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Turkish Press Review, 08-04-29
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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
29.04.2008FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS
 BABACAN: "IT'S IMPORTANT TO IMPROVE DIALOGUE WITH ALL GROUPS IN IRAQ"Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday met with his New Zealander counterpart Winston Peters, on an official visit to Turkey. Afterwards, he told a press conference, "As you know, we have a general policy of improving our dialogue and relations with all groups in Iraq." Peters added, "However, some different views and different approaches concerning the terrorist organization PKK were in question, particularly related to the administration in northern Iraq. Nevertheless, in the coming period, you can expect an increase in different contacts with the administration in Iraq's north at different levels. This is important for both sides in regards to the struggle against the terrorist organization and in regards to our economic relations on energy issues with Iraq in general." In related news, Murat Ozcelik, Turkey's special representative to Iraq, will visit Baghdad on May 4 and is expected to meet with Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. Turkey's concerns over the terrorist PKK and economic issues such as Turkish businessmen's activities in northern Iraq, oil and natural gas tenders will be discussed at the meeting. /Aksam-Cumhuriyet/
 PARLIAMENT SPEAKER TOPTAN SAYS TRADE VOLUME WITH SINGAPORE SHOULD INCREASEThe Turkish and Singaporean Parliament speakers yesterday pledged to increase political contacts and trade volume between the two countries at a meeting in Ankara. Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, hosting his Singaporean counterpart Abdullah Tarmugi, noted that the last senior-level contact between the Turkish and Singaporean Parliaments was 18 years ago, when then Turkish Parliament Speaker Kaya Erdem visited Singapore. "I hope future visits will not be so far apart," he said. Toptan also said trade ties between the two countries could flourish, adding that the current trade volume, which stands at $700 million, should be increased. /Today's Zaman/
 ISRAELI NEWSPAPERS: "ERDOGAN'S DECISIVE IN PUSHING HIS MEDIATION EFFORTS BETWEEN SYRIA AND ISRAEL THROUGH"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent mediation efforts on the issue of Golan heights between Syria and Israel highly echoed in Israeli media. An Israeli newspaper wrote that Erdogan's next step would be gathering the two parties in Turkey to determine main outlines of a possible agreement. Saying that Turkey is in search of a compromise formula on the issue and stressing Erdogan's determination to reach an agreement, another newspaper wrote that Erdogan would send his top adviser for foreign policy Ahmet Davutoglu to Tel Aviv to inform Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of his recent talks with Syrian President Bessar Assad in Damascus. According to that newspaper, Davutoglu will forward Assad's message to Olmert and will try to convince the two parties to begin direct talks. After his Syria visit, Erdogan yesterday confirmed that he would send a representative to Tel Aviv but didn't give exact information. Assad yesterday told Qatar's al Watan newspaper that If Erdogan's efforts yield a positive outcome, possible direct talks with Israel should be held under the auspices of the US. /Star-Sabah/
 SYRIA DESIRES TO BOOST RELATIONS WITH TURKEYAttending the Syrian-Turkish Economic Forum in Damascus, Syria, State Minister for foreign trade Kursad Tuzmen yesterday met with Syrian Finance Minister Mohammad al Hussein to discuss bilateral economic ties between the two countries. After the meeting, stressing that Syria attaches great importance to promotion of ties with Turkey, al Hussein said, "As an indicator of Syria's this intention, the Syrian people now pay the lowest foreign travel duty to visit Turkey, compared with the duty rates to travel to other neighbors of Syria," and added that after this decision, the number of Syrian tourists visiting Turkey has increased. Speaking to the forum, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Abdallah al Dardari said, "Syria will highly benefit from improving ties with Turkey," and stressed that the Syrian government was decisive to solve all problems of Turkish firms investing in Syria. Also addressing the forum, Tuzmen said, "Bilateral trade volume between Syria and Turkey remarkably rose, 70 percent in 2007," adding that the target for bilateral trade volume was $2 billion by 2008. He added Turkey aims to reach $5 billion bilateral trade volume with Syria in the mid-term. /Star/
 ERDOGAN TO MEET WITH TRADE UNIONS' HEADSPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will today receive leaders of labor unions in Parliament. During their talks, workers' desire to celebrate May 1 Labor Day in Istanbul's Taksim square and their request to declare May 1 as an official holiday are expected to be discussed. /Sabah/
 SWEDISH COMMITTEE VISITS PARLIAMENTA Swedish parliamentary committee, headed by parliamentarian Liselott Hagberg, met with Turkey's EU Integration Committee Chairman Yasar Yakis yesterday. Hagberg said this visit provided an opportunity for Sweden to share its own experiences on its path to EU membership in 1995, adding that all parties in the Swedish parliament supported Turkey's joining the EU. /Turkish Daily News/
FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS
 THE TRAPBY OZDEMIR INCE (HURRIYET)
Columnist Ozdemir Ince comments on the closure case against the Justice and Development Party (AKP). A summary of his column is as follows:
"Who has trapped whom? Did the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) trap the Justice and Development Party (AKP) or did they both trap Turkey? Actually, it doesn't matter, because both Turkey and the European Union are trapped. Let me take the EU's warnings and threats into consideration and list what will happen to us, in case the Constitutional Court closes the AKP:
1. The European Parliament will decide to suspend -- to tell the truth -- stop Turkey's EU membership talks and inform the Commission, consisting of 27 commissioners, on its decision.
2. The Commission will present this decision to the Council of Ministers, which will decide to stop membership talks in line with the European Parliament's decision.
3. All of 27 member states will have to cast a positive vote so that Turkey's membership talks can restart. In case even one member rejects it, membership talks will never be opened again.
4. Even if restarting membership talks is slightly possible, the price to be paid by Turkey in return for this will be very high.
The above-mentioned four articles aren't a utopian scenario, but an irony of fate the future of which depends on the decision to be taken by the Constitutional Court. Actually, the irony of fate would be acting naively, because it's quite clear. If a party, especially a ruling party, violates the Constitution and the Political Parties Law, this is what will happen. What's the fault committed by the chief prosecutor and the Constitutional Court? If a ruling party is closed, the European Parliament and the EU would criticize it harshly. What else would they do? But astonished reactions from the AKP show that deputies still live in a world of dreams.
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said that none of the parties which had been closed before, has grown again, and that only one party, which had been disintegrated, has grown and that this situation was very meaningful. Bahceli seems to be making fun of the AKP and Turkey.
AKP deputy Vahit Erdem who said that we should remove concerns of 53% of Turks and those who agree with him and who applaud him for his common sense are also wrong, just like Constitutional Court chairman who said that the fear of the society can't be ignored. %53 of Turks wants not the removal of concerns, but all parties to comply with the Constitution and laws. If this happens, everything would be alright.
The Dutch Christian Democrat Parliamentarian Ria Oomen-Rujiten said that secularism wasn't a toy and urged the Turkish government to continue its reforms and respect pluralism and diversity in democratic and secular Turkey. But it's too late now. This warning should have been made since 2005. Meanwhile, Constitutional Court's deputy chairman Osman Paksut screamed to the entire world that courts are independent. Now it's too late. Nothing will be the same again."
 IS AFGHANISTAN BECOMING A NEW IRAQ?BY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)
Columnist Sami Kohen comments on recent developments in Afghanistan. A summary of his column is as follows:
"The recent assassination attempt on Afghanistan's head of state Hamid Karzai shows that this country is turning into Iraq with respect to security and stability. This latest armed attack has been the fourth one against the Karzai for the last seven years. And this may not be the last one…
If a country's leader can easily face an assassination attempt in an official ceremony, it means that opposite forces have become powerful enough to do this.
Thus, Taliban has gained a psychological success. This development puts forward that Taliban, who has established 'safe regions' especially in eastern provinces, now began to implement 'urban activities' which are psychologically more influential. As matter of fact, militants have recently intensified their attacks on civilians in Kabul.
What was the aim?
This is a serious blow to the US and its allies which toppled Taliban and brought Karzai into power seven years ago.
The US had invaded Afghanistan to save the country from an outdated Taliban regime which was also seen as a terrorist threat. Even though Washington have also served its own strategic and economic interests in the region, international community had lent full support to the initiative in order to provide freedom, stability and modern standards of living to Afghan people. A 60-thousand international force (ISAF) is still on duty towards this end.
But, recent developments prove that the US and its allies failed in this mission and Taliban has risen again across the country, even in the capital.
Nevertheless, Karzai administration, backed by the coalition forces, has obtained certain success. The country has gotten free of its outdated rule, a system which is more respectful to human rights (especially to women rights) has been established. State administration has gained a more modern structure. In addition, a new army has been established…
What is the result?
At the beginning, Taliban seemed to be cowered, but soon loomed large. It intensified its attacks not only against the coalition forces, but also against Afghan civilians. Newly established 70-thousand troops couldn't be powerful enough to defeat the militants due to lack of training, discipline and military equipment.
Now the duty was left to the coalition forces. But, as most of the troops don't have the combatant status, Taliban seized an opportunity to act rather easily.
In a nutshell, today, international community's mission in Afghanistan faces a threat of failure. Of course, this development doesn't justify Taliban's aims and methods. We still remember what kind of a country he has tried to establish in the past … But if the international community doesn't display more influential existence in the country, events will continue to develop in favor of Taliban."
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