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Turkish Press Review, 08-04-22
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
22.04.2008FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS
 TOPTAN MEETS WITH CHILDREN VISITING TURKEY FOR APRIL 23 HOLIDAYParliament Speaker Koksal Toptan yesterday received children from all over the world, all visiting Turkey to participate in tomorrow's April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day celebrations. The children presented gifts native to their countries, and they got presents from Toptan in return. President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also received the children. Tomorrow, Toptan, Gul, Erdogan and other high-level state and government officials will ceremonially hand over their duties to Turkish children to honor the holiday. /Milliyet- Cumhuriyet/
 MAY 1 TO BE LABOR DAY, BUT NOT HOLIDAYAfter yesterday's Cabinet meeting, government Spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said the government had decided that May 1 would be celebrated as a labor and solidarity day in line with other practices worldwide, but it wouldn't be an official holiday. Asked about trade unions' views on the issue, Cicek stressed the current world economic recession, saying, "The Cabinet considered the price tag of this decision, nearly 2 billion YTL." /Millliyet/
 ERDOGAN TO ATTEND TURKEY-SYRIA ECONOMIC FORUM THIS WEEKENDThe Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), in partnership with the Turkish-Syrian Business Council, will host the Turkey-Syria Economic Forum in Damascus this weekend. The forum aims to initiate positive discussions on common problems. Held in the presence of Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji al-Otari, the conference will also be attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. /Turkish Daily News/
 AUSTRIA'S FM VISITS TURKEYAfter arriving in Ankara yesterday to pay an official visit, Austria's Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik was received by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and then met with her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan. Speaking at a joint press conference afterwards, Plassnik said, "There is no doubt that Austria is a firm partner in the fight against terrorism." Asked about the closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Plassnik said that Turkey was capable of handling its issues by itself, adding that Europeans should not be expected to act as arbitrators or political policemen in this process. Concerning Turkey's European Union membership process, she said that Austria had made clear its view that Turkey's talks should not be automatic but open-ended. Plassnik said that she knew Turkey wants to become a full EU member, but stressed that this is not the only way. "We can explore the content of a future relationship," she added. For his part, Babacan said, "We are looking for more support from Austria in our fight against terrorism," calling for joint political efforts towards that end. /Hurriyet/
 BABACAN CALLS ON ARMENIA TO PURSUE DIALOGUESpeaking to reporters yesterday, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said that he had sent a letter to his newly elected Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandyan, congratulating him on his new post and saying that Turkey is ready to turn a new page. Stressing that the problems between the two countries can be overcome through dialogue, Babacan said that Turkey is ready to share its views with Armenian officials. /Turkiye/
 CHP TO HOLD GENERAL CONGRESS THIS WEEKENDThe main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) will hold its 32nd general congress this weekend in Ankara. Deniz Baykal, the party's current leader, is likely to retain his post in the chairmanship elections. Among his rivals, Samsun Deputy Haluk Koc and businessman Umut Oran are the only two with the slimmest hope of becoming official candidates, and they need the support of 243 out of some 1,250 party delegates. /Turkish Daily News/
 TOP IRAQI GENERAL VISITS ANKARAIraqi Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Naseer al-Abadi yesterday paid an official visit to Ankara at the invitation of his counterpart Gen. Ergin Saygun. Abadi met yesterday with military officials at General Staff headquarters, and issues such as Turkey’s cross-border operations into northern Iraq against the terrorist PKK, border safety and the training of Iraq's armed forces were discussed. Abadi also will meet with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit and Saygun. /Aksam/
 EP COMMISSION PASSES REPORT ON TURKEYThe European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission yesterday passed a Turkey report prepared by Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the EP's Turkey rapporteur. The report stressed that the government should respect pluralism, secularism and democracy while carrying out its European Union reform process, and urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to cooperate constructively with other political parties. The report also covered the case seeking the AKP's closure, the controversial Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301, the Ergenekon probe, and the Foundations Law. Following yesterday's vote, the report will face the full EP next month. /Star/
If Turkey carries out its reform process decisively, it will be a member of European Union within 10-15 years, said European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn in a published interview yesterday. Speaking to Germany's Die Welt, Rehn said that the EU is planning to open two more chapters with Turkey in June and that it is important that the EU extend support to Turkey while it is going through tough times. Asked about the case seeking the closure of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Rehn warned that this could harm the reform process. /Sabah/
 AHEAD OF TRADE TRANSPORTERS' MEETING, HISARCIKLIOGLU TOUTS TURKEYThe 31st World Congress of the International Road Transport Union (IRU) is set to be held in Istanbul on May 15-16, with the theme of "Reviving the Silk Road." Stressing the boom in international trade over the last two decades, Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) head Rifat Hisarciklioglu said, "Rising international trade volume, especially between East and West, increases the need for improved land transportation, and Turkey has very big advantages in this area." Hisarciklioglu also stressed Turkey's special geographic position along East-West trade routes and added that reviving the ancient trade road would benefit international trade relations immensely. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and many high-level figures will also attend the congress, as well as nearly 2,000 guests from 70 countries. /Milliyet/
FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS
 WHY IS AUSTRIA SO AGAINST US?BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)
Columnist Sami Kohen comments on Austria's stance on Turkey's European Union membership. A summary of his column is as follows:
"Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik's visit to Turkey this week raises the question of why this country is so opposed to Turkey's European Union membership. Among 27 European countries, Austria is the one most opposed to Turkey's EU membership. According to a Eurobarometer survey, only 5% of Austrians support Turkey's EU membership. This compares to 16% in Germany, 22% in France and even 19% for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). In line with this public tendency, the stance of all of Austria's political parties (except the Greens) is very negative. The Christian Democrats on the right and the Social Democrats on the left are both against Turkey's EU membership.
This is also true of the current government. Austria is determined to hold a referendum on Turkey's EU membership. It's quite telling that Austria is planning to apply this to Turkey, something which has never been applied to any other country. The referendum is planned for 2015. Austria is known not to favor EU enlargement, but it didn't stipulate such a referendum for Croatia, which is at the EU's door, or for such Balkan countries as Macedonia and Albania, both prospective EU members.
Its reasons can be found in a report issued by the European Stability Initiative (ESI). In sum, this report says the real reason for this situation lies in Austrians' lack of familiarity with Turkey. For example, students in Austrian schools are taught almost nothing about modern Turkey. Many Austrians still have the 1683 Siege of Vienna in their minds, which raises groundless fears that Turks will spread to Austria again, through another way.
Of course, there are other factors to add to this, in terms of the people's tendencies, such as the image created by Turks living in Austria and concerns that Turkish workers will flood there, if Turkey becomes an EU member. Meanwhile, conservative (Catholic) circles don't want a Muslim country like Turkey to become an EU member. According to the ESI report, some of the arguments used by Turkey have little effect on Austrians. For example, arguments that Turkey will contribute to the EU's safety, create a rapprochement between Europe and the Islamic world and strengthen the EU's economic potential found only 20% approval.
The Austrian public's opposition to Turkey's EU membership causes certain politicians to take an offensive stance and even work to block Turkey's membership talks. Following her meeting with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday, Plassnik was still talking about an open-ended process, which shows that Vienna's policy hasn't changed. The ESI report cites Austrian politicians' populist stance, but in fact they should discuss Turkey's EU membership in depth and provide information to people, instead of holding a referendum. Yesterday one Austrian reporter asked Babacan what he would do about the low support among Austrians. Of course, Turkey still has much to do to improve its image, but Austrian officials have a lot to do too. Now let me ask Plassnik: What will you do about this?"
TO OUR READERS
 IN HONOR OF APRIL 23, NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY AND CHILDREN'S DAY, THE TURKISH PRESS REVIEW WILL NOT APPEAR TOMORROW. PLEASE REJOIN US ON THURSDAY.
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