Turkey Watch

Watching the Turkish nail being put into Europian coffin.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Turkey condemned for not respecting freedom of expression

From EurActiv

In Short:

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for having prosecuted an editor and the owner of a Turkish daily for pro-Kurdish content.

Brief News:

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has sentenced Turkey to pay compensations to the editor and the owner of a Turkish daily Özgür Bakiş, for violation of freedom of expression.

Cihan Çapan and Halis Dogan were prosecuted in January 2000, for disseminating separatist propaganda. The two men were fined, and the editor sentenced to imprisonment. They were charged for having written and published pro-Kurdish articles, namely on the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, his trial, the PKK's armed struggle and the process of democratisation in Turkey.

The Court considered that even if the articles contained "some particularly acerbic passages and thus painted an extremely negative picture of the Turkis state, they did not exhort the use of violence or incite armed resistance or rebellion" and could, therefore, not justify the interference with Mr Çapan's and Dogan's right to freedom of expression.

In the context of the Orhan Pamuk-case, where Turkey finally decided to drop charges against the best-selling author Orhan Pamuk for insulting Turkish identity (see EurActiv 23 January 2006), the Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn, said that "it is clear for me that Turkey needs to fill properly the loopholes of the current penal code, which leave too much room for abusive and restrictive interpretations limiting freedom of expression".

Turkey: author accused of turning people against military

From Pravda

A court in Istanbul ruled that Perihan Magden's article amounted to "heavy criticism conveyed within the scope of freedom of expression" and did not constitute a crime.

Magden was among a string of writers and journalists to stand trial for expressing opinions, despite pressure from the EU to scrap repressive laws and improve freedoms.

She is the second person to be acquitted in recent months. In November, a court acquitted Internet journalist Rahmi Yildirim of charges of insulting the military, the AP reports.

In her column, published in the weekly Yeni Aktuel magazine in December, Magden defended conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan who was sentenced to a record four-year term in a military prison for disobedience after he refused to wear his military uniform. She argued that Turkey needed to establish a civilian service as an alternative to compulsory military conscription.

One soldier killed in landmine explosion in southeastern Turkey

From People's Daily Online

One Turkish soldier was killed and two others injured on Thursday when a landmine planted by Kurdish rebels exploded in the southeastern province of Bingol.

The explosion occurred during an operation of Turkish security forces in the mountainous area of Genc town in Bingol, the governor's office said in a statement.

The injured were immediately taken to a nearby hospital and they were in stable condition, the statement added.

The outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) has launched an armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in the mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey since 1984, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Analysis: Turkey eyes nuclear energy

From Monsters and Critics

TEL AVIV, Israel (UPI) -- Despite a recent visit to Turkey by Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the country`s plans to add nuclear power are still in their earliest stages, IAEA officials said.

Turkey is aiming to build three nuclear power plants over the next decade, though no locations have been announced and no licenses have been issued. The country also lacks a nuclear regulatory agency, which it must establish as separate from the licensing authority before any project can move forward.

During his early July visit to Turkey, ElBaradei told Turkish officials that 'extensive and rigorous planning is essential, with `cradle-to-grave` considerations ranging from up-front financing and licensing all the way through decommissioning and the future disposition of spent fuel and waste,' an IAEA spokesman said.

'The general situation is this: The IAEA is never in a position to endorse or (prevent) a country`s launch into nuclear power,' the spokesman, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to go on the record with the media, told United Press International.

'We only have an advisory role.'

To that end, the agency can conduct feasibility studies for the area earmarked for a nuclear plant. 'If the area is flooded by monsoon rains, for instance, we might suggest that (building a nuclear plant there) is not the best idea,' the spokesman said.

'Once a country decides on its own to (venture into) nuclear power, the IAEA has an optional service to help the countries build a nuclear safety regime, including seismic studies done according to the latest standards,' he said.

'So far, almost all countries have taken advantage of this service,' and Turkish officials have signaled their interest as well.

Although no sites for nuclear power plants have yet been named officially, the IAEA spokesman said one site at Sinop in northern Turkey was a likely contender. Locals and environmentalists oppose building a plant there.

An earlier proposal for a site in southeastern Turkey was shelved in 2000 because it sat on a seismic fault line, and Greenpeace activists protested Turkish plans to build a nuclear power plant there as early as 1999.

An official from the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency told UPI that he could not elaborate much on Turkey`s nuclear plans, and Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources officials did not immediately return telephone calls.

Earlier this year, as the country`s nuclear aspirations picked up steam, TurkishPress.com collected a cross-section of reactions among Turkish businessmen and experts.

'Except for Finland, no Western countries have established nuclear power plants since 1978,' the report quoted Middle East Technical University chemistry professor Inci Gokmen as saying.

'Nuclear plants contain extremely complicated technologies. Also, Turkey will have to import fuel for those power plants ... we should benefit from domestic and renewable energy sources instead,' Gokmen said.

However, the chairman of Turkey`s Ankara Chamber of Industry came out in favor of the nuclear plans.

'Those who oppose the establishment of nuclear power plants in Turkey should not forget that there have already been plants (established) in neighboring countries ... nuclear power plants in Turkey will create a great atmosphere for investments,' the report quoted Zafer Caglayan as saying.

Part of the push for nuclear comes from Turkey`s growing energy consumption and lack of natural resources. As Turkey makes plans for nuclear energy, it is also angling to become one of the world`s major oil and gas corridors.

The country already boasts several pipelines, including part of the recently inaugurated Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil conduit, the second-longest in the world.

BTC brings Caspian Sea oil to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, where it goes onward to Europe and possibly the United States in the future. Turkey plays an important role by providing the West with an alternate energy source, but can`t use the vast amounts of oil pumped across the country to provide its own citizens with electricity.

Terror Strikes Blow to Tourism in Southeastern Turkey

From Zaman

The escalating terror activities in southeastern Turkey’s have had an adverse impact on the economy of the region.

The southeastern city of Mardin is most severely affected by the recent terror events.

The cradle of many ancient cultures, Mardin was a popular tourist destination prior to the recent events in Diyarbakir and Kiziltepe with just 25,000 visitors, down from 400,000 in 2005, losing a significant portion of the region’s income from tourism.

Mardin Governor Mehmet Kiliclar reported that although no terror activities have been reported in Mardin, the whole region is considered to be dangerous.

Therefore, Mardin is also perceived to be under threat. A number of shops in the city have virtully closed t reservations have been canceled Kiliclar said.

He also held the media responsible for loss of tourism revenues.

Tourists are able to wander safely and freely in the city center until late at night Kiliclar said, adding that locals are friendly and hospitable.

Mardin Mayor Metin Pamukcu also informed that group tours to the city were canceled after the recent incidents in the region.

In fact, Mardin is one of the safest cities in the region, Pamukcu claimed. He cautioned the media not to exaggerate the events.

Sanliurfa is another regional city suffering economic losses due to the recent terror events, and there has been a considerable decrease in the number of tourists visiting the “City of Prophets,” famous for its Balikli Golu (Fish Lake).

Sanliurfa Trade and Industry Chamber Chairman Ismail Demirkol also complained about damage caused to the local economy.

Demirkol said: “Unfortunately, all cities in the region are assumed to be dangerous for tourists.

Gaziantep Trade and Industry Chamber Chairman Mehmet Aslan said that even though the city of Gaziantep has been least effected by terror events in the region because of its geographical distance from actual attacks, it has seen a 30 percent decrease in the number of tourists in 2006.

Aslan continued: “Terror events effect the region as a whole. Unfortunately Gaziantep has been negatively influenced by the events because of its proximity to the region.

But, thankfully, Gaziantep is the least effected city, however, even minor problems reflect on us.”

Sunday, July 23, 2006

EU to Disclose Next Progress Report on Turkey

From Zaman

The European Union (EU) Commission has announced that its next Progress Report on Turkey is to be revealed on October 24.

In the report, the Commission is expected to focus on the Turkish government's refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot traffic.

Diplomatic sources say that the EU may propose the suspension of accession talks.

One third of the EU member states is required to back the proposal to halt the talks, while the support of at least 13 out of 25 members would be needed implement the proposal.

Last year, Turkey had signed the additional protocol of the Ankara Agreement that extended Turkey's custom union agreement to the 10 new members of European Union including Greek Cyprus.

The signing of the additional protocol had been a condition imposed by the EU prior to the opening of accession talks in October of last year.

At the time Turkey made it clear that its signing of the protocol did not extend to recognition of Greek Cyprus.

Turkey has since declined to implement the EU protocol refusing to open its ports to Greek Cyprus, without it first lifting the sanction against the Turkish Cyprus.

However, top EU officials have repeatedly warned Turkey that the failure to meet its obligations in full will affect overall progress in the negotiations.

On June 12 in Luxembourg, Turkey opened its accession talks with the EU in the area of science and research - the first of 35 policy fields that will be dealt with in the accession talks.

The Greek Cypriots had threatened to veto the beginning of Turkey's talks but were persuaded not to intervene after long hours of discussions with EU officials.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey took control of the northern part of the island in response to a Greece-backed coup which aimed to unite the island with Greece.

Peace hopes on the divided Mediterranean island had faded away in 2004 when Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly voted against the Annan peace plan which was approved by the Turkish Cypriot side in a simultaneous referendum.

The southern Greek side of Cyprus joined the EU as representative of the whole of the island on 1 May 2004.

The TRNC, which is isolated internationally, is only recognized by Turkey.

Neither Turkey nor the TRNC recognize the Greek Cypriot Administration.