The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
PROSECUTORS CLAMP DOWN ON DEMOCRATIC AUTONOMY WORKSHOP
Diyarbakir Public prosecutor's office and the 2nd directorate of the court of appeals prosecutor's office started investigations into the drafting of the text concerning the Kurdish"regional autonomy conditions," published after a Democratic Autonomy Workshop held in Diyarbakir.
CANKAYA STEPS IN
Following the tension over the "demand for autonomy with two flags" voiced over the weekend, President Abdullah Gül decided to go to Diyarbakır.
Gül who is closely monitoring the developments, asked his staff to prepare a trip to Diyarbakır. The trip is scheduled to take place on December 30 and 31. President Gül will visit the Governor's Office and the city government in Diyarbakır.
Gül, who will also get together with non-governmental organizations during his visit, is expected to give messages of unity and solidarity.
TWO NEW PROVINCES TO THE SOUTHEAST
The government started to take action to make two southeastern towns Yüksekova and Cizre, where (incidents occurred recently), into provinces.
The Interior Ministry concluded legal work to upgrade Cizre, a town of Southeastern province of Şırnak, and Yüksekova, a town of Hakkari, to the level of province. Accordingly, Cizre will be the 82nd province and include Güçlükonak and İdil towns that are currently in Şırnak province. Yüksekova will be the 83rd province and include Semdinli town of Hakkari.
There will be changes in economic means when those two towns are upgraded to the level of province. The number of civil servants in Cizre and Yüksekova will increase and they will get direct share from the budget.
IF WE DO NOT ADMIT TURKEY TO EU, A NEW OTTOMAN EMPIRE WILL ARISE
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Janos Martonyi, who will take the office of EU Term Chairman on January 1, 2011, says: "We should integrate with Turkey and accept her membership to EU to join our forces. Otherwise a new Ottoman Empire will arise in the Middle East as a competitor to EU both politically and economically."
SYRIAN PRIME MINISTER CAME WITH 13 MINISTERS
Turkey and Syria hold the second prime-ministerial-level meeting of an intergovernmental strategic council, bringing 26 ministers together in Ankara to evaluate the progress made in implementing the 51 agreements signed last year between the two countries.
The cooperation between Turkey and Syria has served as a model for the region, says Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during the Turkey-Syria High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council gathering.
Moves to improve bilateral relations between Turkey and Syria gained further momentum Tuesday as 26 ministers from the two countries came together in Ankara to hold a high-level strategic council meeting.
"The cooperation launched between Turkey and Syria has served as a model for the region, and its success is being closely monitored by the whole region," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in his opening remarks at the second prime-ministerial-level meeting of the Turkey-Syria High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.
During the meeting, the ministers signed an agreement on the fight against terrorism, the Anatolia news agency reported. The mechanism was established in 2009 with the signing of 51 agreements between Turkey and Syria.
"If it becomes successful, this model will not only develop bilateral ties but will also have an effect in changing the unfortunate fate of this region," Davutoğlu said. "No disorder or external factor will be able to cast a shadow on our relations with Syria."
The delegations from the two countries were evaluating the progress made in implementing the new agreements and exploring new avenues for cooperation, the Turkish foreign minister said. The ministers spent the morning session of the meeting compiling their findings into a report, which was then submitted to the afternoon meeting between the Turkish and Syrian prime ministers. Noting that the Turkish Parliament's schedule had caused some delays in implementing the agreements, Davutoğlu promised to complete the approval and ratification processes as soon as possible.
Following the signing by the two countries' energy ministers of a memorandum of understanding on electricity transmission, Turkey has exported nearly 1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, amounting to a turnover of almost 100 million Euros, to Syria, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız told reporters.
As part of its "zero problems with neighbors" policy, Turkey established the cooperation-council mechanism first with its neighbor Iraq, then with Syria, Russia and Greece. The Ankara-Damascus cooperation council met in two parts in Aleppo and Gaziantep on the same day in 2009 as the two countries symbolically abolished the border and lifted visa requirements for each other's citizens. The ministers met again earlier this year in the Syrian port city of Latakia, where the two countries agreed to enhance the existing framework of their security cooperation arrangement.
The issues discussed including unifying the natural-gas pipelines in the two countries by the end of 2011, expanding security cooperation, unifying customs measures and systems, clearing landmines from the Turkish-Syrian border and opening those fields to agriculture and putting underway a joint plan to operate border gates. The topic of a joint technical committee to study a "Friendship Dam on the Orontes River" to increase the amount of electricity and water Turkey sends to Syria is also on the agenda.
LAME DUCK SESSION DID NOT END YET
The U.S. House of Representatives did not vote on the "Armenian genocide" resolution Tuesday, but there is a chance the legislative body could bring it up on Wednesday.
The House worked on several matters of little international interest Tuesday but did not vote on a resolution calling on the U.S. government to recognize World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide."
At the same time, the Obama administration made no major or high-level statements against the resolution Tuesday.
Asked to comment on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's letter to Obama on the need to defeat the "Armenian genocide" resolution, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday: "I do not believe that the president has made any calls specifically on this and I think his views on this are known."
As a presidential candidate, Obama had called for the United States' official recognition of what U.S. Armenians call the "Armenian genocide," but, after becoming president, he opposed official recognition.
No statements came from Defense Secretary Robert Gates or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
The House's full floor was expected to continue with its proceedings on Wednesday.
U.S. Armenians last week called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on the "Armenian genocide" resolution.
Armenia claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed in 1915 under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey denies this, saying a much smaller number of deaths were the result of civil strife that erupted when Armenians took up arms in eastern Anatolia.
WE MUST NOT LET A RESOLUTION ON THE SO-CALLED ARMENIAN GENOCIDE HANG LIKE SWORD OF DAMOCLES, FM DAVUTOGLU SAID
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday that they must not let resolutions on the so-called Armenian genocide hang like the sword of Damocles over Turkish-U.S. relations.
Speaking on the 2011 budget of his ministry at the Turkish Parliamentary Assembly, Davutoglu said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday regarding attempts to bring an Armenian resolution to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"We pay strict attention to our relations with the United States. We want to carry our relations further than merely a geopolitical and strategic cooperation," Davutoglu stressed.
When President Obama talked about a 'model partnership' with Turkey in a speech delivered at the Turkish Parliament, we talked about the need to promote Turkish-U.S. relations not only in the military field but in the economic one as well, Davutoglu said.
Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and State Minister for foreign trade Zafer Caglayan established a joint committee with their U.S. counterparts to promote economic relations between the two countries, Davutoglu said.
In the past several days, there have been efforts to bring an Armenian resolution to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives before the House recesses for holidays.
TURKEY'S POSITION ON ARMENIAN ALLEGATIONS
Turkey has long been facing a systematic campaign of defamation carried out by Armenian lobbying groups. The Armenian diaspora has lately increased its organized activities throughout the world for the recognition of their unfounded allegations in regard to the events of 1915 as "genocide" by national and local parliaments.
Armenian groups living in various countries try to get the publication of many books on their allegations concerning the events of 1915 and articles written by authors close to Armenian views in well-known magazines and newspapers. Armenian organizations also orchestrate many meetings, conferences and symposia in order to garner support and to give them as much publicity as possible.
Armenian groups make sure that researchers and authors close to the Armenian view take part in these meetings so that the issue always remains on the agenda. Armenian circles, similarly, sponsors the making of documentary films that advocate Armenian claims. They also encourage the broadcasting of these films on many television channels. Public opinion, especially in Western countries is affected by these films, books and articles published every year and their Parliaments are left under constant pressure to recognize the Armenian allegations as "undeniable historical truth."
The activities of diaspora organizations are also supported by the Armenian state. It is known that Armenian diplomatic missions abroad carry out certain activities so that their allegations are recognized in national legislatures. Until today the parliaments of Argentina, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Uruguay, Greece, the Greek Cypriot Administration, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Chile, Venezuela and the European Parliament passed either resolutions or issued statements. In addition, some local parliaments in the USA, Canada, Britain, Australia, Argentina and Switzerland passed similar resolutions.
Turkey is of the view that parliaments and other political institutions are not the appropriate fora to debate and pass judgments on disputed periods of history. Past events and controversial periods of history should be left to the historians for their dispassionate study and evaluation. In order to shed light on such a disputed historical issue, the Turkish Government has opened all its archives, including military records to all researchers.
Furthermore, Turkey encourages historians, scholars and researchers to freely examine and discuss this historical issue in every platform. In order to have an objective and complete analysis of the Turkish-Armenian relations, the Armenian archives should also be opened and made available to the public and researchers. For reaching the truth, historians must have access to all related archives.
In this respect, in 2005, Turkey has officially proposed to the Government of Armenia the establishment of a joint commission, composed of historians and other experts from both sides, to study together the events of 1915 not only in the archives of Turkey and Armenia but also in the archives of all relevant third countries and to share their findings with the public.
Unfortunately, Armenia has not responded positively to this initiative, yet. Turkey's proposal is still on the table.
If accepted by Armenia, Turkey's proposal for setting up a Joint Commission of History would also serve as a confidence-building measure paving the way for a dialogue towards normalization of relations between the two countries.