to exchange views and to inform the parties on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and his forthcoming meeting with President Papadopoulos on the 5th of September.

    Mr Talat received yesterday the chairman of the Freedom and Reform Party Turgay Avci who stated, inter alia, that the meeting between the two leaders is a positive development. Mr Avci also said that the two sides must listen to each other and that the meeting will be useful for the starting of talks, which can lead to a comprehensive solution based on the political equality.

    He also accused President Papadopoulos of asking for the meeting with Mehmet Ali Talat because of the forthcoming presidential elections.


    [05] Talat meets with Malta´s St Jones church chorus

    Illegal Bayrak television (30.08.07) publishes the following in its website:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat has said that the Greek Cypriot Sides unilateral membership to the European Union raised difficulties in the way for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    The President was speaking during a visit paid to him today by members of the Malta St Jones Church Chorus headed by the TRNCs Culture Attaché to Germany Turgay Hilmi.

    The Chorus will perform at Bellapais Monastery tomorrow night.

    Speaking during the visit, President Mehmet Ali Talat reminded that the European Union for the first time in its history had accepted the membership of a divided country and said that this is an uncommon situation.

    Noting that there are important similarities between the Cyprus problem and Malta, Mr Talat said that the Turkish Cypriot people have been excluded from the European Union while Malta became a member of the bloc.

    He also complained that the Greek Cypriot Sides unilateral membership to the European Union raised obstacles in the way for a solution to the Cyprus problem.Pointing out that the Turkish Cypriot Side is making efforts to solve the political deadlock on the island, the President said that both sides have to show the same willingness towards a solution to the problem.

    The Malta St Jones Church Chorus will be giving a concert together with a Chorus from the Girne Music Education Centre at Bellapais Monastery tomorrow evening.

    The choruses will be accompanied by the Orchestra of the Antalya State Opera and Ballet from Turkey.

    The TRNC-Malta Friendship Concert will be open to the public.

    [06] DTP accuses the Turkish army of using chemical weapons against PKK

    Istanbul NTV (30.08.07) broadcast the following:

    The Democratic Society Party [DTP], which issued a message on the occasion of 30 August Victory Day, accused the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] of using chemical weapons during the operations conducted against the PKK.

    The message demanded that the operations cease. The DTP message also stated that the bodies of the 11 terrorists who were killed in the rural sector of Sirnak's Uludere District have still not been handed over to their families. The message claimed that this situation strengthens the assertion that chemical weapons were used in the operation.

    The message also expressed the belief that the solution of the Kurdish problem within a unitary structure can be attained through democratic means.

    Calling on the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government to cease the operations, the DTP declared: "On the occasion of 1 September World Peace Day, let us launch a brand new move to install internal peace in our country. The solution lies in accepting differences within the integrity of the country and in democracy; and not in operations, military methods, or in denial and annihilation."

    Pointing out that the 30 August victory was brought about through the struggle waged together by the Turkish and Kurdish peoples, the statement remarked: "Let us open a new page to also allow the Kurdish people to celebrate this day in an honourable manner."

    [07] The first trip of President Gul and PM Erdogan will be to the US to attend the UN General Assembly Session

    Turkish Daily newspaper Sabah (31.08.07) reports that the first trip of President Gul together with PM Erdogan will be to the United States, to attend the UN General Assembly Session. The meeting will be on the 24th September and Mr Erdogan will deliver a speech about Global Warming.

    Writes the paper: With the election of Abdullah Gul as President of the Republic an aspiration of Prime Minister Erdogan is materialized. From now on with our Esteemed President we will go to all openings and meetings together, said Erdogan and this aspiration will become reality with their trip to the United States in September.


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [08] Turkish Think Tank Panel assesses foreign policy problems facing new government. Cyprus among them.

    On 29 August, the website of the Foreign Policy Institute ( posts the transcript of "Round Table: Foreign Policy Problems Facing the New Government in Turkey" with the participation of Seyfi Tashan; moderator and director of Turkish Foreign Policy Institute; Resat Arim, retired ambassador, Board Member of Foreign Policy Institute; Retired Ambassador Pulat Tacar; and Retired Ambassador Onur Gokce.

    The following is the text of the round table discussion:

    Subtitle: Introductory Remarks

    Seyfi Tashan: The results of the elections held in Turkey on the 22nd of July have confirmed the previous ruling party to stay in power for another term of five years. However, the election of the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and the necessity for the establishment of new Government even under the existing Prime Minister will make it necessary to appoint a new foreign Minister who will have to review the foreign policy problems facing Turkey. If I would like to mention some of these problems I could start with our European Agenda and a negotiation process with the EU that is progressing falteringly and not developing as expected. What can the new government do to remedy the situation and how can it revitalize Turkey's EU bid in the face of growing objections to Turkey's membership in several European member countries? The second problem area is Turkey's neighbourhood: Some of the problems are of chronic nature defying solution, such as Cyprus, Aegean Problems and relations with Armenia. The situation in Iraq presents a great challenge not only for the United States but also for Turkey even though for different reasons. The growing power of the Turkish state is reducing the impact of these problems on Turkey's growth potential, the gravity of the Northern Iraq based terrorism is not abating. Iran stands as a significant opportunity for turning Turkey into a vital energy conduit for Europe but its negative impact on Turkey's relations with the United States cannot be ignored. Then, there are great opportunities that could materialize: in the Black Sea region, opportunities for turning the Middle East into a major market for Turkey's exports and investments. There are also significant economic opportunities in the Black Sea and Mediterranean countries and in far flung countries of Asia, Africa, and America; this depending on steady growth of the Turkish economy.

    I would like to start by hearing the views of Ambassador Onur Gokce on these and other challenges before the new government.

    Subtitle: The new government will not be very comfortable in executing its foreign policy

    Onur Gokce: Obviously the Government is coming with the very large support of the parliament, and this majority will no doubt affect its foreign policy approaches. But in this new parliament we have another party, the Nationalist Action Party whose policies were in contradiction with that of the previous government and very likely it will also be against the policies of the new Government with respect to the European Union and in the region. I will believe the new government will not be very comfortable in executing its foreign policy, because of stronger opposition within the parliament. Whether this will make much difference is for us to see. On the one hand they have strong majority in the Parliament. Ironically, the Government of Mr. Erdogan is following the traditional policy of Turkey namely 'peace at home, peace in the world'. Within the country he is following a policy of appeasement towards different groups and in abroad he is said to be following a policy of 'zero problem with our neighbours'. Whether this policy will continue to execute we will see; but the opposition and challenges to this policy is very strong. The European attitude towards Turkey will determine the course of Turkey's European policies and the United States will also play a strong role in impacting on Turkey's policies. There is also the global capital that is affecting international situation and policy including those of Turkey. It is said that because of the support of the global capital this government has come to power with a strong mandate. There are, of course many different definitions of the global capital but it is affecting Turkey's economy in different ways and consequently the Turkish foreign policy which will be shaped by social and economic conditions of the country. There is every reason to believe that they will continue to follow a mild policy and try to avoid confrontations, as they did previously, but this time they have greater political power.

    Subtitle: Can the new Government take up new initiative in Foreign Policy?

    Seyfi Tashan: Next, I turn to Ambassador Resat Arim, who has represented Turkey in several countries and has dealt with many problems that face Turkish foreign policy. I would like to ask him what the most urgent and important problem that will face the new government and, secondly, I would like to comment on the burning issue of Cyprus- an issue on which he has spent many years. This issue is hampering our relations with the European Union, do you see any possible opening on this issue; can the new Government take up new initiatives?

    Resat Arim: I think that the new Government has a chance to be a better player than the previous one. The outgoing government was new in power and had a 'tentative' approach on several issues. Turkey is now undergoing a transformation which will also impact its foreign policy. Turkey expects to be a significant player in its region, however, there are several limitations in its capacity to do so emanating from geo-political conditions, from its neighbourhood, international agreements Turkey has signed with many countries. This is my general thinking but if we take up a specific question, for example, Cyprus. On this issue the previous Government wanted to be active but was scared by the opposition and by the public attitudes. What is ahead for the new Government is to select a policy choice from two alternatives. One is to seek for a permanent solution which is a very difficult task as the solution is not only in Turkey's hands. The second alternative is to try to consolidate the present situation. The efforts of the previous government were partially successful in that it became possible to obtain a positive vote in the Turkish part of Cyprus for the Annan plan. But the Greek Cypriots are adamant in refusing to find a solution to the problem. The other alternative mentioned above requires an effort utilizing all power that Turkey can muster. This will consequently create a problem with the European Union. As far as the European Union is concerned, the Cypriot and mainland Greeks can, of course, block the development of Turkey's relations with the European Union. But Greece is now an experienced member of the European Union and will probably not act in flagrant violation of European norms. But Greek Cypriots still continue to act in violation of the European norms. They do not wish to come to an agreement on the future of the Island. The other EU countries, even though they are exasperated with this Greek attitude, they cannot prevent them from using their right of veto but they may look more favourable to the Turkish position.

    Pulat Tacar: Can you tell me what European norms the Greeks have violated?

    Subtitle: Cyprus and European Norms

    Resat Arim: The general European norm is that you must solve your differences with other countries through peaceful means. The Greek Cypriots had the opportunity for solving the problem by voting for the Annan plan which was prepared by UN, EU and the United States. The plan was put before them and they rejected it. Mr. Verheugen, bitterly criticized but there was no way to prevent the membership of Cyprus. This is one area where Cypriot Greeks have violated European norms.

    Pulat Tacar: I do not agree. Many European countries believe that it is Turkey that is not in line with the European norms and UN Security Council decisions.

    Seyfi Tashan: Let me try to bring some clarity to the issue at hand. Let us see how the norms are set. In 1999 when Turkey became a candidate state we were told that we should resolve our territorial problems with Greece; otherwise, EU would go to International Court of Justice. Since then we did not hear anything further on this subject from the EU. This demand also involves Greece because Greece is a country that has a problem with Turkey. Cypriot Greeks have a problem with Turkey and with the Cypriot Turks. Peaceful relations with neighbors are part and parcel of the European system- that is the old Wilsonian principle also adopted by the European Union. Therefore, we can call this a European norm as well. When we come to the actual mechanism of adopting new members, Europe tries to impose on Turkey many conditions that they avoid doing so for their own members. When we say the norms are violated, this is correct but the mechanism used for the membership process is not violated, because the only requirement is the unanimous consent of all member countries and there has been a unanimous consent for membership of Cyprus, but this may have been done in violation of their own norms and principles.

    Subtitle: Iraqi imbroglio

    Turning away from Cyprus I would like to take another crucial problem that confronts Turkey. Namely: Iraq. Mr. Maliki agrees with the Turkish Prime Minister that Iraq should take action against PKK in Iraq and considers it a terror organization. But then a Kurdish leader Barzani comes up and says that PKK is not a terror organization and they cannot call a Kurdish organization as terrorist. We know that when the AKP won a great majority in the Parliamentary elections they received great support from people of Kurdish origin and at the same time Kurdish ethnic nationalists have entered into the Parliament and have set up parliamentary group. There seems now to exist a curious situation. There may be a chance for a peaceful evolution in South Eastern Turkey or if PKK continues its current murder campaign and Barzani keeps supporting Kurdish megalo-idea, it may be difficult for Turkish armed forces to restrain it from entering in to Northern Iraq to eliminate the source of aggression against Turkey. One question that comes up to mind is: can Turkey enter into dialogue with Barzani, because all other actors prompt Turkey to enter into direct talks with Barzani but Turkey cannot bring itself to recognize Barzani as the President of Kurdish State or entity in Iraq. Now, where can we go? Drawing a path for the future on this will be a very challenging task for the new government. As Ambassador Gokce pointed out the presence in the parliament of members of the Nationalist Action Party will be a factor limiting Government's freedom of action in the diplomatic arena and lead the Government to take up more radical lines. At this point I would like to turn to Ambassador Polat Tacar and invite his comments on this issue as well as human rights aspects of the problems and where we stand in respect to European exigencies and Council of Europe norms and conventions.

    Pulat Tacar: First of all Iraq. We must now look at the reality. Iraq is now divided into three parts. Northern Iraq even under Saddam had a sort of autonomy even though on paper. But know that is a reality. Many countries have contact with Mr. Barzani and deal with him as the Chairperson or President of Northern Iraq. I do not think that we can ignore this power in Northern Iraq. Turkey certainly deals with the Government of Iraq, but the same Turkey has very intensive economic relations with Northern Iraq and we have investments there. I do not think we can ignore that part of Iraq is which rapidly becoming a centre of attractions with many new building, airport, universities granting fellowships, that have television stations financed by Turkish businessmen. France, United Kingdom, Nordic countries, United States recognize this entity there with which they maintain relations. I believe in ten to twenty years we will see a state of Kurdistan created in Northern Iraq. Another path may be followed as we have seen in Kosovo, Nargorno-Karabagh, Abhaz in Georgia, there is the dissociation from the centre and creating mini-states. May be this model will be applied in Iraq also why not in Northern Cyprus. As Greek Cypriots have rejected to be united with the Turks in Northern Cyprus there remains only one way to be followed that is to recognize Northern Cyprus as a separate entity. With regard to human rights issues I believe that the existence in the Parliament of a party composed of our Kurdish citizens is a positive development. Fist of all, I would prefer them to express their views as a political group in the Parliament. If you compare the human rights issues with the norms and standards of Europe there is some improvement in Turkey. For example, even there are still certain court actions under article 301 of the penal code, the situation is rapidly improving.

    Subtitle: Ideology of Kurdish nationalists of Turkey

    The biggest problem, however, is the ideology of the Kurdish nationalists of Turkey. They are against the unitary nature of the Turkish state and they want a confederation. Their advocacy of this ideology will be much criticized by both the People's Party and the Nationalist Action Party. If this ideology is pursued in the Parliament, the Government will be much restricted in its reform process in this area.

    Seyfi Tashan: Before asking for concluding words from Ambassador Gokçe I would like to make a few personal comments on this issue. Number one question to my mind is the division of Iraq. According to Ambassador Tacer this is a reality; but does this division serve the interests of Iraq and those of its neighbours and would it serve to better peaceful relations between Iraq and its neighbours? I believe to the last minute Turkey should support a united Iraq; otherwise, if there is a de facto or de jure Kurdish state on our South Eastern border the Kurdish nationalism may be fed by resources of this state in Northern Iraq and we find ourselves not in a peaceful situation. Let us not forget that like all members of the Parliament DTP members as well have solemnly taken an oath in becoming a member of the Parliament of Turkey to uphold the Constitution of Turkey that stresses inviolability of the unitary nature of the Turkish state and its nation. Furthermore, although elected in one constituency the parliaments represent the entire nation and if Kurdish issues become the centre of their parliamentary actions they will be acting against the unity of the nation. If on the contrary they act as Parliamentarians of Turkey in every respect they will constitute a bridge between the regions where they have been elected and the entire country. The other political parties also have a responsibility for including them in all parliamentary action and not act in an exclusivist manner.

    Subtitle: Iraq: Searching for an Interlocutor

    Onur Gokce: I agree with most of what you have said. I want to add a few remarks both on Iraq and on Cyprus. I think the government is finding it difficult to find the right address before addressing the issue. They have a regional leader Barzani, there is the Government of Iraq with Prime Minister Maliki and the United States. The country is in a shambles, Barzani heads a group in Northern Iraq, Maliki, though Prime Minister is not supported by except the Kurds, the United States cannot control the situation but has a big project for the region that is the Broader Middle East policy. Under these conditions Turkey is finding it difficult to find a real interlocutor for Iraq and until it can find him it is extremely difficult for it to develop a coherent foreign policy towards Iraq.

    In respect to Cyprus I believe there is an illegality from which the Greek Cypriots and Greece are benefiting. Illegality in the sense that they are running away from legal platform trying to put it on political platform. As long as they continue to do that they have been successful because the political problem was the European Union. Their claim that they have not violated any norms may be true because the norms they refer to are the European Union norms but they have certainly violated other norms as the founding Treaties of the Cyprus Republic which are still in force as far as I can remember. Under these treaties Cyprus could not have become a member of EU without violating the treaties and if this is a violation the EU is also a party to this violation.

    [09] Columnist assesses the Turkish foreign policy that will be followed by the new Erdogan government

    Under the title Turkish foreign policy in the new era, Turkish daily newspaper Todays Zaman (31.08.07) publishes the following commentary by Ali H. Aslan:

    A senior official who deals with foreign policy for Prime Minister Erdogans government recently assured me that there will be no interruption in Turkeys current international track. Now that the country has a new president and renewed Cabinet, including a foreign minister, we can discuss the possibilities.

    The Justice and Development Partys (AK Party) first term running foreign policy was an open question for both Turkey and the world. Despite a lack of sufficient prior experience in the area, they proved to be generally successful in handling many major international challenges. Thanks to the governments tireless efforts and unprecedented reforms, Turkey started full membership negotiations with Europe in 2005 -- a historic achievement. They broke ranks with the pro-status quo Cyprus policy at the risk of infuriating many in the bureaucratic establishment, especially the military, by endorsing a 2004 referendum on the island for the controversial Annan Plan. It was also remarkable that the ruling party was able to say no to adamant US requests to open a northern front through Turkey before the Iraq War. These three important choices alone have showed that Turkey has a new kind of government which can be proactive, taking initiatives and risks in foreign policy.

    The AK Party government was able to act like that in spite of the fact that the Turkish economy has not fully recovered from potential crisis. Given the economic successes of the previous term combined with the powerful mandate from almost 50 percent of the Turkish nation as seen in the July 22 general elections, the world should expect an even more confident government when it comes to foreign affairs. In the Turkish system, the major direction of foreign policy is determined at National Security Council (MGK) meetings, where all heads of decision-making entities are represented. The president, prime minister, chief of general staff, foreign minister and defense minister -- they are all there. The MGK will now be chaired by a new president, Abdullah Gul. Former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was an obstructionist when it came to foreign policy and with Gul in his spot there will certainly be a more comfortable run for the AK Party.

    Turkish presidents may have different attitudes when it comes to dealing with foreign policy. Some may choose to be active like Turgut Ozal and Suleyman Demirel; others might prefer staying behind the curtains like Sezer. Gül, who served as the foreign minister for the last four-and-a-half years, is expected to be an addition to the first group. Having someone with international experience and contacts at the Cankaya Presidential Palace is an asset for Turkey. Turkish foreign policy will be mainly run and coordinated by the Gul-Erdogan duo. The new foreign minister, Ali Babacan, the boss of the Turkish economy in the former Cabinet, would act as a facilitator. Babacans especially close personal ties with Gül will make consultation and cooperation among the two easier. Foreign policy is not a completely new territory for Babacan because he has been the chief negotiator with the European Union. As far as Im concerned, Babacan is a detail-oriented work dog and a neat leader with an extraordinarily fast learning curve. We will see how his relationship with the Turkish diplomatic corps will play out. Babacans good reputation and strong connections in world economic circles is certainly an asset. With his perfect English, soft-spoken style, careful talking and dynamic image, I expect him to be a successful representative and an efficient spokesman for Turkey.

    In the upcoming five years, Turkey will continue to pursue an assertive foreign policy on many fronts. Despite increasing worries among the old elite, the Gul-Erdogan duo will remain committed to the EU process because they are fully aware that without it Turkeys democratic stability and economic pace would be endangered. They are both pragmatic and realist enough to keep things on track with the US. But at the same time, you will see the trend toward a relatively more independent Turkish policy, especially in the Middle East, being continued. When it comes to dealing with Iran and Syria, Turkeys zero problems with neighbors strategy will keep intimidating many in Washington. The US will wish the zero problems strategy could come true with Iraq, especially given the tension over Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) presence in the northern parts of the country. I dont think Turkey will ultimately risk its international position with a large-scale unilateral military action just to fight the PKK there. Major problems that might later emanate from Kirkuks status would be a more probable reason for Turkey to intervene if deemed necessary. But thats not a question for the short term.

    Turkey can deal with risks in its very volatile neighborhood and at the same time benefit from opportunities if only Turkish leaders can build consensus resulting in a better coordinated foreign policy management. Lets hope for the best.


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