Turkish Daily Press - December 6, 2010
The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
LEGISLATION ON INFORMATION SHARE IS ON THE AGENDA OF TURKISH GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (TBMM)
TBMM started to discuss to issue the legislation about the agreement which has been signed by Swiss Minister of Finance and Turkish Minister of Finance Mehmet Simsek on June 18, 2010. If the legislation passes from TBMM, Turkey may ask Swiss banks if PM Erdogan has any undeclared accounts.
TURKISH CANDIDATE TO GO ON WORLD TOUR
Turkish Ambassador Ersin Erçin, Turkey's candidate for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will go on a world tour prior to the election for the new secretary-general in the spring. He is expected to visit more than 30 countries to get support for his success in the election. Some 25 out of 56-member states including the United States and Russia have already extended support to the Turkish ambassador.
TIME TO SET UP A SELF-DEFENSE FORCE
The Democratic Society Congress, or DTK, has decided to organize a "self defense force" proposed by Abdullah Öcalan. The target is to establish a security unit for the people.
The DTK, co-chaired by Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, has decided to organize the force in the Southeast in the social and political arena to make people ensure their own security.
The details of the decision will become clear in a meeting that will take place in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Dec. 17-18.
The self-defense force is one of the legs of democratic autonomy system proposed by Öcalan.
TURKEY, ISRAEL IN BID TO OVERCOME CRISIS
Turkish and Israeli officials met Sunday in Geneva in a bid to overcome a deep crisis over a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May as Turkey's prime minister insisted on an apology and compensation.
The fence-mending talks followed Turkey's dispatch of two aircraft to help fight a deadly forest fire in northern Israel, a gesture that raised hope of a thaw between the one-time allies.
"I can confirm that a meeting took place today in Geneva," a Turkish foreign ministry official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.
He said foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu met with an Israeli official, whom he could not name.
The official would not give other details.
Bilateral ties plunged into crisis on May 31 when Israeli forces killed eight Turkish citizens and an American citizen of Turkish origin in a raid on an activist ship carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip as part of an international campaign led by a Turkish charity.
Relations had been already strained over Israel's devastating war on Gaza last year, amid Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's frequent outbursts against the Jewish state and his defense of the radical Palestinian group Hamas.
Israel's Haaretz daily reported Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had sent the Israeli representative on the UN committee investigating the flotilla raid, Yosef Ciechanover, to Geneva to meet with Sinirlioğlu.
The two would try to draw up a draft agreement that would put and end to the crisis, the daily quoted a senior Israeli source as saying.
Erdoğan, a fierce critic of Israel who heads a conservative government hailing from a banned Islamist movement, described Ankara's assistance for the fire-fighting effort in Israel as "our humanitarian and Islamic duty."
He ruled out improvement in ties unless the Jewish state apologized over the flotilla bloodshed and paid compensation to the victims' families.
"Some say we should turn a new page... An apology must be offered first, compensation must be paid first," Erdoğan said Sunday in a speech in Sivas, central Turkey, Anatolia news agency reported.
"If a hand is extended, we will not leave it in the air ... but we want to see that this hand is extended with sincerity."
"No one should expect us to keep silent and forfeit law and justice as long as the blood spilled in the Mediterranean is not cleared," he said.
On Friday, Netanyahu thanked Turkey for its help in the fire disaster and telephoned Erdoğan to convey his gratitude.
"We very much appreciate this mobilization and I am certain that it will be an opening toward improving relations between our two countries, Turkey and Israel," he said in a statement.
The lingering chill was visible only a day before when Turkey's interior minister alluded Israel might be linked to the leaking of US cables to the WikiLeaks web site, saying the Jewish state appeared to be "benefiting" from the scandal.
The cables revealed US and Israeli unease over Turkey's close contacts with Iran and Erdoğan's criticism of Israel, which had raised fears that NATO's sole Muslim-majority member is drifting away from the West.
Erdoğan "hates Israel" on religious grounds, one cable from Ankara said, including also the Israeli ambassador's description of Erdoğan as "a fundamentalist."
In an earlier attempt at dialogue, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Israeli Trade Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer met secretly in Brussels on June 30, but the meeting sparked tensions within Israel's ruling coalition.
In response to the flotilla raid, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and cancelled joint military exercises. It also twice denied permission to Israeli military aircraft to use its air space.
Turkey and Israel had enjoyed a decade of close ties since 1996 when they signed a military cooperation agreement.
CABLES ALL IN A DAY'S WORK, SAYS FORMER US ENVOY TO TURKEY
The United States diplomats named in secret cables were merely doing their jobs, and to suggest that they could face legal action for their remarks, as Turkey's prime minister did last week, is "unwise," according to a former U.S. envoy to Turkey.
"I think that diplomats do what they are supposed to do," former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey's Ross Wilson told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a recent interview.
Last week, the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks released a trove of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, many of which used frank language and revealed embarrassing comments and anecdotes regarding government leaders.
"The reporting in the cables that I have seen is pretty much consistent with what we do," Wilson said. "I personally might not use the same words that some of the cables used. However, I don't see many extraordinary things so far."
AKP establishes Wikileaks commission
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leader of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has established a commission to examine legal issues regarding claims made about him and other party members in recently exposed WikiLeaks documents.
Deputy leader Abdülkadir Aksu, who is alleged in at least one WikiLeaks document to have been seriously involved in illegal activity, has been assigned to chair the commission.
Erdoğan said he intends to sue the diplomats over claims made in the leaked diplomatic cables and the commission would look into whether diplomats can be sued or not. The AKP has decided to wait for all documents to be released by Wikileaks before taking the intended legal actions, "to be able to see a clearer picture," according to an anonymous party member who spoke to daily Hürriyet.
The PM also warned members of his party to be more careful while talking to foreign diplomats in the future. "Our friends should be careful about what they say to whom," he said.
None of the claims in United States' diplomatic cables exposed by WikiLeaks are yet to be substantiated by any evidence.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the subject of several of the hundreds of cables released so far. One leaked cable, signed by former U.S. envoy to Ankara Eric Edelman, reported claims that Erdoğan had eight secret accounts in Swiss banks, a claim the American diplomat said had been made to the U.S. Embassy by two contacts. There is currently no public evidence to support the claims.
Other documents accused Erdoğan of reaping personal gain from a billion-dollar privatization.
On Wednesday, Erdoğan said his "friends" were working to take action against the diplomats involved "in terms of national and international law."
"They [the diplomats] have to think [about the consequences]," Erdoğan said.
But Wilson said the focus should not be on holding the diplomats legally accountable for their comments.
"I do not think it is really credible to talk about legal action, and I think talking about it is unwise," he said. "Everybody should understand that these cables report on what diplomats hear, what they see and what our assessments of the situation are. In doing so, we try to help Washington to make the best policy."
Wilson said the release of the cables had "already greatly compromised American diplomacy."
"This will make it much harder for American diplomats to work, and it will make it harder for us to work with our allies, partners, those who depend on us and those on whom we depend," he said. "Some of what is coming out now about various countries has domestic impact, and that is not helpful."
The U.S. ambassador also emphasized confidentiality, arguing that it is as necessary in diplomacy as it is in medicine and law.
"It is important to remember that diplomacy is not the only profession that requires confidentiality to do its work," Wilson said. "Compromising that confidentiality puts all of us in a terrible situation."
Because that code of confidentiality has been breached, he said, the U.S. might have to revise the way it carries out diplomacy.
"Its conduct of diplomacy might be circumvented, at least for some time," Wilson said. "And it will probably take a while for memory of this to pass and for the U.S. government to take steps to secure its information."
WikiLeaks has come under intense criticism since Nov. 28, when it began releasing hundreds of cables from a batch that the organization claims contains more than 250,000 files. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is reported to be the point of origin for nearly 8,000 of the cables — the most to come from a foreign embassy.
The hundreds of cables released represent "only a slice" of the whole batch, Wilson said, adding that the one thing that is certain is that the U.S. will face more difficulties in its diplomatic relations.
"It is safe to say that it will be more difficult for the U.S. government to work with others, including Turkey," he said.
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