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Mehmet Ali Birand - English

TSK should not be allowed to erode

16 Haziran 2009
However, the TSK is not able to adapt itself to current conditions.

Those who want the power of the TSK to decrease are asking for trouble. Its members, by themselves, are wearing down this important institution. The weird part here is that despite them knowing how to read the public, few of us will be satisfied by statements released to counter the growing "negative impressions."

For example, a statement by the General Staff regarding the below-mentioned document said that it was believed that this document was not prepared in any of its units.

In the following paragraph, it was underscored that in case this document was to be sent to a prosecution office, it would be investigated for criminal deeds. So how come one already believes that this document was not prepared in any unit of the General Staff?

I do not only base this article on a top story published by daily Taraf last week. But Taraf’s news is very important. Especially if it turns out that the initiated investigation is right, the situation will become more dramatic.

And if the "campaign to wear down the AKP and Fethullah Gülen" mentioned in the document dated April 2009 turns out to be an operation by the TSK, it will be the last straw. For now, let the investigation take its course. After the results come out, we will be better able to speculate. What I want to touch on is the erosion in the TSK’s image, even if the latest development is not confirmed. I am talking about a constant decreasing of its prestige.

I have no doubt that some spend "special" effort to provide for this erosion of prestige. Records of telephone conversations that are believed to belong to retired and active-duty officers and are leaked to the Internet are an indication of this. But do those who work out appendices and published documents associated with a coup tradition bear no fault at all?

We cannot ignore this fact.

Coup diaries from 2003 to 2004, statements and attitudes constantly interfering with politics during the period between 2005 and 2007 and, finally, acts reflected in public through indictments within the frame of the Ergenekon investigation.

Even if part of the document was false, exaggerated or a campaign to wear out the TSK, the rest should do.

Today’s image of the TSK is one that reflects an organization, including active-duty or retired personnel, constantly preparing a conspiracy against all civil governments that are not in unison with its own ideology.

Part of society likes, applauds and supports this attitude.

But a bigger part shows growing reaction to this attitude. In Turkey, the institutionalization of democracy and "workshops" for development of this or similar things are viewed negatively.

The TSK needs to make a decision.

Either it needs to accept that this country will be led by democracy and digest the vote results or the General Staff will have to change its current course and understanding.

Gen. Başbuğ in his last year

The period of coups has come to an end. More precisely, trying to make a coup would be a suicide attempt for this country, a civil war. Even if there was a big revolt, a threat of a true split, the military should not consider interfering.

If at this point, we share the same view, we might argue that the time has long come for the General Staff to take action.

I believe, or like to believe, that Gen. Başbuğ knows very well the danger of this course.

I also know that the TSK cannot change directions this easily or give up its 80-year-old habits. And I also do not believe that a chief of general staff would be able to sail this giant ship into calm waters all by himself. Change will take time.

But some need to take action in order to change things. It will, for sure, take many years, but it needs to start. If no precautions are taken and Turkey does not adapt to changing world conditions, we might encounter unexpected and unacceptable events.

Let us not forget that the TSK is important for all of us. But if we lay responsibility on the TSK besides its duty, then this institution will derail. I hope Gen. Başbuğ, who I believe shares at least part of my views in this article and has 13 more months to go until he retires, will make such a start, which would maybe mean a great sacrifice on his part.
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Europe views AKP differently and waits

12 Haziran 2009
One point that drew our attention during our meetings was the perception of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP. I remember the period between 2003 and 2004 when the AKP used to be held in high esteem. It was perceived as a godsend and much supported. Erdoğan’s every word was listened to carefully and had broad repercussions. Even more importantly, his every word was believed, and not questioned. The AKP was thought of as a step into a new age.

Important changes have taken place since then. Especially in 2008, the party’s image was damaged. Religion was given prominence and the impression arose that Turkey’s secular system was about to change. The party in power and its leader hit bottom.

This time, I noticed that the AKP’s situation was a bit better compared to last year, but still not like it was in 2003 and 2004. There are still suspicion and concerns. More importantly, people no longer believe Erdoğan will keep his promises.

Since promises regarding the European Union remain in the air, people hesitate to believe him before seeing concrete steps. The excitement about Erdoğan and Gül’s visit to Brussels in the new year, and about the appointment of Egemen Bağış as head negotiator, dispersed when no follow-up took place. Nobody wants to hear nonsense anymore. Opposition interference, internal political conditions or justifications for Merkel and Sarkozy’s statements are no good either.

All eyes are turned to Erdoğan.

People wonder when he will take action as the sole selector.

Let me tell the truth: As long as Ankara does not take action, Europe will pretend to complain, but will instead be very pleased, for it serves their purpose.

As long as Turkey is delayed, the more France and Germany are at ease. You see, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Some people, including me, are in search of something.

In negotiations between Turkey and the EU, the Cyprus issue is at a deadlock.

Remember, as long as Turkey does not open its ports to Cypriot ships, the eight chapters will be pending. That’s not all. As long as ports are closed, negotiations between Turkey and the EU will be put on hold. No matter which angle you look at it from, as long as there is no progress on the Cyprus issue, it is hard to achieve progress in negotiations.

Either there will be a solution on the island, which seems very difficult, or Turkey will open its ports, which also seems to be an impossible option in view of the politics.

So what will happen? Will we look at each other and wait for a miracle? Or can we overcome this obstacle by providing development in other areas instead of Cyprus? This is the much-debated subject for which we are looking for a solution.

Many people have the Halki Theological Seminary in mind.

If the seminary on Heybeliada is reopened, will the European Union give up on the condition of Turkey having to open its ports to Cypriot ships and give a green light for negotiation over the eight chapters? Can we thus get rid of the frustration in relations? Can we accelerate negotiations?

During my visit to Brussels and Berlin, I asked this question to everyone who was authorized in relations between Turkey and the European Union.

I asked Olli RehnÉ I asked Sweden’s undersecretary of the foreign ministryÉ I asked SteinmeierÉ I asked those who lead negotiations in the name of Turkey.

I almost always received the same response. I could outline it as follows:

"The opening of the seminary is inevitable. Turkey cannot leave the seminary on hold as it does now. But the opening of the seminary does not replace a solution to the Cyprus issue or the opening of Turkish ports to Cypriot ships. It won’t provide for a continuation of negotiations over the eight chapters. The opening of the seminary would change the Turkish image a lot, it would be a boost for which Turkey would receive much applause, and that would decrease pressure on Turkey, but would not provide for the eight chapters."

This is directed toward those who are involved in this discussionÉ

Let’s solve the seminary issue, but Cyprus is much more important.

As long as ports are not opened for Cypriot ships, negotiations regarding the eight topics will not start. I believe that the difference in opinion between Erdal Şafak and I stems from this.
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Steinmeier: We don’t understand the CHP

11 Haziran 2009
If Steinmeier wins elections in three days for his party, he will sit in the leader’s seat. He will sit in the seat of legends like Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder.

Actually the Social Democrats have obtained the worst result in the history of the European Parliament. They have decayed in the real sense of the word. Greens and Liberals lost votes. Despite that, Steinmeier, in the meeting with our group, exhibited an image of a "self-confident, single-minded" politician who is determined to save the Social Democrats from the cavity they’ve fallen into.

The main part of the speech was based on relations between Turkey and Europe, but upon one question, when he stated his view on the CHP, hell broke loose and headlines shifted to the CHP. I’ll let you know what he said but first I’d like to reflect on his words regarding relations between Europe and Germany.

Steinmeier, on the contrary, is not as pessimistic as we are.

When he said, "We knew that relations between Turkey and the EU would be difficult. And Turkey knew that this would hardly progress. The EU’s expansion is a difficult subject in itself. But no matter what, even if open-ended, the target of negotiations is a full membership. And this door will be opened by reform steps to be taken by Turkey." There was no sign of pessimism in his attitude. It was clearly what we wanted to hear all along.

He underlined that a Social Democratic administration will carry into Europe a Turkey that has fulfilled its obligations. I paid attention and noticed that Steinmeier does not adopt his coalition partner Merkel’s attitude of a privileged partnership. When answering persistent questions he watched out for Chancellor Merkel and only said, "Other parties may have differing views but up until now, nobody was able to tell me what a privileged partnership means." Whereas he might have very well persisted on the subject of a privileged partnership to besmear Merkel in the eyes of the Turkish-origin voter and solicit their votes for the Social Democrats.

He did not. He was content with saying only, "Our dictionary does not include such a thing." Turks who live in Germany and have become German citizens play an important role in German elections. Let’s not forget that 2.6 million Turks live in Germany. Out of those, 900,000 are German citizens. And 650,000 have the right to vote. In German elections a few thousand votes are of great importance. A few thousand votes can influence the elections.

Within such a context, Turkish origin votes to a great extent go to the Social Democrats, then the Liberals and Greens, rather than to Merkel’s party. And that’s the right thing.

Difficulties understanding the CHP

By the end of our conversation, when it came to how Hasan Cemal views the CHP’s politics, I encountered a response I did not expect to be so brisk. Steinmeier is a man who chooses his words carefully. Despite that, when he started talking about the CHP’s European politics he was very openhearted. He started out by saying, "The CHP within the past six years comes before us with different approaches and we are having difficulties understanding them," and briefly continued saying, "What I especially don’t understand is that Turkey does not put its weight on joining Europe. And not only is its attitude toward the European Union but its attitude toward some reforms is also hard to understand. Its attitude toward internal reforms and especially developments regarding penalty acts [he means 301] and opposition to freedom, I don’t understand at all."

Steinmeier stated that the difference of opinion between the CHP and other Social Democrat parties stems from "misunderstandings" and he accused the CHP of not being a true Social Democrat party. And he drew attention to the fact that because of these adverse politics there is a distance between the party and other Social Democrats. Then he said, "That is why we keep a close watch on the CHP in Socialist International. We are watching them." The removal of the CHP from Socialist International is out of the question. But it is obvious that there is an important sense of unease floating around. The perception among Social Democrats that CHP spokespersons oppose the EU and prevent freedom and other reforms is becoming more widespread.

Let’s put it this way, CHP leader Deniz Baykal was much talked about in Berlin.
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’Let’s set Ankara criteria in motion’

10 Haziran 2009
To tell the truth, I have been greatly disappointed. I often talked to Olli Rehn for long hours and each time learned something new. He chooses his words and gets the message across. This time he either had no message to give or memorized what has been said because what we heard was neither interesting nor new. At some point we even asked ourselves, "Why are we here?" Olli Rehn must have taken a lesson from being misunderstood, that’s why he was playing acrobatics with words. One approach of his I liked the most was his reminder to the prime minister.

Erdoğan recently said that he might change the name "Copenhagen criteria to Ankara criteria" and continue on his path. Rehn referred to that and said that they are waiting for the prime minister to set in motion these Ankara criteria, which Erdoğan requests for his people. I have not heard anything new. Again appeals are made, "Let’s get moving." And questions like, "This year started out fast then what happened?" Speculations as to whether or not the AK Party (AKP) lost its enthusiasm.

Olli Rehn especially drew attention that nothing had changed from their point of view, no matter what France and Germany say. "Our target is to realize Turkey’s full membership in the European Union." Let me say this much, a "privileged partnership" as put forth by France and Germany, has not yet reached the EU Commission. The Commission does not attach any importance to these calls. The only expectation is Ankara getting into motion.

- Keeping promised words and starting the reform process.

- Accelerating steps toward a solution in Cyprus.

- Finding a formula to reopen the seminary.

- Overcoming limitations of freedom of thought and those applied on the press.

By the way, I have news for those involved: the European Commission will allocate a broad chapter on limitations of Freedom of the Press in the Progress Report, which is to be published in Fall.

In Olli Rehn’s recent contacts and meetings with Washington and the Vatican, Turkey was also one subject. He talked about the importance attached to Turkey’s full membership by the Obama administration and couldn’t help but say, "But the final decision is not to be made by Obama but the 27 European countries," all of a sudden reminding everyone of not trusting Obama too much.

My impression is that Olli Rehn is waiting for a green light from Ankara and as long as this green light is not in sight discomfort will increase.

If I were to summarize, there was nothing new Rehn could inform us about.

Questions he asked us and answers he received, especially those regarding Hasan Cemal, were far more interesting. In the coming days I will more broadly tell you about my Brussels impressions. By the time you read these lines we will be at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I will tell you about how the pulse beats in Berlin in my article tomorrow.

EU gets ready for ’rudeness’

I chewed on my nails not to ask this question but finally could not resist and said, "Which abbreviation do you use for the party in power?" First he didn’t understand When Diego Mellado, representative from the EU Commission's Ankara office, became aware of this tricky question, he came flying across and whispered in his ear, "Erdoğan says those who don’t say AK Party are rude," saving his boss. To tell the truth, I did not intend to put Rehn in a bad position of course, but I wondered much.

Rehn gave a exsample from his country and told us about how these constraints create adverse reactions in public, no matter how much reaction is shown. During these conversations I realized that throughout all Progress Reports the abbreviation AKP was used consistently when referring to the ruling party. And this will continue until the fall. You see, the EU formally prepares for rudeness! Of course, if until then someone does not whisper something in somebody’s ear, that is. The situation in the European Parliament was different though. It drew my attention that Liberal Group leader Watson never said AKP. On the contrary he said Ak Party. Associate parliamentarians understood the severity of the situation quickly. Nevertheless, don’t be fooled by Watson. There is no doubt that when the parliament resumes you’ll hear the AKP abbreviation a lot. This speech by the prime minister was not intimidating, but on the contrary it caused parties to solidify in opposition even further.
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Turkish front in EP weak, but...

9 Haziran 2009

First, we had a meeting with Olli Rehn and today we will see the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Steinmeier. To tell the truth, both of these people will soon depart their positions. Rehn will move on to another seat in the new commission and leave the expansion department.

Steinmeier might drop out of the coalition after the elections in September. But both will remain in a crucial position from Turkey’s viewpoint, and finding out their opinions about the new situation will be very informative.

The new scenario

We will discuss in length the results of the European Parliament later. I’ll confine myself to only reflecting on some pre-identifications. If we were to make a pre-evaluation of the general elections we’d encounter the following:

w Social Democrats, the so-called "Turkish front" who support Turkey’s full membership, lost. The Liberals did not obtain as good a result as expected. The most successful ones are the Greens.

w On the contrary, mainly right-wing parties won. Fanatics like the conservatives, nationalists and racists increased their seats. The European people showed that in the economic crisis they preferred conservative parties rather than left-wing parties.

w In general, the "expansion period" took a jab. People don’t want the EU to expand further. Turkey’s situation will indirectly get a little more difficult. But nevertheless the "Turkish front" is still strong enough to protect and watch over Turkey in the parliament. Our lives will get a little more difficult but friends of Turkey will support as necessary.

Let’s see if these results will turn out as expected. In the coming days I’ll continue reflecting on my Brussels impressions.

I love it when people whose actual profession is a poet, author or professor become professionals at interpreting external politics. They gather indirect information, add their general knowledge and when they have knowledge of a foreign language, they are all set. Then they talk through their hat and start sharing with everybody their anticipation in international developments.

Now the doors in front of them are all open. The more conspiracy theories produced, the more they become self-confident. Özdemir İnce’s article on June 5th in Hürriyet evoked all this in me. Of course, I would have liked to keep him out of the characterization above, but I noticed that Mr. İnce also has become one of them.

He says, "I used to write about what would happen before Mehmet Ali Talat was elected and before the Annan referendumÉ"

I felt troubled about why the Republic of Turkey does not take advantage of those far-sighted medium-like people.

Mr. İnce, in his article, draws attention to the headline in my article from April 22, "Bravo to EU for tying Cyprus" and after lowering the boom on me for writing about the EU’s brisk attitude in Cyprus, he says, "Pardon me, you only voice your opinion after everything is settled? The important thing is to see things in advance and inform people. I wrote about what will happen long before he did.

M. Ali Birand says that I don’t know a thing about external politics, underestimating me. M. Ali Birand, in his disappointment, slams the European Union which he once supported blindfoldedÉ"

There can be no mention of me despising Mr. İnce. Besides, I wouldn’t despise any opinion. Underestimation is typical for fools. But I do insist on the fact that Mr. İnce does not know a thing about external politics and his article is proof of it.

Mr. İnce sees external politics as static and as a concept with no variables. What’s worse is that he thinks supporting this project means supporting it blindfolded and all the way. I still believe that Turkey’s salvation lies neither in AKP politics nor in military intervention.

If Turkey is to become a country in which people respect democrats, liberals, the rich and basic freedoms, I believe it will only be realized through full membership in the EU.

But this belief does not prevent me from criticizing some of the EU’s nonsense politics or mistakes. I’ll support the EU project but also hold its mistakes against it.

Because Mr. İnce foresees everything and does not live in the real world but in an illusive one, he perceives everything differently. And this is of course his natural right.

If he would only write with a bit more nuance, we’d be able to take advantage of it.
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Am I rude now?

5 Haziran 2009
Sometimes he shows inappropriate behavior. I accept that we are all human and show reaction from time to time. But some reactions are very unnecessary and only hurt the person who is angry.

Erdoğan, while talking to mayors of the Belde Municipality and giving important advice in respect to municipal services, all of a sudden turned to a completely different subject. He formerly criticized the way but never was too brisk. He spit fire at those who called his party by its abbreviated name AKP.

"The abbreviated name of our party is not AKP but Ak Party. You must write it that way. If you don’t do it, it is indecent and bad mannered (!)"

GoshÉ

There is no degradation implied in saying AKP. It has never been seen that a party leader determined the party’s abbreviation and tried to make the media accept this.

Names are abbreviated by the public. They become apparent in papers, chats or TV talk shows. Some people may ascribe a different meaning to those abbreviations but a generally accepted abbreviation does not change easily. And the AKP has become AKP since the first day and members of the AK Party called themselves that until the prime minister became allergic.

And besides, papers and writers are not obligated to call it AK Party. "AK Party" is a long word. It wouldn’t fit in a headline and the abbreviation is AKP.

I don’t understand why the CHP or MHP do not take offense but the AKP does.

This week in an international conference while praising Erdoğan’s Syria politics I kept saying AKP quite oftenÉ Sooo what now?

Will I be called rude?

Our dear prime minister can be sure that with his reaction the Turkish public is certain to use the AKP abbreviation even more. Except for those who are forced to say AK Party out of fear people, will continue with the AKP nickname.

This article will be criticized by the media. And since I’m in this field as well, I’ll criticize myself. To tell the truth there is no malice but lack of attention and a boorish attitude. Two examples will make it clearer.

1. Watching TV news or reading news in some papers regarding the Air France 330 Airbus plane crash recently, you’ll immediately notice. Each news included a THY plane of the type 330 Airbus or you came across a sentence reading "an Airbus type which is also used by THY."

Why did we do that?

We did not have a ready-to-use Air France 330 type plane on hand but we wanted to show the audience what the plane looked like. However, we did not think about the negative effects for THY when we used these photos with such innocent intention.

We did not calculate that it would evoke the reader or the audience to say, "Air France or THY, just how this crashed the other will too." Without any intention and knowledge we indirectly overshadowed the image of the THY. We did not account for society not being able to distinguish between the real Air France plane crash and the exemple of a THY plane. We could not calculate that in the memory of society there would be an image created that our national airline has crashed or would crash as well.

Let’s from now on take precaution and not repeat this boorishness.

The same goes for the swine flu

2. We face the same lack of attention on TV and papers in respect to swine flu. Especially when the epidemic emerged we were all detectives. We thought that our rating and circulation would increase if we found as many cases of the sickness within Turkish borders. We cracked down on even the smallest suspicion. Even if it turned out to be a false alarm, we wrote headlines like "Swine Flu in Turkey."

We didn’t think that the world was watching us, that one tiny news in the Turkish media would be reflected in international media, without even checking if it is right or wrong, and that this would lead to cancellation of reservations.

The result: about 5,000 reservations were canceled when this news broke.

I’m not saying we should hide news.

We should report confirmed swine flu cases. We wouldn’t be able to hide it anyway. But let’s not act on anticipation. Now I got it all off my chest. In a way I confessed. From now on, at least in two channels under my control I will prevent the same mistakes from being repeated. I hope the same for my colleagues.
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Will Davutoğlu keep his EU promise?

4 Haziran 2009
We faced scenes that contradicted each other. Let’s first start with Merkel and Sarkozy.

Because reforms did not start yet, France and to some extent Germany rolled up their sleeves to slow down Turkey’s process for the EU and started preparations to bring out the project of a "Privileged Partnership." It is not known what a "Privileged Partnership" is.

Everybody has a different explanation. What’s known is that it is not a full membership; it is a struggle to keep Turkey among the EU club with a Second Class Partnership with no place in the parliament and with little money.

To tell the truth, France requests this formula. Germany is happy with it. Austria, Cyprus and Greece are applauding from behind the curtains.

As long as Turkey does not put reforms in motion, this trend steps in. Whenever it wants to take a step it is stopped and not a word is spoken.

Without underestimating Sarkozy and Merkel, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin. Meanwhile signals from the European Commission are very different. When talking to those on the commission who watch Turkey closely, I start to see things more clearly.

Brussels only talks about the economic crisis and how the Lisbon agreement will develop. Since it does not infuse politics and corporate crisis, nobody thinks about expansion. And if you add to this confusion the appointment of the commission in the fall and parliament elections, the situation becomes a little clearer.

Debate goes on as to whether who will stay on the commission and who will leave. There is also election agitation in the European Parliament. Nobody thinks about anything else. So what’s being said about Turkey?

Turkey is not on Brussel’s agenda.

And despite Sarkozy’s and Merkel’s attachments, a "privileged partnership" is not being argued about. Maybe some people carry words around as to what France and Germany want to do but there is not interest in general.

I might summarize Turkey’s position as follows:

France objects to Turkey becoming a full member in the classical sense. It does not want negotiations to cease but prolong them as long as possible. Germany too has serious doubts about Turkey’s full membership but despite that it does not want negotiations to cease. Berlin does not want to lose the Privileged Partnership ember. On the contrary, it plans to keep it alive and put it on the table if need be.

Austria behaves extremely suspicious. Contrary to general belief, Cyprus and Greece are not in favor of a ceasing of negotiations. And if they obtain what they want, then they won’t object to Ankara’s full membership.

Apart from the above, namely 22 countries support Turkey as well. They don’t want negotiations to slow down but to continue at the necessary speed. This means those who support Turkey are in the majority. No matter whom you talk to in the European Commission, you’ll receive the same response:

"É You’ll strengthen the hand of those who support you the faster you pass reforms. That is why you should listen more to recommendations of your friends and take action. É"

Negotiations continue as of now but it looks difficult to obtain any result.

So what is going to happen?

The commission is not in favor of dramatizing the situation. After all, they know that they are responsible for the Cyrus issue coming this far. The general expectation is that the commission issues a report and negotiations gain a new chance.

There is no mention of temporary suspension of negotiations. Everybody knows that such a decision would mean a closing of EU doors for Turkey and they don’t want that to happen. Of course, we closely need to watch elections in the European Parliament this week.

For, the outcome will influence negotiations with Turkey. When asking Brussels about Turkey, you’ll encounter two interesting identifications.

For one it is the impression about the AKP. According to this, the government has lost its glamour and excitement. They take it slow and don’t realize reforms or don’t want to realize them.

Erdoğan is not yet wiped out from EU books but questions regarding him increase progressively.

On the other hand Brussels is very pleased that Egemen Bağış has been appointed as head negotiator.

The number of those saying, "Finally, we found a formal Turkish authority who visits Brussels often" is fairly high. We in fact had a presence problem and Bağış eliminated it.

Of course, Bağış won’t be able to do it all by himself and the prime minister holds the key. And he does not take action for unique reasons or does not want to do so.

In this case all eyes are turned to Davutoğlu. The foreign minister has eliminated all suspicion regarding the EU issue. And his statement in the monthly KRİTER is very clear about that.

Will he be able to convince the prime minister?
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PKK the one to fear oil development

3 Haziran 2009
You might say that this is of minor importance. But then you’d be very wrong. This event contains so many different dimensions that it is difficult to calculate where it ends.

Some information:

Every day, 100,000 barrels of petroleum will be pumped from holes in two different places. This figure will reach 1 million barrels per day by 2011. The first year’s income is expected to be $2 billion, and to increase to $20 billion in four years. Of the total income, 83 percent will go to Baghdad and the remaining 17 percent will stay with the Kurdish administration, which controls the territory under which the 1 billion barrels’ worth of oil reserves lie.

So, you see, a tiny region with about 4 million people will earn a lot of money.

This development might be interpreted as follows: The Kurdish administration, for the first time, allowed a company partnered with a private company to extract petroleum from territory under its control. Until now, Iraqi petroleum was always extracted by the state.

The Kurdish administration, for the first time, exported petroleum despite the opposition of the Baghdad central government. And it signaled that it might operate larger reserves in the future.

The Kurdish administration, for the first time, showed that it would be enriched due to the big reserve on its territory and that it would draw Kurds to where they could stand on their own feet.

The Kurdish administration, for the first time, allowed a Turkish company to extract petroleum, which is very vital for it.

The Kurdish administration, for the first time, without hesitation or suspicion, wanted to export petroleum especially via Turkey.

If I were to further summarize, for the first time since the American invasion, the Kurdish administration concretely signaled the birth of an important environment of trust and cooperation.

Iraqi Kurds must have realized that Turkey would not harm them and that is why they took this step. This way, they signaled that relations with Turkey would progressively strengthen and intensify.

Now, some may falsely say, "See, those people feed the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or] PKK and we enrich them." I do not think that way. I believe the opposite. Thank God, Genel Enerji participated in this jobÉ

And thank God, Turkey, without any bad intention, allowed the use of the pipelineÉ

If anyone needs to be uncomfortable or scared about this development, it is the PKK.

The reason is simple:

The more Turkey and the Kurdish administration intensify their economic cooperation, the more the PKK will come under pressure. Neither Barzani nor Talabani would want to overlook the PKK as they notice enrichment through closeness with Turkey.

That is why I say, "Alarm bells are ringing for the PKK."

Understanding Hasan Cemal

Last weekend, Hasan Cemal wrote two articles in succession to get something off his chest Ğ or, actually, to share with us his anger at the distortion he was facing.

He was very right to be angry and offended. A short while ago, he did something others were not brave enough to do. He went to Kandil. He took on a risky job and met with PKK leader Karayılan. Then he told us about his views. The climate at the time was very important. All of a sudden, people had started to talk about a "historic opportunity" and everyone from the chief of general staff to the president and the prime minister stated that a new period had started. Hopes emerged. Speeches were held and expectations increased, but nobody knew what the PKK thought. Right then, Cemal went to Kandil and returned with interesting messages.

This chat, and the impressions Cemal brought back from northern Iraq, laid the groundwork for the start of an extremely healthy debate and a new page being turned in respect to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and the PKK’s terrorist acts. Cemal’s deed was a journalistic event, one that, had it taken place in the United States, would have been of such value that it would be a candidate for the Pulitzer Prize. It’s not just the person he talked to, but also the timing, that increased the value of this conversation.

But instead of being awarded, Cemal was treated badly.

Faced with questions like, "Hasan Cemal, why did you go to KandilÉ? What was your purpose?" this event, which should have been hailed as a journalistic success, went into directions not intended for it to go.

Some denounced Cemal as a spokesman for the PKK. Some declared him to be the prime minister’s courier. They smeared him with conspiracy charges. What a pity that even some of our well-known colleagues, politicians and even scientists joined this campaign.

The person to understand Cemal the best is probably me.

I wanted to break ground by conducting the first chat with Abdullah Öcalan. I too took on risks, and with great drive, I went to the Bekaa Valley for the sake of journalism. But when I came back, I was denounced as a traitor.

The daily Milliyet was recalled, the police followed me and I was tried and faced imprisonment of two to 15 years.

After reading Cemal, I want to call out to all the conspiracy theorists:

The number of real journalists, those who put everything up front, is progressively decreasing.

As long as these people Ğ namely people like Hasan Cemal Ğ stand upright, they will go to places like Kandil and reflect the views of those who give you goose bumps.

You may produce as many conspiracy theories as you like, but please do not touch journalists who do their work correctly. Do not do them that injustice.

One day you will look for them, but they will not be there. Then you will have to live with journalists who think like you, and rest assured, you will not find out the truth. You will have to live with what the government or sovereign power wants you to hear. Maybe as a society we deserve it, who knows?
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