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From the papers

From the papers » Commentaries
Turkish Daily News Online, Turkish Press Scanner Section, April 4 1997

4 April 1997, Copyright ©
Turkish Daily News
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From the papers

Ankara scenarios

From an April 3 article by Sabah's Cengiz Candar:

Let us assume that this wave of escalating tension will pull down from power the Welfare Party (RP) and its partner Tansu Ciller by using "Judas" figures such as Yalim Erez. What would that lead to? Either a chaotic political situation which would add to the tension, or a "national unity government" prepared by the "crisis production centers" in Turkey. Since that is not the people's choice, such a government would not be "national" except in name. And since it would be "imposed" it would not be reflecting any social consensus. Therefore, it would have no legitimacy in the eyes of the people. How can such a government solve Turkey's problems?

Considering the political experiences of the past and the tendencies of the Turkish people, one could say that the RP or, if it happened to be banned, another party representing the RP grassroots, would emerge victorious from the next general election. It is possible to change the "political photo" in Ankara by using force. But it is not possible to change the country's dynamics. Move your eyes away from the "hysterical" climate in Ankara and look at the whole country and try to follow the world's agenda. Think how compatible it is with "patriotism" that Turkey is being made to lose time and opportunities. Nein, mein Herr!

From an April 3 article by Milliyet's Sami Kohen:

Many German politicians, including Dr. Anke Fuchs, one of the leaders of the German Social Democrat Party, are highly upset by the xenophobic reactions foreigners living in Germany are suffering from. They condemn that phenomenon. But this is not enough. And Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel has not helped by declaring, "Well, we cannot put a policeman at the door of every foreigner." Naturally guards will not be assigned to the homes of each and every Turk in Germany. What the German officials should -- and can -- do is take the arson attacks more seriously. They must show they are adopting a resolute stance against these. This would act as a deterrent. And then due measures would be taken and the culprits would be punished severely. Are Chancellor Kohl and the state officials acting in this manner? No, sir! We are losing time in the Southeast

From an April 3 article by Sabah's Mehmet Ali Birand:

In the Southeast life has returned to normal to a certain extent. The state has gained control of the situation though it may have used controversial methods. But the problem remains unsolved despite the efforts of the security forces. The "illness" continues though the patient's fever has been brought down by administering a significant amount of drugs. It is dubious that the government's latest economic and social measures package will provide adequate "therapy." We all know about the diagnosis and the causes of the illness but the method of therapy is yet to be clarified. Until now, we have contented ourselves with security measures when these should have been accompanied by social, cultural and political steps. There are certain stirrings in the economic area but these are too weak. Now is the time to introduce a comprehensive plan. With such a move we can cover significant ground. Call it the "Southeast problem" or the "Kurdish problem," the "problem" at hand will not disappear. Let us take the initiative, do something about it. Let us not wait for the next bloody attack to be staged by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).Economic scenarios

From an April 3 article by Hurriyet's Prof. Salih Neftci:

The 1997 budget deficit is likely to be roughly the same size as the 1996 deficit. The foreign trade deficit, on the other hand, is likely to be somewhat bigger than in 1996. Under the circumstances, the officials concerned can be expected to disclose the foreign trade figures always with a delay due to "technical reasons." Meanwhile, the balance sheets of companies show a relative improvement and some of the banks have become more "liquid." To sum up, the deterioration of the macroeconomic balances has lost momentum. In 1997, inflation may rise at a higher pace than predicted but it would not "jump." For the time being, neither the Turkish private sector nor international organizations seem perturbed by the way foreign trade figures are progressing. Are the international organizations satisfied with Turkish officials' statements along the lines of, "Since the country earns some $10 billion a year from the 'suitcase trade' nothing bad would happen (due to the expansion of the foreign trade deficit)?"

Meanwhile, Turkey is faced with a bottleneck in its efforts to borrow fresh funds from abroad. Treasury bonds, put up for sale abroad from time to time, are bought mostly by ethnic Turks. Since the Japanese stay away from the Turkish market, the Treasury's Eurobond offerings are relatively small-scale. This bottleneck may eventually adversely affect the Turkish Central Bank's foreign exchange reserves. In such a case the government would have to choose between two alternatives. Either the reserves would decline to dangerous levels and the government would let the market plunge into turmoil, or the government would seek an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, probably in September. That would be an agreement entailing structural reforms including measures to trim down the budget deficit and the trade deficit.

Crisis at security department

YENIYUZYIL said Aladdin Yuksel, dismissed as security director general by Interior Minister Meral Aksener, is not leaving this post on the grounds that security directors can be replaced only with a government decree which has presidential approval. Meanwhile, Hakkari Governor Kemal Celik, appointed as Yuksel's successor in an acting capacity, has arrived in Ankara to take over the post. RADIKAL said, "Country governed by 'acting' officials." This is because the coalition partners cannot agree on the choice of persons to be appointed to key bureaucratic posts on a "full tenure" basis.

The inside story of MGK meeting

MILLIYET said that as commanders were issuing warnings to Welfare Party (RP) leader and Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan at the National Security Council's (MGK) March 31 meeting, the most significant warning came from Gendarmerie Commander Teoman Koman who said, "It would be wrong for the Welfare Party to go beyond its 'legitimate party' identity. Such a thing would not be permitted anyway." According to HURRIYET, Motherland Party (ANAP) leader Mesut Yilmaz said they were trying to find a middle path so that implementation of the MGK decisions would not create uneasiness. He said, "If you used these issues for fighting you might perhaps push Turkey into a civil war." YENIYUZYIL said Chief of Staff Ismail Hakki Karadayi had an unscheduled meeting with the force commanders on Wednesday with the participation of some other high-ranking officers to assess the latest situation. They debated the argument that there was an attempt to wear out the army through media reports which said that the chain of command in the army did not function fully. The also discussed the argument that a certain mood was being created "as if the army was going to stage a coup" to relay "different messages" to the general public. During the meeting it was stated that there was an attempt "to erode the army's prestige by creating a certain climate aimed at rendering the National Security Council decisions questionable". The military reportedly also discussed the hazards of certain politicians making statements such as, "This government cannot be downed with tanks." HURRIYET said True Path Party (DYP) leader Tansu Ciller asked RP Deputy Chairman Aydin Menderes to help her persuade Erbakan to implement the MGK decisions.

Susurluk report

YENIYUZYIL said that the parliamentary Susurluk Commission's report had sadly fallen short of expectations. The commission acknowledged the existence of "gangs" but said that individual politicians, rather than the "state," had links with the gangs and it did not name these politicians. CUMHURIYET said the report boiled down to, "Mafia infiltrates the government." The government has protected Tansu Ciller and other DYP figures, very obviously, by exerting pressure on the commission. According to the report, there are crimes but no criminals. RADIKAL quoted the report as saying, "Persons who, according to the state's security reports had relations with the mafia, have been appointed to important posts. Some of them have been even given ministerial posts." Meanwhile, the confidential "prosecutor's report" on Susurluk reached the conclusion that the "Susurluk gang" was on its way to stage an assassination when it met with a road accident on Nov. 3, 1996. It noted that Mehmet Agar, then interior minister, had helped Abdullah Catli evade the law though he knew about Catli's true identity. HURRIYET said the prosecutor's report said DYP deputies Agar and Sedat Bucak should be tried for forming a gang to commit crimes, a charge which entails prison sentences in the 11- to 18-year range. SABAH said the charges would entail five-year sentences. Erbakan has sent the prosecutor's report to Parliament to initiate a process which could result in Agar and Bucak being stripped of their legislative immunity. A HURRIYET headline said, "Was Us killed?" Ilgin-Konya prosecutor has claimed during an interview with the TEMPO magazine that Gonca Us, one of the persons traveling with Catli, had not died in the Susurluk accident. The prosecutor stated that she survived but was killed later because she knew too much.

Bilgic says his life is in danger

DEMOKRASI said that, Kahraman Bilgic, the key witness in the so-called "Yuksekova-Hakkari state gang" case, sent a letter to the Diyarbakir State Security Court prosecutor, complaining that his life was in danger in Midyat prison and pledging to make further revelations if measures are taken to ensure his security.

Telephone tapping document

HURRIYET published "the top secret TELSIM telecommunications company document which indicates cellular phones are being tapped" despite denials issued by the communications minister and the interior minister. The document explains the technical preparations made for this purpose.

Turkey receives a warning about Syria

YENIYUZYIL quoted Uri Lubrani, a high-ranking Israeli terrorism expert, as saying the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was lying low these days because Damascus does not want it to weaken itself by attracting excessive attention. This is a Syrian tactic. Meanwhile, PKK members are trained at "camouflaged" camps in Lebanon. Lubrani believes that Iran is still the center of international fundamentalist terror. If Iranian sympathizers in Turkey happened to infiltrate Turkish government they would aim to create turmoil in the country.

The shocking claim

ZAMAN referred to an Elephteros Tipos report which quoted Turkish Chief of General Staff Karadayi as saying that some DYP deputies would resign, causing the RP-DYP government to collapse in two weeks' time, making way for a new government which would not include the RP. He allegedly said that to the French ambassador in Ankara and the Greek ambassador to Turkey reportedly sent Athens information about that.

Kohl is the culprit

SABAH quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Can Akbel as saying that Chancellor Helmut Kohl's statements indirectly incited the recent wave of arson attacks on Turks living in Germany. Kohl had underlined the "cultural and religious differences" between Europe and Turkey.


DEMOKRASI said that Mehmet Sirin Onen, one of the inmates who had escaped from Iskenderun prison, was recaptured and tortured to death. Authorities had announced that Onen was one of those killed during a clash with security forces in the Hassa region on March 14 after the prison break. His wife Halime Oren said that they exhumed the body and saw it bore marks of brutal torture -- his ears, for example, had been cut off -- but there was no sign of a bullet wound.

Two faces of politics

RADIKAL said Bartin Deputy Koksal Toptan had deserted the DYP after accusing DYP leader Tansu Ciller of committing irregularities in the awarding of state projects and of concluding a protocol with the RP with the aim of covering up these irregularities. On April 2 he returned to the party, praising Ciller as, "My energetic leader." CUMHURIYET, meanwhile, said that after Yalim Erez and Yildirim Aktuna, another member of the DYP wing of the government, State Minister Salim Ensarioglu, spoke out against Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's policies saying, "Education is being victimized by politics. Terrorism cannot be abated by using religion." At the latest MGK meeting, Erbakan had reportedly suggested "intensified religious education" as a weapon to counter terrorism.

Exciting compromise in Parliament

HURRIYET said that 50 deputies from seven parties issued a communique urging everybody to "join hands for the sake of Turkey." They said, in brief, "Turkey is the target of a multipronged subversive activity. The country is losing blood and time. A great responsibility falls on our shoulders. We must listen to the voice of the people." For the first time a communique issued by the "dialogue group" bears the signature of an RP deputy along with deputies from the DYP, ANAP, the DSP, the CHP, the BBP and the DTP. The RP deputy in question is Saban Karatas, who is known for his closeness to RP Deputy Chairman Aydin Menderes.


TDN's Editorial by Ilnur Cevik

The smell of a grand cover-up on Susurluk
  • Refah represented a party that would strive for a 'clean society in Turkey' yet the Susurluk flop may force some people to think twice

    The parliamentary commission which was charged with investigating the Susurluk scandal and was supposed to reveal the links between politicians, some police officials and the underworld, has come up with a 3,000-page report which amounts to a stark naked cover-up...

    For some time, the nation felt this was the great opportunity for corruption, irregularities and other crooked dealings of some state officials and politicians to be revealed, and believed those responsible would be brought to justice.

    In the early stages of the investigation the commission was forceful and hard-hitting. It investigated practically everyone and pushed for facts. Yet, as time went by, there seemed to be a slowing down of the activities of the commission and, in the end, it started avoiding real issues and listening to some key figures...

    Everyone was talking about this great opportunity, when the Parliament would show everyone it means business and has the capability of investigating such delicate issues. Now those expectations will be replaced by anger and indignation. In the days to come we will read articles crying foul play and disgrace.

    Now that the legislative body has failed to turn up something meaningful about the Susurluk case, all eyes will be turned to the judiciary for hope. People will feel that at least the prosecutors and judges will act more independently than the politicians to get to the bottom of the scandal.

    Susurluk was not only a case which revealed the links between some state officials, politicians and the mafia. It was also supposed to show how state officials had set up a hit squad to kill the "opponents" of the state.

    There were claims that all this was done with the approval of Mehmet Agar, who was then the interior minister. The report talked about the call by the prosecutor for the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of Agar and another deputy, Sedat Bucak, so they could be tried for their suspected roles in the scandal, and this was the only incriminating section for the politicians... Yet, the members of the commission which belonged to the government wing of the coalition government refused to mention Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller in the report. At the time, Ciller was Agar's prime minister.

    This means that if there is a cover-up it was done with the participation and approval of the pro-Islamist Welfare Party which won the trust of many voters as a "God-fearing" and "clean" party. This would not only create public disapproval but would also tarnish the good image of Refah.

    Susurluk offered a grand opportunity to allow Turkey to rid itself of corruption, mystery murders and irregularities. It seems the politicians simply could not rise to the occasion. So nothing has changed in Turkey since the 1980s. At that time we were the only country in the world which could not prosecute its state officials because of the massive Lockheed scandal, and today we are showing that nothing has changed...