The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
SURPRISE SUMMIT IN ANKARA
Prime Minister Erdogan got together with the Chief of Turkish General Staff, Gen. Isik Kosaner, the Minister of Interior Besir Atalay, Minister of Defense Vecdi Gonul, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek, Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin and Undersecretary of National Intelligence Agency Hakan Fidan at prime minister's residence. Sources say the main topics of the meeting were: the fight against terrorism, democratic autonomy, two languages and Jalal Talabani's communications and words of Dec. 23rd.
MINE FIELD SUMMIT
Turkish officials discussed clearing the mine fields on Turkish-Syrian border with NATO's help and building watchtowers and electronic surveillance units to secure the border.
OTTOMAN SLAP TO HR 252
When Spanish Kingdom sent all of the Jews in the country into exile, the Ottoman Empire received thousands of Jews with open arms and granted them right to asylum. Ancestors of Steve Cohen, a member of U.S. House of Representatives, were the victims of this big migration. Cohen has never forgotten this tolerance of the Ottoman Empire. He defended Turkey during his 24 years in office. He took action when "Armenian genocide" resolution was brought onto the agenda and prepared a text explaining the drawbacks of the resolution. Efforts of Armenian lobby were defeated with the campaign carried out by Cohen.
OUR GOAL IS A NATIONAL NUCLEAR ENERGY
Energy and National Resources Minister Taner Yıldız, who is on a trip to Japan, said Turkey's main goal was building a national nuclear power plant. "Turkey's main goal is a national nuclear power plant. We will prove that this is achievable. This is a future goal. Our industry will enter a whole new league," said Yildiz.
"Nuclear power plants should not be seen as a mere electric generation facility. Akkkuyu and Sinop Power Plants will bring $40 billion extra money. Nuclear investments will be the propelling force of our industry," said Yıldız.
WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF MISSILES
Iran is not afraid of a NATO missile shield near its border and is hopeful about upcoming nuclear talks with world powers in Istanbul, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday [Dec. 23rd] in a press conference in Istanbul.
"We are not concerned whatsoever about these developments [missile shield talks], and we think that thousands of missile shields installed in [any] part of the world are not able to prevent the will and determination of nations that seek to have freedom and democracy worldwide," Ahmadinejad said after the 11th Summit of Economic Cooperation Organization.
NATO members, including Turkey, in November approved plans for a missile-defense system in the skies of Europe. The plan was approved without naming Iran as a threat, a condition that Turkey had insisted on.
In his statements Thursday, Ahmadinejad implied that the possible implementation of the NATO missile shield would not affect relations between Ankara and Tehran.
The era of missiles and nuclear bombs in international politics is over, according to the Iranian president. "Today in the era of thinking, cultures and interactions among human beings, we cannot prevent the spread of thoughts and cultures with missiles and armaments.
"The people of Iran don't want anything beyond the law and the principles of justice," he said.
The Iranian president answered journalists' questions for more than an hour at the conference, which took place under strict security measures in Istanbul's Conrad Hotel.
Ahmadinejad said the upcoming Istanbul talks with P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — on its nuclear program in January were crucial. He called on Western countries to choose the path of cooperation rather than confrontation.
"[Western countries] started psychological warfare, imposed economic sanctions and increased political pressure to prevent Iran from gaining access to nuclear energy [production]," Ahmadinejad said.
"There is but one result should they chose confrontation, and that is failure," he said, adding that cooperation was the best alternative for all parties.
"We think UN sanctions will not have an effect on our economy," Ahmadinejad said, adding that Iran was going through its most important economic development. "Sanctions were a question of three decades ago, but they cannot work [nowadays] and they will fail as our economy is self-reliant and does not rely on the European and U.S. economies."
The Iranian president also denied that prices of food, oil and other goods in Iran had increased because of the U.N. sanctions, as some media reported. "Iran has never felt the effects of sanctions," he said. "People do not even know what they are."
Ahmadinejad also addressed documents released by WikiLeaks that included concerns from some Arab countries about Iran's nuclear program. The Iranian leader said the way the information was leaked should not be trusted and that Iran would maintain its good relations with its Arab countries.
Iran is a great nation with a large economy, Ahmadinejad said. "Some countries are getting weak, so they have to leave the [international] scene and countries like Turkey and Iran should take leadership," he said.
The West suspects that Iran's nuclear program masks a weapons drive, but Tehran denies the claims and says its aims are peaceful.
In May, Turkey and Brazil brokered a fuel-swap deal with Tehran that would have seen Iran ship much of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for nuclear fuel rods needed for a medical research reactor. Western nations rejected the deal and backed a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran on June 9.
TURKEY'S PRO-KURDISH PARTY TRIES TO CALM 'DEMOCRATIC AUTONOMY' FUROR
Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party has no intention of dividing the country with its calls for bilingualism and "democratic autonomy," but rather seeks total decentralization, its co-leader said Thursday.
"I am sure we can persuade whoever we talk to about our model – be it the General Staff, the MHP [the opposition Nationalist Movement Party] or the president," Selahattin Demirtaş, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) told daily Radikal on Thursday.
Attempting to moderate the harsh reactions to the presentation last weekend of a model of "democratic autonomy" by the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organization for pro-Kurdish groups, the BDP chief emphasized that the topic of discussion was "just a proposal."
"We proposed a concrete offer. We gave the opportunity to the government and the state to score a goal. However, they scored an own-goal," he said.
Claiming the government was trying to create a perception that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) "was doing well [in addressing the Kurdish issue], but BDP has ruined it," Demirtaş criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for not presenting a better local administration project. He said whenever the BDP worked to reinstate places' original Kurdish names, it faced harsh criticism, even though the idea was originally a government effort.
Faced with potential threats to close his party, the BDP leader emphasized the importance of pro-Kurdish political groups in resolving the Kurdish problem in Turkey. "If the BDP and DTK don't talk, then what will happen? Will everybody go to the [Kandil] Mountains?" he asked, referring to the northern Iraq base of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). "We try to strengthen politics, we try to stress the solution [to the Kurdish problem] is in politics," he said.
The BDP and DTK have separately begun drafting new constitutions that will be shared with the people after next year's general elections, daily Milliyet reported. While the DTK's draft reportedly refers to a "Democratic Autonomous Kurdistan," the BDP uses the term "democratic autonomy."
The BDP has two basic messages that it can convince anyone to agree with, Demirtaş said: "Our purpose is not dividing the country [and] we suggest that a model of decentralization will carry Turkey forward."
The pro-Kurdish politician also argued that the recent reactions by the government and the military have led to the most dangerous process since the outlawed PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, declared a unilateral ceasefire earlier this year. He said the "right steps" toward a solution to the Kurdish issue should be taken immediately, in two months' time at the most. "Three months later the election process will start," he said. "Then no political parties could be restrained since there will be a race for votes."
Though he said the latest discussions were "unfortunate" and the process was risky, Demirtaş emphasized that there is still hope, stressing that the latest ceasefire is different than previous ones. "It's a ceasefire for both the PKK and the state," he said, adding that this poses an opportunity that should be used.
ARMENIAN 'GUERRILLA ATTACK' IN U.S. CONGRESS MEETS ITS WATERLOO
Backed by influential politicians and a major media campaign, the pro-Armenian lobby's defeat by its conventionally powerful rival in the "genocide resolution" debate shows both the strengths and limits of guerrilla tactics in political battles.
In their campaign to get the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide," U.S. Armenians artfully utilized some of the classic strategies of "guerilla warfare," capitalizing on the elements of surprise and mobility to harass a larger, traditional "army" – in this case, Turkey.
But the strong effort to get such a resolution passed before the last day of the current House term – and with it, the leadership of Armenian advocate Nancy Pelosi – was, in the end, unsuccessful, as the lower house of the U.S. Congress wrapped up its two-year term Wednesday without taking up the topic.
The nature of many such political, and military, confrontations can be illuminated by considering the famous words of former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want." In Rumsfeldian terms, the Armenians were equipped with the backing of outgoing House Speaker Pelosi, most of the Democratic big shots in the House and a full-fledge media campaign, but lacked the strong firepower needed to counter their conventionally powerful rival.
That the duration between the initiative and the outcome is inversely proportional to the success of the operation is another key tenet of guerrilla warfare, and one that proved crucial in this case. The Armenians decided to launch their "genocide" recognition effort at a time when their ally, Pelosi, had lost midterm congressional elections against the Republicans and would cede her post in early 2011. The latest push was a last-ditch chance to win before the Republican takeover takes place.
The pro-resolution media assault began with a brilliant high-tech attempt by reality-TV star Kim Kardashian and rock musician Serj Tankian, both Armenian-American celebrities, to use the social-networking websites Twitter and Facebook to urge their millions of followers to demand that Pelosi schedule a vote before the year's end on the "genocide resolution" bill pending in the House. Then last week, the Armenian National Committee of America, the largest and most influential U.S. Armenian group, structuralized and finalized the Armenian demand for a House floor vote.
Armenia claims up to 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed in 1915 under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey denies this, saying that any deaths were the result of civil strife that erupted when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.
Initially the Turks were confused; they were unable to grasp whether this was a serious and well-planned last-minute effort to get recognition for the Armenian claims of genocide or simply a way to raise funds for ANCA at the end of the year. The seriousness of the situation became clear Dec. 17, when ANCA announced that a House floor vote on the bill could be imminent.
At this point, the disadvantages of the Armenian guerrilla attack became apparent. Turkey immediately mobilized its allies in Washington, mainly President Barack Obama's White House, the State Department and large defense companies. As regional power Turkey put its full weight to bear on the issue, the fight began to transform from a guerrilla attack into conventional warfare, giving Ankara the advantage.
In this way, a vote was averted Dec. 17, and the Armenians began to lose their strength. This, too, follows the guerrilla-warfare principle that as the length of time between the guerrilla initiative and the intended result increases, the guerrillas' chances of success fade. Eventually the Armenian effort formally was defeated when Pelosi declined to schedule a vote on the "genocide" bill Wednesday, the last day of the outgoing House.
Throughout the later phases of the battle, Turkey and the Obama administration did play their parts well. Turkey refrained from blatant threats against the United States, and the White House declined to put public pressure on Pelosi. The pressure was of the behind-the-scenes variety. "Obama and his people deliberately stayed away from actions that would be seen as undermining Pelosi and the House's sovereignty," said one analyst in Washington.
One prime concern within the U.S. administration was that the passage of the Armenian "genocide" bill might prompt Turkey – already a self-confident and independently acting power seeking to make its own policies in the Middle East and confronting Israel – to speed up a "paradigm shift" in its foreign policy, a fear one U.S. official privately confirmed.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Thursday expressed pleasure that a resolution on recognizing Armenian claims of genocide had not been included in the official daily agenda of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Common sense prevailed yesterday," Davutoğlu told reporters. "We thank the U.S. administration for their efforts. This incident once again proved that assessment of historical incidents by political authorities is principally wrong."
The Armenians were furious by the House's failure to vote, but pledged to fight back in the new Congress. "Armenian-Americans are angered and disappointed by the failure of Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership to honor their commitment to allow a bipartisan majority to vote for passage of the Armenian genocide resolution," said ANCA chairman Ken Hachikian. "Speaker Pelosi clearly had the majority, the authority and the opportunity to pass the Armenian genocide resolution, yet refused to allow a vote on this human-rights measure."
"I am happy that reason and common sense have prevailed," said Namik Tan, Turkey's ambassador to Washington.
"We now know that a majority of Congress agrees with President Obama about the importance of the U.S.-Turkey relationship, and expect this wisdom to carry over into the next Congress so that we can avoid yet another needless round of bashing our ally Turkey," said Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish Coalition of America, a U.S. Turkish group.