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Turkish Press Review, 04-05-11
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr><LINK href="http://www.byegm.gov.tr_yayinlarimiz_chr_pics_css/tpr.css" rel=STYLESHEET type=text/css> e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org <caption> <_caption> Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
11.05.2004FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 CICEK: “PARLIAMENT WILL DECIDE ON THE YOK BILL”Following a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said that the government would send the Higher Board of Education (YOK) bill to Parliament for its deputies to make a decision. Stressing that Turkey was a democratic country in which the Constitution specified all state organs’ authorities and responsibilities, Cicek said that everybody should respect the Parliament’s decision. He added that Sureyya Serdengecti, governor of the Central Bank, had briefed the Cabinet ministers on recent economic developments. /Turkiye/
 RECTORS VISITS PARLIAMENT TO PROTEST NEW YOK BILLA group of rectors and lecturers from several universities yesterday visited Parliament to protest the government’s Higher Board of Education (YOK) bill. A statement read out by the group said that through this bill the government wanted to increase the influence of the religious imam hatip high schools and further urged that these schools be closed. Then the lecturers met with representatives from both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). /Aksam/
 GUL NAMES TURKEY’S CANDIDATE TO HEAD OICForeign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday introduced Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Turkey’s candidate for the leadership post of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), to the OIC countries’ representatives in Ankara. Stressing that Turkey placed a special importance on its ties with the Islamic world, Gul said that the OIC should work to take a greater role on the international stage. He added that should Ihsanoglu become the OIC’s new secretary-general, a post with a four-year term, he would serve well towards this aim. /Turkiye/
 ERDOGAN: “SUPPORTING THE DISABLED IS A MARK OF MODERNITY”In a message issued to mark Disabled Week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday stated that the amount of interest and support a society gives to its handicapped members signals its level of modernity and understanding of public welfare. He also called on all groups and citizens to work together with the government to improve conditions for the disabled. /Turkiye/
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT DECLINES INVITATION TO NATO SUMMIT IN ISTANBULArmenian officials announced yesterday that President Robert Kocharian had declined to attend next month’s NATO summit in Istanbul. According to a statement from the Armenian president's office, the decision was made to protest a lack of progress in relations between Ankara and Yerevan. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan is expected to go in Kocharian’s stead. The statement also underlined that Yerevan remains ready to cooperate with Ankara to improve bilateral relations. /Radikal-Star/
 THREE SUSPECTS IN NATO BOMB PLOT RELEASED, STILL LIKELY TO FACE CHARGESThree suspects accused of planning a bomb attack on next month’s NATO summit in Istanbul were released yesterday. The three men were among nine alleged members of the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Islam who were sent to prison last week in connection with their alleged plans to attack the summit. In response to a petition by their attorneys, the three were set free by a Bursa court on the grounds that the charges against them could change. They are still likely to face prosecution along with the remaining suspects. Turkey has tightened security nationwide in preparation for the NATO summit, which will be attended by prominent world leaders including US President George W. Bush. /Ihlas News Agency/
 ZIYAL MEETS IRANIAN FM DURING BRIEF STOPOVER IN ANKARAForeign Minister Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal last night met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi at Ankara's Esenboga Airport when the latter’s plane stopped for refueling en route to Morocco. Ziyal conveyed to Kharazzi Turkey's uneasiness over Iran’s recent suspension of the right to operate an international airport in Tehran, a concession which had been granted to the Turkish-Austrian consortium Tepe-Akfen-Vie. Ziyal underscored that the operation of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport was the first serious investment by Turkish businessmen in Iran. They also discussed the Cyprus issue, with Ziyal requesting Tehran’s support for an upgrade to “observer” of the status of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) within the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). /Hurriyet-Star/
 UNAKITAN, TUZMEN TO ATTEND OECD MEETING IN PARISFinance Minister Kemal Unakitan and State Minister Kursad Tuzmen are set to attend a two-day Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting beginning in Paris on Thursday. The gathering will focus on economic problems, international trade negotiations and public finance deficits. /Star/
 ARINC TRAVELS TO AMMAN FOR PARLIAMENT SPEAKERS’ MEETINGParliament Speaker Bulent Arinc yesterday travelled to Amman, Jordan to attend a meeting of parliament heads from Iraq’s neighboring states. Speaking before his departure, Arinc said that the gathering would be a good opportunity to exchange views on Iraq’s future. /Cumhuriyet/
 JUSTICE MINISTRY PROPOSES LIMITING JUDICIAL HOLIDAY TO ONE MONTHThe Justice Ministry has prepared a new bill with measures designed to increase the efficiency of the justice system. The bill proposes limiting the traditional summer judicial holiday to one month, i.e. Aug. 5-Sept. 5, and other amendments to various judicial laws. /Turkiye/
 GERMANY’S ROTH PRAISES TURKISH REFORMSParliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul yesterday met with a German delegation chaired by German-Turkish Friendship Group Chairwoman and Greens Party Parliamentarian Claudia Roth. Speaking to journalists after the meetings, Roth stated that the German delegation had discussed with Arinc and Gul three major issues, namely Turkey’s recent reforms along with Iraq and Cyprus. Roth praised the slate of reforms recently approved by the Turkish Parliament such as abolishing both the death penalty and State Security Courts (DGMs). Roth added that she believed Turkey should be integrated into Europe but must first prove its resolve to implement fully the EU’s Copenhagen criteria. /Sabah/
 BLAIR TO VISIT TURKEY NEXT WEEKBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair is due to arrive in Ankara next Monday to pay an official visit. During his stay, Blair is expected to discuss a number of issues with both President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including Turkey’s European Union membership bid, recent developments on the Cyprus issue since Greek Cyprus’ EU accession, and the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. International cooperation against terrorism is another issue on the agenda of the British premier’s visit. /Cumhuriyet/
 ERDOGAN ATTENDS SECOND INFORMATION COUNCILPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday attended the second Information Council held at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (METU_ODTU.) Also present at the gathering were Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener, Education Minister Huseyin Celik, and Trade and Industry Minister Ali Coskun. Addressing the council, Erdogan said that the reforms needed to become an information society were no easy matter, but added that his government would do whatever it takes. “We have the political will necessary to implement these reforms,” added Erdogan. “They will also make it easier for us to get a date [to begin membership negotiations] with the European Union.” /Milliyet/
 IRAQI TURKMEN LEADER SEEKS RENEWED SUPPORT FROM ANKARAIraq Turkmen Front (ITF) Parliament Speaker Saadettin Ergec, who is currently in Turkey to discuss recent developments in his country, said yesterday that recently Ankara’s support for its ethnic Turkmen kin had fallen, adding that he hoped to reverse this trend. Ergec complained that the Turkmen were being left on the sidelines of postwar Iraq. “The Turkmen were left out of the interim constitution,” said Ergec. “We want support to prove that we are one of Iraq’s main elements. We don’t want support just from Turkey, but from all countries which value human rights.” Ergec added that all Iraqis hoped that the current coalition operations would eventually bring democracy and human rights to the country, as now there was still too little of both. /Turkiye/
 FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 YOK AND THE EU BY YILMAZ OZTUNA (TURKIYE)Columnist Yilmaz Oztuna comments on the YOK bill and Turkey’s EU membership bid. A summary of his column is as follows:
“As I was writing this column, everybody was talking about the Higher Board of Education (YOK) bill. Everyone was wondering what the government would do. The YOK bill will be passed by the Parliament, but it’s not likely to be signed at the Presidential Palace or approved by the Constitutional Court. So did the government do all this in order to say, ‘We did our best’? The government should avoid such political stances, as they might also damage our relations with the European Union. The report on our country Brussels will start to write in September shouldn’t say that we’re contradicting the Copenhagen criteria. Actually the prime ministers of 25 EU member states (and for France, the president) will decide on whether we get a date for EU membership negotiations, but they will depend heavily on the report in reaching their decision.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said that there are alternatives to the EU. If we can’t start negotiations with the EU immediately, we’ll have to review these alternatives. However, this would be hard for both for us and the EU. Closer cooperation with the US and a possible future request to join the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would top this list of alternatives. The ‘wise men’ of the continent should consider how this would influence Europe. However, our own ‘wise men’ should avoid situations that might cast a shadow on our relations with Europe. Any development threatening our democracy could keep us outside the EU. Neither the YOK bill nor any other should take precedence over the EU.”
 FROM FRIENDSHIP TO PARTNERSHIP BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)Columnist Sami Kohen comments on Turkish-Greek relations. A summary of his column is as follows:
“When the prime minister of a host country starts talking about ‘strategic partnership,’ this means that bilateral relations are improving further. It’s quite important that Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis used the term ‘strategic partnership’ during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Athens last week. It may seem too early at this stage to talk about such a partnership, but if the parties display mutual desire and will, then this dream could become a reality. As I said before Erdogan’s trip, his visit was billed not as an ordinary show of friendship, but rather a tour to improve rapprochement and turn friendship into cooperation. I can say that this expectation was realized. We can summarize the results of his visit as follows:
The Cyprus issue has long been a ‘determining factor’ in Turkish-Greek relations, with developments on this issue influencing bilateral ties. A new approach was displayed last week. The Cyprus issue is going down its own path and was less mentioned, and the idea that this issue should remain outside Turkish-Greek relations dominated. This of course signals a shift in Athens’ strategy…
It’s already known that there’s been some improvement in negotiations on the continental shelf issue. Erdogan and Karamanlis agreed to accelerate exploratory negotiations on the Aegean. According to a decision at the European Union’s 1999 summit, if there’s no agreement by this December, then the issue will be brought to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The two premiers are hoping for an agreement before then.
In his meetings and in a joint press conference with Erdogan, Karamanlis said that Greece would support Ankara’s getting a date for EU accession talks. Karamanlis even remarked that this would be a good example for the Greek Cypriot government. Thus, Athens gave us a binding promise.
Another history-making event was Erdogan’s visit to western Thrace, which went off without a hitch. The region hasn’t been visited by a Turkish premier for half a century. Erdogan’s constructive talks improved peace in the region and the confidence in Turkish-Greek relations.
Consequently, the expected solutions were realized during the visit. The important thing here is to keep the dialogue open and turn friendship towards cooperation and perhaps even to a strategic partnership.”
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