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ODP elects Kozanoglu as new leader

ODP elects Kozanoglu as new leader  » Ali Ates: A young politician who can't abandon Turkey  » One dead, several injured in Pulumur quake  » Kars people to open case for the closure of Armenian nuclear plant  » Visit to our page
Turkish Daily News Online...DOMESTIC NEWS     28 January 2003

  • ODP elects Kozanoglu as new leader
  • Ali Ates: A young politician who can't abandon Turkey
  • One dead, several injured in Pulumur quake
  • Kars people to open case for the closure of Armenian nuclear plant

    ODP elects Kozanoglu as new leader

    Leftist Freedom and Democracy Party (ODP) on Monday elected Hayri Kozanoglu as its new leader.

    ODP's former chairman Ufuk Uras resigned after the 2002 elections.

    The party received 0.3 percent of votes in the November elections and Uras said that he was responsible for party's defeat.

    Uras didn't run for leadership of the party at the recent convention.

    Newly-elected leader of ODP, Kozanoglu, is a graduate of Middle East Technical University. He worked as an academician at Marmara University between 1981-1988. Later, he served as the Research Coordinator and Information Manager of Turk Eximbank. After 1992, he was giving lectures at the Marmara University.

    He is the author of a book entitled, "Yuppies, Princes and our Generation."

    Former ODP Chairman Uras during his speech at Monday's convention in Ankara said that he will not resign from the party.

    "I believe that my efforts will contribute to the ideological and organization renaissance of the party," Uras stated.

    Uras noted that ODP failed to become successful in the elections as it tried to carry out an election campaign with limited staff but also underlined that their defeat may pave the way for the party to self-criticize and for reconstruction.

    Ankara- Turkish Daily News

    Ali Ates: A young politician who can't abandon Turkey

  • Ali Ates is one person who can say to themselves 'Come on, use your freedom, mind and knowledge for happiness of the people in your own country.' Turkish industrialist and businessman Ishak Alaton was effective in his thought
  • 'By switching to its own currency unit, the EU wants to create a power against the US. Europe wants Turkey to act with it'
  • 'From the Europeans' point of view, Turkey is on the US' track, it is economically independent and can't think of going against the orders of the IMF and the World Bank'

  • Beril Aktas

    Ali Ates' life story starts in the Belgium port of Anverst as a manager of a small and cute restaurant and continues in politics in Kahramanmaras. Ates was born in 1962 in a beet field in Kahramanmaras while his father was working as a foreman. He lived in Kahramanmaras' Elbistan district until 18 and went to France in 1980 to study at university. He worked in Paris as a taxi driver and ice-cream seller but couldn't study at university because of economic conditions. Ates, who moved to Brussels, Belgium in 1989, has two daughters named Yagmur and Damla.

    He made a friend when he was abroad and this friendship still continues. All his friends know his admiration for Yilmaz Guney, who is a world-known Turkish actor. While he is talking, he still feels the same way when he first met him. "I first met Guney at Cannes Film Festival when he came to Europe. It was 1980, Guney was there. Later on our relations continued and we worked together for three months in the production of the movie 'Wall'. When he died in 1984, I was doing my military service in Turkey. We still have relations with his wife Fatos Guney, his daughter and son."

    Ates, who has been thinking radical since his childhood, wanted to get involved in radical politics in Belgium. He shared the views of Turkish socialists such as Ibrahim Kaypakkaya and Deniz Gezmis (despite not knowing them). He became a member of the Belgian Socialist Party. Now he is in Turkey but still works for the Belgian Socialist Party. He thinks that the Turkish left and European left are different, particularly the European left which has a liberal structure.

    "I used to host artists coming from Turkey. One of them was Mahsuni Serif, who recently died. My many friends like actor Ilyas Salman, theater artist Genco Erkal and journalist Zeynep Oral used to come to my restaurant. I used to like hosting my artist friends in my restaurant. I had a cook from Turkey's Hatay district. We introduced Turkish cuisine to Belgians," he says. Ates, who has managed this place where he hosted his friends for 6-7 years, received a plaque from the Turkish Ambassador to Belgium Yildirim Keskin in 1993 (or 1994) due to his contributions to the promotion of Turkey and Turkish cuisine.

    He is one person who can say to themselves "Come on, use your freedom, mind and knowledge for happiness of the people in your own country." Turkish industrialist and businessman Ishak Alaton was effective in his thoughts. At the same time, the Social Democrat People's Party (SHP) Chairman Murat Karayalcin and Deputy Secretary General Yasar Seyman were also effective.

    "I have been living abroad for 22 years. We have friends; Fatma Pehlivan and Meryem Kacar who are working in the Belgian parliament. Cem Ozdemir and Ozan Ceyhun working in the German parliament. Nebahat Albayrak and Fadime Ozgun are in the Dutch parliament. They preferred to become citizens of these countries and make politics there. I don't know what's the reason but I love my country. I cannot abandon this country. It has problems. Sometimes we come together with politicians or businessmen and talk. Ishak Alaton, whom I love very much and democrat, used to say 'Many things will change if 50 percent of those, who make politics in Europe, go to Turkey.' Now we are here. I hope we will contribute to this country."

    Ates is a person who doesn't want to stand behind life but live it. How does such a person make politics? Naturally, he wants to make politics as much as he wants. When he takes a role on the political stage, he wants to fulfill all the requirements of it.

    Ates knows that he doesn't owe anyone in politics. His eyes are not closed in his political life. In politics, he wants to share what he sees. He wants to keep in the background of the party. He says, "I am not very sure of myself in anything for which I didn't work. Working in the background makes me very happy. My goal in politics was not district chairmanship."

    TDN: Would you shortly talk about your works in the Belgian Socialist Party?

    ATES: We have been working for Turks to get involved in Belgian political life. Turkish parliamentarian Fatma Pehlivan is the chair of the committee. Problems of foreigners are considered during monthly meetings and we try to solve these problems. The Belgian government and Cultural Ministry has a budget for the integration of foreigners. We try to provide opportunities to associations, foundations and federations.

    TDN: What are problems of Turks living in Belgium?

    ATES: Language is a major problem. There are people who have been living in Belgium for 30 years but cannot speak French or Dutch. Another problem is unemployment. Particularly, our women have big problems. There are Turkish women who don't go out. They are living as they are in their village in Turkey. I think their relatives in Turkey are more contemporary but they are still the same. We try to organize various activities for them to become adapted to Belgian culture. On the other hand, racist parties don't want foreigners to live there.

    TDN: How does Belgium evaluate Turkey's full membership of the EU and Cyprus problem?

    ATES: Europe generally wants Turkey but sees it as a problematic family. Turkey has health, human rights, education and judicial problems, they want Turkey's membership after solving these problem. They know that Turkey will damage them if it becomes a member without solving these problems. Belgians think "of course not without you!" They don't want to cast out Turkey. Shortly, they say "solve your problems and let's get together".

    They think like Greece concerning the Cyprus problem. Especially, in the Belgian Socialist Party, the view "Cyprus belongs to Cypriots" is dominant. They want Cypriots to solve their own problem. They don't want Turkey and Greece to interfere. Of course there are people who think different. There are few people supporting Turkey.

    TDN: What does Belgium predict about Turkey's attitude in a possible Iraq war?

    ATES: By switching to its own currency unit, the EU wants to create a power against the U.S.. Europe wants Turkey to act with it. From the Europeans' point of view, Turkey is on the U.S.' track, it is economically independent and cannot think of going against the orders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Additionally, it is an impression that the U.S. can attack Iraq when it wants and Turkey can act with it. Social democrats won the elections in Germany because they are against war. I can say that Europeans are generally against the war. Particularly, politicians have different views. They can support war for their own benefits. I think that administrators of countries should be against this war. No war is right, problems can be solved without wars.

    TDN: How would you evaluate the results of elections in Turkey?

    ATES: There was a need for the left alliance in Turkey. Until the last day, we continued to create the alliance under the roof of the Democratic People's party (DEHAP). This could not be realized because of some simple reasons. If it could, it would be very nice. We noticed this need after elections. The Republican People's Party (CHP) received 19 percent of votes and this is the lowest vote in the history of the Turkish left. This is not a success but failure. If we had run in elections as the left alliance, we could of received more votes than CHP. Now there is single-party term in Turkey. I am not pessimistic. Turkey experienced February 28, I think everyone took a lesson from this. For example, despite the Ramadan, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) offered tea and cake to its guests who came to the party center. I think this is a message for foreign countries. Female deputies of AK Party are not head scarved. Turkish voters chose AK Party as a reaction against the failure of the government. Those, who did not vote for AK Party, voted for CHP unwillingly. We will see their politics in the coming days but I don't think that there will be important problems.

    TDN: What do you think about the results of elections from the point of Kahramanmaras?

    ATES: The location of social democrats is very different in Kahramanmaras. AK Party received 56 percent of votes in the last elections. Second party CHP received 10 percent of votes. So, eight deputies were chosen from the AK Party and one from CHP. Some 40,000 of 600,000 voters voted for social democrats and 12,000 for HADEP. The others voted for AK Party and other small parties. Kahramanmaras has a conservative structure. The world changes. The city's economy and industry develop. I think that people will develop, too. Our people will change with good administration and promotion. Therefore, it should be focused on cultural activities. There are Kurds, Armenians and Turkomans in Kahramanmaras. In 1978 our city experienced very sad events the "Maras massacre". I don't think that these events will occur again.

    TDN: What are the problems of your region?

    ATES: Unemployment and poverty are major problems as everywhere in Turkey. There are infrastructure problems in different towns. Kumlu-Iraq road could not be constructed. If the Gaziantep and Sanliurfa roads are connected, the east will become 180 kilometers closer to the West. This saves time. I think Maras' problems will be solved when Turkey's problems are solved. At first, the income distribution problem should be solved. The poverty limit is TL 1 billion today but there are people working for TL 180 million. I want a solution for the problems of unemployed people.

    TDN: Before the elections, Alevi citizens said, "No vote for parties which did not include our demands in party programs." Which parties did Alevi citizens vote for in Kahramanmaras?

    ATES: More than 90 percent Alevis voted for social democrats, the CHP for years. For some reason or other, the CHP leader tried to cast out the Alevis. They were not given duties in the administration but Alevis are intellectual people. Some 21 percent of our public did not vote. I guess most of them were Alevis. I think 19 percent voted for CHP to prevent an AK Party government. Not only professor Izzettin Onder but other Alevi leaders went to parties and conveyed their demands. They wanted to become candidates but were refused. Professor Dogan said, "I won't vote for CHP", I think this was also effective. For example, an Alevi cannot be first on the party list in Maras. There has never been two, three or four Alevi deputies, only one. Of course this affects the Alevis' votes. They complain "why aren't we allowed" and don't vote.

    Istanbul - Turkish Daily News

    One dead, several injured in Pulumur quake

    One person died and several were reported injured early on Monday when an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale struck Pulumur, a sparsely populated area in Eastern Turkey, the state-run Anatolian news agency said.

    Esma Gulizar Yildirim (66) died after her home collapsed in the village of Saglamtas, near Pulumur, local official Ali Ada said. At least six people were reported injured after jumping out of windows in panic.

    Several buildings were damaged by the tremor and aftershocks were felt in several major cities of the region.

    Housing and Public Works Minister Zeki Ergezen flew to Tunceli on Monday.

    Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu told Anatolian bad weather conditions were hampering rescue efforts.

    Meanwhile, neighboring city Erzurum Mayor Osman Derya Kadioglu told the Anatolia news agency that a 28-member search and rescue team was sent to Pulumur.

    Tunceli province, about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) east of the capital Ankara, is a mountainous area and not heavily populated.

    "There are 45 villages in Pulumur. We have managed to reach nearly all them," he said.

    Pulumur Mayor Mesut Coskun said residents were too afraid to return to damaged homes and asked for tents.

    "Despite the cold, no one can return home. We urgently need tents," Coskun told Anatolia. The quake was followed by three mild aftershocks.

    The Turkish Red Crescent sent tents and other equipment to the region, Anatolian said.

    Meanwhile, Chamber of Engineers Adana Branch Chairman Melih Baki said on Monday that the strong tremor in Tunceli's Pulumur province is the result of an active process that has been valid for the last two months on the East Anatolia fault-line and aftershocks should be expected.

    Most of Turkey lies on the active North Anatolian fault. In 1999, two major earthquakes struck Western Turkey, killing some 18,000 people.

    A quake measuring 6.2 killed 97 people in Pulumur in 1967, according to Anatolia. More than 650 people were killed when a 6.8 quake struck nearby Erzincan in 1992.

    Ankara- Turkish Daily News

    Kars people to open case for the closure of Armenian nuclear plant

    Mayor of Turkey's Kars province announced on Monday that Kars municipality will open an international case for the closure of Armenia's Metsamor Nuclear Plant claiming that it casts danger for the region which is on the fault line.

    Mayor Naif Alibeyoglu, speaking to Cihan news agency (CHA) said if their attempts fail they will make a protest march for the closure of the nuclear plant.

    After the statements of an academician from Ferrara University on the dangers of the plant who visited the region last week, Kars municipality and council decided to open a case for the closure of the plant.

    Alibeyoglu said Turkish and Armenian people will face a big danger in the case of a possible earthquake, because of this outdated plant, that was established in the 1970s.

    Alibeyoglu stated they will apply to the International Atomic Energy Agency and to the International Court of Human Rights and added, "We are waiting a positive result, because we will apply to these institutions together with nongovernmental organizations."

    "The Turkish government should start an initiative for the closure of the plant. Both Turkish and Armenian people should be aware of the this danger," said Alibeyoglu and warned that a Rapid Action Plan for this case was not sufficient for a possible danger, and, "It should be improved as soon as possible."

    Ankara- Turkish Daily News

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