The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.

NO APOLOGY, NO COMPENSATION FROM ISRAEL

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "We do not have any apology or compensation on our agenda."

Speaking at his party group, Netanyahu said the talks between two states are continuing.

He added that Turkey should accept that we did not act with bad intent, we just defended ourselves. On the other hand. the Knesset has accepted the proposal to discuss the compensation and an apology tomorrow.

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/israilden-ozur-de-tazminat-da-yok/346449/30/Dunya

DOCUMENT REVEALS FLEET COMMANDER BEHIND ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA

A document allegedly obtained at a navy base in Gölcük revealed that it was Admiral Alaettin Sevim - the Aegean Sea regional commander - who ordered Col. Dursun Çiçek to hatch a plot to besmirch the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Fethullah Gülen congregation.

Çiçek was probed for allegedly drafting the anti-government propaganda document and forensic experts have proved that the signature on the document was Çiçek's.

http://yenisafak.com.tr/Gundem/?t=14.12.2010&i=292549

MINISTRY OF ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES TO KEEP TRACK OF GAS PRICES

Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız held a meeting with energy experts in Ankara on Monday to discuss increasing gas prices in Turkey. The meeting did not bring any decline in fuel prices. However, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources decided to keep track of gas prices. Turkish customers use Europe's most expensive gas and pay around 4 TL per liter of gasoline.

http://www.zaman.com.tr/haber.do?haberno=1064873&title=zirveden-indirim-cikmadi-bakanlik-akaryakit-fiyatlarini-takip-edecek

DOĞAN GROUP TO WITHDRAW FROM MEDIA SECTOR

Turkey's Doğan Group is making preparations to sell all of its affiliates in the media sector. The group said that they were receiving offers for Hürriyet daily.

http://www.sabah.com.tr/Ekonomi/2010/12/14/dogan_satiyor_satmiyor

TURKISH FINANCE MINISTER DEFENDS 2011 BUDGET, SAYS IT IS NOT ELECTION-ORIENTED

Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said on Monday the government has prepared the 2011 budget with an eye to maintain strict financial discipline as he sought to give guarantees that there would be no spending spree ahead of next year's general elections. "This is a budget of stability. Like the past years' budgets, the 2011 budget is in line with rules of financial discipline," Şimşek told Turkish lawmakers in a general budgetary debate in Parliament.

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/ekonomi/16526129.asp?gid=254

ROSY BUDGET PICTURE DRAWS FIRE FROM TURKISH OPPOSITION

Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek kicked off Parliament's negotiations for a new national budget Monday with praise for his government's economic stewardship, presenting a rosy picture that drew quick criticism from the opposition.

"We have exhibited significant immunity to the economic crisis … through political and economic stability and structural reforms," Şimşek said at the start of the General Assembly discussion Monday.

The Finance Minister lauded the government for choosing not to put the burden of the economic crisis on the people and said the new budget would not be made to try and win votes in the upcoming general elections.

Ayla Akat Ata of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), however, criticized the government for not taking the necessary precautions during the global financial crisis, and for its spending on military operations in the country's Southeast.

Speaking for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) group deputy chairman Mustafa Elitaş said Turkey's economy was heading downhill in the 1990s, blaming the policies of the era's ruling parties for decline. The AKP government has managed to reverse these trends, stabilizing Turkey's economy and protecting the country from the recent global economic crisis, Elitaş said.

The AKP's Bülent Gedikli also criticized the economic policies of the Nationalist Movement Party during the time it was leading the country as part of a coalition government.

Turkey was the fastest-growing country in Europe in 2010 and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In his speech at the budgetary meeting Monday, Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin said Turkey has overcome international economic fragility and started moving on a more positive path. "We have the most stable banking system in the world," he said, noting that no Turkish bank has gone bankrupt as a result of the crisis and that inflation has remained in the single digits, something that cannot be said for other countries.

Turkey also managed to pay off its debts to the International Monetary Fund instead of borrowing more money, Şimşek said. "Turkey's debt to the IMF, which was $22 billion in 2002, will be down to around $6 billion at the end of the year."

According to the finance minister, Turkey faces two major problems economically: the current account deficit and unemployment.

The current account deficit, which is expected to reach $40 billion by the end of the year, is directly connected to the country's growth rate, Şimşek said, adding that the mid- and long-term deficit can be decreased through increasing domestic savings, decreasing dependence on external energy sources and strengthening production of products with added value.

Turkey has been experiencing unemployment due to the global economic crisis, but less drastically than in other countries, with 2.8 million additional jobs created between 2007 and 2010.

The unemployment rate in the Southeast, however, was more than 50 percent, the BDP's Ata said, noting that 51 percent of government spending in the region went to security forces while only 2.9 percent was spent on public aid.

The 2011 budget numbers have been predicted at the General Assembly as 312.6 billion Turkish Liras for the central administration, 265 billion liras for non-interest expenses, 279 billion liras for budgetary revenue, 232.2 billion liras for tax revenues, 33.5 billion liras for the budget deficit and a non-interest surplus of 16 billion liras.

For 2011, the target is to bring gross domestic product up to 1.215 trillion liras and sustain a growth rate to 4.5 percent.

The new budget takes into consideration civil servants, retirees, tradesmen and farmers, while increasing the budgets for the disabled, education and health.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=2011-budgetary-discussions-start-2010-12-13

KURDISH 'SELF-DETERMINATION' CALL SPARKS IRAQI IRE

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's recent call for self-determination for his people has drawn the ire of the country's Sunni and Shiite Arab leaders, who say such arguments presage a break-up of Iraq.

"The right of self-determination is something that concerns people living under occupation, but this is not the case for Kurdistan, which has a special status in Iraq," said Alia Nusayaf, a member of parliament aligned with the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc. "It makes me wonder if the Kurds asked for federalism [in Iraq's constitution] to first form a region and then to separate from Iraq."

Barzani said Saturday at the opening of a week-long congress of his Kurdistan Democratic Party that self-determination was "a right." He said it would be presented at the meeting "to be studied and discussed."

The Iraqi Kurdish leader's comments mark the first time that Barzani has officially presented the issue to the KDP's congress, with the proposal set to be voted on during the meeting. His comments come at a time when Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki is forming his cabinet. Barzani's party is expected to be awarded several ministerial posts and Kurdish authorities are mired in a dispute with Baghdad over land and oil.

The six-day congress in Irbil is hosting a number of foreign representatives, including members of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, and main opposition Republican People's Party, (CHP). The congress has drawn more than 1,000 delegates who are set to elect 50 new members to the KDP's top leadership committee. The gathering is the first time the party has come together in 13 years.

Among those at the meeting in the northern Iraqi city were al-Maliki, Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and Ayad Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya. "It's shameful that with all the politicians present, not one of them spoke up [regarding Barzani's remarks]," Nusayaf said.

There is also consternation among politicians loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose backing for al-Maliki largely ensured the incumbent would remain prime minister. "These declarations [of Barzani's] are not in the best interests of Iraq, and they only serve to raise tensions," said Jawad al-Hasnawi, a Sadrist lawmaker.

"I think an Iraq that extends from Zakho to Basra is much better than an Iraq that is divided," al-Hasnawi added, referring to the country's northern and southernmost cities.

Al-Hasnawi noted, however, that politicians at the Arbil meeting probably declined to respond to Barzani's remarks to avoid "inflaming the situation." Barzani's KDP is a key member of al-Maliki's governing coalition and the Kurdish leader played a major role in bringing Iraq's divided political factions together to agree to a power-sharing deal.

The party, part of a joint slate with Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, controls a substantial majority of seats in the parliament of the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq and in combination with the PUK holds 43 seats in Baghdad's assembly.

Iraq's Kurdish north, made up of three provinces, exercises control over all policy-making, except that relevant to national defense and foreign affairs. On Sunday, Kurdish regional Prime Minister Barham Salih, a PUK leader, pressed the issue again. "There is a consensus among Kurds over the fact that it is legal and legitimate to have the right to self-determination," he told a press conference. "When we pushed for a federal Iraq we said that it was a form of expression of self-determination, and we have never abandoned this right."

The northern Iraqi administration won greater freedom after the 1991 Gulf War and its autonomy was enshrined in Iraq's constitution following the United States-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003.

According to Khalid al-Assadi, an member of parliament with Maliki's State of Law coalition, it is unlikely the Kurds want to go much further. Barzani's comments were "for domestic consumption," al-Assadi said. "Self-determination is a Kurdish ambition, and they bring it up from time to time, but I think the Kurds are wise enough not to leave Iraq.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=kurdish-self-determination-call-sparks-iraqi-ire-2010-12-13

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