The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.

LETTER TO OBAMA

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says Prime Minister Erdogan sent a letter to President Obama regarding a bill before the U.S. Congress known as HR 252, (which deals with the Armenian genocide).

The PM asked President Obama to pressure on Nancy Pelosi not to bring the resolution to the floor.

Davutoglu mentioned that Turkey is ready to discuss, talk and meet with Armenians on every platform about so-called "Armenian Genocide."

He continues: "I hope the U.S. administration, the Senate and the House will not act to provoke a clash in Turkish-American relations."

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/obamaya-mektup/347848/1/Gundem

BALANCE SHIFTS IN HIGH MILITARY COUNCIL

New legislation is on the way reflecting the recent constitutional changes regarding the Turkish Army.

According to current law, the High Military Council consists of 14 military personnel and two civilians, which are Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Newly proposed legislation drops the military members to 5 and increases the civilians to 5 by adding Minister of Interior, and two deputy Prime Ministers. The military members of High Military Council will be the Chief of Turkish General Staff, and Commanders of Army, Navy, Air Force and Gendarmerie (a national police force).

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/yastaki-denge-degisiyor/347967/1/Gundem

TURKEY'S HISTORIC GESTURE TO GREECE

Turkey has taken the step to end dogfights with Greece over Aegean airspace. Turkey sent an invitation to Greece to participate in an air exercise called "Anatolian Eagle" to be conducted in central Anatolian province of Konya between June 13 and 24 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Turkish Air Forces.

Greece is expected to attend the military exercise with its C-47 and Mirage 2000 jets. The air exercise is expected to be a step to end the disagreements between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea.

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/turkiyeden-yunanistana-tarihi-jest/347972/1/Gundem

DISCUSSION ON TWO FLAGS & TWO LANGUAGES

Turkish Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin commented on Democratic Society Congress' (DTK) ideas regarding an "Autonomous Kurdistan and Kurdish language in public spaces."

"Turkey's problems are discussed and solved in the Turkish Parliament. We do not recognize any other congress. Those who make these suggestions will bear the consequences," Şahin said.

Regarding Şahin's remarks, Democratic Society Party (DTP) chairperson Nurettin Demirtaş noted that the parliament speaker resembled Turkey's former president Kenan Evren.

http://www.milliyet.com.tr/sahin-baska-meclis-pesinde-kosan-sonucuna-katlanmak-zorunda-kalir/siyaset/haberdetay/21.12.2010/1328869/default.htm

TURKISH PARLIAMENT SPEAKER WARNS THE BDP ON THE USE OF KURDISH

Using languages other than Turkish in Parliament is prohibited, the legislature's speaker said Monday, implicitly warning pro-Kurdish deputies to stop using Kurdish in the hall if they do not want to face the consequences.

"The language to be used in Parliament is Turkish. It has been the rule since the Ottoman era," Mehmet Ali Şahin told reporters Monday.

Şahin's warning came following some pro-Kurdish deputies' recent decision to address Parliament in Kurdish and after the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) presented a draft outlining its conception of "democratic autonomy."

"The legislative body of Turkey is the Parliament. I am not interested in those sorts of decisions [taken by the DTK] as the speaker of the Parliament," he said.

Noting that only the Turkish Parliament was authorized to solve the country's problems, Şahin said: "We don't recognize any other congress or parliament. Our friends who are behind such desires should reassess their situations or else they will face the consequences."

The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has recently launched a campaign demanding "bilingualism" for the use of Kurdish language in certain cities. The government and other political parties have strongly criticized the BDP for this campaign.

President Abdullah Gül has warned the BDP to not engage in such policies that could have a divisive impact on Turkey, saying "The official language of Turkey is Turkish."

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=parliament-speaker-warns-bdp-mps-not-to-speak-kurdish-at-parliament-2010-12-20

ISRAEL DEFENDS ENERGY EXPLORATION DEAL WITH GREEK CYPRUS

Israel defended its agreement with Greek Cyprus as a move to protect and secure its economic interests in the Mediterranean region as an uneasy Turkey, informed of the deal a day before it was signed, summoned the Israeli envoy in Ankara to the Foreign Ministry.

Israel has defended a deal it made with Greek Cyprus to delineate an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, telling a furious Turkey that it has no reason to get involved in the agreement.

"The substance of the issue is that in an effort to protect and secure vital Israeli interests in the Mediterranean region, Israel has been left with no choice other than to officially delimit its maritime borders," an Israeli diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday.

"Israel's respective relationships with [Greek] Cyprus and Turkey are distinct and not inter-related. We have updated the Turkish government in the past and continue to update them regarding this matter. It should be stressed that the purpose of the agreement with Cyprus to delimit the maritime borders was to secure Israel's vital economic interests at sea [offshore]," he said.

Saying that the delimitation is in accordance with international maritime law, the diplomat added that Israel and Greek Cyprus signed a formal and technical agreement on the subject on Friday, the day Turkey summoned Israeli Ambassador Gaby Levy to the Turkish Foreign Ministry to express its concerns.

"We were aware of the negotiations between Israel and Greek Cyprus and this agreement is not a surprise to us," a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the Daily News. He warned, however, that such attempts would negatively affect ongoing talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus and undermine stability in the eastern Mediterranean.

Israel informed Ankara on Thursday about the agreement and presented the Israeli argument to the Turkish charge d'affairs in Tel Aviv.

"According to [our] promise we have updated Turkey prior to the agreement. Turkey was also fully aware of the negotiations that had been taking place between Israel and [Greek] Cyprus for a long time," the Israeli diplomat said. "It is worth noting that Israel is not the first country in the region to sign such an agreement with [Greek] Cyprus in order to secure its economic rights."

The deal delineates an exclusive economic zone between Israel and Greek Cyprus and will allow both countries to move ahead in the search for energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean as part of Greek Cypriot efforts to find undersea oil and gas deposits.

Greek Cyprus has already concluded similar agreements with Egypt and Lebanon; both deals drew adverse reactions from Turkey, which pressed the Arab nations to put them on hold. The deal with Lebanon needs to be ratified by the Lebanese parliament before it is in force.

"We are not claiming rights but warning against any unilateral step on the island while the negotiations between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders are continuing," the Turkish diplomat said.

Israel rejected Turkish objections, saying Turkey, as a third party, had no reason to get involved.

"This agreement is an issue between Israel and [Greek] Cyprus and it in no way affects a third country," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor was quoted as saying by Agence-France Presse. "We do not see how a third country would have anything to say about it."

Diplomatic observers have downplayed the deal's potential negative impact on already fragile ties with Turkey, saying the agreement is not seen in Israel as an attempt to harm relations with a third country.

Turkish-Israeli relations remain strained over a deadly Israeli raid May 31 on a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla that left nine people dead. Turkey recently sent firefighting assistance to Israel, prompting fence-mending talks that ended with no concrete result. Officials say the talks will continue but did not provide any time frame.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=israel-has-no-intention-to-back-off-deal-with-greek-cyprus-2010-12-20

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