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Posted by Alexander from ( on Sunday, July 20, 2003 at 0:13AM :

New mosque in New York


The Turkish Religious Association is going to build a new mosque in New York. Department of Religious Affairs New York Attache Mustafa Tekin stated that it is important that mosques abroad are under control of the Department of Religious Affairs for Turkish people not to get affiliated to other religious communities and religious orders. Tekin expressed that the construction of the mosque would begin in a few months and was planned to be completed in one year. Tekin, noting that there are 11 mosques under the Turkish Department of Religious Affairs in the United States, stated that the number of mosques are very low compared to the large number of Turkish people living in the U.S. The cost of the mosque, which will be built in Brooklyn, is expected to be between $5-600,000.

Fundamentalist camps
According to sources, some New York and New Jersey summer schools of religious groups have imposed fundamentalism on children. This imposition on children by people who exclude themselves from society poses a serious danger for Turkey, too.


Baku concerned by possible Turkish-Armenian normalization
Eurasia Insight reported that many ordinary Azeris in Baku would consider any Turkish action to ease the Armenian embargo as tantamount to betrayal. 'Armenia has not withdrawn from our land,' says Akif Ismaylov, a 55 year old engineer, 'so Turkey cannot break its promise and open the border with our rival. They would betray us this way'


Azerbaijani officials are concerned that a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement will weaken Baku's position in the search for a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, reported by Eurasia Insight yesterday. The maneuvers involving Turkey and Armenia have occurred amid reports of fresh fighting in Karabakh.

Turkey and Armenia, for decades bitter adversaries, have taken steps in recent weeks to normalize relations. In perhaps the most significant gesture, Turkish officials have raised the possibility of opening Turkey's now closed border with Armenia. According to Eurasia Insight, such a possibility, which would end a Turkish embargo against Armenia, prompted immediate protests from Azerbaijani administration.

Since the start of the Karabakh conflict, Turkey has been Azerbaijan's staunchest ally. Ankara's decision to impose an economic embargo against Armenia, for instance, was driven by a desire to buttress Azerbaijan's sagging war effort. At the time of the embargo's imposition in 1993, Turkish officials vowed that the policy would remain in effect until a negotiated peace was in place, and Armenian forces had withdrawn from occupied Azerbaijani territory. Both those conditions have gone unfulfilled and peace talks remain stalemated. Over the last decade, Baku has viewed the Turkish embargo as one of the key means of exerting pressure on Armenia to compromise on the Karabakh issue. The potential lifting of the embargo, Azerbaijani officials fear, could encourage Armenian intransigence in peace talks.

Eurasia Insight reported that many ordinary Azeris in Baku would consider any Turkish action to ease the Armenian embargo as tantamount to betrayal. "Armenia has not withdrawn from our land," says Akif Ismaylov, a 55 year old engineer, "so Turkey cannot break its promise and open the border with our rival. They would betray us this way."

According to the Eurasia Insight, Turkish leaders have sought to reassure Baku that Ankara remains a committed ally. Turkey's interior minister, Abdulkadir Aksu, visited Baku on July 10 to expressly reaffirm the alliance. According to Turkish and Azerbaijani media, Aksu reiterated Ankara's strong support for Azerbaijan's political aims concerning Karabakh, saying the "ongoing Armenian occupation" is a threat to regional stability.

"Despite the recent moves towards rapprochement, local political analysts are not assuming that a Turkish move to open the border is a foregone conclusion. Indeed, some influential political forces in Armenia -- in particular the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaktsutiun -- have expressed caution about the border opening, saying the potential for a large influx of Turkish goods could saturate the Armenian market, thus hampering the development of local business and manufacturing," wrote the Eurasia Insight.

According to Eurasia Insight, Turkey's desire to normalize ties with Armenia is driven in large measure by Ankara's desire to join the European Union. The EU has indicated that the normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties is a precondition for accession talks. Some political observers in Baku expect Azerbaijani officials to attempt to convince their Turkish counterparts that the lifting of the Armenian embargo would do little to enhance Ankara's EU membership prospects. In the event that Azerbaijan is unsuccessful in getting Turkey to keep the embargo in place, Azerbaijani observers believe the special relationship between Baku and Ankara will be weakened. As Ankara and Yerevan have mulled normalization, Karabakh has witnessed an escalation of violence. Armenian and Azerbaijani officials have accused each other of numerous ceasefire violations. The most prominent clash reportedly occurred June 28 near the village of Garakhanbeyli in the Fizuli region. According to media reports, an Azerbaijani serviceman and lieutenant were killed in the fighting.

Political and economic factors are pushing Turkey and Armenia to set aside decades of enmity and explore a rapprochement. In recent weeks, Ankara and Yerevan have made several goodwill gestures, including Turkey's decision to participate in NATO military exercises held in Armenia.

The primary source of tension between Turkey and Armenia is connected with the tragic events that began in 1915, when allegedly thousands of Armenians died amid the upheaval of World War I. Armenia wants the tragedy recognized as genocide, while Turkey steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the episode as such. In their latest diplomatic parley, Armenian officials have stated that Turkish genocide recognition is not a precondition for improved bilateral ties. "No matter if Turkey recognizes the genocide or not, Armenia is ready to establish normal neighborly and diplomatic relations with that country," Armenia's Aykakan Zhamanak newspaper on July 11 quoted the country's foreign minister, Vardan Oskanian, as saying.

The Turkish-Armenian rapprochement began taking shape at a NATO summit in Madrid in early June, when Oskanian held a side meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Afterwards, Gul told reporters that in the Turkish government's view, it might be time to reopen the frontier between the two countries.

According to Eurasian Insight, from Turkey's standpoint, there are powerful economic and political incentives to normalize relations with Armenia. Some experts believe that antagonistic relations with Yerevan help to infuse the alleged genocide debate with fresh energy. Turkish-Armenian hostility additionally heightens the risk of a new confrontation in the Caucasus -- such as renewed fighting over Karabakh. Ankara is eager to avoid such a development, especially if it threatens to embroil Russia. Dr. Hratch Tchilingirian of Cambridge University's Eurasian Program also maintains that there is "pressure on Turkey from the EU and United States to normalize relations with Armenia."

In addition, Turkish experts suggest that Turkey's closed border with Armenia is economically counterproductive. "There is a strong economic lobby in Turkey that sees the ruin, economically, of eastern cities such as Kars, Van and Ardahan thanks to the closed frontier," said Professor William Hale of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He was referring to the eastern Turkish cities along the Armenian frontier that now constitute some of Turkey's poorest communities.

With the border shut, trade between Armenia and Turkey occurs via a third country - mostly going overland through Georgia. While the distance between Kars and Yerevan down the old, rusted-over railway line is only some 55 kilometers, the Turkish-Armenian Business Council (TABC) estimates some $70 million in Turkish-Armenian trade currently travels hundreds of kilometers out of the way in order to get around the closed border.

"After we've paid to take our goods through Georgia and then into Armenia," explains Kars businessman Ertugl Yildirim, "the price more than triples. It makes doing business a major headache too, with two sets of border formalities. Here in Kars, almost everyone would like to see the border reopened."

It's a sentiment echoed by Professor Enver Konukcu of Ataturk University in Erzurum. While "It's a political issue," he says, "involving Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, the U.S. and Iran In our hearts, we want the border open -- the people in Armenia are also in a very bad situation and no aid is going there."

Ankara - Turkish Daily News


Azerbaijani officials: Aliyev's health condition good
'We don't know when Mr. Aliyev will be discharged,' says Azerbaijani officials in Ankara, while continuing treatment of the veteran leader of the oil-rich country is raising concerns about the state of his health


Azerbaijani officials in Ankara on Friday dismissed claims that the health condition of Azerbaijan's ailing leader Haydar Aliyev has deteriotated, and said his health condition is good. He is even watching television and touring the hall.

The 80-year-old president, who has a history of heart trouble, collapsed during a speech this spring and spent nine days hospitalized in Turkey, some of it in intensive care. He returned to Turkey last week for what officials described as a planned checkup.

BBC Monitoring Service reported yesterday that Aliyev's health condition sharply deteriorated on Thursday and was taken into intensive care.

"Mr. President is not in intensive care, this is completely false," an Azerbaijani official told TDN.

No details were made available for the press about the tests on the leader of the oil-rich country, who is to run for a new term in office in October.

Aliyev was hospitalized in Turkey's Ankara Gulhane Military Medical Academy on July 8. Azerbaijani officials here said the current medical examination was a planned one.

"We don't know when Mr. Aliyev will be discharged," said the same official answering TDN's question.

Although Azerbaijani officials say, "The president's general condition and mood are great," continuing treatment of Aliyev is raising concerns about the state of his health.

Aliyev had a heart attack in 1987 and underwent bypass surgery at a Cleveland clinic in 1999. He underwent prostate surgery at the same clinic in February 2002, and earlier this year had a hernia operation there.

Last month, Azerbaijan's ruling party nominated Aliyev to stand for a third term in the October elections. Aliyev was elected president of Azerbaijan in 1993 and 1998. The constitution limits presidents to two terms, but the regulation took effect in 1995, allowing him to run this year.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News


Turkish NGOs embark on relating EU to Turkish people


Turkish nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) embarked on relating the benefits and difficulties of Turkey's European Union membership, and held a third of a series of conferences in the eastern city of Van.

Deputy chairman of the Economic Development Foundation (IKV) Yilmaz Kanbak said on Thursday in Van that their aim is to reach all Turkish people and to relate and make known the European Union.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party government made Turkey's EU bid a top priority after coming to power and took the support of Turkish NGOs for EU reforms that aims to meet the EU Copenhagen criteria to start accession talks with the Union.

Turkey is a candidate to join the European Union, EU nations will decide in December 2004 whether Turkey is ready to start membership negotiations.

Head of Secretariat General for EU Affairs Ambassador Murat Sungar said Turkey should apply the Copenhagen criteria as soon as possible, so as not to give a pretext to the countries which don't want to see Turkey in the EU.

Van Governor Hikmet Tan said, "Turkish people will prepare for the EU with a series of seminars in Van and in other cities."

Ankara - Turkish Daily News


Papadopoulos: Key for solution in Cyprus in the hands of Turkey
'A fair solution on the island should depend on equal political sovereignty of two sides. We are supporting Turkish Cypriots' peace efforts,' says Prime Minister Erdogan


Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos said Friday the key to the solution on the long-divided island is in the hands of Turkey, and added accepting the Annan Plan with its existing structure means accepting the fait-accomplies of "occupation".

Speaking at a meeting on the occasion of the anniversary of the Turkish military operation on the island, Papadopoulos claimed that Turkey is violating the law in Cyprus, and should put an end to this attitude.

Papadopoulos also said he is in favor of a united Cyprus to be an European Union member.

Earlier this year Turkish and Greek leaders rejected a plan presented by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for the reunification of the island as a single state with Greek and Turkish Cypriot federal regions linked through a weak central government.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus leader (KKTC) Rauf Denktas demands recognition of KKTC as a prerequisite to reunification.

Denktas took some moves after the collapse of the talks and partially lifted a travel ban between the two sides. The move was widely seen as an effort by Denktas to stifle increasing criticism that he was blocking the island's reunification.

"Accepting the Annan Plan with its existing structure means accepting the fait-accomplies of 'occupation'," stated Papadopoulos.

Denktas, while receiving an Azerbaijani delegation on Friday, said July 20 is the birthday of KKTC, and added Turkish soldier saved lives of Turks in 1974.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a KKTC delegation on

Friday and said a fair solution on the island should depend on equal political sovereignty of the two sides.

"We are supporting Turkish Cypriots' peace efforts," he added.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News

-- Alexander
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