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    Ertugrul Ozkok: Why I kept silent on Barzani after PKK's Turkey attack

    Hürriyet Haber
    15.10.2008 - 11:06 | Son Güncelleme:

    Recently I have been asked the same question on a number of occasions. People ask me why I did not criticize Massoud Barzani, the leader of regional administration in northern Iraq, who I am reminded, I had targeted harshly after the "Daglica attack".

    I also encounter the same question in the messages sent by our readers.


    Yes, I wrote very harsh columns directly targeting Barzani in those days.


    I even proposed Turkish jets fly low level operations over the city of Erbil in northern Iraq.


    I still stand behind my words.


    So, why I don't write in the same harsh tone now?


    Because some important developments have happened in the time that has elapsed since then.


    I believe that both Barzani and Iraqi President Talabani have both perceived just how "serious" and problematic the issue is for Turkey.


    * * *


    I received a report from Tolga Tanis in Hurriyet daily's New York bureau.


    The report, which as dated August 29 and prepared by Carol Migdalovitz, who worked at the departments of the U.S. Secretariat, as well as Defense and Trade, was to be submitted to the United States Congress.


    The details of the report are outlined as follows:


    1) The foreign policy approach of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP): Turkey used to isolate itself within the region but now, since the AKP came to power, it started to establish close relations with its neighbors. Professor Ahmet Davutoglu, consultant to the president and prime Minister, is the most influential name in foreign policy within the party. He proposed a multi-direction strategic vision for Turkey in his book titled, "Strategic Deepness" published in 2001. The book was not translated into English.


    2) Iraq: Turkey improves its relations both with the central government and the regional government in northern Iraq. The country reached out to Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the regional administration in northern Iraq through Davutoglu.


    3) Israel-Syria Talks: Turkey takes the role as mediator between two countries as the result of Davutoglu's efforts. The U.S. administration is pleased Turkey has taken this role on the issue.


    4) Syria: The AKP leaders have improved personal relations with Syria's leader Bashar Esad. They pay mutual visits to each other’s country. Moreover, the investments of Turkish companies in Syria have reached $400 million.


    5) Hamas: Davutoglu initially met with the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, in Damascus. Then, Meshaal visited Ankara in February 2006 and met with the leaders of the AKP. Both the United States and European Union are joined in their efforts to have Turkey recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization.


    6) Iran: U.S. President George W. Bush's administration has warned Turkey to cut its close ties with Iran. This can be sited as the reason for the failure to reach an agreement on a petrol deal during the recent visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to Turkey.


    7) European Union: The EU has stalled negotiations on some chapters in Turkey’s accession due to the Cyprus issue. Turkey is often criticized for its lack of a full-time EU negotiator in its membership talks since the position is currently held by Ali Babacan, who is both foreign minister and chief negotiator for the EU.


    8) Cyprus: The talks resumed between the two sides of the island. The AKP also backed Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. But both the former, and the newly appointed, chief of the Turkish General Staff declared that the Turkish army would not leave the island.


    9) Armenia: The U.S. wants the two countries to strengthen their ties. The United States demands Armenia recognize Turkey’s borders and stop demanding land and asks Turkey to accept disputed incidents of the past.


    10) Incirlik Base: Hugely significant as it symbolizes the U.S.-Turkey strategic partnership in place since 1950.


    * * *

    I read the report carefully.


    In fact, the report says nothing new.


    In other words, all the information could be obtained by open intelligence.


    But a very important "foreign policy shift" happens when all these points are combined.


    I find this policy generally successful, even if I don't agree with some of its practices, such as the invitation extended to Hamas.


    This is why there has also been a shift in my approach to Davutoglu, even though I criticize him for his politics.


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