The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
FULL-PAGE PROTEST TO TURKISH TAXI IN NEW YORK
An ad by United Against Nuclear Iran Association in New York magazine invites New Yorkers to protest Turkish and Japanese cars that may be chosen as the official vehicles of New York taxi system. The ad says: "No company that does business with Iran should do business with our city."
PM CALLS FOR PROSECUTION OF OPPOSITION FIGURE OVER ALLEGED INSULT
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday appealed to prosecutors to launch an investigation into Süheyl Batum, a senior figure within the Republican People's Party for insulting the Turkish Armed Forces. "They have pulled down that huge military, which is actually made of paper. We thought they were true soldiers. But apparently the United States has made it hollow inside. They knocked that big tree down," Batum said.
PROSECUTOR MIGHT LAUNCH FRESH PROBE INTO SLAIN TURKISH-ARMENIAN JOURNALIST
An Istanbul prosecutor has reportedly been scrutinizing the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink to decide if a fresh probe is needed, after Europe's top human rights court ruled that Turkish state officials failed to prevent the murder or carry out an effective investigation. Nearly 30 Turkish officials might face charges if the Istanbul prosecutor opts to go for a new probe. Turkish Interior Minister Beşir Atalay on Tuesday said a probe had not yet been launched.
ERDOGAN MOST LIKED STATESMAN IN REGION
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh made important remarks about the Middle East and Turkey's future. Hersh said the balance in the Middle East has shifted and that Turkey has a special status. "The United States conducted research in 10 countries and found out that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the most liked statesman in the region," Hersh said. "The fact that Erdoğan is the most liked statesman in North Africa and the Middle East is a devastating prospect for the U.S. and Russia. It is no longer possible to make plans without the presence of Turkey."
U.S. AIRCRAFT CARRIER IN TURKEY
The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Enterprise docked in the southwestern Turkish bay of Marmaris amid strict security measures on Tuesday. A group of Turkish students protested the carrier's presence in Marmaris.
U.S. SENATORS DID NOT WANT TURKEY
Four Republican U.S. senators proposed that NATO's missile shield should be placed in Georgia rather than Turkey. The senators argued that Turkey did not want to share information with Israel, and, as such, the missile shield should be placed in Georgia.
TENSION HEIGHTENS OVER EGYPT UNREST
Questions of an Egypt-Turkey rivalry have come to the fore as the embattled Egyptian regime, regaining its confidence after two weeks of fierce demonstrations, has called Turkey on the carpet for its statements on the protests.
Angered by the Turkish prime minister's calls for 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak to meet his people's desire for change and step down, the Egyptian government has dispatched its top diplomat in Turkey to deliver a letter to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
In a television appearance, Egyptian Ambassador to Turkey Abderahman Salaheldin said his administration had officially contacted the Turkish ambassador in Cairo following the Turkish prime minister's statements. "We understand well the interest shown in our affairs. This is reasonable but there must be no interference. It is for Egyptians to decide when and what will be done," he told the private television channel NTV.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hussam Zeki had earlier urged the West and Turkey not to interfere in what has been happening in his country.
"I understand that diplomatically this is a sensitive issue for any government to call on President Mubarak to step down. I understand Egypt's diplomatic reaction but at the same time, Turkey is not the only country, and Turkish officials are not the only officials, urging the president to step down," Amira Howeidy, the assistant editor in chief of Egypt's Al-Ahram weekly, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday.
Diplomats tried to downplay the tension, however, saying they welcomed Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmet Aboul Gheit's letter as a positive one informing Turkey about the latest developments.
"This is a letter written in a positive tone. We had the chance to get first-hand information about the developments in Egypt," a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry diplomat who wished to remain anonymous told the Daily News, adding that there was nothing in the letter advising Turkey not to interfere in Egypt's domestic affairs.
"The letter was about the situation in the country and [Egypt's] efforts to establish public order," the diplomat said, declining to elaborate further. "There were neither demands from Turkey nor criticism targeting Turkey in the letter."
Though the Egyptian administration has displayed uneasiness with Turkey's comments, sparking debate over whether a hidden rivalry has surfaced between Turkey and Egypt for regional leadership, analysts said Turkey is enjoying popularity among the Arab public, if not with Arab decision-makers.
"The position Turkey has adopted, especially about relations with Israel, has been very well-received by Arab populations and helped the Turkish government gain popularity in the Arab street. But we need to ask the question of whether Turkey can exert any influence on Arab decision-makers," Professor İlter Turan of Istanbul's Bilgi University told the Daily News.
"That is not easy for Turkey. Yes, Turkey receives attention in the Arab public opinion, but Turkey cannot become an actor that can change regional politics," he said.
Egyptian journalist Howeidy said Egyptians have been looking up to Turkey for a long time because of its support for Palestinians and its tough stance against Israel on a number of occasions.
"Turkey has a special situation and the popularity of the Turkish government is very unique among Egyptians and Egyptian activists," she said. Unlike Washington's calls, which were perceived provocatively among Egyptians, she added, Turkey's support for Egyptian people in their struggle was well received by the populace.
"However, I can understand the diplomatic reaction to Turkey because the regime is still in control in a way. Egyptian officials, diplomats have to say what they have to say. If I were in their shoes, I'd say the same things," she said.
Turkey's first official comments regarding the unrest in Egypt came from Davutoğlu, who urged governments in the Arab world to focus on their peoples' demands for democracy and freedom. Following pressure from local media for not giving a strong backing to Egyptians' demand for more democracy, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that Mubarak's pledge to stand down in September was not enough and called for the president to leave office immediately.
Speaking Tuesday to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies in parliament, Erdoğan said: "We are looking at this from the perspective of humanity, brotherhood and rights. We do not want to interfere with anyone's affairs, or assign ourselves that task."
Calling for a donors' conference for Egypt to tackle imminent problems such as hunger, Erdoğan reiterated that no government can remain in power without support from its people and that the task of governments is to listen to their citizens.
ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM IN TURKEY, EGYPT SUBJECT OF LATEST WIKILEAKS
Fears of Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt have been used by the regime in an attempt to bolster Western support while similar concerns in Turkey have the military "running scared," separate leaks of U.S. diplomatic cables have revealed.
The Egyptian government's scare tactics regarding the Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed opposition group, have largely fallen on deaf ears among U.S. diplomats, according a set of confidential memos acquired by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
"The Egyptians have a long history of threatening us with the Muslim Brotherhood bogeyman," then-Ambassador to Egypt Francis Ricciardone, the new U.S. envoy in Ankara, wrote to the FBI director in 2005, adding that the group's rise actually "signals the need for greater democracy and transparency in [the Egyptian] government."
A different memo shows concern within the British government that the Turkish ruling party has been able to "slip fundamentalists" into various ministries. British officials said their Turkish contacts are reporting that the military in Turkey is "running scared" over the development, fearing it is next on the target list, a 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable shows.
"The U.K. government is very concerned that ... the threat from the fundamentalists is sparking self-doubt within the [Turkish] military," the cable said.
ONLY ONE TOUR OPERATOR FROM TURKEY TAKES PART IN ISRAEL TOURISM FAIR
Israel's International Mediterranean Tourism Market, one of country's most important exhibitions, which opened Tuesday, hosts only one tour operator from Turkey.
Nearly 300 companies from around 35 countries are participating in the two-day event in Tel Aviv.
Turkish-Israeli relations have strained after last year's Israeli raid on Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara that killed 9 Turks.
The number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey had dramatically dropped after calls from Israeli officials to cancel trips to Turkey.
However, the Turkish pavilion is in demand at the fair as Turkey's tourism office in Israel has taken action to attract Israeli tourists during the upcoming seven-day Pesach holiday in April. Turkey's tourism officials plan to re-launch promotion campaigns in March.
Meanwhile, Israel's Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov visited the Turkish pavilion and met Turkey's tourism officials at the fair.
"Last year, I made an invitation. Now I would like to repeat it. I would like to invite your tourism minister to Israel," Misezhnikov told Turkish officials.
The only Turkish travel operator in Israeli tourism fair was from Fethiye, a resort town in Turkey's southwest.
Pinar Dogerli Baserkafaoglu, the owner of Turkish operator, said she was there as she wanted to help revive relations.
"Longtime Turkish-Israeli friendly relations should not be cut in one minute," she said, referring to "one minute" crisis at a World Economic Forum event in Davos, where Turkish Prime Minister stormed off the stage when his remarks were cut by the moderator after his harsh criticism at Israeli President Simon Peres two years ago.
"There are many friends in Turkey for the Israeli people. We want to see Israelis back in Turkey. We missed them. It is not just me, it is all the Turkish tradesmen in Mediterranean region. I am here to convey this message," she said.
TURKEY RULES OUT HEEDING U.S. ACTION ON IRAN TRADE
Turkey plans no action against Istanbul-based companies implicated in a U.S. case of illegal exports to Iran, foreign trade minister Zafer Caglayan said Tuesday.
"This is America's black list, not ours. We are bound by UN Security Council resolutions" on sanctions against Iran, Caglayan told reporters.
"Turkey has its own laws... It is out of the question for us to impose any sanctions against those companies or to ban their activities outside the framework defined by Turkish law," he said.
His remarks echoed Ankara's position that it will abide by UN sanctions against its eastern neighbour, but not by tougher restrictions imposed unilaterally by the United States and the European Union. Turkey is "strictly" implementing the UN sanctions, Caglayan said, adding the country had also its own mechanism to control the trade of materials used in armament and those with "duel use."
An Iranian man, Milad Jafari, has been charged in the United States with exporting specialized metals to his homeland through companies in Turkey for potential use in nuclear and ballistic missile programs, in violation of a U.S. embargo. The US Treasury Department said last week it has moved to freeze all US assets belonging to Jafari, his brother, their mother and father, and two Jafari associates in Turkey.
Jafari and associates allegedly operated "a procurement network that provides direct support to Iran's missile program by securing metal products, including steel and aluminum alloys, for subordinates of Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO)."
Caglayan said the issue concerned three companies registered in Istanbul, whose dominant shareholders were Iranians and had Turkish partners.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran's nuclear program masks a drive to build an atomic bomb, an accusation the Islamic republic denies.
In June, Turkey, then a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, voted against a fourth round of sanctions the body approved against Iran, arguing that a nuclear fuel swap deal it had negotiated together with Brazil the previous month should be given a chance.
Ankara has insisted it wants to boost trade with Iran. "Our trade volume has reached 10 billion dollars. Our target for 2015 is to increase this to 30 billion dollars," Caglayan said.
U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY UNDERSCORES USA'S COMMITMENT TO WORK WITH TURKEY ON GLOBAL SECURITY
The secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department said on Monday that her country was committed to cooperate with Turkey in order to improve the security of the global supply chain.
Turkish State Minister Hayati Yazici met with Secretary Janet Napolitano of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as part of his talks in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
Releasing a statement on the meeting, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the increasing collaboration between the United States and Turkey to combat terrorism and other transnational crimes had been on the agenda of the gathering.
"During the meeting, Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama administration's commitment to working closely with Turkey to strengthen the security of the global supply chain," the statement noted.
The statement said that Napolitano had also highlighted Turkey's participation in "Project Global Shield", an international initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the U.N. Office on Drugs & Crime and Interpol in 2010 to interdict precursor chemicals used in building improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Under Project Global Shield, more than 60 participating countries are currently sharing information with each other to ensure that chemicals entering their countries are being used in safe and legal ways, leading to successful interdictions of a number of suspicious shipments and providing promising investigative leads on the smuggling of precursor chemicals into Afghanistan and Pakistan, the statement added.