>From the columns

Saturday, April 30, 2005


>From the columns

The highlight of yesterday's columns was Turkey's recent relationship
with the European Union. Besides that, columnists wrote about the
draft National Security Political Document, as well as the headscarf

Media should not only concentrate on political issues in relations
with EU

In a reference to daily Hürriyet's Thursday edition whose
headline was `Paris criteria,' Milliyet's Sami Kohen said the news in
the paper was published at a time when Turkey's relations with the EU
were being discussed and the ways of European allies were being

He said the French media ignored news about police beating up high
school students in Paris during a demonstration on April 13, until it
was eventually published in a magazine called `Choc.'

`However, neither the French authorities nor the EU showed any
reaction to the incident, unlike the attitude they assumed in the face
of the female protesters being beaten by police in a demonstration in
Istanbul on March 6. `The EU strongly reacted to this,' Kohen said,
and mentioned Hürriyet's comments on the issue, claiming that
the EU was pursuing a policy of `double standards.'

`Actually, the practice of double standards is not restricted to only
this incident or just European countries. Such treatment is widespread
and frequent,' he said.

Touching upon the EU Association Council that convened early this
week, Kohen said some problems tabled by European partners led to the
negative reactions displayed by the Turkish side and the March 6
incident was among the issues brought to the agenda.

Kohen mentioned a conference entitled, `Turkey's EU and Negotiating
Process' held in Istanbul on Thursday and quoted Secretary-General for
EU Affairs Murat Sungar as saying at the conference that relations
with the EU only concentrated on political issues such the Cyprus
issue and the Armenian question.

`However, there is a wide range of issues from health to education,
the environment and financial regulations brought up in the
negotiating process with the EU that will impact upon citizens' daily
lives,' Sungar said, stressing that these were the main issues that
should be discussed and covered by the media.

We should study talk of EU now

Radikal's İsmet Berkan said he predicted that news of the EU
would decease after the Dec. 17 summit of EU leaders, but he did not
think it would decrease very much.

`Why are we talking about the EU less?' he asked.

He said Dec. 17 was a threshold and that Turkey had managed to clear

`However,' he continued, `there are other aspects to it. After all,
there is a need to dwell upon the technical issues to be able to
discuss the EU and to have knowledge of these issues.'

`It is easier to talk about political issues. There were even those in
Turkey who claimed that the Copenhagen criteria would divide the
country,' he added.

What does Turkey want?

Sabah's Erdal Şafak touched upon the recent efforts to update
the National Security Political Document and said the National
Security Council's (MGK) civilian Secretary-General Yiğit
Alpogan, who was informed on the General Staff's recommendations on
the issue, was scheduled to complete his studies next month.

He said the draft, which would be tabled in a June meeting of the MGK,
would encompass significant amendments when compared to the document
dated July 2001, but made it clear that one should not expect serious
changes in the essence of the document, which puts an emphasis on the
fight against terrorism and fundamentalism.

`However, it's worth mentioning a contradiction displayed by the
General Staff. On the one hand, the military is giving the message
that Turkey's objective should be full membership, while on the other,
it says the new document should contain the existing policies on the
Heybeliada Theological Seminary,' he said, and asked how this attitude
would be compatible with EU membership since the European Commission,
in the Oct. 6, 2004, report, stressed that the opening of the seminary
was a condition in the negotiating process with the EU.

He said there were two ways to remove this contradiction: Either
Turkey will give up on its EU dreams or the National Security
Political Document will be amended. Which one do you prefer?

Freedoms should not be restricted

Zaman's Erhan Başyurt said Constitutional Court Chief Justice
Mustafa Bumin made striking statements regarding the headscarf issue.

`According to Bumin, preventing women who wear headscarves from
attending higher education is not an intervention in the right to
education or the freedom of faith,' Başyurt said, and expressed
his disagreement with Bumin.

Listing his points that prove Bumin wrong, Başyurt said all
girls who wear headscarves were attending universities in Europe and
added a young girl who goes to university had the responsibility of
making her own decisions, noting that pressuring those who wear
headscarves was inhumane.

`What's humane and fair is not to restrict the freedoms but to widen
them to an extent that will not harm the freedoms of others,' he said.