Turkish Press
Jan 2 2008


Year Of Difficulties And Opportunities Ahead
Published: 1/2/2008


BY SAMI KOHEN

MILLIYET- All signs point to the new year being active and intensive
for Turkish foreign policy, much like last year.

The main reason for this is the legacy of last year and even years
further in the past. Many issues, from Cyprus and the Aegean to the
presence of the PKK in northern Iraq and shifting balances in the
Mideast, seem to be keeping Turkish diplomats busy. Let's look at the
issues:


The PKK presence in northern Iraq: It's clear that Turkey's
anti-terrorist military operations in the final weeks of the last
year will continue this year until the terrorist PKK is eradicated.
So far the international community has lent support to these
operations either explicitly or implicitly. When the PKK is
counteracted, military results will be obtained. If this happens
quickly, problems with foreign countries and other difficulties will
be prevented. In addition, this year Ankara will be urged to deal
with basic issues in northern Iraq. Relations with Massoud Barzani's
administration and the situation of the Iraqi central government will
occasionally make things tough for our diplomats, but sometimes will
create opportunities for new openings...

Relations with the US: Relations worsened in the first half of 2007
but began getting better in recent weeks, and strategic cooperation,
especially in the fight against the terrorist PKK, will probably
continue. Washington's stance towards Turkey probably won't change,
even if a Democrat is elected president this November. But certain
problems may arise in relations. If an Armenian resolution is brought
to the floor of the House of Representatives this spring, tensions
may rise, like last year. In order to prevent this, new strategies
and initiatives are needed ...

Talks with the EU: This process is continuing. In other words, the
accession talks aren't being suspended, but continuing very slowly
and haltingly. Things may get worse when France holds the bloc's term
presidency in the second half of the year. Is it possible that French
President Nicolas Sarkozy will change his stance on Turkey, and the
process will get back on track? A tenuous possibility, but intense
efforts are needed to change France's stance...

The Cyprus issue: Movement can be foreseen in the Cyprus issue
following the elections in Greek Cyprus next month. Especially if
AKEL leader Dimitris Hristofyas comes to power by defeating Tassos
Papadopoulos ... At least new opportunities may emerge to be evaluated
by the Turkish side.

Problems with Athens: Greek Premier Costas Karamanlis' expected visit
to Turkey early this year may be a turning point in relations between
the two countries. But recently certain problems arose such as Kardak
and the Cipura crisis, and could cast a shadow over hopes for better
relations ... If the Greek premier's visit gives an impetus to
relations, these issues could easily be resolved.

Cooperation with Iran: There is will on both sides to continue the
cooperation which started between our countries last year, in areas
>From security to energy. But, Iran's worsening relations with the
West and a possible sweeping embargo due to its nuclear program may
hamper Turkish-Iranian relations.

*Rapprochement with Russia: In recent years, Russia has become
Turkey's closest political and economic friend and partner. This
tendency will continue. However, especially in the energy area,
serious competition and friction has begun. Turkey is confronting
Russia in its ventures on the road to becoming an energy corridor.
But in other ventures, there are common interests and new
opportunities...


In a nutshell, the main aim should be to overcome issues by
evaluating current opportunities without getting stuck in our
difficulties. Success this year depends on our efforts along these
lines.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress