Friday, April 22, 2005

Turkey And Israeli Arms

Turkey awards Israeli company contract for army drones

April 20, 2005

ANKARA: Turkey announced on Tuesday it had chosen an Israeli manufacturer to supply its army with 10 drones and ground stations, ahead of a fence-mending visit to Israel by the Turkish prime minister.

A joint venture between two Israeli firms, Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit, was awarded a contract for three unmanned aerial vehicle systems, which include 10 aircraft, surveillance equipment and ground control stations, the under secretariat for defence industries said in a statement.

The contract is part of a 183-million-dollar project in which Turkish companies will provide sub-systems and services amounting to 30 per cent of the project, it said.

The Israelis plan to finish their part of the project in 24 to 30 months, the statement said. The announcement came ahead of a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Israel and the Palestinian territories on May 1-2 following a chilly period in Turkish-Israeli ties.

Erdogan has harshly criticised the Jewish state's policies against the Palestinians, calling them "state terror" at one instance last May.

Turkey, a strictly secular non-Arab Muslim nation, has been Israel's main regional ally since 1996, when the two countries hammered out a military cooperation deal, much to the anger of Arab nations and Iran. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul held fence-mending talks in Israel in January, declaring that bilateral ties remain strong.

Turkish Chief of Staff Signals Crisis With Greece

Now this is interesting, first the ref. to a "flag crisis" with Greece is blacked out of the Greek media , it seems. And it is noteworthy that the Turkish Chief of Staff overtly advocates a further entanglement in Cyprus, this too is blacked out of the Greek media.

Chief of Staff Signals Crisis With Greece

Chief of Staff Gen. Φzkφk in his annual evaluation signals soaring relations with Greece. Φzkφk also indirectly rebuffs the U.S. depictions of Turkey as a "model Islamic country". "Turkey is a secular republic" Φzkφk says.

BIA News Center
BέA (Istanbul) - Turkish Chief of Staff General Hilmi Φzkφk calls for an official apology from Greece regarding a recent ‘flag crisis’, during his annual evaluation speech at the Military Academy alongside striking statements on such topics as democracy and Islam, Iraq, relations with Armenia, the Cyprus issue, the Kurdish armed insurgent group PKK and the European Union

Recently, a diplomatic crisis erupted between Turkey and Greece when visiting military students from Turkey found torn ot Turkish flags in their dormitories where they were officially hosted. The students were immediately ordered to return. Φzkφk, insisted to hear an official apology from Greece “Or,” he said “our relations will inevitably be revised”.

In his speech, Φzkφk also reacted against recent depictions particularly by the successive U. S. Secrataries of State Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice of Turkey as a “model Islamic country” merging democracy and “moderate Islam”.

”We are neither an Islamic country nor an Islamic state,” told Φzkφk. “We are a secular democratic republic.”

The other major issues voiced by General Φzkφk in his speech were that:

* The Aegean: Greece’s defense expenditures raise doubts.

* Iraq: Kirkuk is ready to erupt.

* The Kurdish question and the PKK: The US is not sensitive enough for
Turkish demands.

* Armenia: Their attitude is dubious.

* The European Union: Membership is not a blessing.

Gen. Φzkφk started his speech by discussing Turkey’s presumed role in the Washington sponsored Greater Middle East Project. He said that albeit it is being viewed as a “model of moderate Islam” within the framework of this project, “Turkey is neither an Islamic state, nor an Islamic nation”. Φzkφk stated that even though “almost the 99.9 % of the population” are Muslims Turkey is a “secular, lawful state”.

The Chief of Staff added that secularism and laicism are inseparable parts of the history of Turkish Republic, and they are the catalysts in building, as well as maintaining, democracy in Turkey. Therefore, Φzkφk affirmed, “it is a mistake to believe that any country with a predominantly Muslim population can follow Turkey’s path and become democratic”.

The head man of the Turkish Army believes that there can even be a “national rebellion” if Turkey’s experience is imposed upon another country.

Greece must issue an official apology

Φzkφk also spoke about the ‘flag crisis’ that Turkish military students faced in Greece. He said that “confidence building measures were taken between the two countries,”, but the damaged flags incident in Greece “requires an official apology”. Φzkφk underlined that if an apology is
omitted, “the relations between the two countries can be revised.”

According to Φzkφk, Greece’s defense expenditures top the military expenses list among the European Union countries, and that the Aegean Islands are still being heavily armed. The Chief of Staff said that Turkey allots 154 dollars of its gross national income per capita for military expenses, whereas this figure is 709 dollars in Greece. Despite his criticisms towards
Greece, Φzkφk affirmed that they regard ameliorating the relations between two countries as a priority.


Gen. Φzkφk also spoke about the relations with Armenia, an issue that tops the agenda of Turkey recently. They desire to “normalize” the affairs between Turkey and Armenia, he told. However, he assessed “obedience to fundamental principles of international law and execution of the requirements of friendly neighborhood” on Armenia’s behalf is necessary for achieving this result.

Φzkφk also touched upon the issue of the claims of “Armenian Genocide”. The Chief of Staff stated that “many Turkish and Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire were killed in the events 1915 incidents”, but the Republic of Turkey is not liable for any of the events, and this era was closed by the 1924 Lausanne Peace Treaty what imposes no responsibility on Turkey in that respect. Further, “most of the deaths on the side of the Armenians were not by intention, but as a result of the mass deportation; hence, genocide did not take place,” he argued.

Cyprus is still strategically important

During his annual evaluation speech Φzkφk spoke about the Cyprus issue, as well. According to the Chief of Staff, Cyprus is still important for Turkey’s security and thus, “is a necessity” for the country.

The Chief of Staff pointed out that Turkish Cypriots signaled their intention of unity in the Island with the votes they cast in the referendum for the “Annan Peace Plan”. “So”, Φzkφk said “new gestures should not be expected from Turkey”.

The US gives the cold shoulder about the PKK

Saying that the US did not take the necessary steps to combat Kurdish armed insurgent group PKK based in Northern Iraq, Φzkφk confirmed that the situation remains tense in the region with the “surging attacks on the Turkish military”.

The EU membership is not vital

According to the Chief Staff, the EU membership should not be viewed as a “blessing”. Φzkφk says that in the relations with the EU, “mutual benefits are at stake”, but “it is not the end of the world” if Turkey cannot become a member of the EU. (EK/SAΦ/EK/YE)