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Turkey losing patience with EU September 12, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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Exasperated Turkey slammed its fist on the table this weekend saying Europe is dragging its feet on EU entry talks, while the 27-nation bloc sought to boost ties with a nation whose worldwide weight is on the rise.

After sitting down for talks on Saturday with the 27-nation bloc’s foreign affairs chiefs, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said: “I expressed our dissatisfaction with the speed of the negotiations, I expressed it clearly.”

His expression of irritation, moreover, came on the eve of a referendum on highly-divisive constitutional changes that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) says will strengthen Turkey’s bid for admission into the EU.

// But instead of jump-starting the sluggish entry talks that kicked off in 2005, his counterparts offered to develop a “strategic dialogue” on key world issues that would be independent of talks on joining the bloc.

“Turkey will never accept any replacement or any alternative to the accession process”, Davutoglu added after meeting his EU counterparts.

The European offer however underlines Ankara’s growing role on the world scene as it helps mediate such thorny issues as the row over Iran’s nuclear program or peace in the Middle East.

“Turkey today has more influence in the world than all the EU member states on an individual basis,” said Finland’s Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb.

And some fear the serious slowdown in its rapprochement with Europe might cause it to drift east, to the Middle East and Asia.

“It is in the interest of us Europeans that Turkey remain oriented towards the west and that there be no change of course,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

But his Turkish counterpart told journalists that “without a momentum in negotiations it’s difficult to develop such a strategic vision.”

That was why at the meeting “I said this speed is not satisfactory at all.”

“There should be a new approach, meaning to open more chapters, not to have any linkage or political barriers which are not related to the negotiation process, including the Cyprus question or others,” he said.

Since the kickoff of entry talks in 2005, movement has been sluggish, due to the deadlock over Cyprus, the slow pace of reforms in Turkey and, more fundamentally, because France and Germany are wary of seeing the Muslim-majority nation of 75 million join the bloc.

Of the 35 chapters conditioning entry, 18 currently are blocked by the EU, Cyprus and France.

Only three chapters could potentially be opened, failing which the process faces deadlock, a situation which could trigger a real crisis between Turkey and the EU.

Paris and Berlin meanwhile favour a “privileged partnership” with Turkey.

But Ankara can bank on the support of other EU states in its bid to join.

Britain, which in July publicly expressed its opposition to France and Germany on the question, this weekend reiterated its willingness to see progress on the entry talks.

“It would be good to see those talks speed up,” said Foreign Secretary William Hague, as with Turkey inside the EU “there is a very powerful combination to have.”

“It’s very important to show some momentum on this and the UK will be trying to make sure that that happens before the end of the year,” he said.

Sweden’s Carl Bildt took an even stronger tack.

“There are certain countries which have fairly deep reservations, but even those countries I think recognise more than they perhaps did in the past, the strategic importance of Turkey to the EU.”

“We need to look at ways to overcome” the blockage, he added. “It is of course fundamentally unacceptable that countries for their own political reasons block the accession process.”

“It’s certainly an issue that we will return to.”

Lopez faces lawsuit seeking damages after canceling KKTC gig July 26, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, KKTC, Turkey.
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Jennifer Lopez is facing a hefty lawsuit seeking compensation for pulling out of a contract in which she agreed to stage a concert to promote a newly built $220 million hotel in Turkish Cyprus. She backed out of the deal after a storm of angry protests from Greek Cypriots.

The hotel’s CEO, Murat Bozoğlu, announced on Saturday that the hotel plans to seek compensation, claiming that Lopez’s withdrawal is politically motivated and that the resort had suffered damage as a result of her decision, which, he said, was a violation of a contract the Latino star signed with the hotel. Bozoğlu did not say how much the organizers would ask for, but media reports speculated on Sunday that it could be as high as $100 million.

Reports that Lopez would perform at a luxury hotel in Turkish Cyprus on her 41st birthday later this month triggered an online campaign by Greek Cypriots that pushed for the event’s cancellation. Following weeks of controversy, Lopez announced she had canceled her planned participation. “Jennifer Lopez would never knowingly support any state, country, institution or regime that was associated with any form of human rights abuse,” a statement on the singer’s website said last week.

Accompanied by his lawyers at a news conference in İstanbul, Bozoğlu said: “We signed a 16-page professional agreement with Lopez, and we specified all the conditions one by one under which she could cancel her participation. Lopez’s pretexts don’t fit any of these reasons. This being the case, we have the right to seek compensation for damages from her,” Bozoğlu said.

Saying that Lopez had severely damaged the image of the hotel, Bozoğlu added that they will fully exhaust their options using the best lawyers from New York to protect their rights. The hotel director also said his company will send an official notice to the singer in the hope that Lopez will reconsider her decision. “If we don’t get an answer, we will start the legal proceedings,” Bozoğlu said.

Gruevski to speak at Istanbul Summit June 28, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Human rights abuses.
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Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is set to address Wednesday the Summit of Heads of State and Government within the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP), media reports from Istanbul.

PM Gruevski, accompanied by Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, is to hold several bilateral meetings at the summit sidelines.

In the framework of the meeting, FM Milososki addressed Tuesday the Regional Cooperation Council and SEECP member-states.

İstanbul’s character as 2010 European capital under spotlight February 15, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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A fireworks display kicks off İstanbul’s year as a European Capital  of Culture. Çoncerns have been raised over whether Europeans want to  embrace all of Turkey, including its Islamic heritage, as a part of  Europe. A fireworks display kicks off İstanbul’s year as a European Capital of Culture. Çoncerns have been raised over whether Europeans want to embrace all of Turkey, including its Islamic heritage, as a part of Europe.

Some have said that İstanbul’s designation as one of the three European Capitals of Culture this year was the result of much effort, will pave the way for expanding the city’s popularity, especially in Europe, and will change Europe’s negative views toward Turkey.

However, for others, the distinction awarded to the city has turned into an issue closely related to Orientalism, Turkey’s identity crisis and its modernization, along with concerns about the high cost of the celebrations.“It is important how İstanbul is perceived regarding its title as the European Capital of Culture. Does Europe accept İstanbul’s place in Islamic civilization or does it only approve of the modern, Westernized parts of İstanbul? From Turkey’s perspective, does Turkey present İstanbul with all its aspects including its historic importance relating to Islam or does it present İstanbul simply as a part of the European continent?” asked Yeni Şafak daily columnist Akif Emre, speaking to Sunday’s Zaman.

Following a European Union resolution in 1999 enlarging the European Capital of Culture project to include non-member countries, a group of civil society volunteers in Turkey arranged a meeting on July 7, 2000 in order to establish an “enterprise group” that would take the required steps to nominate İstanbul as a European Capital of Culture candidate.

After a long process and attempts by many civil society members, İstanbul was recommended on April 11, 2006 to be the 2010 European Capital of Culture. On Nov. 13, 2006 İstanbul was formally announced as one of three European Capitals of Culture for 2010, along with Pecs, Hungary, and Essen, Germany. One of the characteristics that the EU looks for when choosing a city as a capital of culture is its multicultural nature.

Is İstanbul multicultural?

Commenting on multiculturalism in İstanbul, Sabah daily columnist Engin Ardıç reminded readers of an unpleasant event known as the Sept. 6-7 incidents, which caused the Turkish Greek minority that had been residing in the city for centuries to leave İstanbul.

On Sept. 6-7, 1955, clashes targeting the Turkish Greeks in İstanbul along with the inattentive and indifferent attitudes of the Democrat Party (DP) government toward the violence against some of the non-Muslim minority put heavy pressure on the Greeks to leave the city where they and their families had been living for centuries.

Ardıç stated that the city had undergone a negative transformation stemming from overpopulation and migration, which resulted in the city losing the unique characteristics that created its identity.

“The city residents betrayed [the Turkish Greeks] before they left İstanbul,” said Ardıç, accusing the people of not standing up against the forced migration and unfair treatment directed against non-Muslim residents of İstanbul.

Akif Emre also raised similar objections against the city’s claims to multiculturalism and related this characteristic to the Islamic culture the city had, which he believes allowed minorities to live in peace for centuries: “When İstanbul started to lose its Islamic components, which offered a comfortable and peaceful atmosphere to its non-Muslim residents, the typical characteristics of the city began to disappear.”

From another critical perspective, Zaman columnist Ali Bulaç highlights the Orientalist view toward the centuries-old city and interpreted the distinction as a product of this outlook.

The veteran sociologist underlined that the approach some Western media organs adopted is a degrading and Orientalist way of seeing İstanbul.

“Şekip Avdagiç, head of the European Capital of Culture Agency, stated that İstanbul is a non-European city that has become, for once and for all, a European Capital of Culture,” said Bulaç. Explaining the Orientalist view with an example, Bulaç pointed to the Switzerland-based Basler Zeitung, which stated, “İstanbul has always wanted to be a part of Europe,” when commenting on the city’s becoming a European Capital of Culture.

However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan highlighted in his speech during the ceremony to mark the launch of İstanbul’s year as a European Capital of Culture that “İstanbul has always been European and will remain so.”

Bulaç rejected Erdoğan’s remarks and claimed that the Islamic characteristics of İstanbul, which dominated the “soul” of the city after the conquest, are what made İstanbul the pearl of the world and what gave the city the multiculturalism it had.

He also drew attention to the concerts organized by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality to celebrate the distinction awarded to the city, for which the municipality has spent TL 8.5 million. Bulaç said that for him, the money was wasted and could have instead been used to support the city’s infrastructure, which he maintains is not ready for a major earthquake

Agreeing with Bulaç, the leader of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal, also expressed his criticism of the extreme expenditures for the capital of culture celebrations in a speech at his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

Proponents have argued that the activities to be staged throughout the course of 2010 will help Turkish and European artisans to come together and know each other better. Furthermore, the cultural festivities in İstanbul will put an end to debates over whether İstanbul belongs to Europe.

When asked whether İstanbul needs to advertise to gain an international reputation, Zeynep Göğüş, culture envoy for the İstanbul European Capital of Culture campaign and a well-known journalist, told Sunday’s Zaman that the need for İstanbul to advertise is clear; however, she urged officials to take steps to eliminate infrastructural shortcomings of the city.

“One of the biggest troubles in the city is the traffic problem. Taxi service is not satisfactory,” said Göğüş, and pointed to Turkey’s lack of experience in the arena of international advertising.

Göğüş brought up another factor which she thinks is a hurdle to the successful advertisement of the country, claiming: “Due to our Ottoman past we are so arrogant that we cannot see branding as a necessity. Our past pushes us to think that others must learn of us rather than the truth that we have to explain our city and country to others.” Explaining the contribution this designation will make to Turkey’s EU bid — providing the European public opportunities to take a closer look at İstanbul and Turkey in general — Göğüş emphasized that İstanbul will be on the agenda of Europe much more in 2010.

The Fener Greek Patriarchate Universal or National? October 24, 2009

Posted by Yilan in Turkey.
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fener patrikhanesi

The basic mistake made when there is an unsolved problem or when a problem is left hanging, is going around the problem itself without trying to go down its essence and thus to the real answers. To put in other words the basic mistake is the inability to focus on the efforts to find the “right answers” to the “right questions”.

One can find the traces of such mistakes during the process of finding a solution to the problems arising from The Fener Greek Patriarchate.

These problems primarily arise from ecumenical claims and the demand that Turkey should recognize this claim.

In the text of the Lausanne Treaty, which is regarded as the fundamental treaty of the Turkish Republic, there is no mention of the Patriarchate. In Lausanne, political and administrative privileges given to the Patriarchate during the Ottoman period were lifted and it was agreed that it only had spiritual authority. Other than that it is not stated in the text whether it has any authority outside the Turkish borders or any ecumenic title..

Ecumenism is a problem which essentially concerns “church laws and tradition”. Therefore it is out of the question that the Turkish Republic accepts the ecumenism of the Fener Greek Patriarchate.

What is more is that the claims of ecumenism “theologically” have a grave moral flaw:

“Vatican, 1600 years later, had abandoned its principles of faith regarding that the churches except those in Rome, Antakya and Alexandria, which are defined in the Iznik Clerical Council in 325, could not be regarded as ecumenic.

Thus, the claim that the Church in Istanbul was founded by St. Andrew, the first apostle of Jesus Christ, was accepted behind the scenes by Vatican, yet under the guarantee of “the infallibility of the Pope”.

However, until November 30th 2008 it was claimed that the Fener Greek Patriarchate was promoted to a patriarchate from episcopacy due to the “a unified church a unified state” motto of the Eastern Roman Empire and for political reasons and that the St. Andrew myth was made up to justify this on religious grounds. However it was a widely known fact that there is no document indicating that St. Andrew had come to the city of Istanbul, since the city was not even founded in year 30.”

Moreover it a weird contradiction that the Fener Greek Patriarchate is defined and asserted as ecumenic only by those involved in power struggle in the region and not by Orthodox countries and communities. Barthelomeos is consistently defined as the leader of 300 million Orthodox. However it is quite interesting that those who grant him the title “Ecumenic” are not Orthodox themselves.”

Apart from the theological discussions, issues related to the contemporary practices and demands of the Patriarchate also need to be unraveled:

Is the Fener Greek Patriarchate a national church or is it universal (ecumenic)?

If it is so, than why are the main churches subordinate to the Patriarchate are led only by those of Greek origin? Why is the Fener Greek Patriarch, Jerusalem Patriarch, French Metropolitan Bishop etc. are only chosen from among those of Greek origin?

What’s more; “Why is the Fener Greek Patriarch is regarded as a national church even above the church in Greece?”

Why do some Greek Metropolitan Bishops force into the churches of those from different nationalities (eg. Bulgarian Church) and hold a sermon in Greek language?

And other questions follow:

Will only those of Greek origin benefit from the Heybeliada Clergy School, great efforts of which were shown in the establishment and which has become a source of political pressure on Turkey? Will the Fener Greek Patriarchate, which has authority over only 300 thousand people among 300 million Orthodox congregation, consider the Orthodox congregation, which is dispersed to a vast area and which is out of its control, as non-existent at the expense of creating duality in the Orthodox world?

It does not seem possible for the Fener Greek Patriarchate – with its single-sided demands and fait accompli – to reach a common solution neither with the Orthodox world nor with Turkey unless reliable and logical answers are found to these questions.