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Books on Turkey


Update No: 121 - (27/06/07)

There are several parts of the world where the question of genocide is still a live issue. The Middle East is such a one - and how!

That dreaded dossier
The advent of the new French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, is not unalloyed good news for Ankara in its bid for EU entry and membership. Sarkozy has spoken against it, albeit guardedly. He is smart. He believes in keeping his options open (Ankara must hope). 

One of them has been to steal not just his opponents' clothes, but their best people. There must be relief in Ankara that the new French foreign minister is Bernard Kouchner, the founder of Medicins Sans Frontieres and a supporter of Turkish entry. He was expelled from the Socialist Party for accepting the post. He likes to be in a position to make things happen and it is realistic for a man no longer young, that if he wants to influence world events, that the Socialists in France are out of power now certainly for four years, and quite possibly eight. Moreover they are about to have a messy bout of in-fighting with the outcome for their longer-term electoral prospects uncertain.

As a great humanitarian, he is also, however, a fan of the Kurds. Indeed, partly on that ground he supported the US-UK removal of Saddam, along with Hannah Mufti, the Jordanian expert on Iraq, who amassed a dossier on the regime since 1981 for Amesty International and Human Rights Watch, that was revealingly ignored by the Iraq court findings on Saddam.

Everybody has something to hide about Iraq; and the Turks are no exception here. Hence nobody wanted to know about that dossier. Saddam, the greatest war criminal and covert practitioner of multiple genocide since Hitler, was sentenced for massacring one village in 1982, killing 142 people, when he dispatched millions as a matter of fact.

The dossier would have almost certainly have detailed how Turkey colluded with Iraq to repress the Kurds for years either side of their common border. But then so did Iran and the USSR. The frontiers between Turkey and the Middle East are murky ones.

But the Western powers colluded with Saddam too, in his acquisition of arms and WMDs, and his liberal use of them at home and abroad, as of course did Russia. Veritably a hornet's nest that dossier! 

Turkey Recalls Ambassadors from France and Canada
Turkey has risked an immediate worsening of its relations with Paris early on in the era of Sarkozy. The decision to summon the Turkish ambassador to France for consultations in Ankara is solely in the competence of the Turkish authorities, a French Foreign Ministry representative said on June 5th. This is a guarded shot across its bows.

On the previous day Turkey had summoned its ambassadors from France and Canada because of bilateral disagreements over the historical Armenian claims about quite another multiple genocide to those of Hitler and Saddam, that of Armenians and Jews in the First World War by the Ottomans. Turkey has never accepted the Armenian allegations and Turks argue that the real genocide was committed by the Armenian armed groups during the First World War and aftermath.

According to Yerevan, 1.5 million Armenians fell victims of the so-called genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1917. France recognized the genocide claims as fact in 2001. The United Kingdom, Germany and the United States do not recognize the Armenian claims. Meanwhile, Ankara says that it is question of repression during the civil war of 1915-1917, and estimates the Armenian casualties at 300,000. Ankara says that approximately 500,000 Turks were killed by the Armenian forces in these years.

The visceral French tilt to Yerevan
There are about 450,000 Armenians in France, and the Armenian diaspora in France is strong in French politics. That is the crunch. 

The French parliament considered a draft law, which punishes the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide with one year in custody and a large fine, on May 18. Hence, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul asked his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy if he would be put to the Bastille when he next visits France. 

Many Turkish experts believe that France has continually preferred the Armenians and sacrificed Turkey. Dr. Nilgun Gulcan from USAK for instance says that "France has never criticized Armenians on any issue. The Paris Government for example has never condemned the Armenian occupation in Azerbaijan," Gulcan further continued:-

"Armenians committed genocide in Hoxcali almost a decade ago in Azerbaijan. Civilians, including women and children were massacred by the Armenian forces. More than 40 Turkish diplomats were assassinated by the Armenian terrorists during the 1970s and 1980s. And now about 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories are under the Armenian occupation. Armenians do not recognize Turkey's and Azerbaijan's national borders. And France focuses on the events that happened almost a century ago. No one could claim that France is sincere in its position on Armenian issues. They play. They are not sincere. They simply abuse the Armenian issue in order to prevent Turkey's EU membership".

Similarly Dr. Mehmet Ozcan, a Turkish EU expert, argues that the Paris Government has been using the Armenian issue to stop Turkey's EU process. "There is an anti-Turkish bloc in France and they do not care for Armenian or Turkish interests. They think that there is no room in the EU for Turkey because of Turkey's religion. Another reason is the local politics. The French politicians aim for Armenian votes and they abuse the Armenian issue," Dr. Ozcan added.


This is all about words about past events. There is evidence of Turkish action of late, that deserves a mention or two.

It is a very contentious story that needs further corroboration.

Officials deny incursion as army launches massive operation 
The Turks have an intense interest in what is going on in Northern Iraq. they have long objected to the setting up of two Kurdish enclaves there of only 4m population, it is true, but an ideal base from which to construct a Greater Kurdistan, by incorporating the 13-15m Kurds who live in Turkey.

The US fiasco in Iraq is so great that Ankara may have thought it could get away with a pre-emptive assault on the enclaves; although one should emphasise the subjunctive mood here.

For Turkish, Iraqi and US officials on June 6th denied a news report that claimed Turkish troops had entered neighbouring northern Iraq in a cross-border operation to chase members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) there. "There is no incursion into any country at the moment. If [an incursion had taken place] we would announce it, anyway," said Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, speaking to reporters in Ankara during an evening reception held on the occasion of Africa Day. He was responding to a question on unconfirmed media reports that several thousand Turkish troops had crossed into the de facto autonomous northern Iraq run by Iraqi Kurds to crack down on PKK members based there.

US officials, meanwhile, also said that there was "no new activity" in northern Iraq after unconfirmed reports that thousands of Turkish troops had invaded, a White House spokesperson told reporters in Germany. "Both the Turkish government and US officials on the ground say it's not occurring. There's been no new activity to lead to these press reports," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said at the G8 summit. 

Washington, as well as Turkey and the European Union, has blacklisted the PKK as a terrorist organization. This is good news for Ankara. 

In Baghdad, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said there was no evidence that Turkish troops had crossed the Iraqi border to launch a military operation against PKK terrorists hiding in the mountains. "We have checked all along the border, and there hasn't been any incursion or military operation inside Iraqi territory," he told Reuters. "Iraq will not tolerate any military incursion. There is always room for dialogue," he said.

All of those statements stemmed from a report by The Associated Press earlier in the day. The AP, quoting two senior Turkish security officials, said that several thousand Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase PKK terrorists. The security officials said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks, The AP also noted. 

Turkish troops stage hot pursuit operations
But there are other reports, cunfirming the news. As Turkish, Iraqi and US officials denied the existence of a military operation, reliable military sources speaking to Today's Zaman on condition of anonymity stated that there has been a hot pursuit operation taking place inside northern Iraq with a limited number of around only 10 Turkish soldiers to pursue PKK terrorists.

Turkey's extraordinary military buildup on the border with northern Iraq has led to speculation that the military had entered northern Iraq in large numbers.

But reliable military sources stated that Turkish soldiers have on and off entered into a limited area in northern Iraq mainly controlled by the PKK to pursue terrorists escaping from Turkey. This has nothing to do with an invasion with a large number of troops, they added. Meanwhile, reliable military sources confirmed reports that the PKK has downed a US-made Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter in Turkey's inventory in northern Iraq.

Is this all skirmishing or a serious operation?

Army launches large-scale operation in Southeast
There is a report that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have started the most extensive military operation of the past few years to track down Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists in the Southeast.

The operation's start comes after seven soldiers lost their lives in a PKK attack in Tunceli on Monday and a military helicopter became the target of terrorist fire. Thousands of troops have been deployed along the Iraqi border in order to prevent terrorists who hide in northern Iraq from leaking into Turkey. All permission for leave in the region has been revoked for army members, while 50,000 troops now occupy a region surrounding the Gabar, Cudi and Bakok mountains and the River Cehennem (Hell) in this extensive operation underway across 11 cities. Helicopters and fighter jets are assisting the troops from the air. 

On June 6, two days after a daytime hand grenade attack on a gendarmerie station in Tunceli that killed seven, three F-16s from a jet base in Diyarbakir bombarded the region heavily while tanks deployed along the border took point-blank shots at army targets. 

The army has been on high alert recently since the terrorists have increased their attacks. Operations against members of the terrorist group have become more frequent and the army has been massing armored combat vehicles in the border towns of Sirnak and Cizre. In related developments, Interior Minister Osman Günes, speaking Wednesday, stated that Turkey is a powerful state and said the terrorists and their supporters don't have the strength to disintegrate or divide Turkey. Aegean Navy Commander Gen. Sükrü Sariisik also made a speech, expressing his belief that the country's terrorism problem would soon be resolved, so long as Turkey ensures, unity, togetherness and integrity in the country. 

Presidential election process has come to a deadlock
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted the presidential election process has ended up in a deadlock because of the decision of the Constitutional Court. 

Appearing live on 'Kanal 24' channel, Erdogan repeated his criticism regarding the decision of the Constitutional Court on presidential election, saying "if any party cannot gather 367 votes you won't be able to elect a president."

The supreme court ruled that it will take 367 to be present in Parliament to even start the election of the president instead of 184 deputies. Because of the court decision the election rounds for the new president were cancelled and the Parliament failed to elect Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as head of state.

Answering a question on who should elect the next president, Erdogan said "we want the people to elect it. This is the wish of the people and the Motherland Party, as well." 

When asked, what would happen if the parliament cannot elect the next president, Erdogan replied "this would take us to a new general election."

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Stable economic growth lures foreign investors

Turkey's stable economic growth over the last half decade is luring foreign investors. Foreign direct investment, which was US$20 billion last year, stood at 12 billion Euro in the first three months of 2007 alone, reported. 
Istanbul is the leading hub of established companies in Turkey, followed by Antalya.
While Izmir, Mugla and Ankara are within the top five, cities like Kocaeli, Bursa, Konya and Kayseri are at the bottom of the list. Since 1954, 8618 companies have been established in Istanbul and 1833 in Antalya. Only 188 companies were established in Kocaeli, one of Turkey's biggest industrial cities. 
The Turkish Treasury Foreign Capital General Directorate has released data on foreign direct investment for January and February. During this period, 47 per cent of the realized cash capital inflow came from EU countries and 43 per cent came from the US.
During the same period, 38 companies were established with registered capital over 500,000 Euro. Out of these companies, 12 are in the production industry, eight in construction and seven in wholesale and retail trade.
The Treasury has foreseen investments of 1.05 billion Euro from 23 projects with investment incentive certificates issued during February 2007. The number of certified investment projects has climbed to 32, with resulting investments of 2.6 billion Euro in the first two months of 2007. There was no indication whether the trend was expected to continue in the light of recent political turmoil in the country.

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Turkey-Africa foreign trade bridge starts in Istanbul 

Turkish State Minister, Kursad Tuzmen, said that Turkey aims to further develop trade relations with African countries. This was announced at a second meeting of Turkey-Africa Foreign Trade Bridge Programme in Istanbul. The programme aims to strengthen the relations between Turkey and African countries and facilitate the access of Turkish businessmen to alternative raw materials in the region, reported.
The Fourth foreign affairs bridge programme started at Lutfi Kirdar International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Istanbul under the organization of Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON). TUSKON brought together some 2600 businessmen from Turkey and 43 countries from Africa for Turkey-Africa Foreign Trade Bridge. The businessmen are hoping to make deals the value of which would reach approximately US$500 million. The programme with Africa's businessmen is second in a row and Tuzmen launched the programme with meetings with various African ministers. The summit aims to strengthen the relations between the businessmen of Turkey and firms in Africa and facilitate the access of Turkish businessmen to alternative raw materials in the region.
At the meeting, Tuzmen said that the trade volume between Turkey and African countries has increased 120 per cent to US$12 billion in 2006 from US$5.4 billion in 2003. Turkey aims at increasing its trade volume with African countries up to US$30 billion by 2010, he said. "Turkish contractors undertook significant projects in the African continent worth of US$2.4 billion in 2006. We target to increase this amount to 15 billion Euro in the next three years," Tuzmen noted. Tuzmen pointed out that they also expect Turkish investments in African countries such as Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and Ethiopia to rise to four billion Euro in the coming years.

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