Piri Reis struggles through East Med with faulty engine, report says

A worn-out engine and generator on the Piri Reis, a Turkish seismic research ship that set out on the Mediterranean high seas to drill for hydrocarbon resources, are putting the lives of the crew at risk as the team find itself under pressure due to the political significance of their drilling mission, the Habertürk daily reported on Thursday.

“The ship is almost 33 years old, there should be a limit to the risks taken here,” Hüseyin Avni Belli, the director of Dokuz Eylül University’s Naval Sciences and Technology Institute also responsible for the ship’s command, was quoted as saying by the daily, as he explained that the Piri Reis needed serious maintenance before it can conduct any further exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Piri Reis set out from Turkey late in September with a mission to reciprocate Greek Cypriot drilling off of the island of Cyprus to explore for natural gas and oil reserves under the seabed, a move that constituted the most recent episode of a crisis between Turkey and Greek Cyprus. The use of the ship, one of a kind in Turkey, has come under public criticism due to its old age, but Turkish officials bent on responding to Greek Cypriot refusal to halt their drilling project insist that the ship can do its job. Turkey and Greek Cyprus have been deadlocked over territorial disputes for decades.

“Although we renovated the ship, we were not able replace the engine and the generator, which are both waiting at customs,” Belli warned of the danger facing the crew of the ship, and added, “We need to get back to İzmir — we know that it is a matter of legitimacy on the part of Turkish Cyprus, but there is obvious threat to human life here.”

Meanwhile, project coordinator for Piri Reis, Derman Dondurur, noted on Wednesday that Piri Reis was ready to leave port from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) later in the day to conduct a second phase of exploration in zones where Greek Cypriots claimed they found pockets of resources, the Anatolia news agency reported. Evaluating the exploration project as being of very critical political significance, Dondurur also noted that Piri Reis was closing in on the Greek Cypriot platform. Piri Reis came as close as 15 kilometers from the platform and the ship established visual contact with Greek exploration vessels, according to Anatolia.

A warship, also supported by aircraft at times, is following the Piri Reis at a distance of 10 nautical miles, Dondurur also noted. “We are constantly in touch with the warship. They ask whether we need anything and check on us frequently,” he was quoted as saying.



13 October 2011, Thursday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, ANKARA

Israel to apologise to Egypt, not Turkey

Israel is to apologise to Cairo over the deaths of six Egyptian policeman, according to an announcement which coincided with news of an Egyptian-brokered deal for the release of Gilad Shalit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets his ministers to discuss the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, on October 11, 2011 in Jerusalem. AFP Photo.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets his ministers to discuss the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, on October 11, 2011 in Jerusalem. AFP Photo.

The apology was expected to be formally extended on Wednesday.

In a statement released on Tuesday evening Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel and Egypt had concluded a joint inquiry into the deaths of six Egyptians killed by Israeli fire on August 18.

The deaths, which raised tensions between Israel and Cairo, occurred as Israeli troops chased a number of gunmen responsible for carrying out a series of shooting attacks which killed eight Israelis.

In his statement, Barak said Israel was willing to issue an apology over the deaths.

“Based on the findings of the investigation, Barak decided to apologise to the Egyptians over the death of every Egyptian policeman in the line of duty as the result of Israeli fire,” it said.

The defence ministry announcement came at exactly the same time as news broke over the landmark deal to secure Shalit’s release in exchange for freeing 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

Both Israel and Hamas praised Egypt for its efforts to mediate the deal, which came more than five years after Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid by Gaza-based militants.

The Egyptian state news agency MENA said Egyptian intelligence chief Murad Muwafi was a key player in helping seal the deal between Israel and Hamas.

“General Murad Muwafi succeeded in concluding the deal,” the agency said. “His discussions with the Israeli side were done over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” Egypt’s cabinet also praised the deal in a posting on its Facebook page.

“Egypt succeeded in realising a historic deal on the exchange of prisoners between Hamas and Israel,” the post said.

In the meantime, Turkey’s demand for a formal apology from the Israeli government over the Mavi Marmara Flotilla incident still remains unfulfilled. The Israeli government had refused to issue a formal apology for the raid which resulted in the death of 9 Turkish citizens, despite the political pressure put on by Turkey, causing the issue to turn into a diplomatic deadlock. The relation between the one-time allies deteriorated significantly, hitting a new low recently when Turkey downgraded ties with the state of Israel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse

French FM Juppe to visit Turkey on Oct.

Juppe’s visit is of special importance after remarks made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the incidents of 1915.

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe arrives to attend a commission about Libya at the National Assembly in Paris October 4.(Reuters)
France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe arrives to attend a commission about Libya at the National Assembly in Paris October 4.(Reuters)

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe will pay a visit to Turkey as formal guest of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Juppe’s visit is of special importance after remarks made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the incidents of 1915.

French FM Juppe will arrive in Turkey on October 26.

Preparations for G-20 Summit set to be held in Cannes on November 2 and 3 are expected to be taken up during Juppe’s visit to Turkey.

Juppe and Davutoglu are expected to discuss developments regarding “Arab Spring” and Middle East peace process during their meeting.

Turkey’s EU accession process and Cyprus issue are the other topics to be discussed by the two foreign ministers.



11 October 2011 Tuesday

CHP leader says Deputy PM Atalay ‘mole’ in charity fraud probe

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu alleged on Tuesday that Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay warned members of the German-based Turkish charity Deniz Feneri and its affiliated television channel Kanal 7 prior to a police operation to arrest members who were implicated in charity fraud.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

Kılıçdaroğlu said during his party’s parliamentary group meeting that Atalay, who was the interior minister at the time, was the person who had warned them of a possible search of their offices prior to the raid that took place on July 6. He reiterated his claims that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has links to the alleged corruption within Deniz Feneri and accused the ruling party of trying to cover up an ongoing investigation into the allegations of fraud.

“Who did the interior minister learn from that there would be a police search [of the offices of Deniz Feneri suspects]? He possibly learned about it from the police officers at the National Police Department. When he left his post as interior minister, his private security manager left the ministry but his official security manager is still with him. He [Atalay] fears he [the official security manager] will reveal all the facts and get him into trouble,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.

The AK Party denied any links with the charity and recently called on the CHP leader to prove his claims. Releasing a written statement on Tuesday, Atalay said Kılıçdaroğlu’s claims were all lies and slander aimed at him.

The Deniz Feneri administration is accused of funneling money collected for charity from pious workers in Germany into various companies and businesses in Turkey. In September 2008 a German court convicted three Turkish men of funneling $26 million in charitable contributions raised by Deniz Feneri to companies run by conservative individuals in Turkey.

Nearly a dozen people have been arrested as part of the investigation thus far. Former Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) head Zahit Akman, Kanal 7 Deputy General Manager İsmail Karahan, News Editor Mustafa Çelik, CFO Erdoğan Kara and Kanal 7 CEO Zekeriya Karaman are also among the suspects arrested. Ali Solak, who is suspected of acting as the “bank” for the suspected charity fraud ring, was also arrested as part of the investigation into the charity’s Turkish links.



11 October 2011, Tuesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

Turkey lobbying hard for Kosovo, says Tirana

Turkey is strongly lobbying for increasing the number of countries that recognize Kosovo, according to Albaninan President Bamir Topi.

Albaninan President Bamir Topi speaks at a meeting in Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Albaninan President Bamir Topi speaks at a meeting in Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

“I had the opportunity to raise [the issue of recognition of Kosovo] with Turkish President Abdullah Gül, who also informed me that he had a discussion with the President of Brazil Dilma Roussef on the issue of Kosovo’s recognition,” Topi said in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News after participating in a Turkey-Albania Business Council meeting at Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) in Istanbul.

Brazil is not among the 85 states that have recognized Kosovo since it declared independence in 2007. The Gulf state of Kuwait announced yesterday that it has recognized Kosovo as an independent country and has decided to establish diplomatic ties at the ambassadorial level, according to an AFP report.

Turkey’s authorities have a solid resolve to support new recognitions of Kosovo, and are lobbying other countries continue recognizing the new state, Topi said. “The perspective is optimistic and we expect more countries to recognize Kosovo in the future.”

The position of the Albanian state regarding Kosovo is the same. The situation in Kosovo is irrevocable regarding its independence and functioning as a sovereign state, the Albanian president said. “This has been demonstrated even by the planet’s strongest states, including the United States, a majority of European Union member states and Turkey.”

Regarding efforts by the EU to bring Kosovo and Serbia back to the negotiating table after tension in northern Kosovo, Topi said: “I am confident that the EU will not fail in the orientation of these discussions.”

Kosovo’s government ruled out talks with Serbia over the flashpoint on Oct. 10, as the EU facilitator for the Belgrade-Prishtina dialogue, Robert Cooper, began a two-day visit in a bid to revive talks between the two sides, according to an AFP report. “Kosovo has a clear platform (for the talks) with red lines. The independence, territorial integrity and internal structure and system of Kosovo,” Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in a statement.

“Talks also have their own complications. They do not always progress as required. But this is a process and within a process. We encourage fluidity and continuity of negotiations,” Albania’s President Topi said. The talks, as already stated by Kosovo’s institutions, will be realized for all issues of reciprocal interests of technical character, but starting from positions of sovereignty, which means Kosovo and Serbia can negotiate as two independent sovereign countries, he added.

The dialogue was interrupted in late September following a new wave of violence in northern Kosovo where the Serb population, which remains loyal to Belgrade, is concentrated. The situation there remains tense.

Asked whether there are formal or informal talks between Albania and Kosovo on a possible unification of the two countries, Topi said: “Albania and Kosovo are two states that have a single aspiration, to be members of the EU, and in a symbolic sense, unification of the two states will occur in Brussels, as it will happen for other countries.”

Topi also called for Turkish companies to invest more in Albania, especially in the tourism sector, during his speech at the business council. “Economic relations do not yet respond to the excellent relations between the two countries at the political level. We have taken notes of all suggestions [by Turkish business representatives] and will work to attract more Turkish investments to Albania, particularly in the fields of tourism, energy and mining,” he said.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

Iran captured but later released PKK leader Karayılan, report claims

Iranian security forces captured senior outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Murat Karayılan in August but later released him after negotiations with the terrorist organization, a Turkish daily reported on Tuesday.

The claim was put forth by Yeni Şafak daily columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, who said Iran was planning operations against bases of the PKK’s Iranian offshoot, a group called the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), in the Kandil Mountains and suggested carrying out joint military operations with Turkey. Turkey reportedly preferred intelligence sharing to a joint operation and the country’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) informed Tehran of Karayılan’s location.

Iranian forces then reportedly captured Karayılan and his accomplices just a few days before Turkey launched an air offensive against PKK bases in Kandil. They were taken to the Iranian city of Urumiyya. Selvi says the fact that Iranian forces captured Karayılan a few days before Turkish airstrikes on Kandil and the fact that they took the PKK leader from Kandil and released him after a short while raise questions about whether Tehran had saved the PKK leader from strikes. On Aug. 18, the Turkish military launched aerial attacks on PKK targets in northern Iraq, killing up to 160 terrorists.

The daily claims that Iran did not inform Ankara about Karayılan’s capture and his transfer to Urumiyya and that the Tehran administration then released Karayılan after talks with the PKK. The content of the talks, however, were not released.

The Anatolia news agency reported on Aug. 14 that Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi had said Karayılan had been captured by Iranian security forces. According to Anatolia, Boroujerdi confirmed weekend news reports of Karayılan’s capture from the Iranian Fars news agency.

“The number two man of the PKK has been captured. Our intelligence forces accomplished a significant achievement by capturing Karayılan,” he was quoted as saying by Fars. However, Anatolia ran a correction later in the day saying Boroujerdi had actually said, “The number two man of the PKK has been captured,” without explicitly referring to Karayılan.

However, the explanation did not satisfy Turkey with the country’s deputy prime minister, Bülent Arınç, saying on Aug. 23 that “the whereabouts of Karayılan had not yet been clarified.” “There have still been no news reports with recent images of or statements from Karayılan. There is something about this we don’t know, but we can’t explain what,” Arınç said.

Arınç once again commented on the issue on Tuesday and gave credit to the report. “There might have been bargaining between Iran and the PKK. It will come to light soon,” he told reporters when asked about the Yeni Şafak report.

When asked whether he would make a statement regarding allegations of Karayılan’s capture, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said, “We could make a statement when it’s is time to do so.”



11 October 2011, Tuesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

Turkey PM urges Sarkozy for ‘honesty’ in politics

Turkey’s prime minister on Tuesday rebuffed French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for Ankara to recognise the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide, urging “honesty” in politics.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses on October 11, 2011 members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the parliament in Ankara. AFP Photo.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses on October 11, 2011 members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the parliament in Ankara. AFP Photo.

Speaking in Turkish parliament, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised Sarkozy for using different languages when he spoke in Turkey, France and Armenia.

“This is not political leadership. Politics, first of all, requires honesty,” said Erdogan.

Sarkozy crossed swords with Turkey during a visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan last week when he urged Ankara to recognise, within a “very brief” period, the 1915 massacres at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

“From 1915 to 2011, it seems to be enough (time) for reflection,” said Sarkozy in remarks which drew ire from Turkish officials.

Erdogan accused the French leader of making “election investment,” linked to French presidential elections next year.

“There are 600,000 Armenians in your country but also 500,000 Turks. You have relations with Turkey,” said Erdogan, addressing Sarkozy.

“Bearing the title of statesman requires thinking about next generations, not next elections,” said Erdogan.

Sarkozy had already angered Turkey ahead of his election in 2007 by backing a law aimed at prosecuting those who denied genocide, although the French lower house of parliament later rejected the measure.

Armenians say that up to 1.5 million of their kin fell victim to genocide during World War I under the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey counters that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian forces.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
ANKARA – Agence France-Presse

‘Syrian National Council to send representatives to Ankara’

In a move that may bolster the legitimacy of Syria’s present opposition leadership, members of the Syrian National Council (SNC) will send a delegation to Ankara this week to meet with officials from the Foreign Ministry, says SNC spokesperson and Syrian dissident Khaled Khoja.

The al-Assad regime on Sunday threatened to apply
The al-Assad regime on Sunday threatened to apply

“We plan to meet with members of the Foreign Ministry in order to introduce our policy and a roadmap to the Turkish government,” he told Today’s Zaman in an interview on Monday. Khaled claims that it will be the first time the SNC, which represents a diverse group of opposition voices within Syria, will consult with Ankara over its resistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The move would showcase both Ankara’s growing willingness to court formal ties to the Syrian opposition movement and the council’s ongoing quest to gain recognition from the international community.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry denies that the meeting is on its agenda, but sources close to Today’s Zaman, who wish to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed reports that the meeting may take place in the coming week. If held, the meeting would be the first step in what Oytun Orhan, a Middle East expert at the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), claims would be “a big step in conferring legitimacy on the Syrian Council.” “Granting the Syrian Council a meeting may mean the government will soon be willing to grant them official recognition. This, in turn, would confer international legitimacy on the council. If Turkey stands behind them, it would confirm them as the official opposition movement,” Orhan told Today’s Zaman.

Opposition seeks unified voice

Khaled stated that the meeting will be used to formerly present the aims of the council to the Turkish authorities, which include the demands that “Assad must fall, that his regime must be replaced by a civil constitution and that protests against the regime must remain peaceful.”

The council’s agreement on the broad aims of its mission comes after a period of intense debate between members of the diverse opposition council. The council, which Khaled states is presently made up of “the Muslim Brotherhood, leftist secularists, Syrian Christians, Kurds and Arab nationalists,” has by its very nature led to divisions in the opposition voice. “There are many different groups in the opposition movement. The reason why it has taken six months to make unified decisions is this,” he stated.

Council members said infighting was largely overcome following a meeting last week in İstanbul, where members agreed on a broad framework for regime change and vowed to elect leaders in the coming weeks. “The council had met formerly, but the result was too fragmented, with only the voices of individuals or groups,” Orhan stated, adding that “it seems the most powerful elements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have given their support to the council before they threatened to walk out.”

The council seemed to take yet another step towards solidarity during a meeting in Stockholm on Monday, when AP reported that the SNC had agreed during a meeting in Stockholm on “a democratic framework” for a government which might replace Assad. The council also announced its desire for international observers to monitor the regime’s activities in Syria and declared that international sanctions must be implemented to target individuals loyal to Damascus. The council urged its opposition to impose broad sanctions which would target ordinary Syrians, AP reported.

If the council can develop formal ties with Ankara, it may provide the clearest signal yet to both Syrians and the international community that it should be considered the official representative of Syria’s opposition groups. According to Orhan, backing from Turkey will help cement their official status both at home and abroad. “If Turkey stands behind them, it would confirm them as the official opposition movement. They are not seeking recognition from the United States, for instance, because it could delegitimize them in Syria or among some Arab countries. Support from Turkey could give them support in the West and in the Middle East.”

The meeting between SNC members and Turkish officials would come after a warning by Syrian officials on Sunday that “measures would be taken” against any powers which supported the “illegitimate council.” Syrian officials have also protested Turkish plans to go ahead with sanctions against Damascus, stating on Sunday that “[Turkey’s] hostility will backfire on them.”

Khaled, meanwhile, believes that Turkey’s response to the civil unrest in Syria has been both appropriate and decisive. “The Turkish government has reacted clearly to events in Syria. Since the beginning, it called for an end to the bloodshed. When the sanctions didn’t pass in the Security Council, Turkey showed its clear stance by later saying it would go ahead with sanctions.” What happens between Ankara and the council, the activist says, will now depend on the unity of opposition forces. “There has been a clear response to Assad from Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan. Erdoğan is now waiting for a clear position in the opposition groups.”





İstanbul to host some of Davos meetings

Some of meetings of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering, which is usually be held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, will be held in İstanbul from this year onwards, a WEF member and a former aide to the Turkish prime minister has said.

Cüneyd Zapsu said during a television program on Monday that first WEF meeting in İstanbul will be held from June 19-22. “This will not be a one-time thing,” Zapsu said, underscoring that the some of the annual meetings that are related to the region will be held in İstanbul in the following years as well.

Davos is remembered as the meeting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan walked out of in 2009. During a session on Gaza, in which Erdoğan, Israeli President Shimon Peres, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa were panelists, Erdoğan stalked off the stage when a moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, cut off his remarks in response to an impassioned monologue by President Peres, who strongly defended Israel’s offensive against Gaza.

When Ignatius tried to cut short Erdoğan’s remarks, saying it was past time to adjourn for dinner, the Turkish prime minister answered in frustration: “One minute… one minute… one minute… Don’t interrupt me. You are not allowing me to speak.” Erdoğan then directed harsh criticism at Peres about Israel’s present and past policies against Gaza and walked off the stage when he was interrupted again, saying, “Davos is over for me from now on.”






10 October 2011, Monday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

Visa regime raise doubts on EU justice: Turkish speaker

Cicek said the Union was “doing injustice” by imposing strict visa procedures for Turkey which is a member of the Customs Union and has been negotiating with the EU for full membership.


Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek on Monday received Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe, or ALDE, as part of his visit to the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Speaking at the meeting, Cicek said Turkey had made many legal and structural reforms in its drive to become an EU member, adding, however, the country had still certain setbacks such as its constitution.

“We will overcome our most fundamental problem by making a new constitution in the new period. We are set to hold our first meeting this week at the constitutional
committee in the parliament,” Cicek said.

Cicek said the Union was “doing injustice” by imposing strict visa procedures for Turkey which is a member of the Customs Union and has been negotiating with the EU for full membership.

“This calls for questioning EU’s scale of justice,” he said, adding Turkey would not accept any other status short of full EU membership like privileged partnership. “Let’s not tire ourselves out by discussing that. Let’s be honest.”

Verhofstadt, on his part, said he welcomed the agreement between Turkish political parties to make a constitution from scratch through dialogue and negotiation, adding that the successful conclusion of the constitutional debate would help in Turkey respond to any kind of criticisms directed at the country.



10 October 2011 Monday