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Posted by Alexander from ( on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 at 11:05PM :

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Ozkok: Biggest crisis of trust with US
Government says it has no plans to end Turkish military presence in northern Iraq, as terror threat against Turkey stemming from the region is still strong due to ongoing power vacuum


Detention of Turkish soldiers in a Friday raid by American forces in northern Iraq created the "biggest crisis of confidence" between the armies of the two long-time allies, head of the Turkish military forces said Monday.

Eleven Turkish soldiers from a special forces unit in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniya were released Sunday night and they returned to northern Iraq Monday morning, ending a two-day standoff which strained efforts to improve ties soured after Turkish rejection of a U.S. demand to open a northern front from Turkey on Iraq in March.

Ozkok said the fate of Turkey's relations with the United States was important but there was something else that was as important as ties with Washington; "the national pride of Turkey and pride of the Turkish armed forces."

The detentions outraged Turkey, deepened the Turkish public's mistrust of the United States, and strained efforts to repair relations soured over the Iraq war.

Ozkok, speaking as he received the outgoing U.S. Ambassador in Turkey Robert Pearson, hinted that he doubted U.S. officials' initial statements that the incident occurred without their knowledge.

"I do not believe this is a policy of the American armed forces. But... taking into account the length of time that has passed since (Turkish forces were detained)... I must say that I am having difficulty believing that this is a local incident," he said.

"We are and will continue to be allies," Pearson said and added that Turkey and the United States could turn a new page in their relations after these tough days were overcome.

Pearson said ties between Turkey and the United States were strong enough to overcome such a crisis.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney Monday afternoon, second time since the crisis broke out, and requested immediate effort to find and punish those responsible for the incident that created an "unnecessary tension" in relations between Turkey and the United States.

Cheney phoned Erdogan to officially confirm that the event has been resolved and assured the prime minister that the U.S. administration would do what was necessary to make the issue clear.

Turkish soldiers were detained for alleged plans to harm a senior civilian administrator of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has dismissed the claims as "nonsense."

Issue under joint investigation
Military officials of the two countries are due to start a joint investigation today in talks in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

"I hope relations will be based on a more rational and a more solid ground after this issue is clarified," Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc told reporters after receiving Pearson, on a tour of farewell visits to Turkish leaders.

The detentions created outrage in the public and non-governmental organizations, including labor unions, and opposition parties in both the left and the right have accused the government of not responding properly to the crisis.

Government Spokesman Cemil Cicek responded to criticisms Monday: "I understand the opposition's reaction but the government's duty is to get concrete results through reasonable initiatives, instead of policies based on enmity."

Cicek, speaking after a Cabinet meeting, said that "every kind of plot was possible in northern Iraq," emphasizing that mechanisms should be created to resolve "crisis that have happened and that can happen in the future."

Detained soldiers were a part of Turkish troops that Turkey has long maintained in parts of northern Iraq to fight terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who have launched attacks on Turkish targets from bases in northern Iraq.

The United States and Kurdish groups controlling the region since the Gulf War of 1991 have demanded Turkey to withdraw its troops, whose number is estimated to be a few thousand, after the U.S.-led operation in Iraq that toppled the Saddam Hussein administration.

Cicek said the government had no plan to end its military presence in northern Iraq as the terrorist threat from this region against Turkey was still in place.

"The reason for the presence of our soldiers has not been removed. There is still a power vacuum in the region and so is the separatist organization," Cicek said.

The spokesman added that there was no demand from the U.S. side for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops for the time being.

The crisis came as Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was expected to visit Washington by the end of the month in an effort to patch the harmed ties. Leader of an Iraqi Kurdish group, Jalal Talabani, whose Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is running Sulaymaniya, is also expected in Ankara next week.

Reports said the crisis with the United States were not expected to affect the visits.

Turkey had been trying to repair ties when the detentions came. It had eased the flow of humanitarian aid across its territory, offered to send peacekeepers to Iraq and opened its bases to the U.S.-led coalition for logistical support.

The Habur gate, the sole crossing point between Turkey and Iraq, was closed to trucks carrying supply materials for U.S. troops operating in northern Iraq in retaliation of the detentions.

A senior Turkish commander, Gen. Hursit Tolon, called the incident "disgusting and ugly" and was boycotting a military ceremony in Washington.

Police in Istanbul had to use tear gas to disperse hundreds of nationalists who staged an anti-U.S. demonstration.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News


'Opening door to Armenia is a historical mistake'


The monument, constructed for the memory of 300 Turks, who were burnt by Armenians in January, 1915, has been unveiled, private Cihan news agency said on Sunday.

Ataturk University Research Center on Turk-Armenian relations Vice-director Assistant Professor Erol Kurkcuoglu said that opening borders to Armenia was a historical mistake.

Stating that a number of unprotected women, children and elderly sheltered in Halil Efendi Mosque, Kurkcuoglu said that they could not run away from the massacre and were burned to death.

Noting that via the International Oil Consortium Agreement, a window would be opened to Armenia as the oil in the Caspian region would reach the Mediterranean through the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, Kurkcuoglu said: "The Armenians killed 519,000 Turks in the eastern and southeastern Anatolia region between 1915-1919. They acted as spies to the Russian armies and helped the invasion in eastern Anatolia. Between 1973-1995, our 41 diplomats in 21 countries died martyrs. When all these events were taken into consideration, opening a border to Armenia is a historical mistake. The doors should be opened for friends."

Ardahan Governor Mustafa Yigit said that those, who were bringing the so-called Armenian genocide to the surface, were miserable people.

Ankara- Turkish Daily News


Turkish and Greek Cypriots meet at Council of Europe


The representatives of Turkish and Greek Cypriot political parties met at the park in front of the Council of Europe building in Strasbourg and planted a tree as a symbol of peace and reconciliation on the island, Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.

Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer delivered a speech at the ceremony organized on the occasion of the planting of the tree which was brought from Cyprus. Schwimmer said that everybody wished to see a united Cyprus in Europe.

Schwimmer said that reconciliation should be supported on the island, hoping that the tree brought from the island would be the symbol of this reconciliation.

The representatives of Turkish and Greek Cypriot political parties met at a meeting, also attended by Schwimmer, after the ceremony. Issuing a statement regarding the meetings, the Council of Europe said that the meeting was organized with the aim of supporting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's peace initiatives on the island.

Opinions about Cyprus' future were handled at the meeting, which has no other special agenda.

Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu and Democrat Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Serdar Denktas, who were in the Turkish delegation, criticized the Greek Cypriot mission as none of their political party leaders came to Strasbourg. The Greek Cypriot mission consisted of only representatives from Greek Cypriot parties.

The Turkish Cypriot mission also met European Court of Human Rights representatives after meeting with the Greek Cypriots.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News


Detainees say US forces mistreated them


Turks and Iraqi Turkmens detained last week by U.S. forces in an operation that shocked Ankara complained they had been subject to mistreatment during their two-day detention.

American forces detained not only 11 Turkish soldiers but also 20 Turkmens from the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC), a political party which represents the third largest ethnic community of Iraq, and Turks, mostly businessmen working in Iraq, during a raid in a Turkish government liaison office and several buildings of the ITC in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniya on Friday.

Army vehicles blocked off all the roads and surrounded the four-building ITC compound, nearby the Turkish government liaison office, Isa Mohsen Kasap, a spokesman for the ITC told the Associated Press.

Sarkawt Kuba, head of security and intelligence for Sulaymaniya province, told the agency that similar raids took place in Kirkuk and in the largely Iraqi Turk town of Daquq. He said the Sulaymaniya police first heard of the raids after frightened residents reported it.

"We didn't take part in the operation," he said. "The Americans went in by themselves."

"We were not treated in a humane manner during the detention," said two Turkish businessmen that were together with Turkish soldiers in the liaison office when American forces raided the building.

One businessman Deniz Turkkan said he was in the office for a visit to the Turkish soldiers and added that he had been detained by American soldiers despite his repeatedly saying that he was a civilian. He said the detainees were handcuffed and brought to a strange place in the neighboring city of Kirkuk.

A Turkmen security guard working for the Turkish liaison office, Nihat Raza, told the Anatolia news agency that they had not been given food in the first day of their detention and were left waiting for hours outside a refugee camp in Baghdad.

A Turkmen woman working as a cook in the office said American soldiers clubbed her with a rifle butt when she attempted to resist.

"The Americans say they came to liberate Iraq, instead they've violated our human rights," said Kasap. "Without asking permission or letting us know that they were coming, they came and took over all of our offices."

Col. William Mayberry commands the Kirkuk-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, which led the raids. Capt. Jill Whitesell, his spokeswoman, referred all questions to military headquarters in Baghdad.

Najmadin Vali, the ITC's head of planning, who was detained for several hours during the raid, criticized the American troops' behavior during the raid

"I heard a noise outside and went to see what was happening. An American soldier started screaming at me and threw a rock. They entered the compound and started breaking down doors," he said. "They just treated us like terrorists."

Ankara / Sulaymaniya - TDN with AP


Greek singer cancels concert in KKTC upon anger from Greek Cypriot side


Greek Cypriot press reported that the Greek singer Lefteris Pancazis escaped punishment of six months imprisonment by not singing in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), Anatolia news agency said yesterday.

Pancasiz, one of the best-known singers, had to cancel a "peace and friendship" concert in KKTC on Saturday because of anger from the Greek Cypriots.

The Greek Cypriot press said that the Greek singer's going to KKTC to give a concert raised hell at the weekend on the Greek Cypriot side, commenting that touristic transitions' being free between KKTC and Greek Cypriot side unveiled the chaos in Greek Cypriot Administration's policies, which began to be more complex day by day.

Pancasiz said that he met with some Greek and Greek Cypriot politicians before arriving in the island, adding that they all said there were no drawbacks on his visit for concert.

The Greek Cypriot press announced that Greek Ambassador to the Greek Cypriot side Hristos Panagopulos called the singer and informed him on the attitude of the Greek Cypriot Administration, warning him to stay at the hotel on the Greek Cypriot side.

The Simerini paper stated that as soon as Pancazis arrived in the Greek Cypriot side, the Greek Cypriot security authorities took immediate action and prevented the singer from appearing on stage in Kyrnea.

The Alithia paper said that the Greek Cypriot Administration was not convincing in its attitude and verified Pancazis' remarks.

Greek Cypriot Administration spokesman Kipros Hrisostomidis said that no splits would occur in Greek-Greek Cypriot relations due to singers.

Greek Cypriot Justice and Public Order Minister Doros Theodoru and Social Democrats Movement (KS EDEK) Honorary Chairman Vasos Lissaridis said that they were pleased as the concert was called off.

Ankara- Turkish Daily News


Turkish women visit Armenia
Women are putting away the boundaries on friendship which have not materialized from governments


The dialogue which started on March 8, 2001, with the efforts of the Marmara Group Foundation Human Rights Platform's Coordinator Mujgan Suver, between Turkish-Armenian women is developing and enlarging. The meeting organized by the Turkish-Armanian Women Communication (TAWC) Group on July 1 until July 3, 2003 has been supported by American University.

The objective of NATW is to become closer to both countries women, to reduce the prejudices and also improve the friendship which has existed for centuries

From the both countries academicians, jurists, journalists, politicians, NGO representatives and business women have planned to organize comissions about culture, politics, media, health and economy to make projects for the consolidation of the friendship between the two nations. These projects are mainly:

To determine the common problems of Turkish-Armenian women and to provide solutions
To Prepare common cultural activities
To Publish cooking books which are products of daily life
To determine the accusations in textbooks with the help of the commissions that will be formed
To make summer exchange programs for students
To avoid news which contains hatred by organizing commissions from both countries's journalists and authors.
Starting from September the specialists will be determined, commissions will be formed and sponsors will be found and also time and work plans will be made.

Now Governments are in charge. Erivan has to show Turkey, her good will by recognizing Turkey's boundaries and Ankara has to respond to this gesture by opening the boundaries to Armenia.

Our wish is also to bring stability in Caucasia by solving the Armenian-Azarbaijan problem.

Istanbul - Turkish Daily News


Only half of Turks satisfied with AK Party's EU efforts
Public opinion revealed that half the people that participated in the survey stated that they believe a civilian official should be appointed the head of the powerful council of Turkey's top military and civilian leaders, National Security Council (MGK). Only 31 percent of people did not support civilianization.


Almost fifty percent of Turkish people are not satisfied with Justice and Development (AK) Party's efforts towards Turkey's full European Union membership and support civilianization of the council of Turkey's top military and civilian officials, according to the public survey conducted by respected ANAR research company.

EU leaders will review at a December 2004 summit Turkey's performance in fulfilling membership criteria with a view to opening accession talks without delay. According to the survey some 77 percent of Turkish people are in favor of EU membership.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government has made EU membership a priority and pushed many reforms through Parliament to advance its bid.

Some 47 percent of Turkish people think that AK Party is succesful in its efforts towards EU membership, while 42 percent think the ruling party is unsuccessful.

ANAR conducted the public opinion poll in 12 different cities and surveyed 1,900 people. ANAR holds monthly surveys in an effort to see the changing choices and demands of the public.

Half the people that participated in the survey stated that they believe a civilian official should be appointed as the head of the powerful council of Turkey's top military and civilian leaders, National Security Council (MGK). Only some 31 percent of the people did not support civilianization.

Meanwhile, the number of people in favor of representation of the military only by the chief of general staff in the MGK is half the Turkish people. The proportion that oppose this proposal is 32 percent.

The survey showed that almost half the people think civilianization contributes to democracy.

Some 38 percent of people support the abolishment of the controversial Article 8 of the Anti-Terror law, a proposition that was sent back to Parliament by the Turkish president on grounds that it may create a vacuum in struggling against terrorism. Another 38 percent of people are against the abolishment of this law.

While 42 percent of Turkish people are in favor of broadcasting in Kurdish on private radio and television, 48 percent are against this.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News


Anatolia demands security of its correspondents from US


Head of Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency on Monday sent a letter to the United States Embassy in Ankara and demanded the necessary measures to be taken to guarantee the security of Anatolia correspondents working in Iraq.

The letter sent by Secretary General of Anatolia, Hilmi Bengi, a day after gunmen in northern Iraq attacked Anatolia correspondents and seized their money and valuables, including official documents such as passports.

Bengi also sent letters to Ankara representatives of the Kurdish factions in northern Iraq, and conveyed a list of seized items and demanded the arrest and punishment of gunmen.

Six Kurdish speaking gunmen attacked correspondents Sami Tolga Adanali and Kenan Gurbuz while they were travelling in a car from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to Baghdad.

Bengi also sent a letter and thanked the Turkish Foreign Ministry and Turkish officials in the region because of their help to the Anatolia correspondents.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News

-- Alexander
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