The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.

TURKEY'S KNOWN ENEMY, THE EU CHAIRMAN, HAS CHANGED IN A YEAR

Herman Van Rompuy, the former prime minister of Belgium who used to say "Turkey, an Islamic country, cannot become a European Union member" before he was elected EU President, has done a u-turn and now eulogizes Turkey.

Rompuy was elected to this position in November 2009 with the support of Turkey's opponents French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In those days, Rompuy was known as a Turkey opponent, and said: "If Turkey joined the EU it would weaken the Christian identity of Europe." He was strongly opposing to Turkey's membership in every opportunity.

The views of the Belgian politician have completely changed in his first year as the EU president.

Speaking in Hungary on Wednesday, Rompuy said: "Turkey's reform initiatives have given impressive results. It is playing an active role in its region and has become a G-20 member. In my opinion, we should boost our partnership with Turkey before waiting for the end of the negotiations."

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/turk-dusmani-ab-baskani-cark-etti/348346/30/Dunya

TWO DIALECTS AFTER TWO LANGUAGES

While Turkey is discussing two language banners and signs in South East, Diyarbakir Municipality put signs in historical places in two dialects of Kurdish, which are Zaza and Kirmanchi.

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/16600689.asp?gid=373

DEFENSE MINISTER DENIES THE NEWS ABUT THE ANATOLIAN EAGLE EXERCISE

Minister of Defense Vecdi Gonul said: "It is not true we will make a joint exercise with Greek Air force in June. We just sent them an invitation for the celebration ceremonies of the 100th year of the Turkish Air force. However, we may set up a joint exercise with Greece in the future. I don't see anything to prevent this."

Greek planes will make a show flight during the celebrations. On the other hand, sources said that Israel is not invited to the ceremony, which has participated actively to the Anatolian Eagle exercise seven times.

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/16600542.asp?gid=373

"BRONZE MAN" PREVENTS RESOLUTION

The tension Nancy Pelosi, Speaker in the United States House of Representatives, caused as she tried to bring a resolution on incidents of 1915 [Armenian genocide] is finally over, six days after it began.

John Boehner, the leader of the Republicans in the House, who has the nickname "Bronze Man," who will become the new speaker, intervened and the resolution died.

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/dunya/16600713.asp

ARMED FIGHT ENDS, NOW IT IS TIME TO TALK

President Abdullah Gül met his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani at the Huber Mansion in Tarabya, Istanbul.

The meeting lasted about an hour. Talabani, who is in Istanbul for the Economic Cooperation Organization summit, said: "Armed fight has ended, now it is time for political struggle. I advise those on mountains to lay down their arms."

Talabani also said the Iraqi government and regional administration in northern Iraq were ready to contribute to the process. Talabani said: "We have tried to convince them to get down from the mountains, but we could not manage. This should be done in a peaceful way."

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/16600535.asp?top=1

TURKEY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EU FOR US, SAYS SERBIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER

Speaker of the Serbian Parliament, Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, arrived in Ankara on an official trip for the first time. Dejanovic said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could be a mediator in relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Dejanovic said: "Turkey was more important than the European Union for Serbia."

http://zaman.com.tr/haber.do?haberno=1068805&title=sirp-meclis-baskani-turkiye-bizim-icin-abden-daha-onemli

SAHIN: "WE SHOULD NOT WAIT TO LIFT BANS"

Turkish Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin called on the government to lift bans on political parties. Sahin said that there was no need to wait for elections to lift bans on parties. Parliament Speaker Sahin said the 10 percent electoral threshold could be discussed.

http://www.radikal.com.tr/Default.aspx?aType=RadikalYazar&ArticleID=1033711&Yazar=MURAT&Date=23.12.2010&CategoryID=98

"WE DON'T WANT DIVISION"

Peace and Democracy Party co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas said that they did not want any division in Turkey.

Demirtas said that the current cease-fire was different from others, stating that this opportunity should be used well.

http://www.radikal.com.tr/Radikal.aspx?aType=RadikalDetayV3&ArticleID=1033714&Date=23.12.2010&CategoryID=78

ISRAELI AMBASSADOR MEETS TURKISH MINISTER AMID ROW OVER DEAL WITH GREEK CYPRUS

The Israeli ambassador to Ankara visited Turkey's environment minister Wednesday to express Israel's gratitude for Turkey's assistance during a recent fire, following Ankara's angry response to an oil exploration deal made between Israel and Greek Cyprus.

Sources told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review the Israel-Greek Cyprus deal did not appear on the agenda of the meeting between Israeli Ambassador to Ankara Gaby Levy and Turkish Environment Minister Veysel Eroğlu. The visit was simply a gesture to express Israel's thanks to the Turkish government after it sent two firefighting planes to help contain a serious forest fire that broke out on Mount Carmel, in northern Israel.

While the "fire diplomacy" prompted the two countries' diplomats to engage in fence-mending talks to normalize their relationship, which was strained by an Israeli commando raid of a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla on May 31, the agreement Israel signed with Greek Cyprus last Friday drew adverse reactions from Turkey.

In a written statement released Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the signing of the deal as an "unfortunate development" and said it is "null and void" because it disregards the rights and jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots.

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 continuing Greek Cypriot efforts to find undersea oil and gas deposits.

Last week, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu summoned the Israeli ambassador to the ministry to convey Turkey's displeasure over the matter.

"These kinds of agreements are directly linked to the sovereignty issue that is one of the indispensable components of the ongoing comprehensive settlement negotiations," the ministry said in statement, referring to talks between Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders aimed at reunifying the island.

"The Greek Cypriot administration does not represent in law or in fact the Turkish Cypriots or Cyprus as a whole. Therefore, agreements signed by the Greek Cypriots with countries of the region are null and void for Turkey," it added.

Israel is not the first country to sign such a deal. Greek Cyprus has already concluded similar agreements with Egypt and Lebanon, with both deals drawing adverse reactions from Turkey, which pressed the Arab nations to put them on hold.

"It is our earnest expectation from the international community and especially from the countries of the region that all would avoid supporting Greek Cypriots' unilateral activities that would have a negative impact on the comprehensive settlement negotiations," said the ministry [spokesman].

"Turkey, along with the TRNC [Turkish Cyprus], will continue its efforts, through diplomatic and political channels, in order to protect the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots," he added.

In an interview with the Agence-France Presse, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau brushed aside Turkish criticism, saying: "The agreement with Cyprus clearly defines our rights in the Mediterranean."

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=israeli-envoy-meets-turkish-minister-amid-row-over-deal-with-greek-cyprus-2010-12-22

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