The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
UNIVERSITY STUDENTS PROTEST MEMBERS OF TURKEY'S RULING AND OPPOSITION PARTIES
In a show of protest against police brutality against students over the weekend in Istanbul, a group of students staged a protest against both main opposition and ruling party members at a conference at Ankara University.
Republican People People's Party, or CHP, Secretary-General Süheyl Batum and Burhan Kuzu of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, attended a panel discussion regarding the Constitution at Ankara University's Political Sciences faculty on Wednesday.
The students first staged a protest against Batum at an early session of the event, arguing that there were civilian police in the conference hall and that the CHP had not defended student rights.
Some students demanded the conference continue, criticizing the protesting group, however Batum defended the students' right to dissent. "See the difference. If the prime minister or Egemen Bağış had been talking here, the police would have been called three minutes later and this group would have been beaten. And, the media would have applauded the picture. We are democrats. He has the right to protest."
Batum then left the room without delivering his speech.
The group then protested against Kuzu, president of the Parliament's Constitution Commission, who attended the later session of the conference.
After throwing eggs and toilet paper at Kuzu, students opened a banner reading "Welcome to the Collective Egg Festival."
After waiting in the conference room for the interruption to quiet down, Kuzu left the event.
Kuzu told reporters after the incident the students involved should have eaten their eggs so their brains would develop. He described them as "mindless."
TURKEY BRACES FOR NEW WIKILEAKS REVELATIONS ABOUT ITS ROLE IN IRAQ
Recently revealed statements about Turkish involvement in Iraqi elections have officials battening down the hatches in anticipation of more details being brought into the open in future WikiLeaks releases. Though Ankara's opposition to Iraqi PM al-Maliki was well known, stronger evidence of its interference would be embarrassing
Turkish officials are hunkering down to face potential accusations of interference in Iraqi politics in future rounds of WikiLeaks releases after weathering the first round of leaks without seeing anything damning on the subject.
In confidential U.S. State Department cables made public thus far by the whistle-blowing website, Turkish officials are quoted expressing negative opinions of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's administration. The documents also include some details about Turkish efforts to influence the outcome of Iraqi elections held in March.
According to a Jan. 31, 2010, cable from Ambassador Christopher Hill, the U.S. envoy to Baghdad, his Turkish counterpart, Murat Özçelik, opposed al-Maliki's bid for re-election. Turkey had supported al-Maliki in the past, but Özçelik told U.S. diplomats that Ankara was now backing the prime minister's rivals. According to Özçelik, the Turks believed if al-Maliki was re-elected he "would focus on increasing his own power and would not be cooperative in resolving outstanding issues," Ambassador Hill reported, according to the New York Times. The newspaper was one of five media outlets that WikiLeaks gave an early look at the cables.
In the same article, the New York Times mentioned another cable, dated April 2009, which noted that Turkey, "played an unhelpful role in recent Iraqi provincial elections through its clandestine financial support of the anti-Kurd al Hadba Gathering," a Sunni-led political group that prevailed in provincial elections in Nineveh province in Iraq."
Turkey's goal of replacing al-Maliki's administration with a Sunni-backed one has failed, as did its effort to see Kurdish leader Celal Talabani replaced by a Sunni figure. A re-elected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani reappointed al-Maliki, a Shiite, as prime minister last month, following eight months of thorny post-election negotiations.
Turkey played an active role before and after the elections to help the main Sunni-backed alliance led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, takeover the administration in Iraq.
The disclosure of additional details about initiatives taken by the Turkish government before and after the elections to influence the shaping of the new administration in Baghdad will be embarrassing at the very least, a Turkish official who wished to remain anonymous told the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Ankara has traditionally refrained from intervening in the internal relations of a neighboring country.
Though Turkey's support of Allawi's alliance was known by the players in Iraq, including al-Maliki, the same official said, Ankara would obviously prefer that the details of its involvement not be revealed.
Apart from embarrassment, however, Turkish officials do not expect any future leaks about the Iraqi elections to have serious negative consequences on bilateral ties, saying Turkey will remain an important country for Iraq.
Turkey believes the road to a stable and prosperous Iraq requires an all-encompassing government that should not exclude Sunni groups. An administrational equation based predominately on a Shiite-Kurdish coalition risks not only alienating the Sunnis but also increasing the concerns of Arab countries that fear the rise of Iranian influence.
The Prime Ministry in Iraq has extraordinary powers, and the Turkish side believes al-Maliki has used them to increase his own standing.
A cable dated February 2010 said Turkish Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, in talks with U.S. officials, registered Turkey's increasing dissatisfaction with al-Maliki and its fear that he was tending "to get out of control."
"He [al-Maliki] is preoccupied with his political survival," the U.S. cable sent from Ankara quotes Sinirlioğlu as saying.
Prominent journalist Cengiz Çandar, who has written frequently about Iraqi politics, criticized the Turkish government last October for what he called a miscalculated policy.
"Had it not been the weight of [Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu, it would have been impossible to get together all the differing nationalist, old Baathist and Islamist Sunni Arab groups under the Shiite-secular Allawi list," Çandar wrote. He argued that the anti-Kurdish characteristics of the Sunni Arab nationalists proved to be the main problem as the Kurdish leadership would never accept them leading the government.
Çandar also wrote in detail how Turkey tried to replace Talabani with a Sunni political figure.
"The prime minister did not change; at least the president could have changed. Yet nothing changed in Iraq after the elections," said an official familiar with Iraqi affairs, adding that al-Maliki had already started backing down from his early promises.
While Allawi's coalition got the most votes, winning 24.72 percent and 91 seats in the parliament, al-Maliki got 24.22 percent and 89 seats in parliament.
Difficulty maintaining the alliance behind Allawi and Iranian influence that helped unite divided Shiite groups has been cited as the major reason Turkey failed to achieve its desired outcome in Iraq.
U.S. OFFICIALS SEE DROP IN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
Some foreign governments are reducing engagement with U.S. diplomats and other officials after the release of Wikileaks documents, U.S. officials said on Tuesday in a sign of potential lasting damage caused by the huge public dump of classified cables.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has repeatedly vowed that the Wikileaks releases will not derail key U.S. relationships despite the embarrassing revelations of candid U.S. assessments of foreign governments and leaders.
But officials at both the State Department and the Pentagon said on Wednesday that some foreign governments were already pulling back.
"We have gotten indications that there is at least some change in how individuals and governments cooperate with us, and share information," Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
Lapan renewed concerns that would-be informants or established intelligence sources might not be coming forward out of fear they could be exposed, or that governments might become more "circumspect with the information they share."
"(It's) hard to quantify. But again we do get a sense that there has been some pulling back because of these revelations," Lapan said.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said there were no plans for a large-scale reshuffle of U.S. diplomatic personnel who may have been compromised by the Wikileaks documents. But he conceded that in some cases foreign governments were approaching U.S. diplomatic contacts with new skepticism.
"We do recognize that, on a country-by-country basis, there could well be some impacts," Crowley told a news briefing.
"We've already seen some indications of meetings that used to involve several diplomats and now involve fewer diplomats. I think we're conscious of at least one meeting where it was requested that notebooks be left outside the room."
The U.S. assessment of Wikileaks-related damage came as the group's founder Julian Assange was arrested in Britain on allegations of sex crimes in Sweden.
Crowley declined to comment on what he said was a legal matter, but dismissed as nonsense the suggestions that Wikileaks had somehow stumbled upon "a vast global conspiracy centered on the United States."
Neither Crowley nor Lapan provided specific examples of countries which had reduced their contacts with U.S. officials because of the leaks, which contained a raft of potentially damaging reports on many governments including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia.
Lapan said the releases -- which this week included a list of sites such as oil facilities and medical supply companies around the world that the United States considers vital to its interests -- were already playing into the hands of U.S. foes. "We have knowledge that our adversaries are out there using this information, but how they are exactly changing their tactics is hard to quantify," Lapan said.
Crowley said that overall, the Wikileaks release "is going to make the conduct of diplomacy more difficult for a time." "The reaction will vary country by country, government by government," Crowley said.
Clinton has taken the lead in trying to contain the damage of the Wikileaks revelations, making personal telephone calls to foreign leaders to reassure them that the classified embassy cables do not reflect official U.S. policy.
TURKEY, ISRAEL SEEK A WAY OUT OF DIPLOMATIC CRISIS
One of the toughest obstacles blocking the path to patching up Turkish-Israeli relations is an apology. Turkish and Israeli officials failed to reach an agreement on the apology in two days of meetings in Geneva, but diplomatic circles are not ruling out further talks to resolve the differences.
Turkish and Israeli officials seeking a way to resolve months of diplomatic tension have so far failed to reach agreement, but sources have said the door remains open if the right formula can be found for an apology.
Officials from the two countries ended two days of talks in Geneva on Monday without agreeing on how Israel might apologize for its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla – a key Turkish condition for reconciliation – but members of diplomatic circles did not rule out further talks to resolve their differences.
"If Turkey and Israel want to reach an agreement, they only need to open the Webster's Dictionary to find a different word for 'apology,' a senior Israeli official said.
Israel is known to prefer to use the words "regret" or "sorry" instead of "apology" because both its government and its people consider the dispatching of ships by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, to break Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip to be a provocative act. In June, Israel blacklisted the İHH as a terrorist organization with connections to the radical Islamic group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Since the May 31 raid on the flotilla by Israeli commandos ended in the deaths of nine Turks, Ankara has been firm in saying that it will not normalize ties with Tel Aviv unless Israel issues a formal apology for the raid and compensates the victims. Recent debate has focused on whether Israel might issue a humanitarian apology or a state apology, a discussion on which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan weighed in late Tuesday.
"There is no such distinction as 'the people' or 'the state.' They [the Israelis] must apologize to the Republic of Turkey," Erdoğan said.
Hopes for a thaw in relations emerged last week when Ankara sent two planes to fight a deadly forest fire in Israel, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to telephone Erdoğan to thank him for Turkey's help. Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and the Israeli representative to the U.N. committee probing the flotilla incident then met for fence-mending talks in Geneva. Diplomatic contact was also made between Turkey's Ambassador to Washington Namık Tan and his Israeli counterpart. No official statement was made following the meetings.
Another open question in diplomatic relations between the two countries is Israeli Ambassador to Ankara Gabby Levy's tenure, which is due to expire in January. Though his tenure was extended for one more year, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned that the ambassador informed his Foreign Ministry that he wanted to be sent back to Jerusalem. The documents released recently by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks are believed to have played a role in the Israeli envoy's desire to return home. In a cable sent last year by then-U.S. envoy to Ankara James Jeffrey, Levy is quoted as saying about Erdoğan, "He's a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously."
The Israeli government is moving rapidly, the Daily News has learned, to appoint a new envoy to Ankara lest the ongoing rift in Turkish-Israeli relations push the Turkish government not to approve the ambassadorial appointment. Tel Aviv is thus expected to appoint a new ambassador before January.
Turkey has refused to send Turkish Ambassador Kerim Uras to Tel Aviv before the diplomatic crisis is resolved. "The dispatch of our ambassador is out of the question unless Israel complies with our conditions," said a senior Foreign Ministry diplomat.
Any Turkish-Israeli agreement could face a challenge by right-wing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is known to oppose what he sees as bowing to Turkish demands. Diplomatic sources recently quoted Netanyahu as saying that he places "great importance" on improving ties with Turkey. If Netanyahu and the Israeli Cabinet approve a compromise with Ankara, Lieberman cannot veto it, the Daily News has learned.
For its part, Ankara wants to see a united Israeli approach on the matter of improving bilateral relations.
"We want to hear a single voice," one Turkish diplomat said.
TURKEY TO CHOOSE NEW MILITARY HELICOPTER MODEL NEXT WEEK
The Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey's top decision-making body on procurement, is expected to select a winner next week for a $4 billion contract to produce about a hundred military-grade helicopters. The main contenders are Italy's AgustaWestland and the U.S.' Sikorsky Aircraft.
Turkey next week is due to select a winner in a competition between an Italian firm and a U.S. company for a major program to jointly produce its military's next utility helicopter type. The contenders vying for the $4 billion contract are the mainly Italian AgustaWestland and the U.S. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
The Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey's top decision-making body on defense procurement – whose members include Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner and procurement chief Murad Bayar – will gather Dec. 15, one senior procurement official told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday.
"The committee is expected to choose a winner for our utility helicopter program at next week's meeting," the official said.
AgustaWestland is proposing its TUHP 149, a Turkish version of its A149, a newly developed utility helicopter. The A149's full prototype will have its first flight in January.
Sikorsky Aircraft is offering the T-70, the Turkish version of the S-70 Black Hawk International, which can be found in the inventories of dozens of countries around the world, including Turkey.
The competition is for a first batch of 109 utility helicopters, mostly for the military and security forces. But the number is expected to rise to about 300 in later years.
A top Sikorsky official announced in early October that his company had a fourfold benefit package worth billions of dollars to offer to Turkey. "If Turkey selects us for the 109 helicopter program, we will buy another 109 to be manufactured in Turkey, and export them to third countries," Steve Estill, vice president for strategic partnerships at the Sikorsky president's office, said at the time.
Sikorsky also is proposing to buy $1.3 billion worth of Turkish-made helicopter components, to set up a regional Black Hawk support base in Turkey and to invest in a future Turkish project to build a light utility helicopter, Estill said.
AgustaWestland shortly later challenged Sikorsky's proposal. "Our competition is offering the manufacture under license of an already existing product," Guiseppe Orsi, chief executive officer of AgustaWestland said in late October. "We are offering much, much more. We are offering Turkey to become a joint developer of a brand-new product. Turkey may become a real helicopter player in the world if it chooses us."
Orsi said nearly 8,000 utility helicopters are expected to be replaced in the world in the upcoming decades, suggesting that his company's Turkish program could grab international orders for at least 800 of those.
Assuming that each helicopter's acquisition price and its lifetime maintenance cost are both are around $25 million and the TUHP program gets orders for 800 platforms over the next 25-30 years, "the program would collect a total of $40 billion, half of which would go to Turkey," he said.
Turkey's Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command and Coast Guard Command are among the buyers of the first batch of military utility helicopters.
The Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, Turkey's main aerospace manufacturer, officially will be the program's prime contractor. Several other Turkish firms also will take part in the production.
Presently, the Turkish military is operating several different types of utility helicopters. The military has more than 100 S-70s, more than 100 older U.S.-made UH-1 Hueys, around 20 French-designed AS-532 Cougars and about 15 Russian Mi-17s.
AgustaWestland secured two earlier contracts, worth billions of dollars each, to lead the joint production of 60 T-129 attack helicopters for the Turkish Army.