The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
WE ARE SUPPORTERS OF THE REPUBLIC
Turkey celebrated Victory Day on August 30. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic, said in 1924, "all the world should know that there is partisanship in me: Partisanship [for the] Republic, partisanship [for] intellectual and social reform. At this point, I do not want to see any individual in the new society of Turkey left out of this."
TURKISH POLICE ARREST AN ARMED PERSON NEAR U.S. EMBASSY
A U.S. official said Monday that Turkish police have detained a person who apparently tried to commit suicide near the U.S. Embassy.
An embassy spokesman said the person appeared to be armed and was taken away by police without any incident.
Turkey's private Cihan news agency reported that the person was dressed in a black Islamic chador [a covering worn by observant women] and held a gun to his or her head on a street near one of the embassy entrance gates on Monday. It said the person was convinced by police to lay down the gun and was taken away to a police station.
DIPLOMAT SAYS ISRAEL APOLOGIZED TO TURKEY FOR FLOTILLA KILLINGS
During a secret meeting in Brussels, Israel drafted a letter of apology to Turkey for its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy that killed nine Turkish citizens, a Turkish diplomat told an Israeli newspaper.
The [Turkish] diplomat told the [Israeli] daily Yedioth Ahronot that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Israeli Industry Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer co-drafted the letter that has reportedly met Turkey's expectations.
The Turkish diplomat said the Israeli government had avoided making the letter public due to opposition from an Israeli Cabinet member, most probably the foreign minister.
"The approval of the letter by the Israeli Cabinet would help mend relations and we would be happy to welcome the Israeli premier in Ankara," the diplomat said.
LEADERS' DIALOGUE WILL BE BENEFICIAL TO TURKEY
Deputy chairman of the ruling Justice & Development Party [AKP] and the main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP] discussed current developments and agreed that, if leaders met more often and discussed issues, it would be beneficial for Turkey.
Ömer Çelik of the AKP said, "We cannot discuss the rehabilitation of the system with the main opposition party, and we cannot seek any solution because the CHP makes this discussion a discussion of the regime."
Umut Oran of the CHP said, "The AKP does everything in its own kitchen, and imposes it on the entire society. It also says, 'You will either accept or reject the constitutional package.' And, this is the main problem."
[The AKP's] Çelik said: "Let's be sensitive about bringing leaders together. This country will win if leaders come together and discuss certain issues."
[The CHP's] Oran said "We have listened to each other with respect and I am so glad. In my opinion, leaders should also make such [personal] politics."
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "Our stance on headscarf is obvious, I think the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will not change its stance.
"If the Republican People's Party (CHP) is backing a solution, … it is unnecessary to wait. We can solve it after the September 12 (referendum)."
BAHÇELİ: REFERENDUM IS A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FOR EIGHT YEARS
Speaking in the Black Sea city of Tokat, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bahçeli asked citizens to cast their votes in the September 12 referendum. Bahçeli said, "This will be the vote of confidence for the eight-year acts [record] of this government."
ADDITIONAL FINE ON WAY FOR DOĞAN GROUP
Turkey's Doğan Group reportedly faces a new tax fine of 300 million Turkish liras on top of an already levied sum of 713.3 million TL. The new fine includes 334 million Turkish liras in overdue payment charges. The total fine reaches as high as 1.35 billion Turkish liras.
IRANIAN OFFICIAL DENIES 'GENOCIDE' REMARK
Iranian Vice President Hamid Baghaei denied Sunday that he made comments regarding the 1915 killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
"We are rejecting the news reports attributed to me in some media outlets," Baghaei was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
His remarks came after Turkey demanded a high-level explanation from Tehran when news reports quoted the Iranian official as terming the events of 1915 as "genocide" during a conference.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu spoke late Friday with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, who told him that Iran's position was in line with Turkey's stance on the issue.
However, Mottaki's assurance was not satisfying for Ankara as Davutoğlu told a group of journalists in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman that he was asking for clarification from Baghaei himself.
At a press conference Sunday, Baghaei said the conference that took place last Wednesday, on the 70th anniversary of Iran's occupation by the U.S., Russia and Britain during World War II, focused on Iranian attempts in international forums to follow up on the damage it sustained during the [second world] war.
"The conference was about this issue," he said. "Some press outlets reported that I made comments, took a stance and made an exclusive analysis on disputes between some countries like Turkey and Armenia. But I am denying this," said the official.
He repeated that he did not evaluate a legal case between Turkey and Armenia. "It was not a topic of the conference." Baghaei said, citing the growing ties between Turkey and Iran. "Today we have a very strategic, very solid and strong relationship with Turkey. We respect Turkey, which is one of the most important countries in the region."
NEW TURKISH MILITARY CHIEF CALLS FOR "FIGHT AGAINST [KURDISH] AUTONOMY"
The new chief of the Turkish military outlined his plan of action after he took office on Friday, focusing on issues that experts say show his views are in line with those of his predecessors.
Newly appointed Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner voiced four demands in his speech made during the handover ceremony Friday.
Without naming the Peace and Democracy Party, [BDP], or the party's call for autonomy, Koşaner focused on the need to take action in the face of demands for autonomy.
The four issues emphasized by the new army commander, and published in newspapers, can be summarized as follows: taking effective legal measures against any initiative to build a second [political] structure in the country; ensuring the central Iraqi government and the regional Kurdish administration will take measures against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, [PKK], based in northern Iraq; preventing the support provided to the PKK and its members by some European countries; and continuing to give the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK], authorization to launch military strikes at the terrorist bases in northern Iraq.
Koşaner is expected to focus on those four areas during his tenure. The first message reflects the military's approach toward the demand for autonomy frequently brought to the agenda by the pro-Kurdish BDP and the PKK's imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan.
Political observers say Koşaner's views are in harmony with his predecessors and reveal the military's approach on sensitive issues. Most believe Koşaner's tenure comes at a tough time and may even be the military's toughest period. They say civil-military relations and the fight against the PKK under the umbrella of the 2011 general elections will postpone new developments until the Supreme Military Council [YAŞ], meeting next year.
After stressing that the PKK — which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union — is targeting Turkey's national and unitary state structure, Koşaner said the TSK would continue to be in favor of protecting the nation-state, unitary and secular state structure.
The general felt the need to explain what he means while referring to the "unitary state" and said: "The unitary state represents the unity of the legislative, executive and judiciary within the country's borders. The same laws are valid in any part of the country."
He added that the judiciary process uses the same procedures in all parts of the country. "The unitary state is the guarantee of protection of the principle of equality and of not being engaging in regionalism or ethnic discrimination and not creating a minority," said Koşaner, in what could be interpreted as an answer to the demands for [Kurdish] autonomy.
While defining the unitary state structure, Koşaner also implied that there were attempts to bargain with the state. "Divisive and separatist movements threatening our country's integrity, security and peace have entered in a new phase of realizing [their goal] in recent times," warned the general.
ENERGY FORUM IN TURKEY TO "FACILITATE REGIONAL DIALOGUE"
The second Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum, organized by the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Energy Center, will take place in Istanbul between Sept 29 and Oct 1. Ross Wilson will be among the attendees. Wilson, who has served as the U.S. ambassador to both Turkey and Azerbaijan, tells the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the forum aims to "facilitate" discussion among the region's actors about their problems.
After its inaugural convention in Bucharest last year, the Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum is taking a big step to build dialogue within the Eurasian region. According to Ambassador Ross Wilson, the Atlantic Council is organizing the forum in Istanbul this year in order to highlight the economic and cultural commonalities in the region and stimulate discussions on common problems.
"We want to stimulate a conversation among political, business and other leaders of the region about the region's problems," Wilson told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview last week. "In other words, it's not so much Washington or [U.S.-based] think-tanks talking about problems. It's the region's own leaders talking about their problems. We want to facilitate that."
The Atlantic Council is a Washington-based think-tank that "promotes constructive U.S. leadership and engagement in international affairs," according to its website.
A key issue in the region that has an effect on trade, development and politics is energy. Some in the region either have energy resources that they export, like Russia, or are transit countries, like Turkey. However, other countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, are dependent on energy imports. Debate in recent years has focused primarily on Europe's dependence on Russian energy, with some accusing Russia of translating its energy exports into "soft power."
"I think that the countries of Central and Western Europe and Eastern Europe should be concerned, as any country anywhere, about being overly dependent on one source of supply for a critical component of their national economy," said Wilson.
However, Wilson believes that the problem is not just about Russia, but about nations being able to "stand on their own feet."
For countries looking to diversify energy supplies, Wilson said he believes there are several alternatives to Russia. Wilson himself was ambassador to Azerbaijan when construction began on the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan [BTC] pipeline. The BTC [pipeline] transports oil supplies from Azeri oil fields in the Caspian Sea through Georgia to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
"For me it's not so much a Russia-specific issue, it's just being dependent on one source of supply for a critical component [of their national economy] is not a sound strategy," Wilson told the Daily News. "I think in part for that reason I supported [and] the U.S. government has strongly supported the development of Caspian Basin energy resources as an additional supply to what will always be large-scale purchases from Russia. Augment those with supplies that come from Kazakhstan, from Azerbaijan, maybe from Iraq at some point in the future and, if their policies change, maybe from Iran at some point as well."
Energy issues have a large impact on politics and foreign relations in the region. Attempts to promote new energy supply routes must take into account Russian concerns and Wilson sees ways around any potential conflicts.
"As you look now at the future of gas pipeline developments, you sort of have the same thing being played out, whether and how Russia is going to be accommodated, whether and how Russian resources might actually help to make gas pipelines more viable, finance-able, and exactly what the routes of large-scale, new gas pipelines might be," said Wilson. Speaking in reference to countries that he believes can be major energy suppliers to Eurasia, specifically Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Wilson said he believes "these are integral issues for these countries' foreign policies."
The choice of Istanbul for this year's forum "reflects the central role, the central position of Turkey ... as a major player throughout the region," according to Wilson. He sees Turkey, along with Russia and increasingly China, as one of the big economic players in Eurasia.
"Broadly speaking, I think the decision reflected an appreciation of this absolutely crucial role that Turkey plays," said Wilson.
He dismissed concerns that Turkey's developing ties with Russia and Iran, particularly in energy, could negatively impact its integration with the European Union or its relations with the United States. On the contrary, Wilson said he believes Turkey's role as an energy transit country can be of great benefit to Europe.
"Turkey's central role ... as one of the main transit routes, if not the main transit route for Caspian Basin, Central Asian oil and natural gas to access international markets puts it in a uniquely suitable position to demonstrate its importance to European economic development," said Wilson. "Turkey's got a central role to play as Europeans seek to diversify their source of supply. I don't think that Turkish relations with Russia or with Iran, either of those relationships, negatively impair this role."
Wilson also said he believes Turkey's economic ties with Iran will not negatively impact its relationship with the U.S., "so long as Turkey stands by commitments made by Turkish officials that it will cooperate with U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran."
Gas purchase agreements between Turkey and Iran, signed in 1996, currently provide roughly 13-14 percent of Turkey's imported natural gas annually, according to Wilson. However, this gas purchase does not constitute an investment in Iran, a development that would put Turkey in danger of violating sanctions.
"My personal perspective is that Turkey's relationship with Iran is more correct rather than a particularly warm relationship," Wilson said. "Trade has been dominated by these gas purchases which have been highly unreliable for Turkey and there has been some growth in other areas as Turkish firms have found opportunities. I am sure that it will continue to be the expectation of the U.S. administration as well as [other] governments that Turkey will, as it has said it will, meet its commitments pursuant to the U.N. Security Council resolutions that have been passed."