Ahmet Necdet Sezer
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Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. Turkey occupied the northern portion of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island; relations between the two countries remain strained. Periodic military offensives against Kurdish separatists have dislocated part of the population in southeast Turkey and have drawn international condemnation.
Update No: 073 - (27/05/03)
The Turks have shown themselves that they truly have a democracy. The decision not to allow a US division to invade Iraq from southern Turkey has changed everything for the country. Only a few votes decided it. But is now a fait accompli.
The war was furiously unpopular with huge demonstrations against it. The Americans had the great inconvenience of keeping the 4th Division afloat in the Mediterranean and then having to reroute it round into the Gulf, when it proved to be too late for action.
The whole affair is revealing for more than one reason. As it turned out, the Iraqi regime collapsed like a house of cards, the 4th Division not being needed for victory (although it would have been useful to oppose the looting). If the vote had gone the other way and the American troops had been deployed from Turkey, everybody would be now attributing the swift victory to the two-front war that the US could wage to convince Iraqis they had no chance. The Iraqis knew that, anyway, and put up no real fight. Counterfactual reasoning can be highly deceptive.
Turkey pays the price
The US in that case would have been highly grateful and coughed up more than US$16bn promised willingly for their old NATO close ally. Not so now. Only a trickle is likely for Turkey in its economic crisis. The Bush Administration does not forget or forgive slights.
The new government of the Islamicists, led by Recep Erdogan, who desperately wanted the US to have their way, now find themselves out on a loop. Not only have they lost US sympathy and ready support, the Iraq war has caused them trouble over Cyprus and so the EU as well. Erdogan assumed office with naïve hopes of obtaining a swift deal on Cyprus, with a March 10th EU deadline for a settlement there, and so further EU backing for eventual Turkish membership. Instead the political crisis over Iraq ruined everything. With the US, the main champion of such membership, losing patience with Ankara, just as the coalition of the unwilling, led by France, was with Washington, everything began to go seriously wrong. The Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, was as intransigent about a peace deal as ever. The Europeans became extremely wary of the situation, losing whatever decidedly limited enthusiasm they had had for the idea of Turkish entry. Erdogan finds his EU ambitions in retreat.
The outcome of the fatal vote has other repercussions for Ankara, the fear of the impact of a de facto independent Kurdistan in Iraq for the Kurdish problem at home. Had the US troops been allowed through, Turkish ones could hardly have been refused passage as well, perhaps able to impose a solution of Ankara's choosing on the Kurds of Northern Iraq. Actually, this would have, it is true, probably proved a disaster for all concerned. The one undoubted plus of US and UK policy in Iraq in the 1990s, lamentable as it may have been in other respects, was the success of the Kurdish enclaves under its protection, the no-fly zone and the US commitment financially and morally.
Erdogan must contemplate the Iraq business with chagrin. He finds his whole geopolitical strategy in shreds. But something could yet come out of it all for his government and for Turkey. The Turks lost something like US$75bn in trade with Iraq since 1991. This can now resume in an open way. The Turkish economy, whose poor condition is its main headache, could be soon receiving a much-needed boost.
AVIATION & SPACE
Turkey's first mini satellite ready for orbit
Turkey's first mini satellite is all set to go into orbit. The multi-purpose low altitude satellite's production has been completed and it will be sent into space from Russia in July, Anatolia News Agency reported.
Professor Namik Kemal Pak, chairman of the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), declared at the Spacean 2003 conference held at Middle East Technical University (METU) that the mini satellite production studies, carried out together with Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) of Britain's Surrey University in the framework of the project developed by Information Technologies and Electronic Research Institute (BILTEN), is completed. Professor Pak stated that the satellite, named "BILSAT" and weighing 110 kilograms, has a life span of 15 years.
He also pointed out that the satellite would carry cameras, which would enable fixing town planning, illegal construction and would provide images regarding agriculture, environment, forestry and cartography. Stating that the modules placed on the satellite were produced entirely by Turkish engineers, Pak said that other satellite producers showed interest in these modules. The report quoted Pak as saying, "the aim of the BILSAT project is to achieve technology transfers which would form the nucleus of satellite technology in our country."
Russia's Tatarstan republic to export 2.5m tonnes of oil to Turkey
Tatarstan will supply Turkey with 2.5m tonnes of oil in 2003, it was announced during a meeting between President Mintimer Shaymiyev, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkey to Russia, Kurtulus Taskent, As the Tatar minister of trade and foreign economic cooperation, Khafiz Salikhov, said, Tatarstan and the Turkish company, Petrol Office, signed a contract for delivering 30,000 tonnes of oil products a month.
The foreign economic turnover between Tatarstan and Turkey, which today amounts to US90m a year, will reach, according to the ambassador, US500m in the next few years, ITAR-TASS News Agency reported.
"Cooperation with Turkey has been showing stable development over the last 10 years," Mintimer Shaymiyev said. An exchange of students has been organised, Turkish builders have been reconstructing the Kazan Kremlin, the opera theatre and constructing a number of important objects according to the programme of the forthcoming millennium of
EU would benefit from Turkey's accession - premier
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on 9th May that Turkey was a part of European family, stating that recent developments experienced in international areas emphasised the requirement of Turkey and the European Union (EU) coming together, Anatolia News Agency has reported.
Erdogan issued a message for "9th May European Day" and stated that those who laid the foundation of the EU would benefit from the accession of Turkey, which has historical and cultural accumulation, and young and qualified human sources.
Stating that Turkey was a part of European family, Erdogan said Turkey's membership to the EU would contribute a lot to the dialogue between the civilizations and compromise.
Erdogan stressed that important developments had been recorded with the continuation of reforms in Turkey which were initiated with constitutional amendment packages during the past year.
Erdogan said, "The fundamental target for Turkey in the next period is to open paths for full membership. We aim to complete preparatory studies of a new national programme in June in the light of the new accession partnership accord. The new accession partnership accord and the national programme constitute a road map of Turkey-EU relations in the period after Copenhagen."
Erdogan said, "We know that the decision pertaining to the start of negotiations at the end of 2004 will be taken in line with the progress reports in 2003-04 that will be prepared by the European Union Commission and we will act according to this."
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Turkish-Iranian agreement aims to develop border trade
Turkey and Iran have reached an agreement that Turkish and Iranian companies and institutions would benefit from offset opportunities to develop the trade between the two countries, Anatolia News Agency has reported.
It was agreed that Border Trade Centres, would be established which would contribute to the refreshment of economic activities in border regions and develop those regions, on the border of Turkey and Iran during the 17th term meeting of Turkey-Iran Joint Economic Commission (JEC) held in Ankara between 21st and 25th April.
Technical meetings regarding the issue would be held in Bazargan or Gurbulak in the first half of May 2003.
Technical delegations from the two countries decided to further improve the existing cooperation activities in health, environment, tourism, telecommunication and contractor sectors, and especially in trade, transportation and customs issues in the meetings in which commercial and economic relations were discussed in a detailed way.
Some difficulties stemming from Iran's implementation of bilateral commercial transportation were overcome, while technical delegations had decided to convene regularly in Gurbulak and Bazargan in the highway transportation sector. The two sides agreed on extending the period over which vehicles made the journey via Iran in Iranian lands.
Nearly 40 Iranian businessmen arrived in Istanbul and exchanged views with Turkish businessmen about bilateral cooperation opportunities during meetings.
Meanwhile, Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said that Turkey and Iran could cooperate in third countries with joint ventures. Aref stated that economic relations between the two countries were not at a high level, stating that institutions and organizations should make use of their potential and improve relations. Stating that not only natural gas should be considered in improvement of relations, Aref said all the sectors in the two countries could make cooperation with joint investments.
Turkish, Ukrainian foreign ministers vow to turn Black Sea into "lake of peace"
Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Gul, said on 8th May that Turkey and Ukraine would start studies to turn the Black Sea into a lake of peace, Anatolia News Agency has reported
After the two-hour meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Anatoliy Zlenko, Gul said in the joint news conference with him that Turkey and Ukraine were two important countries in the region. "We have common studies to turn Black Sea into a peace lake," Gul said.
Noting that the bilateral relations were fine in all fields, Gul said that "the will of our governments is to further improve the relations." Gul pointed out that the president and the defence minister would go to Ukraine in the near future, adding that the Ukrainian parliament Speaker would visit Turkey.
Recalling the historical relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Gul said that Turkey was pleased with the policy pursued by Ukraine regarding the return of Crimean Tatars to their former homeland. Gul also thanked Ukraine for its understanding regarding the monument to be opened in Sebastopol for the martyrs of Crimean War.
Gul stressed that the trade volume which was US$1.3bn between the two countries had to be developed, adding that the sides had reached a consensus of opinion to increase the trade volume and to protect peace and stability in the region.
In answer to a question, Gul pointed out the importance of fishing between the two countries, adding that the necessary agreements would be signed as soon as possible.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Zlenko said that the relations between the two countries were constructive and friendly, adding that Gul had accepted his invitation to visit Ukraine. "The continuation of our dialogue constitutes a basis for continuation of the relations in all fields," said Zlenko, adding that Turkey was one of the most important countries of the region. Noting that the strategic aim of both countries was the same, Zlenko said that "the common aim of the two countries is membership of the EU."
The minister said that the two countries had reached agreement on protection of peace and stability in the Black Sea region and its neighbouring areas, the fight with terrorism, improvement of economic cooperation, usage of transit possibilities, close contact with Europe and tourism. Zlenko said that the experts would start consultations in Ankara on 29th May, adding that "it is a serious basis for our cooperation in the future."
Zlenko said that they were in agreement with Gul for completion of the procedure regarding Ukraine's joining the World Trade Organisation as soon as possible.
Turkish minister to encourage French investment
State Minister Ali Babacan said on 26th April that they wished not only the companies in France but also all the big companies in European countries to invest in Turkey, Anatolia News Agency has reported.
Babacan spoke to reporters at Ankara's Esenboga Airport before leaving for France to participate in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meetings and meet with French Business Confederation administrators.
Stating that the French Business Confederation has approximately 1.5m members, Babacan said they would continue efforts for the French companies to make investment in Turkey.
Babacan said one of the ways to prevent unemployment and to create employment was to attract foreign capital to Turkey, stating that they would hold meetings with some big French companies and also hold tete-a-tete meetings with ministers of some countries.
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