[Via Meadia‘s man in Istanbul provides the blog with updates from Turkish and regional newspapers. Notably, this week saw Turkish officials grow closer to the Iraqi Kurdish government, causing Baghdad displeasure.]The Turkish press gave roundly positive coverage to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his recent comments that “developments in Iraq are not a good omen” (Vatan). Various newspapers then took sides on Turkey’s sheltering of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who fled to Istanbul after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued warrant for his arrest (Akşam). Massoud Barzani, President of Northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish administration, provoked intense media coverage following his Thursday talks with Hashimi, Erdoğan, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu when he referred to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as “a new Saddam” (Hürriyet). Several newspapers then reported skeptically on Maliki’s assertion that Turkey is a “hostile neighbor,” specifically questioning the Iraqi Foreign Ministry’s new characterization of Turkey as inappropriately meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs (Habertürk).On Monday, April 16, Milliyet daily newspaper reported that the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is finalizing plans to launch its “Plan B” on Cyprus, before the Greek Cypriot state assumes the EU Presidency. Turkey will cease to advocate for previous bi-zonal and federal models for Cyprus, seeking instead two independent states on the island. Fifty-seven countries from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have reportedly pledged to recognize the new Turkish Cypriot state. Attention turned to Saudi Arabia early in the week when Prime Minister Erdoğan met with King Abdullah for three hours to discuss developments in Syria (Sabah). Zaman columnist Ali H. Aslan asserted that U.S.-Turkish relations will suffer as a result of the Syrian question, arguing that the American government has not met Turkey’s expectations regarding the removal of the Assad regime and operations against the PKK.Armed with guns and stones, a mob of some 200 nationalists attacked Kurdish residents in Istanbul’s Kağıthane district last Sunday, destroying Kurdish-owned businesses (Özgür Gündem). Multiple newspapers gave extensive coverage to the string of arrests—especially the detainment of Former Deputy Chief of the General Staff Çevik Bir—that occurred over the past eight days in connection with the government probe into the “February 28” affair of 1997, in which officials in the Turkish General Staff acted to secure the resignation of then Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan and the dissolution of his Welfare Party, the ideological forebear of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Cumhuriyet published data from the Andy-Ar polling company suggesting that the AKP’s popularity has declined from its 53.7 percent high after the general elections to 49.6 percent.Güneş newspaper ridiculed Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin on its front page for his behavior while visiting Erzurum to honor the death of five workers killed while repairing the area’s major dam. Şahin reportedly demanded that a local do a somersault to demonstrate how pleased he was to have the Minister visit his city.
Turkish Press Review