Israel’s Peres, Netanyahu send letters of condolence to Erdoğan

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have sent separate condolence letters to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the death of his mother, Tenzile Erdoğan, Israeli media reported on Monday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L),and Israeli President Shimon Peres during a plenary session on the Middle East peace at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009. Erdoğan has stalked off the stage at the WWF later, red-faced and agitated after verbally sparring over Gaza with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L),and Israeli President Shimon Peres during a plenary session on the Middle East peace at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009. Erdoğan has stalked off the stage at the WWF later, red-faced and agitated after verbally sparring over Gaza with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have sent separate condolence letters to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the death of his mother, Tenzile Erdoğan, Israeli media reported on Monday.

“From personal experience I know the deep sense of grief of feeling like an orphan and the boundless sorrow of your loss,” Peres was quoted as having written in a letter to Erdoğan on Sunday by the English-language Israeli daily Haaretz.

Saying the news of Erdoğan’s mother’s death was received with much sadness, Peres asked Erdoğan to accept his “profound condolences and sympathy,” Haaretz reported.

Tenzile Erdoğan, who was 88, died in a hospital on Friday, only days after a gall bladder operation.

Netanyahu’s condolence message was sent on Friday via diplomatic channels, The Jerusalem Post reported, without elaborating on the content of the message or the identification of the channels.

Turkish-Israeli relations were badly damaged following a lethal Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 that left nine Turkish civilians dead. Turkey has demanded an official apology, but Israel has only expressed regret over the flotilla deaths. Israel says its soldiers acted in self-defense. Last month, Turkey imposed a set of initial sanctions against Israel to push the Jewish state to address Turkey’s demands.

In late September, Israeli media reported that the US has restarted its efforts to repair the badly damaged Turkish-Israeli ties, concerned about its two most important allies in the Middle East.

At the time, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronot reported that a senior Israeli official confirmed that meditation has been undertaken by the US to restore Turkish-Israeli ties. The report also claimed that the US has tried in vain to convince Erdoğan and Peres to talk over the phone.

 

 

10 October 2011, Monday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

Turk convicted of Sivas massacre had German passport, report says

A Turkish fugitive captured last month by Polish police had remained on the run partly due to a passport he acquired from Germany, daily Hürriyet reported today.

An image grab shows the fire at Madımak Hotel which killed 37 people. Hürriyet photo
An image grab shows the fire at Madımak Hotel which killed 37 people. Hürriyet photo

Vahit Kaynar, who was convicted of participation in the 1993 Sivas Massacre in which 33 intellectuals and two hotel workers were killed at the Madımak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, had been traveling through Europe with a blue passport that had been granted by the German government to political asylum seekers.

Kaynar was not subjected to identity checks while crossing borders in Europe thanks to his German passport, Hürriyet reported.

Kaynar was on his way from Germany to Poland when he was captured.

Kaynar’s lawyers are hoping to prevent his rendition to Turkey, which has requested his extradition, and are pushing for the convicted suspect to be returned to Germany instead. Kaynar was sentenced to death in Turkey and was detained in prison for a year before he escaped to Germany.

Kaynar had been living in Berlin for over a decade and was wanted by Interpol.

The Madımak Hotel in Sivas was torched July 2, 1993, by radical Islamists during an Alevi cultural festival. In addition to the 35 victims of the massacre, two attackers also died during the arson.

Monday, October 10, 2011
BERLIN – Hürriyet

Pro-Kurdish BDP says path to peace passes through Öcalan

The co-chairman of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has said the path to peace in the country’s Kurdish issue passes through Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş spoke on Sunday during a sit-in protest staged by the BDP in Diyarbakır, which marked the anniversary of Öcalan being forced to leave Syria, previously a safe haven, in the face of mounting pressure from Turkey in 1998.
BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş spoke on Sunday during a sit-in protest staged by the BDP in Diyarbakır, which marked the anniversary of Öcalan being forced to leave Syria, previously a safe haven, in the face of mounting pressure from Turkey in 1998.
BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş spoke on Sunday during a sit-in protest staged by the BDP in Diyarbakır, which marked the anniversary of Öcalan being forced to leave Syria, previously a safe haven, in the face of mounting pressure from Turkey in 1998. Police obstructed a march planned to be held in Gemlik Bursa. Gemlik is across the water from İmralı Island where Öcalan is currently imprisoned.“If the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party really wants peace, it has to work for it. It has to exert much more effort if it really wants an end to bloodshed as much as we do. And today the most important path to peace passes through İmralı [Island],” Demirtaş said. “It is hard, impossible to ensure peace as long as Öcalan stays in İmralı. Today, the path is open to open Öcalan’s freedom to debate,” Demirtaş added.Fifteen BDP deputies, including BDP Co-chairwoman Gülten Kışanak attended the sit-in protest in Diyarbakır.

Öcalan was captured in Kenya on Feb. 15, 1999, while being transferred from the Greek Embassy to Nairobi International Airport in an operation conducted by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). He was sentenced to death the same year, but his sentence was suspended and later commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in Turkey in August 2002.

 

 

 

09 October 2011, Sunday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

Turkish police block pro-PKK protest in Bursa

Supporters of the terrorist PKK who were planning major demonstrations in Gemlik, a township in the northwestern province of Bursa, on Sunday were not allowed to do so as police blocked roads and turned away buses carrying protesters to the province.

Police blocked roads and turned away buses carrying pro-PKK protesters to Bursa.
Police blocked roads and turned away buses carrying pro-PKK protesters to Bursa.

The protestors were planning to hold the march specifically on Oct. 9, the anniversary of the day jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan had to leave Syria, previously a safe haven, in the face of mounting pressure from Turkey in 1998. Bursa’s provincial governor had declared the march illegal, and police set up checkpoints on roads to Gemlik, a small port on the Marmara Sea across the water from the island prison where jailed PKK leader Öcalan is being held.

“We won’t be able to hold the march today because of police obstruction,” Aysel Tuğluk, a Kurdish member of Parliament, was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolian news agency. One convoy of around 1,000 people was prevented from leaving Diyarbakır, a major city in the mainly Kurdish Southeast, on Saturday afternoon, NTV news reported.

Öcalan is currently incarcerated on İmrali Island just south of İstanbul and has held on-again off-again talks with state officials seeking ways to end a separatist conflict that began in the 1980s.

The march was organized by TUHAF-FED, an association for families of convicts and those under arrest in prison. The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a political group mostly comprised of members of the now defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP), also supported the event.

The group was planning to protest Turkey’s refusal to allow Öcalan’s lawyers to visit him. The PKK leader has not been allowed to meet with his lawyers for over a month, due to a hiatus in the several legal cases where Öcalan is on trial.

The PKK is now fighting for greater autonomy and Kurdish rights, having earlier sought a separate state. Öcalan’s supporters also want the state to recognize him as a legitimate representative of the Kurds in possible peace talks.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, including three victims of a car bomb in Ankara last month carried out by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK). Turkey’s military has been mounting air and artillery strikes since August on PKK positions in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq in reaction to a string of terrorist attacks.

Within Turkey, security forces have reportedly detained thousands of Kurds suspected of ties to the PKK in recent months. Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said on Friday that Kurdish media was exaggerating the numbers, though the the courts had formally ordered the arrest 277 suspects since Sept. 1.

On Friday night, according to Anatolia, police arrested 49 suspects in İstanbul and 18 in Diyarbakır. They were picked up as part of an operation against a Kurdish organization considered close to the PKK, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

 

 

 

09 October 2011, Sunday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM WITH REUTERS,

Syria warns not to recognise opposition, vows reform

President Bashar al-Assad renewed a pledge of reforms on Sunday, as Syria threatened retaliation if countries recognise an opposition bloc increasingly active on the international scene.

picture dated November 09, 2008 shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressing the parliament in Damascus during a meeting of Arab parliamentarians. AFP Photo.
picture dated November 09, 2008 shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressing the parliament in Damascus during a meeting of Arab parliamentarians. AFP Photo.

“Syria is taking steps focused on two main fronts — political reform and the dismantling of armed groups,” who seek to destabilise the country, Assad told the visiting Cuban and Venezuelan foreign ministers.

The embattled president said “the Syrian people had welcomed the reforms but that foreign attacks intensified just as the situation in the country began to make progress.” He accused Western powers of having “little interest in reform,” seeking instead to “push Syria to pay the price for its stances against foreign schemes hatched outside the region.” “Despite everything, a process of reform is underway,” he assured them, stressing that Syria’s decisions were “sovereign and not related to foreign instructions.” The foreign ministers of Venezuela and Cuba headed a delegation of leftist Latin American countries — including Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia — that travelled to Syria to “show support.” The delegates denounced the “political and media campaign being waged against Syria,” the state news agency SANA said.

The eight-member Latin American bloc’s talks aim to “political destabilisation attempts by the United States and its allies,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said prior to the visit.

“We reject all forms of interventionism that the empire is trying to apply as it did in Libya for a violent process of regime change,” he said.

Washington has renewed its calls for Assad to step down immediately amid escalating violence against anti-regime protesters that the United Nations says has left nearly 3,000 people dead.

Turkey, meanwhile, has kept constant pressure on Damascus by hosting gatherings of Syrian dissidents and repeatedly calling on Assad’s regime to introduce reforms.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem warned that Damascus will retaliate against any state which recognises the Syrian National Council (SNC), formed in Istanbul in late August and uniting the key groups opposed to Assad’s rule.

“We will take significant measures against any country that recognises this illegitimate council,” Muallem told a news conference, as the newly formed opposition group lobbied for support in Cairo where the Arab League is based.

The SNC groups the Local Coordination Committees (LLC), an activist network spurring protests in Syria, the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood as well as Kurdish and Assyrian groups.

One of its members, Kurdish leader Meshaal Tamo, was assassinated on Friday, sparking the condemnation of the United States, France, the European Union and Turkey. Damascus blamed the assassination on a “terrorist” group.

“There are groups carrying out acts of violence in Syria and who have killed a great number of martyrs. The West speaks of a peaceful revolution and does not admit these groups exist but arms them anyhow,” Muallem said.

He also issued a thinly veiled warning to Turkey which condemned the assassination as a “loathsome” act. “Syria will not stay with its arms crossed. If Turkey throws us a flower, we will send them one back,” he said.

Syrian security forces killed at least two people on Saturday when they opened fire on a crowd of more than 50,000 mourners who took part in Tamo’s funeral procession, which turned into an anti-regime rally, activists said.

Syria then closed one of its border gates with Turkey and barred Turkish nationals from entering following the bloodshed in Qamishli, northern Syria, where Tamo’s funeral was held, Turkey’s Anatolia news agency said.

The United States has charged that Assad’s regime was escalating its tactics against the opposition with bold attacks on its leaders, while the LCC inside Syria has accused it of trying to “physically eliminate” top dissidents.

The SNC is courting foreign recognition and plans to hold a meeting to elect its leadership, a member of the exile group’s delegation to Cairo, told Egypt’s official MENA news agency.

Moscow said on Saturday it will receive Syrian opposition politicians on Tuesday for unofficial talks and that it also expects to host a visit from SNC delegates later in the month.

Meanwhile, Syria’s embassies in Europe have become a focal point of angry protests, with a group of 30 demonstrators storming the Syrian embassy in Berlin on Saturday night.

Sunday, October 9, 2011
DAMASCUS – Agence France-Presse

Davutoğlu: Turkey to take all measures if Syrian turmoil poses risk

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Turkey will take all necessary measures, including military ones, if the ongoing turmoil in neighboring Syria poses a security threat for Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

Davutoğlu was speaking during a television program hosted by veteran journalist Mehmet Ali Birand on Thursday night. When Birand asked whether Turkey is heading towards war with Syria, Davutoğlu said the Turkish state thinks that the oppression inflicted on the Syrian people has reached unacceptable levels.

When he was asked what Turkey can do in the face of this crackdown, Davutoğlu said the Syrian people will do what should be done. “But, as Syria’s neighbor, there are also many steps that we can take. Everyone knows that,” Davutoğlu said. As for whether military measures are also included in these steps, the minister said, “Of course, when the situation becomes a security threat for us.”

“Every domestic crisis in Syria will affect Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. It affects the whole region. In this regard, there is no other country more important than Syria today. So, when an internal conflict in Syria poses a risk to Turkey, we will take all necessary measures,” he said.

Davutoğlu’s remarks were reported by some Turkish dailies as confirmation of an intention to go to war against Syria. However, a statement from the Foreign Ministry denied the reports and said Davutoğlu did not say Turkey was going to war with Syria on Birand’s program, nor anywhere else. The statement elaborated that the minister had only said Turkey would take all measures for Turkey’s security.

Dismayed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s failure to heed repeated entreaties to stop the violence, Turkey has begun putting pressure on Syria. On Tuesday, a Syrian colonel who has emerged as one of the leaders of armed resistance to the 45-year-old Syrian president’s rule revealed that he had been given sanctuary in Turkey.

At least 2,700 civilians have been killed in Syria, according to a UN count. Damascus blames the unrest on foreign-backed armed gangs, who it says have killed 700 security personnel.

 

 

 

07 October 2011, Friday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

Turkey and France to jointly fight terrorism

Turkey and France will establish mechanisms to jointly fight against terror, organized crime, and human and drug smuggling as part of a rare substantive bilateral agreement to be inked today, which will be a first of its kind for Turkey.

Visiting French Interior Minister Gueant (R) shakes hands with Turkish EU Minister Bağış in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Visiting French Interior Minister Gueant (R) shakes hands with Turkish EU Minister Bağış in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

“The agreement has both technical and operational dimensions,” French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who came to Turkey for official talks, told reporters in Ankara yesterday. “We will identify threats common to both countries. And we will move against them together. That would surely require joint operations as well.”

Gueant met with EU Minister Egemen Bağış and Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and will hold talks with Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin today where an agreement will be signed. Gueant will also be received by President Abdullah Gül on Friday.

Turkish government officials have long been criticizing their European allies for their ignorance in cooperating with Turkey against the terror and have even targeted certain countries with claims of financial and political support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The agreement with France will focus on deepening cooperation on the fight against terrorism, organized crime, drug and human smuggling and illegal immigration between the two countries. It will be as substantive as possible and will also include establishment of mechanisms, officials said.

The PKK has an important presence in France, where it collects financial resources to fund the organization’s terrorist acts. Paris has conducted several operations to crack down on the PKK’s presence in the country and has arrested high-level PKK members but failed to extradite them to Turkey due to gaps in French laws.

Gueant said that although they would boost cooperation with Turkey on these issues, extradition of PKK members was still up to the French courts. “We, as the executive, cannot interfere in judicial processes,” he said.

Gueant was the right arm man of French President Nicholas Sarkozy when he was at the Elysée (office and residence of the President of the French Republic), Bağış said, adding that the interior minister was very much aware of Turkey’s sensitivities on these matters.

Thursday, October 6, 2011
Serkan Demirtaş
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Hamas grants Gaza invitation to Turkish PM

Following a number of erstwhile attempts, Prime Minister Erdoğan receives another invitation from the besieged Gaza Strip’s rulers, Hamas, to visit the territory
‘I think Turkish people can find a way to go to Gaza if they want to,’ says Hamas’ Deputy PM Mohammed Awad. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
‘I think Turkish people can find a way to go to Gaza if they want to,’ says Hamas’ Deputy PM Mohammed Awad. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Hamas’ deputy prime minister has expressed expectations that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will soon visit the blockaded Gaza Strip following previously abandoned attempts to travel to the Palestinian territory.

“The media has twice announced that Erdoğan was going to visit Gaza, but then we didn’t see anything on the ground. Turkey is a great country, and I think Turkish people can find a way to go to Gaza if they want to,” Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Awad told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview yesterday. “We would like Prime Minister Erdoğan not only to visit Gaza, but also to discuss every kind of political and humanitarian issue with us. It would be very good to discuss the matters with Mr. Erdoğan face to face,” Awad said.

Every part of Gaza is under humanitarian, social, financial and political siege, Awad said, adding that they also needed to discuss how to end the siege with Erdoğan.

“Erdoğan mentioned many times that this siege has to be ended. At least we can discuss this process with him from our point of view. Our people are in a big prison. We need all the people to understand our situation and discuss the matter of how to finish the siege. Turkey has a chance to [publicize] the issue everywhere in the world. We would like Turkey to raise our problems in the world,” the deputy prime minister said.

Touching on difficulties with the Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank, Awad said there had been no progression in plans for reconciliation. Hamas does not support Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ bid to have the U.N. recognize Palestinian statehood.

“We need a state of Palestine, but we don’t need this Palestine against the right of return of our people. So we have to discuss this matter in terms of how much this step can affect the right of return of Palestinians to their lands. Otherwise we won’t be able to face our people later on when we say that the right of return has been finished with this step,” Awad said.

Erdoğan has expressed his intention to visit Gaza more than once in the past. “If conditions allow, I’m thinking of visiting Gaza,” Erdoğan said in July and added last month that he intended to cross into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip through Egypt’s Rafah border gate in reaction to Israel during his official visit to Egypt on Sept. 12-13. Erdoğan was unable to travel to Gaza last month.

Israel reacts to Erdoğan’s possible visit to Gaza

Israel also reacted to Erdoğan’s planned visit to Gaza, saying such a move would harm Turkey’s relations with the United States and challenge the legitimacy of Abbas’ claim to represent all of Palestine. The Turkish prime minister’s determination to visit Gaza came as relations between Turkey and Israel sharply deteriorated following Tel Aviv’s continued refusal to apologize after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists last year aboard an aid ship that was attempting to break the blockade against the Gaza Strip. If the trip does occur, it is likely to exacerbate tensions between Turkey and Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist group. Turkey has refused to declare Hamas a terrorist group because it was democratically elected.

Thursday, October 6, 2011
İpek Yezdani
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

Turkish Cypriot party to vote against East Med deal with Turkey

The main opposition party in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) has said it will vote against an agreement with Turkey on the delineation of undersea boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean, a step that would pave the way for Turkish hydrcarbon exploration in the region in response to Greek Cypriot drilling.

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu (L) sign an agreement to mark out their undersea borders in in New York on Sept. 21, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu (L) sign an agreement to mark out their undersea borders in in New York on Sept. 21, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

 

The surprise announcement from the Republican Turks Party (CTP) came after a meeting of the party assembly on Wednesday night. A statement released after the meeting said the agreement with Turkey would undermine efforts for reunification of Cyprus and denounced its conclusion without consultations with opposition parties as an act of “grave disrespect against the will of Parliament.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu signed an agreement marking out undersea boundaries in New York last month. The agreement paves the way for Turkish oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, which comes after Greek Cypriot authorities vowed to go ahead with planned exploration in the south of Cyprus despite protests from Turkey, which says it and the Turkish Cypriots also have rights in the region.

Turkey has said its navy ships will escort exploration ships if necessary, raising prospects for an armed conflict.

The KKTC government approved the agreement on Sept. 28 and sent it to Parliament for ratification. It is not immediately clear when the Turkish Cypriot Parliament will vote on the agreement. The ruling National Unity Party (UBP) has 26 seats in the 50-member Parliament, while the second-biggest party, CTP, controls 15 seats.

The CTP statement said the crisis over hydrocarbon exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean “consumes the energy that ought to be spent on finding a comprehensive resolution to the Cyprus dispute and destroys the motivation and good will necessary to maintain solution efforts.”

The statement accused President Eroğlu of overstepping his authorities and excluding the KKTC Parliament from the decision-making process ahead of signing the agreement. “The agreement does not seek to protect the rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots. What kind of negotiations have been carried out, and by whom and where, before this agreement was signed on our behalf?” it asked.

The statement also said the Greek Cypriot administration acted “irresponsibly” and that its action will harm the reunification process, but added that the Turkish side “made the same mistake” with the way it responded to the Greek Cypriot move.

 

 

 

 

 

06 October 2011, Thursday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

‘EU should pressure Greek Cyprus on energy’

European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış on Wednesday called on the EU to build up pressure on the Greek Cypriot administration to remove a veto on the opening of talks in Turkey’s accession negotiations on a policy chapter on energy, according to an Anatolia news agency report.
“EU countries must stop the Greek Cypriots’ refusal to open the energy chapter,” Bağış told reporters during a meeting with the French Ambassador to Turkey Laurent Bili.

 

 

 

05 October 2011, Wednesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH WIRES, İSTANBUL