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Turkish Press Scanner

Turkish Press Scanner
Turkish Daily News Online, Turkish Press Scanner Section, Dec 13 1996

13 December, 1996, Copyright © Turkish Daily News

Turkish Press Scanner

A picture of Turkey-Europe relations taken in Strasbourg

From a Dec. 12 article by Sabah's Cengiz Candar: Here I am in Strasbourg once again. I had been here about a year ago. At that time the weather had been colder but Turkey's relations with the European Parliament and the European Union (EU) had been warmer. The EU-Turkey customs union accord was going to be ratified. A new, decisive era was opening up in Turkey-EU relations.

A year later we observe that these relations have cooled off instead of becoming more firmly institutionalized. The distance between Turkey and Europe has grown. This is a fact.

The European Parliament heard for the first time the chief editors of four leading Turkish dailies, namely, Sabah, YeniYuzyil, Hurriyet and Milliyet on the proposed amendments to the Press Law and the overall "civil liberties" issue in Turkey. We replied to questions posed by the European Parliament members.

Their stance was milder than we had expected. Even the Netherlands's Piet Dankert, Germany's Claudia Roth who heads the Greens and the deputy chairman of the Socialist group Oannis Rubatis, who had served in the past as Papandreou's spokesman, took care to formulate their questions in such a way that would not hurt the Turkish feelings.

They skirted the Southeast issue with only a brief reference though that was a topic capable of causing Turkey a lot of headaches. They kept speaking about Turkey's importance for Europe. They seemed to seek advice on how they could help Turkey.

But that does not change the fact that Turkey was on Europe's agenda in the framework of a "civil liberties problem." It was all too obvious that Turkey and Europe were not perfectly attuned to one another.

Europe is faced with a serious difficulty on the Turkey issue. The Welfare Party's (RP) attitude is a veritable puzzle for them. They know that the RP views Europe and the issue of Turkish integration into Europe, with icy coldness. They do not want to do take any steps against Turkey that would justify RP's anti-Europe or anti-EU attitude.

A greater handicap is the fact that Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller has lost credibility almost totally. She has inspired an incredible amount of mistrust. She can do all she can but even if she happened to be speaking "honestly" it would be very difficult from now on for her to be convincing.

Justice Minister Sevket Kazan and some other RP figures have made statements such as, "Turkey does not have a Europeanization problem. Turkey has been European for 600 years." But these "assurances" fail to eliminate the distance between Turkey and Europe. Being European means, in our day, acting in tandem with the European agenda, acting as part of the European institutions, and conforming to the European norms on economic and political issues.

Our being invited to Strasbourg was a sign indicating that Europe did not want to give up on Turkey. We accepted the invitation and made at the European Parliament the kind of speeches which could help institutionalize these relations.

But that would not suffice. To put the Turkey-Europe relations on the right track we need a "respectable" government. That is, a democratic and freedom-loving government which has a 21st Century-oriented strategy. Where in the world has the press ever managed to fill a government vacuum?

Agar's signature genuine

A HURRIYET headline said, "The signature is genuine, the document is fake". This was a reference to the police identification card found on mobster Abdullah Catli when he died in a traffic accident in Susurluk on Nov. 3. The document bears the signature of Mehmet Agar who was the director general of security at the time the form was filled out. Agar, who resigned as interior minister in the wake of the Susurluk incident, had at that time told journalists, "I know nothing about such a document." Experts from the Gendarmerie Command Forensic Department experts have examined the document and decided that the signature was genuine. The document itself is a fake, portraying Catli, using the Mehmet Ozbay alias, as a police expert. The fact that the fake document bears Agar's signature indicates that this is a very special document, prepared specifically for Catli in private. That document enabled Catli to get a gun licence.

Agar pushed into a tight spot

RADIKAL said that the Ankara prosecutor Nihat Artiran had formally advised the Justice Ministry to ask Parliament to lift the True Path Party (DYP) Deputy Mehmet Agar's legislative immunity so that he could be prosecuted. If that happens he will be charged with abuse of authority and face a three-year prison sentence. Whether to relay the prosecutor's demand to Parliament Speaker or not, is something to be decided by Justice Minister Sevket Kazan.

'My father killed by Agar's team'

RADIKAL interviewed Hande Birinci, the daughter of Tarik Umit, an alleged National Intelligence Organization (MIT) informer who disappeared mysteriously last year. Hande said that Mehmet Agar was director-general of security when Umit was killed. She blamed a "special team set up and directed by Agar for which Korkut Eken served as adviser." She said that she obtained that information from Mehmet Eymur, a MIT department head. Eymur reportedly told Hande that due to his closeness to Eken, Umit had started "to work for the security department as well" but "was upset because of the dirty dealings" he came to know about.

18 gangs unearthed this year

SABAH referred to the "Organized crime" report presented by the Security Department to the parliamentary committee investigating the Susurluk incident. According to the report, a total 18 gangs have been unearthed in the country since the beginning of the current year. Members of some of these gangs included policemen and soldiers. The 347 police officials implicated in these cases included six directors and scores of inspectors and chief inspectors. The gangs included a "bread oven operators gang" which was extorting money from bread makers in the Balikesir province. Another interesting gang was unearthed in Balikesir where 12 youths, all of them university students or graduates posing as the "godfather Cakici's men," were coercing businessmen not to make bids for local projects so that predetermined businessmen could be awarded these.

First official document in Topal murder

RADIKAL said the news media had finally found an official document referring to the three controversial policemen as suspects in the assassination of casino king Omer Lutfu Topal in Istanbul in July 1996. This is the document prepared when the Istanbul police team which conducted the interrogation handed over the three to a team sent by the Ankara Police Department. The document was prepared at the instigation of Istanbul security chief Kemal Yazicioglu who feared that otherwise the incident could be covered up. A television channel, KANAL D, reported on the finding. The opposition ANAP maintains that these three confessed to having killed Topal "under orders from their superior officers" and that following the interrogation they were set free and assigned by the state as guards to DYP Sanliurfa Deputy and clan leader Sedat Bucak who had specifically asked for them. Bucak was the sole survivor of the Susurluk crash.

Soldiers off to Southeast after brief training

MILLIYET said that under orders issued by the Ground Forces Command, university graduates fulfilling their mandatory military service on a "short-term basis" are also being sent to the Southeast. These are men who receive two-month basic training and must serve for six months. In the past these relatively inexperienced soldiers used to be sent specifically to military units based in other regions of the country.

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