The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
TURKEY HAS CHANGED A LOT
The new U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Francis J. Ricciardone, said that Turkey had made great progress.
Ricciardone attended a reception hosted in his honor by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), the Federation of Turkish American Associations (TADF) and Turkic-American Alliance (TAA) in Washington, D.C.
Replying to a question, Ricciardone who earlier served as ambassador in Cairo, said that democracy in Turkey should not be compared with democracy in Egypt. Turkey is at a different point and has made great progress in democratic development, Ricciardone said.
The U.S. ambassador said that he had visited Turkey several times and there were many differences between today's Turkey and the one that he visited in the past.
Ricciardone said that PKK was a terrorist organization and there was a strong cooperation between the United States and Turkey in combating it.
Answering a question on the relations between Turkey and Israel, Ricciardone said that the two countries were important friends of the United States.
Turkish-Israeli friendship was of great importance for stability in the region, he said.
SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS WARNS AGAIN
Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals told the parliament about its opinion of the draft bill launching of new chambers within the Supreme Court and the Council of State. The court said the draft law violates both the proper process of lawmaking and the constitution, adding that increasing the number of members had nothing to do with the work load problem. "The bill does not have the basic qualifications required in a law such as generality, objectivity, arranging the future and public interest," the Supreme Court said.
ASSASSINATION WARNING TO BAHCELI
The Turkish Police Department released a warning that Nationalist Movement Party (CHP) chairman Devlet Bahceli and deputy group chairman Oktay Vural's names were included in the assassination list of terrorist organization DHKP-C.
Bahceli's bodyguards were summoned to Ankara Police Department. Officials said that very tight security measures would be taken to protect Bahceli in the upcoming days.
U.S. EGYPT POLICY OPENS A DOOR TO DISASTER
Israel's former minister of industry, trade and labor, Binyamin Ben-eliezer, said that the U.S. isolated Mubarak after 30 years of supporting him. He concluded: "Now that they left him alone [withdrawn their support], I hope U.S. and Israel administrations are aware of the possible results of a radical change in Egypt."
WE WILL NOT WATCH FROM THE BLEACHERS
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "The Middle East has been facing problems for decades, and people of the region are suffering. We are not a country that can watch the Middle East from bleachers."
Speaking in the city of Bishkek, Erdoğan said, "We do not have any intention to intervene in Egypt's internal affairs. Opposing to the will of a nation is like turning a river in the opposite direction. Whatever that river [of public opinion] demands will happen sooner or later."
NO VISA TO BOLIVIA, WHY TO US?
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the European Union's contradictory visa procedures during his visit to Kyrgyzstan. "It is interesting that EU does not require visas from Brazil and Bolivia. What kind of connection do Brazil, Bolivia or Paraguay have with the union? We are a candidate country and still we are not given the Schengen opportunity," Erdoğan said.
The EU does not demand visas from the citizens of 42 countries including Nicaragua, Venezuela, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Honduras.
IRAN MIXED UP, U.S. ALARMED
A Turkish bank sent a large sum of foreign exchange to its branch on Ankara's Tehran Avenue. The United States, which thought that the money was sent to Iran, asked what that money was for.
However, the U.S. apologized when it learned the truth. This incident proved how close the United States is monitoring the monetary flow to Iran to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
KILICDAROGLU: MIDEAST IMITATES TURKEY, AK PARTY IMITATES MIDEAST
Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's telephone call to Egyptian President Hosni Mobarak was "natural."
"However, we expect the prime minister to make the same call to Sudan's president as well," he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also noted that his grade for the Turkish government's foreign policy would be a 6 out of 10. "In fact, Turkey can be a role model for all the Islamic countries. People of these countries desire to become like us. However, our administrators [the government] wants to imitate them," he said.
ERDOGAN COMMENTS ON EGYPT: THERE IS NO TURNING BACK
Commenting on the developments in Egypt, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
said Turkey had no intention of intervening in Egypt's domestic affairs, adding that Middle East had problems for decades and the peoples of the countries in the region have suffered the most.
TURKEY COULD BE A ROLE MODEL FOR ISLAMIC COUNTRIES, OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS
Supporting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's call on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to meet his people's demands, Turkey's main opposition party leader said he expected Erdoğan to make the same call for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
"Turkey can be a role model for all Islamic countries," Kemal KıIıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) told a group of reporters Wednesday.
Kılıçdaroğlu expressed his perspective on Turkey's current prominent foreign policy issues speaking to the members of Association of Diplomatic Correspondents. Asked how he would score the foreign policy of the government, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would give it a 6 out of 10.
Assessing the turmoil in Egypt, Kılıçdaroğlu approved Erdoğan's call to Mubarak to resign. "A politician cannot ignore his people's demands, especially, if a million people are protesting."
"Even though we complain about it, Turkey, as a Muslim secular country, improved its democracy in comparison to countries in the Middle East. I am sure most people in the Mideast would like to follow Turkey. However there is a paradox in that their people want to resemble Turkey, but our [AKP] leaders want to resemble to them," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Asked his opinion on the discussions of a shift in political axis, Kılıçdaroğlu said if democracy and freedom blossom in Middle East, then Turkey's relations with these countries would move to a healthier ground. "Their desire for democracy will lead us to a strong democracy. Then the AKP will not seek to be politically similar to them," he said.
The main opposition leader also criticized the government for failing to make progress with Turkey's EU bid. "The process with the EU has fallen off the agenda. Turkey's chief EU negotiator Egemen Bağış's statement, 'If the plug is to be pulled, I leave it to the EU,' is disappointing."
Kılıçdaroğlu said the government did not do what was necessary for the additional protocols it signed, which require Turkey to open its ports to Greek Cypriots, to avoid [negative] domestic political reactions. "Then why did you sign it? The government follows a dual attitude on the Cyprus issue. They seem to slow down the harmonization process to the EU in order to overcome potential negative repercussions in domestic politics," he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the government's actions on the Mavi Marmara incident, in which eight Turkish citizens and a U.S. citizen of Turkish descent died in an Israeli raid. He said if they were the government, they would not have sent the Mavi Marmara to Gaza.
ISLAM KEY THEME OF TURKISH 'MODEL' DEBATE
Turkey's Muslim heritage is a major factor for those who see it as a "model" for the region – and for those who believe it is not – according to a survey of the Middle East released on Wednesday.
More than 65 percent of respondents to a survey said they felt Turkey could be a "model for the region," while 18 percent disagreed.
Sixty-six percent of respondents also said they thought Turkey represented a "successful blend of Islam and democracy," according to the report, which noted that support for Turkey as a model had increased to 66 percent in 2010, up from 61 percent in earlier surveys.
Though it is unreasonable to think that neighboring countries can replicate the Turkish model, they can instead benefit from Turkey's political and economic experience, Professor Meliha Altunışık from the International Relations Department at Ankara's Middle East Technical University told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday.
"The rise of the Justice and Development Party [AKP] to power has inspired Islamist groups in the region. The AKP's success has become an open door for the Islamists and they started to liken themselves to the Turkish ruling party," Altunışık said.
Jonathan Levack, one of the authors of the report conducted by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) told the Daily News that Turkey is being adopted as a model in the Middle East as the AKP-led government pursues a regional role amid the "massive changes" in the neighborhood.
The release of the survey of 2,267 people in seven Arab countries plus Iran comes as Turkey has been touted by experts, observers and diplomats as a model for countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.
Asked why they perceive Turkey as a model, the top four responses were Turkey's Muslim background with 15 percent, its economy with 12 percent, its democratic government with 11 percent and its stance for Palestinians and Muslims with 10 percent, according to the survey.
Respondents who rejected the idea of Turkey as a model cited both its secular political system (12 percent) and its Muslim heritage (11 percent) among their top four reasons, followed by the country's relations with Western nations (10 percent) and the argument that there is "no need for a model" (8 percent).
The report surveyed people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Iran – the latter added to the sample since the last survey – between Aug. 25 and Sept. 27, 2010.
According to the TESEV report, Turkey has enjoyed significant support in its neighborhood, with positive regional opinion about Turkey increasing to 85 percent from 75 percent. "Until recently, prevailing opinion in Turkey was that Arabs did not like the Turks. However, this research challenges this belief; there is now growing sympathy for Turkey and Turks in the Arab world," the report said.
Rejecting the argument that Turkey is shifting its axis from the West to the East, TESEV President Can Paker said the country now is pursuing a "multi-axis" policy, adding that apart from the rising sympathy, support for Turkey's role as a mediator is also growing in the region.
Report co-author Levack agreed, saying the lack of leadership and the great frustration with the current regimes in the Middle East has contributed to Turkey's appeal. Seventy-three percent of survey respondents believed Turkey has recently become more influential in Middle East politics, while only 12 percent disagreed; 78 percent said Turkey should play a bigger role in the region, including helping mediate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians replaced worries over economic problems in the survey, with 26 percent of respondents naming the economy as the region's most urgent issue, second to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with 30 percent.
Comparing the survey with a report by a U.S.-based opinion polling firm that listed Turkey as the fourth-most unpopular country in the Middle East in 2002, Altunışık said the period in between the two reports has seen Turkey become a "soft power." She said it has the potential of becoming squeezed between societies seeking change and the regimes trying to maintain the status quo due to its [Turkey's] double-edged stance.
Noting that Turkey has become more active culturally, as well as politically and economically, in the Middle East, the report added: "The popularity of Turkish television series has become far more pronounced. The results show that respondents saw Turkey as the most popular Middle Eastern vacation destination. The survey results [also] confirm [the Turkish TV series'] popularity: 78 percent of respondents had watched a Turkish TV series."
Support for Turkey's European Union membership bid has slightly decreased from 57 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2010, the report said, adding that the proportion of respondents who felt the accession would benefit Turkey's role in the Middle East had also dropped, from 64 percent to 57 percent.
Regional threat perception remained the same in 2010 compared to 2009, with 40 percent of respondents putting Israel atop the region's threat list, followed by the United States with 26 percent. Iran was named the third-biggest threat, with 9 percent.
Responding to a question about Iran's nuclear program, 40 percent of respondents said they were in favor of the Islamic republic developing nuclear weapons while 39 percent were opposed. Sixty-one percent of Iranian respondents welcomed Turkey's role in the nuclear impasse between Iran and the West while 9 percent viewed it unfavorably.
The TESEV report also shed light on economic trends in the Middle East. "Enthusiasm for the Turkish economy among respondents is clear," it wrote. "Fourteen percent felt that Turkey had the strongest economy in the region today – only Saudi Arabia was seen by more respondents as currently having a stronger economy than Turkey."
Perception of the future prospects for the Turkish economy is also bright: "Turkey is seen as the region's coming economic leader with more than quarter of all respondents (27 percent) seeing Turkey as the regional economic leader in 10 years."