Monday, August 27, 2007

Turkish army issues new warning

Turkey's powerful armed forces chief has warned that "centers of evil" are trying to undermine the secular state.
Gen. Yasar Buyukanit did not name those who were "trying to corrode the secular nature of the Turkish Republic".
His statement comes a day before MPs are expected to elect Abdullah Gül, a former Islamist, as president. His candidacy remains highly controversial.
The army sees itself as the guardian of Turkey's secularism. It has ousted four governments in the past 60 years.
This is the second warning issued by the army in recent months.
In April, it expressed its concern after Mr Gül - the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party candidate - only marginally failed to gain enough support from MPs to become president in a first round.

Abdullah Gül has pledged to respect Turkey's institutions.

The following stand-off between the AKP and secularist parties in parliament sparked a political crisis that led to early elections in July.
The AKP won those polls convincingly, and again nominated Mr. Gül, currently the foreign minister, for the post of president.
Mr. Gül - who has failed to gather enough votes in the first two rounds - is expected to be elected in the third round on Tuesday.
Turkey's military and secular establishment have voiced their opposition to Mr. Gül, a devout Muslim who, they believe, has an Islamist agenda.
Mr. Gül denies that, and has vowed to remain loyal to the country's secular constitution.

Source: BBC

Two articles of Turkish journalists today

As I don't have energy to write something today, I put below two articles related to Armenia and Greece.
It shows that at least the Zaman and TDN are maturing. Open for all kinds of views.

Time to say new things on the ‘genocide’ issue

Time to say new things on the ‘genocide’ issue, by Ömer Taspinar

The Anti Defamation League’s recent decision to acknowledge that the Armenian “massacres” of 1915 were tantamount to “genocide” has created a political storm in Turkey. Seen from Washington, such Turkish resentment is counterproductive. It only confirms the fact that Turkey needs to come to terms with its own history. When you have prominent leaders of the Turkish Jewish community writing letters to the ADL reminding them that the Turkish Jewish community’s well-being is jeopardized, this does not exactly come across as a ringing endorsement of Turkey’s democratic maturity.

What the Turkish body politic and public opinion fail to understand is that the genocide issue is already a lost battle in the West. This battle is lost partly because of Turkey’s own behavior and stern, uncompromising image. The official Turkish narrative on the question of “genocide” displays all the symptoms of an authoritarian state that has created a taboo. The education system, nationalist press and bureaucratic reflex are all symptomatic of a totalitarian way of thinking where even a slight departure from the official line creates mayhem. How else can one explain efforts to undermine academic conferences on this issue, or the disgraceful treatment of Orhan Pamuk by most of the nationalist press after he was awarded the Nobel Prize?
Read the full story here.

A deafening Turkish silence as Greece burns

Looks like Turkish pride is again a big obstacle....

For a good update visit Vassilio's blog.

A deafening Turkish silence as Greece burns
Monday, August 27, 2007

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

As nearby Greece continued yesterday to face walls of flame killing scores in the country's worst series of forest fires in history, aid from across the Aegean was largely symbolic despite a legacy of mutual assistance borne of the 1999 Turkish earthquake to which Athens was the first responder.
“Turkey is missing the chance of solidarity with Greece due to internal politics. They are all busy with the presidential elections,” said yesterday retired ambassador, Özdem Sanberk to the Turkish Daily News.

The only direct assistance and help was offered by Turkish Red Crescent to the Hellenic Red Cross, through a phone call late Saturday. Tekin Küçükali, president of the Turkish Red Crescent called his counterpart and said they were ready to extend any means of help.
Küçükali, in an interview with the TDN yesterday, said they have already sent two trucks full of tents, blankets, food and medical supplies to İpsala border gate adding “But we need a permission to enter Greece. The Hellenic Red Cross should make a call to Geneva where the international Red Crescent and Red Cross organizations headquarters is, to declare the need of international help. When this call is made our trucks will enter Greece”.
Asked why Greek institutions seem not very much willing to get help from its neighbor Küçükali replied that two countries shared even bread during World War II. After World II, the then-governor of Istanbul, Lütfi Kırdar, organized a campaign of assistance of food and other aid to help Greece during widespread famine. “I would condemn them if they are suspicious of our help” said Küçükali.

Scene was different in 1999

But the case in 1999 was far from this. After the deadly earthquakes in both countries, not only the governments but the nongovernmental organizations of the two countries moved to help before any officials appeals were even made. This solidarity resulted in a rapprochement between two countries and introduced a new term to the lexicon of international relations: “seismic diplomacy”.

Things are different now today: What Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and probable-president-to-be Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül have done so far has been limited to written messages of sorrow and condolences to their counterparts, Kostas Karamanlis and Dora Bakoyannis. But their messages were lack any offers of help.

Greece should demand help
The Foreign Ministry officials who were trying to explain this unmoving stance of the government to the TDN yesterday said that the Greek government did only ask the European Union countries help. “We cannot offer any help since there is not any call from Athens for an international help, they have to make a call,” said foreign ministry officials.
But Israel, which is not a member of 27-member union, did not neglect Greece and has dispatched three helicopters to fight with fires.

Some explained the lack of robust action with the fact that Turkey has its hands full on many fronts of its own. “We are dealing with the disastrous flood in Samsun, the earthquake in Bingöl and the four forest fires in Turkey now. We don't have enough equipment to send Greece,” argued a source in the Prime Ministry Crisis Management Center sources contacted yesterday by the TDN.

“The priority should of course be internal fires and flood but Turkey cannot stand still in the face of the fires in its neighbor” said Sanberk, whose last diplomatic post was as Turkey's ambassador the United Kingdom..

Where are the NGO's?

Not only the government and official institutions but the nongovernmental organizations also performed badly in helping to Turkey's neighbor in its fight against the fires. Even the well-respected Turkish search and rescue team (AKUT) didn't make any preparations, said the General Secretary Saydun Gökşin to the TDN.
Gökşin told that they talked to the Greece Special Forces and Hellenic Red Cross but they did not ask for a rescue team.
“Greece only requests aircrafts and helicopters and we can only go there if there is a request. And furthermore we need to go there by a military plane just like in the 1999 earthquake” noted Gökşin. He added, however, that AKUT has rescue teams at the ready in Bursa and Marmaris experienced in fighting forest fires and that Turkey has nearly 50 firefighting aircrafts and helicopters.
"We have teams," Gökşin said."And we can mobilize them."