Turkey will swiftly implement economic and financial sanctions against the disobedient Syrian administration amid growing tension with its southern neighbor, whose leader accused Ankara of having "imperial dreams."

Hours after the Arab League approved sanctions against its own member, the Turkish government met in a rush meeting in Ankara to finalize a draft of sanctions in what diplomats described as "parallel and complementary to those of the Arab League." The measures are expected to be announced in the next few days.

"Obviously measures we will take against Syria will be national ones. But we will fully support sanctions announced by the Arab League," a Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News Saturday, following the League's approval of sanctions. "But as a neighboring country, which has a 900-kilometer-long border with this country, our measures could differ from those of the Arab League in size and in timing."

Cutting electricity sales to Syria, suspending all joint projects and investments, halting flights to and from Syria, freezing the assets of top Syrian officials in Turkey, halting ongoing financial cooperation with the Syrian Central Bank and other institutions, and continuing a land and air blockade to stop arms transfer to Syria are among sanctions Turkey will implement against Syria.

Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu were scheduled to hold a meeting late Saturday with a group of cabinet ministers to discuss bureaucratic procedures for the implementations of national sanctions. Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım and other relevant senior officials joined the meeting.

Three Principles for Sanctions

According to Turkish diplomatic sources, sanctions to be imposed on Syria were based on three main principles. As Babacan earlier said, sanctions would never include cutting the flow of water to Syria, which stood as the first principle. Second, steps that would affect daily lives of Syrian citizens would be avoided as much as possible. And third, sanctions would not harm Turkish interests in Syria, especially in the fields of transportation and trade.

"What we have said from the very beginning is that sanctions should have first come from a regional organization," a diplomatic official said. "And they did. And as Turkey, we will stand neither behind nor in the front of the Arab League. We will be nearby."

Political Sanctions Not Far Away

Sanctions will unlikely be limited to economic measures. Following organized attacks against its diplomatic missions and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's public accusations against Turkey, diplomatic sources no longer ruled out withdrawal of the Turkish ambassador to Damascus within days. The political sanctions could later be enhanced by closing the Turkish Embassy in Damascus and recognizing the Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

"Withdrawing our ambassador or implementing other means of political sanctions depends on the Syrian leadership," the official said. "As it happened during the attacks of our diplomatic missions, if they cannot guarantee to protect our diplomatic staff, then there will be nothing to do except withdrawing the ambassador."

'Reinstating Ottoman Empire'

Following organized attacks against Turkish diplomatic missions, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Turkey of trying to revive "imperial dreams" in the old Ottoman Empire territories. Al-Assad lashed out at Turkish officials who frequently criticized him, saying, "some in Turkey are still clinging to the dream of reinstating the Ottoman Empire."

The Turkish leaders, he said, "know that this dream is impossible, so they are trying to exploit parties with a religious agenda to expand their influence on the Arab world." Speaking to the Arabic-language Web site, Arab Press, al-Assad called on his supporters not to vandalize any Turkish symbols.

"I ask you – don't burn Turkish flags. The Turkish people are a proud nation," he said.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turkey-to-declare-its-own-sanctions-on-syria-2011-11-27

Arab League Joins Sanctions on Syria

The Arab League voted Saturday to impose sweeping new sanctions on Syria in an effort to pressure President Bashar al-Assad to end his eight-month crackdown on the opposition.

While Damascus has slammed the move as "a betrayal of Arab solidarity," Turkey stands ready to implement a separate set of sanctions against Damascus. Turkish Cabinet members met Saturday in Ankara to finalize a raft of sanctions that could include cutting electricity sales and halting flights. The measures are expected to be announced today.

Meanwhile, al-Assad has accused Turkey of trying to revive "imperial dreams," according to a press report.

"Some in Turkey are still clinging to the dream of reinstating the Ottoman Empire," he reportedly said. Al-Assad also called on his supporters not to burn the Turkish flag. According to the Sunday Telegraph, Syrian dissidents "held secret talks" with Libya's new authorities and Turkish authorities in Istanbul.

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/Haber/413767/1/Gundem

Iran Threatens to Hit Turkey if U.S., Israel Attack

Iran will target NATO's missile defense installations in Turkey if the United States or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic, a senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said Saturday.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards' aerospace division, said the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what he described as an increase Tensions have been rising between Iran and the West since the release of a report earlier this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said, for the first time, that Tehran was suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of trying to produce atomic weapons, and Israel, which views Tehran as an existential threat, has warned of a possible strike on Iran's nuclear program. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.

"Should we be threatened, we will target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit the next targets," the semiofficial Mehr News Agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying.

Tehran says NATO's early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state. Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran.

A military installation in the eastern town of Kürecik, some 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the Iranian border, has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials. Hajizadeh said the U.S. also plans to install similar stations in Arab states, which has spurred Iran to alter its military defense strategy.

"Based on orders from the exalted commander-in-chief, we will respond to threats with threats," he was quoted as saying.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, is also commander-in-chief of Iran's armed forces. Another senior Guard commander, Yadollah Javani, threatened that Tehran will target Israel's nuclear facilities should the Jewish state attack Iran.

"If Israel fires a missile at our nuclear facilities or vital installations, it should know that Israel's nuclear centers will be the target of our missiles," the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

Also Saturday, the chief of Iran's elite Quds Force said he doesn't fear assassination and is ready for "martyrdom."

The comments by Quds Force commander Brig. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani were published in several Iranian newspapers. The Quds Force is the special foreign operations unit of the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard, and Soleimani is a key figure in Iran's military establishment, but rarely speaks in public.

Tensions have increased in recent weeks between Iran and the U.S., with several American neoconservatives urging the Obama administration to use covert action against Iran and kill some of its top officials, including Soleimani.

The force has been accused by the Americans of involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Two men, including an alleged member of Iran's Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court in the case.

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-264026-iran-threatens-to-hit-turkey-if-us-israel-attack.html

Gul Calls on UK to Take Urgent Steps on Cyprus

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has urged Britain, one of Cyprus' guarantor powers, to take action to help solve the problem of the island's division before Greek Cyprus assumes the European Union's rotating presidency in July 2012.

"On the unification of the island, I said that if the United Kingdom sincerely wants to take a step [on the Cyprus issue], it is just the time to do this," Gül said. "You will be able to take action until June 2012."

The president returned to Turkey from an official UK visit last week.

"If you [want to] convince Greek Cyprus, it is just the time. If you fail to take action now and if Greek Cyprus takes the [rotating EU] presidency, why would it bother to seek a settlement?" Gül said. "Then the island will remain two separate states and the U.K. will have to recognize [Turkish Cyprus], whom we recognize."

Turkey to Start Land Drilling in Turkish Cyprus

The state-run petroleum company Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO, is set to start drilling for oil and natural gas in Famagusta in Turkish Cyprus, the Turkish energy minister said Saturday.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told reporters that studies for oil exploration would probably be completed within the next two to three months and added that they had completed all technical preparations. The first well will be about 3,000 meters deep.

Yıldız said they would not be able to confirm the presence of oil in the area until the completion of the drilling, the Doğan News Agency reported. The minister also added that land drilling would be used in the search for gas and oil.

TPAO, which has around 1,100 energy wells in Turkey, will conduct oil and gas exploration in Famagusta alone without the assistance of Royal Dutch Shell. TPAO and Shell, however, will conduct oil and natural gas exploration off the southern province of Antalya, the minister said.

TPAO and Shell signed a deal last week for the exploration and joint production of oil and natural gas off the coast of Turkey's Mediterranean shores, as well as in Southeast Anatolia.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=president-gul-calls-on-uk-to-take-urgent-steps-on-cyprus-2011-11-27

TPAO to Start Drilling in Gazimagusa, Northern Cyprus

Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız said on Saturday the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO, will begin exploration for oil and natural gas deposits in the province of Gazimagusa located in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, KKTC.

The minister told reporters following a meeting of the Investment Consultation Committee that preliminary technical studies have been completed and that drilling will begin in three months.

"We will open wells according to indications in the geological data and plan to go as deep as 3,000 meters for the first well," Yıldız said. "These wells will be opened for the purpose of both oil and natural gas discoveries and drillings in Gazimagusa will contribute in a major way to [our understanding of the validity of] offshore drilling in northern Cyprus."

He noted that the drilling in Gazimagusa will be conducted outside of an oil and natural gas agreement with Shell, saying, "TPAO has around 1,100 wells like this in Turkey that it operates by itself and the joint deal with Shell in the Mediterranean only includes drilling off Antalya's shore."

TPAO and Dutch-British corporation Royal Dutch Shell signed a deal on Wednesday for the exploration and joint production of oil and natural gas off Turkey's Mediterranean shores, as well as onshore in Turkey's southeastern region.

The minister underlined that TPAO will not settle for just the KKTC and Antalya in its Mediterranean operations and announced that future joint exploration will take place in the southern Turkish provinces of İskenderun and Mersin as well.

Replying to a question concerning previous comments he made during which he labeled Israeli drillings off the coast of Greek Cyprus "illegal," Yıldız said: "We have already made it clear that any country drilling in a region where its economic [political] borders are not clear is operating against international law."

He emphasized comments made by Primer Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who proposed a solution for the equal and beneficial sharing of any oil or natural gas discoveries among all citizens of the island on the condition that exploration in the region stops.

"We must introduce oil and natural gas as a reason for peace and cooperation among neighboring countries instead of its common perception as a reason for war," Yıldız said. "We hope it will be the most important message Turkey delivers to the world."

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-264085-tpao-to-start-drilling-in-gazimagusa-northern-cyprus.html

Minorities to Help New Charter

Parliament's Constitution Conciliation Commission has used the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne to determine the list of minority community foundations set to participate in drafting the new charter, while the religious community foundations were picked based on "legal status, respectability and the condition of working on the constitution."

"In addition to the Treaty of Lausanne, we will also take into consideration the Turkish Civil Code. It would not be right to give names, but we will gravitate toward the foundations that are respected by citizens," Atilla Kart, a commission member in the ranks of the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, told the Hürriyet Daily News Saturday. "We find it important to reflect the views of minorities in the new constitution."

The three sub-commissions that will meet with the minority representatives were scheduled to convene Sunday to select the foundations that will make it on the list.

Kart said some organizations, such as the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, or TEPAV, Social Democracy Foundation, or SODEV, and the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats, or TEMA, have serious ideas about the new constitution, and the commission wants such ideas to be reflected in the new charter.

The commission's list will be finalized this week; they will choose from a list including 77 Greek, 52 Armenian, 19 Jewish, 10 Assyrian, three Chaldean, two Georgian, one Bulgarian and one Minority Craftsman foundations.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=minorities-to-help-new-charter-2011-11-27

Apology May Cause Internal Conflict, CHP Leader Says

Turkey's main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said recent statements by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the Dersim massacre of 1938 would lead to an "internal conflict" within Turkey.

"The prime minister uses faith-based discrimination in his statements, which is very dangerous. These statements plant the seeds of hate in society. If Erdoğan maintains this attitude, Turkey may quickly come to the point of internal conflict," Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, told reporters before attending a session of leaders under the convention of the Party of European Socialists, or PES, in Brussels on Saturday.

Erdoğan's apology for killings in the military operation in 1938 against a rebellion in the eastern province of Dersim, now Tunceli, and accusations against the CHP enflamed a stormy debate between the government and the CHP. Erdoğan had insisted the CHP, which ruled Turkey under a single-party regime at that time, was responsible for killings and should also apologize.

Kılıçdaroğlu also referred to Erdoğan's saying in an Oct. 23 speech that it was the Alevi judges who sentenced him to imprisonment for reciting a poem. "While apologizing for Dersim, he inflames faith discrimination. Then we should ask why this is a contradiction," Kılıçdaroğlu said.

The CHP leader said the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was not sincere on the Dersim issue and Erdoğan's statements were a political maneuver. He described the AKP's attitude as "hypocritical." The Ministry of Culture banned a documentary about the killings in the Dersim operation in 2007.

Kılıçdaroğlu said it should be the president, not the prime minister, who apologized for the Dersim killings.

"If there would be an apology, it should be the state, not the CHP. The prime minister said 'I apologize on behalf of the state,' but he is the head of the government, not the state. The president should apologize," he said.

The CHP leader stressed that Turkey debated an "artificial agenda." Turkey was discussing Dersim instead of the earthquake that hit the eastern province of Van last month and the problems in the economy, he said.

Quarrel with Norwegian Minister

During the session of leaders under the convention of PES, Norwegian Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide hailed Turkey under the AKP rule and asked "Can Turkey be the role model of the Arab Spring?"

Emphasizing jailed journalists and restrictions on freedom of speech in Turkey, Kılıçdaroğlu said in response: "Arab people demand democratic countries, they aspire to be like Turkish people. However, our ruling politicians aspire to be Arab administrators. We wish to be a role model as a democratic, libertarian country where the media writes freely. But Turkey is far from being a role model under its current political circumstances."

Meanwhile, the government seniors were quick to slam the CHP leader over his statements in Brussels. European Union Minister Egemen Bağış accused Kılıçdaroğlu of complaining of his country through misinformation. Minister of Culture Ertuğrul Günay said Kılıçdaroğlu becoming a politician denigrated his country abroad.

In a related development, Kılıçdaroğlu announced the CHP and PES would issue a joint declaration on Turkey's EU accession process and democracy and freedom demands in Turkey.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=apology-may-cause-internal-conflict-chp-leader-claims-2011-11-27

TALABANI CALLS ON PKK TO DROP ARMS

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, was "convinced" by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani regarding a solution to the bloody conflict, according to a TV report. Talabani also said the PKK had proposed two conditions to lay down arms.

"They told me they want a general amnesty for PKK members and that the new constitution should state that Turkey consists of not only Turks, but also other people," Talabani told the Iraqiya TV channel, according to private broadcaster CNNTürk.

Talabani said he was successful in convincing the PKK on a solution and "half-successful" in convincing the Turkish side.

Speaking in Moscow, a top Turkish official said the PKK must not use any potential cease-fire as an opportunity to prepare for new battles but should instead abandon its armed struggle. The era marked by the policies of denial and assimilation are now over in Turkey, Ömer Çelik, the deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, told reporters in Moscow.

"No rights can be won by armed struggle, the PKK should lay down arms," Çelik said, the Anatolia News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, 28 people were detained in a recent Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, operation in the Cizre and Silopi districts of the southeastern province of Şırnak Saturday. The detainees include Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, officials, as well as provincial council members.

The KCK is the alleged urban wing of the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. On Saturday, 70 people who were detained last week in Istanbul and the southeastern province of Diyarbakır were arrested for alleged links to a terrorist organization.

Lawyers make up 42 of the suspects because of their connections to Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, who allegedly relayed his directives to the KCK through the lawyers from the İmralı Island Prison where he is serving a life sentence.

Öcalan could be questioned as part of the probe, especially to shed light on the alleged links between KCK and PKK, reports said. Çelik, meanwhile, defended the controversial recent operations against the KCK.

"The judiciary will have the final decision, but no one can call it a civil society group when an organization that names itself the KCK throws Molotov cocktails in city centers and terrorizes people," said the deputy AKP leader, adding that every state has the right to protect its citizens.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=talabani-calls-on-pkk-to-drop-arms-2011-11-27

Iran Threatens to Hit Turkey if U.S., Israel Attack

Iran will target NATO's missile defense installations in Turkey if the United States or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic, a senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said Saturday.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards' aerospace division, said the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what he described as an increase Tensions have been rising between Iran and the West since the release of a report earlier this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said, for the first time, that Tehran was suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of trying to produce atomic weapons, and Israel, which views Tehran as an existential threat, has warned of a possible strike on Iran's nuclear program. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.

"Should we be threatened, we will target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit the next targets," the semiofficial Mehr News Agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying.

Tehran says NATO's early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state. Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran.

A military installation in the eastern town of Kürecik, some 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the Iranian border, has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials. Hajizadeh said the U.S. also plans to install similar stations in Arab states, which has spurred Iran to alter its military defense strategy.

"Based on orders from the exalted commander-in-chief, we will respond to threats with threats," he was quoted as saying.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, is also commander-in-chief of Iran's armed forces. Another senior Guard commander, Yadollah Javani, threatened that Tehran will target Israel's nuclear facilities should the Jewish state attack Iran.

"If Israel fires a missile at our nuclear facilities or vital installations, it should know that Israel's nuclear centers will be the target of our missiles," the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

Also Saturday, the chief of Iran's elite Quds Force said he doesn't fear assassination and is ready for "martyrdom."

The comments by Quds Force commander Brig. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani were published in several Iranian newspapers. The Quds Force is the special foreign operations unit of the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard, and Soleimani is a key figure in Iran's military establishment, but rarely speaks in public.

Tensions have increased in recent weeks between Iran and the U.S., with several American neoconservatives urging the Obama administration to use covert action against Iran and kill some of its top officials, including Soleimani.

The force has been accused by the Americans of involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Two men, including an alleged member of Iran's Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court in the case.

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-264026-iran-threatens-to-hit-turkey-if-us-israel-attack.html

Euro Crisis is a 'Ticking Bomb' for Turkey

The Eurozone debt crisis has turned the European economy into "a ticking time bomb" that lies at Turkey's door, according to a top economist who has been ranked among the most influential thinkers of our time.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview last week, Daron Acemoğlu, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, also urged the Turkish Central Bank to raise interest rates from their current historic lows.

"The European time bomb lies at the door for Turkey," Acemoğlu said. "The Turkish economy is closely connected to the European economy. Thus, it is open to all possible shocks."

Regarding the possibility of a new global recession, Acemoğlu put the chance as high as 50 percent. "If there is a new recession in Europe, Turkey would go back to experience 2009 once again," he said, a year when the Turkish economy contracted by 4.7 percent.

Despite the positive effects of economic reforms, Turkey should "increase interest rates" in order to put the brakes on strong domestic demand, Acemoğlu said, adding that such a move would provide the policy flexibility that would be necessary following a possible shock from the Eurozone.

The Turkish Central Bank's one-week repo rate remains at 5.75 percent, while the overnight interest rate corridor stands at 5 to 12.5 percent. Year-end inflation target is at 5.5 percent, but many analysts foresee it exceeding 9 percent. Meanwhile, Turkey's current account deficit has neared 10 percent of gross domestic product – unsustainable in the eyes of many economists.

"Turkey aims to slow down credit expansion while keeping interest rates too low. This is not the right thing to do," Acemoğlu said. According to the 44-year old economist, today's Turkey has similarities with the pre-crisis period of U.S. and European economies.

"A key [sign] of an economic crisis is overspending and over-consumption, which, generally, is followed by a sharp decline in consumption later on, creating serious problems," he warned.

Low Savings Rate the Problem

Underlining the chronic current account gap, Acemoğlu recounted the booming 1990s, which ended with the 2001 crisis.

"Nearly 60 percent of Turkey's exports are to the European market," he said. "A possible slowdown in the Eurozone could create problems regarding the financing of the current account deficit."

The current low interest rate policy "encourages people and firms to spend rather than save," according to Acemoğlu, who pointed toward the low savings rate of around 12 percent of gross domestic product.

Putting pressure on banks to lend less instead of raising interest rates is "a wrong method," Acemoğlu said, adding: "A key reason that the country should raise interest rates is to have the possibility to cut the rate in case a serious crisis [in the Eurozone] occurs. If you keep rates low while the economy grows by 10 percent annually, what will you do when the crisis hits?"

Regarding the possibility of being added to the BRICS grouping, Acemoğlu said it was too early for this.

"Turkey needs to prove its sustainability for some four or five more years," he said. "One cannot see Turkey as an economic model just because it has posted [high economic growth]. What matters is turning this into a sustainable and balanced economic growth."

Acemoğlu also described Kemal Derviş, a former economy minister who steered Turkey out of the 2001 crisis, as the man who planted "the seeds of Turkey's 10 years of economic growth." Compared to Derviş, today's technocrats in Italy's Mario Monti and Greece's Lucas Papademos have a major disadvantage in that they are "running not just the economy ministry but the whole government," Acemoğlu said.

Proud of Turkey's OECD Offer

Reminded of Turkey's offer to appoint him as the permanent representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, Acemoğlu said he was "proud" of this offer. "I have not rejected it, but I prefer to write my books and continue my academic life," he said. "Maybe I can consider this offer in the future."

If he had accepted, Acemoğlu, who became a professor at the age of 33, would have been the first Turkish-Armenian to have been appointed to such a post.

In March, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu confirmed the offer, saying that it was "inconceivable" for the government to discriminate between the citizens of the Turkish Republic. "We can appoint everyone [who is qualified] to represent Turkey. In this respect, the main criterion for us is qualification. Indeed, we have offered Daron Acemoğlu to represent us at the OECD a few months ago," Davutoğlu said.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=mit-professor-warns-of-destructive-spillover-from-eurozone-2011-11-27

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