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From the papers

HDN | 11/5/1999 12:00:00 AM |

Fine-tuning of mutual interests From a Nov. 4 article by Milliyet's Sami Kohen: Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's visit is providing Turkey and Russia with a good opportunity to determine what kind of adjustments they must make regarding their basic interests despite their differences on certain issues. There is an immense potential for bilateral economic cooperation, especially in the new century. There are so many common factors that would bring the two countries closer to one another. What needs to be

Fine-tuning of mutual interests

From a Nov. 4 article

by Milliyet's Sami Kohen:

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's visit is providing Turkey and Russia with a good opportunity to determine what kind of adjustments they must make regarding their basic interests despite their differences on certain issues.

There is an immense potential for bilateral economic cooperation, especially in the new century. There are so many common factors that would bring the two countries closer to one another. What needs to be done is some fine-tuning between the two countries' converging interests and clashing interests, trying to ease the confrontational stances as much as possible. Meanwhile, it would be better not to set our expectations too high.

The talks are expected to focus on two issues: terrorism and the Blue Stream Project for the transportation to Turkey of Russian natural gas across underwater via a pipeline running beneath the Black Sea.

The anti-terrorism joint declaration to be issued in Moscow has already been drafted. With the declaration the two sides will reiterate the agreement signed in 1992, and they will put forth certain general principles.

This reiteration is important for Turkey in relation to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) issue. And the Russians may be thinking that issuing such a declaration would benefit their current interests due to the incidents in Chechnya. But the Chechnya incidents must not be linked to the PKK issue. Besides, during the talks the Turkish side will express its own ideas and profound concern about the drama unfolding in Chechnya.

There is an expectation that an agreement will be reached on the Blue Stream issue during the visit. The two countries had signed a protocol on this issue in 1997. What remains is the signing of an additional protocol which would clarify the financial aspects.

There is a strong possibility that the hesitation caused by the worries expressed by Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan will be overcome, and that an agreement will be reached. The natural gas to be obtained from Russia will meet only part of Turkey's requirements. In other words, with or without Blue Stream, Turkey will definitely be buying Caspian natural gas when this system starts operating. This is not a case of an "alternative solution" but of gaining access to "extra resources."

Blue Stream tension

From a Nov. 4 article

by Hurriyet's Muharrem Sarikaya:

Should Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit sign the additional protocol for the Blue Stream Project during his visit? Heated debates have been taking place on this issue among the ministers of energy, foreign affairs and finance as well as the leading bureaucrats of these ministries because of a message received from the United States along the lines of, "The United States is against this project."

Wary of alienating the United States prior to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul -- during which the final agreement would be signed for the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline for the transportation of Caspian oil to Turkey, a project advocated by Turkey -- the Turkish Foreign Ministry suggested that Ecevit drop from his program the additional protocol. The Energy Ministry objected to that, saying that without it Ecevit's visit would be meaningless.

Turkish officials sounded out Moscow on whether the signing of the additional protocol could be postponed until after the OSCE meeting.

Moscow's reply came in the form of a threat voiced by the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Alexander Lebedev. Stressing that it would be wrong to drop the protocol-signing ceremony from Ecevit's schedule, the ambassador said, "It must not be forgotten that Russia is a vast market for Turkish companies."

Moscow also indicated that it could reduce the amount of natural gas it is supplying to Turkey via its Western pipeline. That would spell trouble for the natural gas-operated power plants supplying electricity to Turkish cities during the winter months.

Ankara was caught between the pressures being applied by the United States and Russia from opposite directions. As the government tried to get out of this tight spot, ministers began to quarrel with one another. The finance minister opposed the additional protocol on the grounds that the Duma had still not ratified the prevention of a double-taxation agreement signed between the two countries. That pitted two Motherland Party (ANAP)-held ministries, the Finance Ministry and the Energy Ministry, against one another.

After three days of arguing Ankara made up its mind on the evening of Nov. 3, reaching a decision along the lines of: "There's no point in plunging the Baku-Ceyhan into jeopardy. Let us drop the Blue Stream additional protocol from the prime minister's program. Let's suspend this issue until after the OSCE summit."

A mistake caused by the 'Kurdish complex'

From a Nov. 4 article

by Radikal's Ismet Berkan:

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has announced that Chechnya was a domestic affair for the Russian Federation. Yet in today's world no state can possibly be entirely free to do whatever it likes about its "domestic affairs." Due to the "Kurdish complex" it is suffering from, Turkey keeps making mistakes in such cases.

This is only the beginning

HURRIYET said: "After being interrogated in Bursa for seven days, detained Bursa businessman Erol Evcil, the man who allegedly ordered the 'moneylender' Nesim Malki murder [in a case which came to be linked to the so-called Susurluk state gang scandal], was taken on Wednesday to Istanbul, accompanied by special team members in two vehicles. His interrogation at the Istanbul Security Court [DGM] lasted for eight-and-a-half hours. Then he was arrested and put into Kartal prison. Of the seven other people implicated in the case, three were arrested, namely, former chairman of the Bursaspor soccer club Huseyin Avni Silahci, Hakan Karakurt and Hakan Bagdemir, along with Evcil, on charges of 'creating an organization with criminal intent.' Describing Evcil's capture as the beginning of an operation, Bursa's police chief Aydin Genc indicated that in the next stage the focus will be on the investigation of financial crimes. He stressed that the black money investigation in particular would be expanded. The picture of Evcil on his way to prison told a lot about the nature of a certain era in the past. With an instant rise to fame and fortune, Evcil had put the 'Eze' brand of olive products on the market thanks to the trillions of liras' worth of loans he obtained from banks, including Is Bank. He was, at the age of 33, the 'olive king' who owned three private planes and had a famous singer, Gulben Ergen, for a girlfriend. Now, as he was being led to prison, he looked exhausted. He could walk only with the aid of two policemen who held him up, and he was limping." SABAH said that Evcil was examined by the doctors at the Forensic Center, who declared him 'unfit for work for five days' in their report.

Why did I have Malki killed?

SABAH said: "Here is Erol Evcil's confession: 'I set up the Eze Zeytincilik company thanks to the $50 million I obtained from Malki the moneylender and the sizable checks written as a favor to me. When I realized I would not be able to repay my debt, I decided to have him killed. I paid $12 million to Sukru Elverdi for the murder. And, to ward of suspicion, I sent a few million dollars to the company owned by Malki'."

Initial deposition

RADIKAL said: "Erol Evcil has told the police: 'When the first operation was staged I managed to get away because a high-ranking official of the Bursa police force warned me in advance. I went abroad. Ten months ago I returned to Turkey. Through Burhanettin Turkes I had obtained a passport from Suleyman Karadag for $10,000. When I returned to Bursa I spent one-and-a-half months at my close friend Huseyin Silahci's house in Cekirge district. Because I feared I could be captured, I left that house. I rented a house in Bademli. I managed all my businesses in Turkey from Bursa. To avoid being spotted I never had telephone conversations. I met face-to-face when I had to talk to certain people'."

A MIT lesson for the Russians

MILLIYET said: "Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is paying Russia a highly significant visit during which he will raise the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] issue. National Intelligence Organization [MIT] Undersecretary Senkal Atasagun will give the Russians a briefing on the subject, presenting them with a comprehensive PKK file containing the pictures of the PKK settlements in Russia, the names, pictures and addresses of the PKK activists there and the places where PKK chieftain Abdullah 'Apo' Ocalan had stayed in Russia as well as the names of the people he met with and the people with whom he had telephone conversations. For this purpose Atasagun is proceeding from Paris to Moscow."

Agents raid a hospital

MILLIYET said: "Two Pakistanis who stepped on a mine on the Turco-Iranian border as they fled from the military coup in their country have been spirited away from Numune Hospital in the eastern Turkish town of Erzurum. The Pakistani Embassy in Ankara has confirmed the report, saying: 'They were reportedly not being looked after well. We sent intelligence people. There were no officials around, so they simply took those people out.' The two were 21-year-old Asigar Ali and 39-year-old Isa Nuriyah. After being abducted by the Pakistani Embassy officials, they were taken first to Ankara and then to Istanbul by highway and then taken back to Pakistan by plane."

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