maio 31, 2007

“A conquista chinesa de África” in Der Spiegel, 30 de Maio de 2007

China is conquering Africa as it becomes the preferred trading partner of the continent's dictators. Beijing is buying up Africa's abundant natural resources and providing it with needed cash and cheaply produced consumer goods in return.

Thomas Mumba was a devout young man. He spent his free time studying the Holy Scriptures and directing the church choir at the United Church of Zambia in his hometown of Chambeshi. Mumba, a bachelor, was also committed to abstinence -- from beer and from sex before marriage. A larger-than-life depiction of Jesus Christ surrounded by a herd of sheep still hangs in his room. The poster is pure "Made in China" kitsch, like most things here in the Zambian copper belt, located more than a six hours' drive north of the capital Lusaka.

Mumba, a shy, slight young man, bought the Chinese-made religious image at a local market and hung it up at home. It was cheap, cheaper than goods from Europe, at any rate. Mumba's Chinese Jesus cost him 4,000 kwacha, or about 75 cents. "It was his first encounter with the evil empire," says Thomas's mother Justina Mulumba, two years after the accident that would change her entire life.

Thomas Mumba died on April 20, 2005 when an explosives depot blew up in the Chambeshi copper mine. He had just turned 23 and had been working in the mine for two years. To this day, no one knows how many people died that day, because the mine's Chinese owners attempted to cover up what they knew about the accident. Besides, they had kept no records of who was working near the explosion site on the day of the accident.

According to the memorial plaque, there were 46 victims, but it could just as easily have been 50 or 60. Only fragments of the remains of most of the dead were recovered. Mukuka Chilufya, the engineer who managed the rescue team, says that his men filled 49 sacks with body parts that day. The Chinese have deflected all inquiries about the explosion.

Justina Mulumba wears a mint-green dress as she kneels at her son's grave, whispering almost inaudibly: "Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do." The cemetery is by the side of the road, only a short distance from the plant gates. Chinese trucks drive by, churning up the dry African soil and briefly coating the entire cemetery in a cloud of red dust.
The drivers are in a hurry to get their trucks, filled with copper, to the port of Durban on the Indian Ocean, where the copper will be loaded onto ships bound for China. Mumba wasn't the only one whose fate was sealed by copper. All of Zambia depends on copper, which is by far this southern African country's most important export, well ahead of cobalt. Copper accounts for more than half of all its export revenues.

The precious metal attracted scores of white colonizers to the country north of the Zambezi River in the early 20th century. The British flag flew over Northern Rhodesia, as Zambia was then called, until 1964. That was followed by the era of independence and of Socialist leader Kenneth Kaunda, who initially benefited from rising copper prices.

Kaunda, a religious man, was obsessed with bringing education to the people of his country. But he had little understanding of economic matters. He had so many schools built that the government eventually found itself lacking the funds to pay the teachers. When Kaunda decided to nationalize the foreign-owned mines to raise cash for the government's coffers, it was his bad luck that copper prices soon plunged.

Feeding China 's Hunger for Raw Materials
In the early 1990s, Zambia abandoned its socialist planned economy, Kaunda withdrew from politics and the ongoing slump in copper prices precipitated an economic crisis. In the late 1990s, when then-president Frederick Chiluba felt compelled to give in to pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to privatize the unproductive, unprofitable state-owned mines, the price of a ton of copper was barely $900.

At the time, no one in Africa -- or, for that matter, in New York, London or Geneva -- foresaw India's and China's rise as economic powers, or the attendant thirst for resources. When rising demand suddenly drove up copper prices to previously unanticipated levels, it was yet another stroke of bad luck for poor Zambia that the country had already sold off much of its copper-mining rights to the Australians, Canadians, Indians and Chinese.

A ton of copper costs $8,000 today. Zambian mines are currently producing 500,000 tons a year, a number that could soon increase to 700,000. This is good for the foreign mine owners, but the Zambians see next to nothing of the profits.

The Chinese need the copper for their booming industry. The metal is used primarily to make wires, cables, integrated circuits and metal products like pipes and toolmaking machines -- in other words, in almost every branch of industry, from automobile manufacturing to the construction industry.

By 2004 China was already the world's second-largest importer of copper ore, after Japan. "If copper scrap and residues are added, China imports a quarter of the world's copper production," writes the research department of Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank in a report titled "China's Commodity Hunger." The report concludes that the demand for copper will "remain high."

Privatization couldn't have gone worse for the Zambians. But in the age of the dragon descending upon Africa, things could get far worse. Michael Chilufya Sata sits in a cramped, smoke-filled office behind mountains of paper, smoking one cigarette after another. Sata, who as head of the Patriotic Front is Zambia's most important opposition leader, is also a demagogue.

For many Zambians Sata is a saint, but for others he is a reincarnation of the devil -- that includes the government, which has had him thrown in jail repeatedly. In one instance he was accused of sabotage when he and his supporters allegedly smuggled explosives into a copper mine, and he was recently arrested on charges of having provided false information about his financial circumstances.

Sata captured more than 29 percent of the vote in the September 2006 presidential election, while the winner in that race, current President Levy Mwanawasa, claimed 43 percent. But Sata believes that the election was rigged. According to opinion polls, he was initially clearly in the lead in the capital and in the copper belt. But when the tide turned in favor of the incumbent, Sata cried election fraud and violence erupted in the streets of Lusaka for several days.

If there is one issue which Sata uses to mobilize the masses, it is the Chinese. He has warned voters that they plan to export their dictatorship to Africa, colonize the continent and introduce large-scale exploitation. Unlike Western investors, says Sata, the Chinese have little interest in the Africans' well-being.

The politician quickly talks himself into a rage. Chinese have little interest in human rights, he says. They are only interested in exploiting Africa's natural resources, which they have carted off using their own workers and equipment, and without having paid a single kwacha in taxes. Sata sums up his position as follows: "We want the Chinese to leave and the old colonial rulers to return. They exploited our natural resources too, but at least they took care of us. They built schools, taught us their language and brought us the British civilization."

A majority of Zambians likely agree with Sata. On his recent and third trip to Africa, Chinese President Hu Jintao canceled his planned visit to the Zambian copper belt at the last minute, fearing demonstrations by disgruntled workers and the resulting embarrassing TV images. Only last year, protestors in Chambeshi were injured when police fired into their midst.
Artigo integral em,1518,484603,00.html
JPTF 31/05/2007

maio 29, 2007

“A Polónia investiga Teletubbies 'gay'” in BBC, 29 de Maio de 2007

The spokesperson for children's rights in Poland, Ewa Sowinska, singled out Tinky Winky, the purple character with a triangular aerial on his head. "I noticed he was carrying a woman's handbag," she told a magazine. "At first, I didn't realise he was a boy." EU officials have criticised Polish government policy towards homosexuals. Ms Sowinska wants the psychologists to make a recommendation about whether the children's show should be broadcast on public television. Poland's authorities have recently initiated a series of moves to outlaw the promotion of homosexuality among the nation's children. Tinky Winky's psychological evaluation is being treated fairly light-heartedly by many people here. One radio station asked its listeners to vote for the most suspicious children's show. Some e-mailed in, saying that Winnie the Pooh had only male friends. Even Ms Sowinska has backtracked a little, insisting that she does not believe the Teletubbies is a threat to the nation's children. But the evaluation is still going ahead and her office can recommend that the show should be taken off the air. Poland was criticised recently after its education ministry announced plans to sack teachers who promote homosexuality. Last month the European Union singled out Poland for criticism in its resolution condemning homophobia in the 27-member bloc.
JPTF 2007/05/29

maio 25, 2007

“Turquia: não ao Club Med, sim à UE” in Courrier International, 24 de Maio de 2007

Certains qualifient, non sans ironie, le projet d'"Union méditerranéenne" de Nicolas Sarkozy de Club Med. C'était pourtant bien autre chose que cette chaîne de villages de vacances français existant en Turquie, qu'a en tête le président français. Il s'agirait d'un "club", sur le mode de l'Union européenne, qui concrétiserait une union politique et économique des pays du pourtour méditerranéen. Au cours de sa campagne électorale, Nicolas Sarkozy a défendu à plusieurs reprises cette idée. Mais qu'est-ce donc que cette union ? Qui seront ses membres ? Avec quel objectif est-elle censée fonctionner ? Dès lors que dans ses discours, le nouveau président français attribue à la Turquie un rôle important dans cette union, il est nécessaire pour nous de comprendre l'intention réelle de Nicolas Sarkozy. Il apparaît déjà que ce projet est encore loin d'être mûr. Le ministre des Affaires étrangères et les autres ministres concernés vont sans doute essayer de donner un peu de substance à cette idée. Ce que l'on sait en tout cas, c'est que cette union réunirait en son sein des pays du sud de l'Europe, d'Afrique du Nord et du Proche-Orient. Il s'agirait de favoriser la coopération aux niveaux économique et commercial entre ces pays et de trouver des solutions communes en matière d'environnement et de flux migratoires. Les pays membres de cette union - ils seraient 17 – réaliseraient également des projets communs grâce au soutien d'une "Banque d'investissement méditerranéenne". Enfin, l'union serait dotée de mécanismes de direction calqués sur le modèle de l'Union européenne. Tout cela est bien beau sur le papier. Mais quelle est la probabilité de réussite d'un tel projet du point de vue pratique ? Le doute est de rigueur. En effet, il apparaît impossible de mettre ensemble bon nombre de pays méditerranéens. Les différences et les désaccords sont énormes. La plupart des pays d'Afrique du Nord et du Proche-Orient ont entre eux des rapports conflictuels et ne se sentent pas particulièrement proches de l'Europe. Par ailleurs, sur la base de quelles valeurs cette "union" devrait-elle se construire ? La démocratie, les droits de l'homme et les libertés fondamentales sont des concepts étrangers pour beaucoup de pays méditerranéens. Il n'est donc pas évident de déterminer ce que devraient être les critères et les objectifs de ce "club". C'est pour infléchir la politique de l'Union européenne et renforcer l'influence française en Méditerranée que Sarkozy a lancé ce projet. L'idée de donner un rôle à la Turquie dans ce club fait partie de la stratégie développée dans ce contexte. Il s'agirait donc pour Ankara d'une sorte de "compensation" sensée contrebalancer le refus de Sarkozy de voir la Turquie intégrer l'Union européenne. Or, la Turquie n'a d'autre objectif que de rejoindre l'Union européenne. Sarkozy ne semble pas avoir compris que ce projet d'adhésion à l'UE est une façon pour la Turquie de se projeter vers l'avenir dans le but d'accéder à une véritable modernité. En termes de "clubs régionaux", la Turquie est déjà active, quand elle n'est pas l'initiatrice, de projets de coopération régionale, comme par exemple la "Zone de coopération économique de la Mer Noire" (ZCEMN). Ankara peut donc certainement prendre part à cette "Union méditerranéenne", mais chacun doit savoir que ce "Club Med" ne constituera jamais pour la Turquie une alternative à l'Union européenne.
JPTF 25/05/2007

maio 21, 2007

“Ásia ameaça afastar universidades britânicas do topo da tabela” in Times, 21 de Maio de 2007

British, French and German universities will be overtaken by those in China and India within a decade unless they improve quality and access, the European Commissioner for Education said last night. Jan Figel told The Times that Europe’s top universities would no longer dominate world rankings unless they modernised and received more funding. The concern, echoed by vice-chancellors and employers, is not only that British universities will lose students to more attractive institutions abroad, but that business will follow them with jobs and investment. Britain is the second most popular destination for overseas students, second to America, with Cambridge and Oxford the only European universities in the Top Ten of both the Times Higher and the Shanghai Jiao Tong indices of university world rankings. Europe has 200 universities in the top 500, but the United States has 37 in the top 50.“If you look at the Shanghai index, we are the strongest continent in terms of numbers and potential but we are also shifting into a secondary position in terms of quality and attractiveness,” Mr Figel’, 47, told The Times. “If we don’t act we will see an uptake or overtake by Chinese or Indian universities. Indian technology is seen as the third best in the world. China itself decided it wants several top universities by 2015.” Although China and India have a tiny number of universities in the Times Higher top 100, including Beijing, Tsinghua and the Indian Institutes of Technology, and none in the Shanghai top 100 index, Mr Figel’ believes that Europe’s supremacy in tertiary education is in imminent danger of being lost to Southeast Asia as well as the US, particularly in science. Drummond Bone, the president of Universities UK, the umbrella group of vice-chancellors, believes that European universities must work together to create the critical mass to attract students and investment. He said that the danger of falling down the league tables was that Europe could fall into a downward economic spiral. “Overseas students don’t come to the UK or Europe, our students are attracted elsewhere and then if you’ve got the students going elsewhere the businesses go elsewhere.” Logica CMG is a British company that specialises in high-tech software systems. It supports a third of the world’s satellites and employs 40,000 people worldwide, including 2,500 in India. Martin Read, the group’s chief executive, says that Britain cannot compete on numbers with China and India. British universities maintain high standards and teach students to think for themselves, but he is concerned about the lack of home-grown science, technology and maths graduates. “If we’re not getting sufficient numbers of high-quality graduates, we have a problem, because we don’t have a framework for business to work in,” he said. “Businesses will start to relocate if they can’t find them in their own country.” Not only is Europe failing to produce enough engineering, maths and technology graduates to fill the jobs, but innovation is so weak, that more than 400,000 European engineers now work in the US. Mr Figel’ said: “We have ideas – the world wide web was British, as was the CD-Rom, and the MP3 player was German. But all three were finalised and distributed around the world by the United States.” The answer, he suggests, is to attract more EU students with better quality degrees, to invest more in universities and to make EU degrees more easily transferred between countries, as proposed under the Bologna Process on schedule for 2010. Europe spends about 1.1 per cent of GDP on higher education compared with the United States, which spends 2.7 per cent of GDP. China and India spend about 0.5 per cent and 0.37 per cent of GDP, respectively. But China is aiming to raise its investment to 4 per cent GDP in the coming years.

How they are ranked
Shanghai Jiao Tong University world rankings
Universities are ranked by several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, articles published in Nature and Science, articles indexed in major publications and the per capita academic performance of an institution

Times Higher World University Rankings
Universities are measured against a combination of peer review of more than 1,300 academics worldwide, and the amount of cited research produced by faculty members, the ratio of faculty to student numbers, their success in attracting foreign students and internationally renowned academics

East and West
Tsinghua University
— Top-ranking university in mainland China, at 151= in the world, according to Shanghai Jiao Tong unversity index; 62= in the Times Higher world rankings
— Founded in 1911 as a government school preparing students for study in the US; the first undergraduates were enrolled in 1925
— 32,000 full-time students, including 13,700 undergraduates, 13,400 Master’s students and 5,000 studying for PhDs
— 2,857 faculty professors, 47 research institutes, 29 research centres, 13 national laboratories accounting for 10 per cent of all national laboratories in China and 27 postdoctoral research stations. The library has a collection of 3.5 million volumes. 30,000 computers are connected to the campus

Cambridge University
— Top-ranking European and British university, 2nd in the Shanghai Jiao Tong world ranking index; 3rd in the Times Higher world ranking index
— Origins date back to as early as 1200, when the town had at least one reputable school. By 1226, the scholars had formed a body, represented by a Chancellor, and were regularly studying
— 14,605 full-time home and European students, as well as 3,198 overseas students in 2004-5
— 8,570 staff, including 2,703 academic staff and 2,457 contract researchers
— Fees range from £3,000 a year for home or EU students and £21,417 for overseas students. Income was £525.5 million last year, of which fees amounted to 11 per cent
JPTF 2005/05/21

maio 17, 2007

As eleições parlamentares de Julho na Turquia: “partidos procuram amor em todos os sítios certos” in Turkish Daily News, 17 de Maio de 2007


The above "personnel advertisement" is imaginary. But it sums up the mood in Ankara, as parties rush to recruit candidates that will burnish and balance their images at home and abroad. The search is on for so-called "vitrin" candidates, a Turkish word for "window front" that might as well translate as "showcase." As general elections approach, virtually all political parties launched the hunt for new faces to promote themselves, signing up - or trying to sign up - former ambassadors, military officers, businessmen, football players and even wrestlers. And now, minority groups. The Turkish Daily News has learned that a Turkish citizen of Armenian origins, Kagem Karabetyan, is being mentioned as a candidate, most likely for the traditionalist Justice and Development Party (AKP), known for its roots in political Islam. Karabetyan apparently wants to run for election but is still awaiting a formal invitation. With or without Karabetyan, the AKP is expected to have a Christian candidate on its lists, but his name is not expected to be on the top of the list, reducing the likelihood of ultimate election. Faruk Çelik, parliamentary group leader of AKP, confirmed that some non-Muslims have applied to run for the party. But Çelik is not sure whether they will be listed as the party's candidates. “It is the right of every Turkish citizen to run for election. AKP will welcome the applications from members of minorities if the qualities of the candidates are in line with our values. One cannot become a candidate just because he is a member of a minority,” Çelik told the TDN. In Turkey, there are around 200,000 members of minority communities. The last minority deputy was Cefi Kamhi in the 1990s.

Wrestlers, football players, musicians
The strategy of AKP depends on nominating famous people as their candidates. Wrestler Hamza Yerlikaya, Turkey's most famous football striker Hakan Şükür and musician Şahin Özer are among these. The ruling party also plans to nominate retired military officers to run for the election.

CHP and minority candidates
The Republican People's Party (CHP) has not listed any non-Muslim candidates to run for election. “We should encourage members of minority communities to become candidates. Greeks, Armenians and Jews should be represented in the Turkish Parliament as well. There are many people who are struggling for Turkey but we cannot reach them because of unexpected elections,” said Şükrü Elekdağ, a CHP deputy. “Kamhi was the one who did evoke the Jewish lobby when Turkey needed its support. I wish he was in Parliament again,” Elekdağ added. CHP has also invited İpek Cem, the daughter of former Foreign Minister İsmail Cem, and artists like Tolga Çandar, Şahnaz Çakıralp to be its election candidates.

MHP flirts with the Alevis
Meanwhile, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is trying to establish dialogue with the Alevis, a distinct Islamic sect long at odds with much of Turkey's nationalist movement. Timur Ulusoy, the president of the Hacı Bektaşı Veli Association, is a candidate running for the nationalist party. A prominent figure among Alevis, Mehmet Heder is also on the list of MHP. Former ambassador and former columnist for the TDN, Gündüz Aktan, has also applied to run for MHP.

YDP invites Ulusoy
The New Democrat Party (YDP) invited the President of the Turkish Football Federation, Haluk Ulusoy to be a candidate. Mehmet Ali Bayar, a former diplomat, has declared himself a candidate for the YDP from İzmir.

Who is Karabetyan?
Keram Karabetyan, a Turkish citizen of Armenian origins, is a lawyer in Istanbul. He ran for the True Path Party (DYP) in the 1995 elections. There are claims that Karabetyan will run for MHP, but party decision-makers have not confirmed this.
JPTF 2007/05/17

“A Rússia acusada de desencadear ciberguerra para incapacitar a Estónia” in Guardian, 27 de Maio de 2007

A three-week wave of massive cyber-attacks on the small Baltic country of Estonia, the first known incidence of such an assault on a state, is causing alarm across the western alliance, with Nato urgently examining the offensive and its implications. While Russia and Estonia are embroiled in their worst dispute since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a row that erupted at the end of last month over the Estonians' removal of the Bronze Soldier Soviet war memorial in central Tallinn, the country has been subjected to a barrage of cyber warfare, disabling the websites of government ministries, political parties, newspapers, banks, and companies. Nato has dispatched some of its top cyber-terrorism experts to Tallinn to investigate and to help the Estonians beef up their electronic defences. "This is an operational security issue, something we're taking very seriously," said an official at Nato headquarters in Brussels. "It goes to the heart of the alliance's modus operandi." Alarm over the unprecedented scale of cyber-warfare is to be raised tomorrow at a summit between Russian and European leaders outside Samara on the Volga. While planning to raise the issue with the Russian authorities, EU and Nato officials have been careful not to accuse the Russians directly. If it were established that Russia is behind the attacks, it would be the first known case of one state targeting another by cyber-warfare. Relations between the Kremlin and the west are at their worst for years, with Russia engaged in bitter disputes not only with Estonia, but with Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Georgia - all former parts of the Soviet Union or ex-members of the Warsaw Pact. The electronic offensive is making matters much worse. "Frankly it is clear that what happened in Estonia in the cyber-attacks is not acceptable and a very serious disturbance," said a senior EU official. Estonia's president, foreign minister, and defence minister have all raised the emergency with their counterparts in Europe and with Nato. "At present, Nato does not define cyber-attacks as a clear military action. This means that the provisions of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, or, in other words collective self-defence, will not automatically be extended to the attacked country," said the Estonian defence minister, Jaak Aaviksoo. "Not a single Nato defence minister would define a cyber-attack as a clear military action at present. However, this matter needs to be resolved in the near future." Estonia, a country of 1.4 million people, including a large ethnic Russian minority, is one of the most wired societies in Europe and a pioneer in the development of "e-government". Being highly dependent on computers, it is also highly vulnerable to cyber-attack. The main targets have been the websites of:
· the Estonian presidency and its parliament
· almost all of the country's government ministries
· political parties
· three of the country's six big news organisations
· two of the biggest banks; and firms specializing in communications
It is not clear how great the damage has been.With their reputation for electronic prowess, the Estonians have been quick to marshal their defences, mainly by closing down the sites under attack to foreign internet addresses, in order to try to keep them accessible to domestic users. The cyber-attacks were clearly prompted by the Estonians' relocation of the Soviet second world war memorial on April 27. Ethnic Russians staged protests against the removal, during which 1,300 people were arrested, 100 people were injured, and one person was killed. The crisis unleashed a wave of so-called DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attacks, where websites are suddenly swamped by tens of thousands of visits, jamming and disabling them by overcrowding the bandwidths for the servers running the sites. The attacks have been pouring in from all over the world, but Estonian officials and computer security experts say that, particularly in the early phase, some attackers were identified by their internet addresses - many of which were Russian, and some of which were from Russian state institutions. "The cyber-attacks are from Russia. There is no question. It's political," said Merit Kopli, editor of Postimees, one of the two main newspapers in Estonia, whose website has been targeted and has been inaccessible to international visitors for a week. It was still unavailable last night. "If you are implying [the attacks] came from Russia or the Russian government, it's a serious allegation that has to be substantiated. Cyber-space is everywhere," Russia's ambassador in Brussels, Vladimir Chizhov, said in reply to a question from the Guardian. He added: "I don't support such behaviour, but one has to look at where they [the attacks] came from and why." Without naming Russia, the Nato official said: "I won't point fingers. But these were not things done by a few individuals. "This clearly bore the hallmarks of something concerted. The Estonians are not alone with this problem. It really is a serious issue for the alliance as a whole." Mr Chizhov went on to accuse the EU of hypocrisy in its support for Estonia, an EU and Nato member. "There is a smell of double standards." He also accused Poland of holding the EU hostage in its dealings with Russia, and further accused Estonia and other east European countries previously in Russia's orbit of being in thrall to "phantom pains of the past, historic grievances against the Soviet union and the Russian empire of the 19th century." In Tallinn, Ms Kopli said: "This is the first time this has happened, and it is very important that we've had this type of attack. We've been able to learn from it." "We have been lucky to survive this," said Mikko Maddis, Estonia's defence ministry spokesman. "People started to fight a cyber-war against it right away. Ways were found to eliminate the attacker." The attacks have come in three waves: from April 27, when the Bronze Soldier riots erupted, peaking around May 3; then on May 8 and 9 - a couple of the most celebrated dates in the Russian calendar, when the country marks Victory Day over Nazi Germany, and when President Vladimir Putin delivered another hostile speech attacking Estonia and indirectly likening the Bush administration to the Hitler regime; and again this week. Estonian officials say that one of the masterminds of the cyber-campaign, identified from his online name, is connected to the Russian security service. A 19-year-old was arrested in Tallinn at the weekend for his alleged involvement. Expert opinion is divided on whether the identity of the cyber-warriors can be ascertained properly. Experts from Nato member states and from the alliance's NCSA unit - "Nato's first line of defence against cyber-terrorism", set up five years ago - were meeting in Seattle in the US when the crisis erupted. A couple of them were rushed to Tallinn. Another Nato official familiar with the experts' work said it was easy for them, with other organisations and internet providers, to track, trace, and identify the attackers. But Mikko Hyppoenen, a Finnish expert, told the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper that it would be difficult to prove the Russian state's responsibility, and that the Kremlin could inflict much more serious cyber-damage if it chose to.,,329864981-103610,00.html
JPTF 2007/05/17

maio 15, 2007

“Muçulmanos querem Península Ibérica ‘de volta‘” in PortugalDiário, 15 de Maio de 2007

O apresentador de um programa infantil da televisão palestiniana, Al-aqsa, afirmou que a zona de Andaluz, actual Península Ibérica, e que foi outrora território dividido entre Portugal e Espanha, vai voltar um dia a estar sob o poder islâmico.No vídeo do programa «Os Pioneiros de Amanhã», que foi exibido a 11 de Maio e está disponível no site do YouTube, o apresentador refere que o domínio islâmico, através da vontade de Allah, promove o bem, o amor e a justiça, ao acrescentar que judeus e cristãos «nunca tiveram uma vida» como a que experimentaram na época em que estavam sob influência islâmica. Ao mencionar a zona de Andaluz, que foi um território conquistado e controlado politicamente por árabes e muçulmanos no século VIII até ter sido reconquistada pelos cristãos, o apresentador recorda que «esta querida terra vai voltar para nós um dia». O apresentador acrescenta, ainda, que no mesmo período histórico, os cristãos nunca viram as suas igrejas e mosteiros «tão seguros». No mesmo programa, Farfur, um dos apresentadores que se apresenta sempre vestido de sósia de rato Mickey, é apanhado a copiar na escola primária e explica ao professor que não pode estudar porque os judeus destruíram a sua casa e roubaram-lhe os livros. No final do programa, a jovem Saraa que partilha a apresentação do programa lança ainda uma mensagem aos telespectadores, compostos maioritariamente por crianças e jovens, na qual ressalva que estes devem ajudar a «recuperar» a «glória» da civilização islâmica.

Rato Mickey contra Israel
Numa transmissão anterior de «Os Heróis de Amanhã», que gerou polémica no mundo árabe, o sósia de rato Mickey apelava explicitamente para a resistência violenta contra Israel e os EUA, reforçando sempre a ideia de que a supremacia islâmica «há-de vencer».«Devem rezar na mesquita cinco vezes por dia até que haja uma liderança mundial de origem islâmica», aconselhava o clone da conhecida personagem da Disney aos seus pequenos espectadores.
JPTF 2007/05/15

O “rato Mickey” do Hamas explica a vida “maravilhosa” de cristãos e judeus sob domínio islâmico no Al-Andalus (Espanha e Portugal)

“Rato Mickey ‘trabalha‘ para o Hamas” in PortugalDiário, 15 de Maio de 2007

A única descendente viva de Walt Disney, Diane Miller, apelidou esta quarta-feira o Hamas de «maquiavélico». O grupo criou um programa de televisão no qual uma personagem vestida de Mickey Mouse incentiva à resistência violenta contra Israel e Estados Unidos, noticia o jornal The Guardian.O programa intitulado «Pioneiros de Amanhã» exibido desde Abril pela estação de televisão al-Aqsa, sob a tutela do grupo que domina o governo palestiniano, é conduzido por um apresentador chamado Farfur que está vestido com um fato da famosa personagem da Disney.Farfur dá conselhos às crianças para beberem o seu leite. Ao mesmo tempo incita, aquilo a que os críticos israelitas apelidam de «propaganda de ódio», contra a ocupação da Palestina. O rato Mickey, sob o pseudónimo de «Farfur», partilha a apresentação com uma jovem chamada Saraa a quem cabe a tarefa de transmitir mensagens acerca da luta contra Israel e os Estados Unidos. Enquanto isso, Farfur diz às crianças que devem rezar na mesquita cinco vezes por dia até que «haja uma liderança mundial de origem islâmica».

Crianças telefonam e simulam combate
Num vídeo que foi difundido através do YouTube, um jovem espectador fala com Farfur pelo telefone e recita um poema que inclui os versos «Rafah canta: oh, oh a resposta é uma AK-47», enquanto o apresentador vestido de Mickey finge participar num tiroteio. Entretanto, outra criança ao telefone diz «é a hora da morte, vamos para a guerra».O vídeo que está disponível no site do Google inclui, também, uma chamada telefónica em que o interlocutor faz um apelo às tropas americanas para saírem do Iraque, assim como tece críticas ao presidente George W. Bush e à secretária de Estado, Condoleezza Rice.

Walt Disney fala em «maldade pura»
Esta quarta-feira, Diane Miller, de 73 anos, criticou o facto da conhecida personagem da família Disney, que foi criada em 1928 e é um dos maiores ícones da fábrica de sonhos, ter sido apropriada por terceiros desta forma.«Não é só o Mickey que está a ser utilizado para ensinar as crianças a serem cruéis», lamenta, ao concluir que, neste caso específico, está a lidar-se com «maldade pura» a qual «não pode ser ignorada», frisou em entrevista ao New York Daily News. Entretanto, vários críticos israelitas já reagiram apelidando o programa como um método «certeiro» de ensinar as crianças a «odiar e matar». «Os Pioneiros de Amanhã», o programa apresentado pelo «Rato Mickey», é transmitido, também, na faixa de Gaza por via satélite, sendo difundido para todo o mundo árabe.
JPTF 2007/05/15

“Visto da Rússia: Eurovisão, uma lição de geopolítica aplicada” in Courrier International, 14 de Maio de 2007

por Maxime Ioussine
Le concours de l'Eurovision est depuis longtemps devenu une compétition est-européenne, qui se joue "entre soi". Les Allemands, les Français, les Anglais ne s'y intéressent guère, et les Italiens ont même refusé d'y participer. En revanche, les ex-Soviétiques, les ex-Yougoslaves et les ex-"démocraties populaires" considèrent ce concours avec autant de sérieux que si l'honneur de leur pays en dépendait. Pour l'emporter, ces pays sont prêts à conclure les "alliances régionales" les plus variées, parfois naturelles (Russie – Biélorussie), parfois extravagantes (Croatie – Serbie, les ennemies d'hier). Ce qui compte avant tout, c'est le résultat, la garantie d'obtenir le vote des voisins, quelles que soient les circonstances, même si la prestation de l'interprète a été lamentable. Sans même avoir entendu le chanteur grec, on pouvait par exemple parier que Chypre le placerait en tête, tandis que la Grèce voterait pour le ou la Chypriote. Les Roumains donnent toujours 12 points aux Moldaves, et réciproquement dans la plupart des cas. Mais ces arrangements ne suffisent pas à assurer la victoire. Il faut une alliance de poids, pas seulement bilatérale. De ce point de vue, les Etats nés de l'ex-Yougoslavie et de l'ex-URSS sont les mieux placés. A Helsinki, six anciennes républiques yougoslaves et neuf anciennes républiques soviétiques prenaient part au vote. Le résultat n'a pas fait un pli. Le podium a accueilli dans l'ordre la Serbie, l'Ukraine et la Russie. Cette fois, nous n'avons pas su tirer parti de notre supériorité numérique, nous avons dispersé nos voix, certains accordant les fameux 12 points à l'Ukraine, d'autres à la Russie, d'autres encore au chanteur biélorusse, qui a fini sixième. La première place nous a donc échappé. Les ex-Yougoslaves se sont montrés plus intelligents. Disciplinés, les Croates, Bosniaques, Slovènes, Macédoniens et Monténégrins ont tous placé en tête la chanteuse serbe, ce qui lui a valu 60 points d'office, auxquels sont venus s'ajouter les voix de l'Autriche et de la Suisse, où vivent beaucoup d'immigrés serbes, ainsi que de la Hongrie, qui avait rejoint l'"alliance balkanique" (les Serbes ont voté pour la chanteuse hongroise, échange de bons procédés). Finalement, la Finlande a été le seul pays "désintéressé" à placer la concurrente serbe en tête. Les tactiques de certains pays peuvent sembler paradoxales, mais si on y regarde de près, on découvre toujours leur logique. Par exemple, pourquoi l'Estonie a-t-elle voté en faveur de la Russie alors que le contentieux du Soldat de Bronze est encore brûlant ? C'est très simple : [grâce au vote du public] les russophones vivant en Estonie se sont massivement prononcés pour le groupe [russe] Serebro. Et pourquoi les Turcs se sont-ils soudain mis à apprécier les Arméniens ? Parce qu'en fait, ce ne sont pas les Turcs, ce sont les Arméniens de la diaspora qui s'étaient organisés pour envoyer des votes par SMS. D'où est venue la popularité de Vierka Serdioutchka [le concurrent ukrainien] au Portugal ? Il suffit de savoir que ce pays héberge 300 000 travailleurs ukrainiens… Et pourquoi les spectateurs d'Allemagne, d'Autriche et de Suisse soutiennent-il si ardemment la Turquie ? Songez au nombre d'immigrés turcs dans ces pays… Le concours de l'Eurovision ? Une vraie leçon de géopolitique appliquée!
JPTF 25/05/2007

maio 14, 2007

“Chpre envia SOS ao Parlamento Europeu sobre a destruição no Norte da ilha” in The Cyprus Weekly, 14 de Maio de 2007

por Alex Efthyvoulos
The destruction of the cultural heritage in Turkish-occupied north Cyprus is a shame and the European Union must intervene promptly to stop it, Reimer Boge the highly influential Chairman of the EU Parliament’s Budget committee said here this week. He was addressing a large gathering at the opening of an exhibition of photographs at the EU Parliament illustrating the terrible and, in many places irreversible, destruction and desecration of Greek churches, monasteries, cemeteries and other Christian religious monuments in the occupied north of the island. More than 200 people, including many parliamentarians, attended the special opening of the exhibition. Boge pointed out that "this exhibition shows only some of the destructions and damages in the northern part of Cyprus. Unfortunately, many places that are witnesses of thousands of years of civilisation and religions in Cyprus are today ruined and some of them beyond repair. This is a shame... Now is the time for all those feeling responsible and committed to European principles to support and not block the restoration as soon as possible". Boge, who is married to a Cypriot Maronite from Karpasia village in the occupied north, said he has visited Cyprus repeatedly and has learnt "about its fascinating history... and the challenges that have to be solved to guarantee the European principles and values for all citizens of Cyprus. Cyprus has become for me my second home country and I feel very much emotionally and politically committed."

Word of desperation
He recalled that Cyprus is now a member of the European Union, adding that "European cooperation and integration must be based on common rules, values and principles such as tolerance, respect, legality and the protection of these principles, otherwise Europe will cease to exist in future". Yiannakis Matsis, one of the Cypriot members of the EU parliament who organised the exhibition, told the audience that the photos on display "cannot give the extent of the catastrophe. On the spot things are far worse. The cultural heritage of northern Cyprus is sending an SOS signal: A civilisation is disappearing." Matsis said the opening of the exhibition coincided with the celebration of Europe Day and "we are all proud of the role that the European citizens of the 27 member states are playing internationally for the protection of peace and stability in the world and the promotion of human rights and basic European principles."Cyprus is asking desperately for help... My words are words of desperation. Cyprus civilisation does not only belong to the Cypriots. Our civilisation in the northern occupied part of the island is part of the European civilisation. “It belongs to the whole world. Therefore, the question is clear: is Europe ready or not to protect her own principles of cultural heritage? We are here to fight for this".

500 churches totally destroyed
He added that "nine thousand years of recorded civilisation in Cyprus is threatened with complete extinction: 500 churches of all Christian doctrines have been totally destroyed. "Mosaics of the 6th century AD have been cut off from the Virgin Mary church of Kanakaria and sold for millions of dollars abroad. "Frescoes of important cultural value have been taken from churches like Antiphonitis, Ayios Thimonanos and many others."

Starting point.
More than 40,000 Byzantine icons have been sold in the markets of the world". Matsis pointed out that EU Expansion Commissioner Olli Rehn "has been politically committed to allocate part of financial aid to the Turkish Cypriots for the protection and restoration of churches and any other religious monuments. But, unfortunately, we are still waiting..." Boge urged the island communities "to join forces in order to address the open questions related to cultural heritage". He recalled that the Council of Europe conducted a study and prepared a detailed report 20 years ago on the cultural heritage in Cyprus. "Based on the findings I suggest that a committee including members of all communities and independent experts should be established in order to inspect and to record the current situation and prepare a plan with possible solutions". He also recalled that the EU parliament asked the EU commission last December to allocate funds for infrastructure projects and the preservation of cultural heritage in north Cyprus. "We are expecting that the Commission will respond to this demand positively. “Of course, a natural, constructive and a fair approach should be adopted to embrace the protection and preservation of all cultural monuments regardless of their location, origin and faith", he said. He concluded saying: "Let use the exhibition as a starting point to present the cultural heritage problems to Europe and European Institutions, with the hope that they will initiate some actions and solutions".and for prompt EU intervention.
JPTF 2007/05/14

maio 11, 2007

“O erro do AKP” in Turkish Daily News, 11 de Maio de 2007

por Yusuf Kanli

Letters from agitated pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) and anti-AKP readers of this column have apparently two things in common: They are unhappy with the current situation in Turkey. They are unhappy that this writer is not stressing sufficiently enough the importance of secularism for Turkish democracy or “acting like a mouthpiece for the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and die hard so called secularists” and not objecting strong enough to their campaign that did not allow the AKP elect Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül as president although “under the Turkish constitution, the AKP has the right to choose the next president.” First of all, let me underline in all clarity that secularism is the backbone of Turkish democracy. If there is to be democracy in any Muslim society, secularism has to be its central pillar. This is a matter of whether sovereignty is divine or belongs to the nation. So plain and simple... Secularism and democracy are not adversaries. On the contrary, secularism is a sine qua non of flourishing of democracy in a Muslim society. Secondly, in this column I have written scores of times since April 2006 that the election of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or someone from the AKP as a president of the country has to be accepted by the opponents of the ruling party. But the ruling party should also accept the fact that, headed by secularism, this country has its sensitivities. Rather than trying to impose its own pick as the president of the country the ruling party must enter in a dialogue with the opposition in order to produce a consensus candidate. Seeing that the ruling AKP had no intention of engaging in such a process, and that the fragile democracy in the country could suffer yet another road accident, I wrote many articles suggesting that rather than electing a president by a Parliament heading for general polls, we should consider amending the Constitution and letting people elect the president directly. Alternatively we could go to early polls and let the new president to be elected by the new Parliament. When we were making these suggestions there were still many months left before the start of the presidential election process on April 16. Parliament had plenty of time to debate and legislate the required constitutional amendments, or to prepare properly for early elections. I was not making these suggestions because I was against the AKP or was supporting the CHP. During the same months, in many articles it was me who bitterly criticized the attitudes of the CHP and even accused it of moving away from principles of social democracy.

AKP's premeditated mistake
However, the ruling AKP closed its eyes and ears to all criticisms and appeals of the opposition and wanted to impose its own pick as president on the country. At the same time it ignored all the sensitivities of this nation as well as the fact that it has a majority of two thirds in Parliament but only 34 percent of electoral support. Only a day before the closure of presidential candidacy period Erdoğan declared who he thought should become Turkey's next president. He did not feel any need to consultat the main opposition party on the issue, although he was well aware that the Constitutional Court could decide in favor of an appeal by the CHP that from the Parliament of 550 at least 367 parliamentarians must be present when presidential vote takes place. The end result... A mismanaged presidential election process has landed Turkey into a comical situation of not being able to elect its president. Had Erdoğan consulted the CHP and had he agreed to produce a consensus candidate, we would long have a president-elect today waiting to takeover the presidency on May 16. And Gül, who we value very much as a friend and a successful minister, would not have been humiliated. But, still, rather than leaving election of the new president to the new Parliament, which will be elected in July, the prime minister and the AKP are insisting on hasty constitutional amendments that would allow direct election of the president. Although I too believe that Turkish people must be able to elect their president directly, such a revolutionary change requires a detailed study and comprehensive amendments in both the constitution and legislation. How can a Parliament that failed to elect a president, and which is going to polls, undertake such a revolutionary constitutional amendment? Insisting on “I have the majority, I will undertake whatever I want in whatever fashion I like” is not a thinking that is compatible with democracy.
JPTF 2007/05/11

maio 09, 2007

“Adeus à bela França?” in Guardian, 9 de Maio de 2007

The French seem to have the perfect lifestyle: long lunches, short hours, great food and plenty of ooh-la-la. But their new president is determined to make them work harder, faster, more efficiently - just like the British and Americans. Merde alors, says Stuart Jeffries.

It was perhaps the second glass of wine that did it. That, or the dessert of millefeuille aux poires. Or it could have been the blanquette, the bourguignon, the pot-au-feu or whatever Le Firmament in the Rue 4 Septembre in Paris's second arrondissement was offering as the day's special. Whatever. After lunch, I would stroll back to my office, shadowing my eyes from the 3.30pm sun, nod off at my desk over the lunchtime edition of Le Monde, to be awoken by my own snoring. Only then, with the proper morosité of a grumpy Frenchman, would I contemplate returning to work. Unless Nicolas from the economics agency across the courtyard came round and asked if I wanted to have a quick beer, which I often did. I had gone native: I didn't live to work, but worked to live. And live well.
France, when I worked there at the turn of the millennium, seemed a marvellous place. The Protestant work ethic had been refused a work permit and, if one occasionally had a sense that this decadence had something of the last days of the Roman Empire about it, no matter: this was the way to live. Certainly, if you were middle class and in a secure job, the country had it all. It remains substantially the same. There is still the 35-hour week, for a start, even if new president Nicolas Sarkozy has derided it as a "general catastrophe for the French economy".
There is something called making "le pont", which means that if a national holiday falls in the middle of the week, French workers will take off enough days before or after it to extend it all the way to the nearest weekend. Not since Edward Heath's three-day week have the British managed to work so little. And there is none of this American rubbish of two weeks' leave a year in France either: Paris, in particular, is massively depopulated from Bastille Day (July 14) until September as the French head off for at least two months of well-earned eating, drinking, romancing and dozing.
(Of course, to get from Paris's chic arrondissements to the "autoroute du soleil", the Midi and their second homes, those Parisians drive past the horrible flats of the poor citizens of the French capital's banlieues, past people who cannot afford such refined pleasures and are increasingly and understandably seething about the inequalities of Gallic society - but let's not spoil the story.)
Then there are the extraordinary public services. Not only does France have the fastest and most efficient trains in the world, but a system of means-tested state childcare that even today makes me green with envy. The poorest French parents can send their children to a state-run creche from 8.30am to 6.30pm for free, while colleagues on similar salaries to mine send their two toddlers to a creche at a cost of €800 (£500) a month, which is inconceivable in Britain. Partly as a result of this humane system, not only does France have one of the highest birthrates in western Europe but also one of the highest proportion of women in the workforce. In France, too, you can cheerfully send your child to the nearest state school without poring over school league tables and boring all your friends with your grasp of the relevant Ofsted report.
True, the French pay for such services with higher rates of direct tax than the British electorate appears to tolerate, and the state sector does seem to be populated with people who do not do very much (yet do it very fragrantly), but the fact that the French have chosen such a civilised, civilising state over the barbarities of the US, and delivered good public services with a quality that shames their British equivalents, only shows their commitment to making the revolutionary values of liberty, equality and fraternity real. Or, at least, so it seems if you can blind yourself to the massive problems of unemployment among young people and the poverty and alienation of those French men and women from ethnic minorities.
When I worked in Paris, French men who were better groomed than I would ever be would tell me that they ate better, drank better and made love better than I, le pauvre anglais, ever would. And, of course, they were right. They were also more arrogant and considered it their right to drive wildly while drunk. But I forgave them at least the former.
The biggest difference of all between France and l'outre-Manche (ie the UK) or l'outre-Atlantique (ie the US) remains the pursuit of sensual pleasure, a thing that the Anglo-Saxon business model seems to have foolishly ignored. True, it is the American constitution that makes formalistic reference to the "pursuit of happiness", but it is the French nation that concentrates, and substantially, on pursuing pleasure and then savouring it properly. They do not need to be reminded by their constitution that they have a right to do so.
That cultivation of pleasure, so exotic for us and so contrary to how we live in our ill-dressed, ill-groomed, fast-food fetishising, sexually incompetent, binge-drinking culture, is why so many foreigners are seduced by France. In her new book French Seduction, the Paris-dwelling American art historian Eunice Lipton eulogises the sensual delights of French food: "In markets, indoors and out, peaches, pears, apples, roasting chickens, barbecuing pork, silver, white, red, and blue fish from all the rivers and seas of France, heave themselves at you. Flowers of every size and colour dare you to touch them, bury your head in them. Sour and intimate aromas thicken the air in the cheese shop, as ancient odours of churning milk come strangely close to bodily smells." She couldn't have written those words about any Anglo-Saxon country.
To do the bounty of France's agricultural production justice, you would need to spend time savouring it. And the French do; what's more, they regularly tell the rest of the world that this is how one ought to take ones' pleasures. The same applies to sex. Virginie Ledret, a London-based journalist, whose book Les Pintades à Londres is an affectionate study of the tastes of young women in the British capital, concludes that her English friends don't know how to do it properly: "They make love à la hussarde [hell for leather]. It'll have to be explained to them it doesn't have to be that way." Possibly in a series of remedial illustrated lectures at the Institut Français.
It is this France, so beloved and reviled by outsiders, that Sarkozy, if we are to believe his rhetoric, is going to abolish. The horrifying prospect is that the French, so eminently hateable and enviable for producing the world's most calorific food and yet remaining thin, for being so chic that they make even the most put-together Anglo-Saxons look like sacks of spanners, for selling arms to dodgy regimes and then piously criticising Bush's "coalition of the willing" on - the gall! - moral grounds, will throw away the things that make them special for that most boring thing: economic productivity. After his election to the Elysée on Sunday, Sarko, sounding not so much like a Frenchman as a joyless Puritan stepping off the Mayflower, grimly announced: "The French people have decided to break with the ideas, behaviour and habits of the past. I will rehabilitate work, merit and morals." Nicolas, baby, please don't! Please don't take the belle out of la belle France. Please don't make yourselves like us. You won't like it.
We love you amoral philandering Frenchies who don't bend the knee to the Protestant work ethic with all its grisly ramifications. Today, my lunch was last night's pasta eaten from a Tupperware container at my desk. Tinned tuna. Sorry-looking capers. Ancient olives. Look at this dismal box filled with la malbouffe anglaise [crap English food], Sarko. I didn't even have time for a post-prandial bit of how's your father or bob's your uncle, still less a decent haircut. Is this what you want for France? Because if you imitate le monde anglo-saxon, monsieur le président, that's what's going to happen.
"It worries me that the first people to congratulate Sarkozy were Bush and Blair," says Agnès Poirier, a French journalist who divides her time between London and Paris, and whose book Le Modèle Anglais, Une Illusion Française (The English model, a French Illusion) derides the notion that Sarkozy will serve France well by copying the UK or the US. "These people shouldn't be his friends or his inspirations. But they are."
Indeed, Poirier's book could be useful holiday reading for Sarkozy as he holidays en famille on Malta before starting work next week, unleashing what some fear could be a second French revolution - one that will shake the country out of its dogmatic slumbers and into a grisly new world, where coffee is not savoured at pavement tables while making sexy chit chat, as it should be, but sucked from drink-through lids as you race from one job to another, possibly shoving a horribly cooked burger down your gob as you do so.
Poirier points out that in the 1720s, the French philosopher Voltaire exiled himself in Britain and found a dynamic, innovative society that juxtaposed itself suggestively with France's crumbling ancien regime. If only the French had adopted our business model in 1785, the tumbrils might have not seen so much action in the ensuing decades. She points out that today many French people, Sarko included, think as Voltaire did then: that France must reform itself along British lines in order to remain afloat.
Poirier agrees with Lipton that the French are bitterly upset by what has happened to their country, that la gloire française has lost its lustre. "The French can't understand what's happened," writes Lipton. "They used to have the best country in the world. Now you can't get a DSL line installed in less than three weeks or a new chip for your cell phone in less than two. They never noticed things like this before or cared, but now they know it's faster in London or the United States or Germany. Or India! France is falling behind."
But Poirier counsels that the French must not throw the baby out with the bath water: in seeking to make France great again, to speed up its broadband links, make it compete with India, and all the dismal-sounding things it must do if it is to become economically successful, Sarkozy must not make France Anglo-Saxon. He must realise that the Anglo-Saxon system would destroy everything that France stands for, says Poirier. "That system is not just economic. To adopt it would destroy our manner of looking, of eating, of thinking, of even loving, ultimately in a way that would touch France's soul. Sometimes for the better, mostly for the worse.
"Doing so would produce a France that was fundamentally unjust, one that is divided between the rich and the poor in a way that is anti-French. The point about France, since the revolution, is that it has been a kinder society than Britain or the US, one that looks after its citizens, especially the pensioners and other vulnerable members of our society. Destroying that republican model, as I fear Sarkozy wants to do, will destroy what makes us unique and makes some people admire us. Not only that, it would destroy the society that made him, as a man from an immigrant family, possible. It would kick away the ladder he climbed."
Indeed, this is a common post-electoral refrain to be found among French columnists this week: Sarkozy will create a country as inegalitarian as the US or the UK, where class divisions are more sclerotic than ever.
What is especially fascinating about the results of the French presidential election is that it is the relatively comfortable old rather than the uncertain and afraid young who voted for Sarkozy's revolution. The so-called internet generation of 18- to 24-year-olds voted 58% for the socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, while Sarkozy benefited from what some commentators have described as a "wrinkly landslide": 61% of voters in their 60s and 68% of the over-70s chose Sarko over Sego in the second round of the presidential election.
What this reveals is a marvellous example of Gallic hypocrisy: those older French people on good pensions after secure careers in well-remunerated, possibly public, posts, many of them, no doubt the soixante-huitards [veterans of the 1968 riots] whose radicalism is as unimpeachable as it is venerable, sought to encourage young French people to expose themselves to what they never face - the chill winds of job insecurity and cuts in public services.
Whether Sarkozy has the bottle to do these things remains to be seen. "He said he would get rid of the 35-hour week, and then [shortly before the election] he said he won't," says Stephen Clarke, francophile Englishman and author of A Year in the Merde and Talk to the Snail. And there is a very good economic reason for that. "If you cut an Englishman's working week to 35 hours, he would spend the additional free time flying to Bulgaria on an Irish jet. But the same thing in France means that a Frenchman will drive in a French car or travel on a French train to spend his leisure time in France. The money stays in France.
"France never changes," argues Clarke. "If Sarkozy decides to take on the unions he will face strikes. If he takes on the farmers, he will be a fool. He won't do any of these things, partly because he was in the last administration. It's all just rhetoric, designed to make him as much of an international star as Bush or Blair. That's what Sarkozy really wants."
But what of the threat of more riots among those who think that Sarko's promises offer nothing to them? What about all those burning cars? "Again, French people buy French," says Clarke. "Peugeot and Renault ought to be very happy when they see burning cars. It means that their sales are going to go up, which is good for the economy."
But what of those alienated graduates? According to a survey conducted by the Centre for Research on Education, Training and Employment (Cereq), of 25,000 young people who left education in 2001, 11% of graduates were unemployed in 2007. Unemployment was even higher - 19% - among those without a degree. "That is the main problem: young people can't get a decent job. That's why they rioted against the reform for the new contract for first jobs. But the moral is this: they rioted and the government backed down. That is what always happens in France and Sarkozy won't change it." What is their future under Sarkozy? "They'll probably go to London like they do now. I don't see any signs he going to do anything real."
In this, Sarkozy may be wise - if he seeks to remain popular and to have a sympathetic parliament in June's parliamentary elections. Lipton suggests that the French do not want too much change. "The French certainly don't want to be like the British or the Americans. Political differences among the French evaporate in their shared abhorrence of the liberal economies of Anglo-Saxon countries. Not to mention their condescension toward their taste. The French treasure their orchards and vineyards, their Bresse chickens and Charolais cows. And many would like to linger in their past and make all the foreigners go away."
But there is more at stake than that. France needs to exist as it does now as an inspiration for the Anglo-Saxons as to how we might live better. If France did not exist, the British and Americans would have to invent her (of course, we would be temperamentally incapable of doing so). If France stops being different from us, we might as well fill up the Channel Tunnel and stop dreaming of long lunches, longer weekends and affairs that have nothing to do with business: we won't need to go there any more because it will be just like here.
"That is right, and that is one of the reasons Sarkozy must be cautious," says Poirier. "We are different and that's great. Let's keep it that way".

America v France
How the two countries compare
US: 301m. France: 61m
Life expectancy
US: male 75.15 years, female 80.97 years.
France: male 77.35 years, female 84 years
Median age
US: 36.6 years. France: 39 years
Working week
US: approx 46 hours. France: usually 35 hours
Population living below the poverty line (for two adults and one child)
US: 12%. France: 6.2%
Minimum wage
US: varies widely from state to state - no such thing in Alabama. France: €8.27
Usual retirement age
US: 65-67. France: 60
Prison population
US: 2 million plus. France: 50,500 plus
Number of murders a year
US: 16,692. France: approx 1,000
Number of overweight citizens
US: a little more than two thirds. France: a little under one third
Public transport
US: bus, train and subway are all hit and miss. France: train, metro, bus and tram are all notoriously punctual
You are most likely to be struck by
US: tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, exploding levees, tornadoes, mudslides, forest fires, generic flooding and permafrost. France: flooding; avalanches; windstorms and the occasional forest fire,,2075293,00.html
JPTF 2007/05/09

maio 07, 2007

Comentário: A estratégia do AKP e os paradoxos da eleição presidencial na Turquia

A recente eleição presidencial na Turquia, feita na Grande Assembleia Nacional (o parlamento turco), e a anulação da primeira votação pelo Supremo Tribunal devido a falta de quórum, na sequência do recurso interposto pelo Partido Republicano do Povo (CHP) – o maior partido da oposição (secularista e social-democrata) liderado por Deniz Baykal –, levantam várias questões políticas interessantes sobre a política interna da Turquia. A primeira é que o Partido da Justiça e Desenvolvimento (AKP), de raízes islamistas, liderado por Recep Tayyip Erdogan, procurava eleger um presidente da república da sua confiança (Abdullah Gül, o actual Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros e ex-quadro do Banco Islâmico de Desenvolvimento, sediado em Jeddah, na Arábia Saudita), aproveitando o facto de, na eleição parlamentar de Novembro de 2002, com pouco mais de 1/3 dos votos (mais exactamente 34, 3%) ter obtido quase 2/3 dos deputados (que é o número constitucionalmente necessário para a eleição do presidente da república na primeira votação parlamentar). Importa recordar que este foi um resultado anómalo no quadro do historial das eleições parlamentares realizadas no país. Só um conjunto de circunstâncias muito peculiares que ocorreram na eleição parlamentar de Novembro de 2002 (por exemplo, o aparecimento do populista Partido da Juventude, de Cem Uzam, que obteve mais de 7% dos votos), à qual se junta o facto de a lei eleitoral turca exigir, pelo menos, 10% de votos para representação parlamentar (um dispositivo para evitar partidos étnicos curdos), permitiram esta enorme maioria parlamentar ao AKP. A segunda é que, apesar de alguma evolução positiva no sentido da aceitação das regras normais do jogo democrático numa sociedade pluralista (e da ideologia conservadora-democrática que é proclamada oficialmente), o AKP não se desligou completamente, nem das suas raízes islamistas, nem de várias reivindicações típicas dos movimentos que se movem nesse quadro ideológico-religioso. Pelo contrário, há vários indícios de que, uma vez tendo atingido o poder, o partido de Erdogan e Gül procurou implementar uma estratégia sofisticada de reislamização da Turquia (tirando ilações do fracasso do seu antecessor, o Partido da Prosperidade de Erbakan). É de alguma maneira isto que se pode verificar quando analisados os quatro anos e meio de actuação do seu governo e o esforço de implementação de várias iniciativas (algumas das quais frustradas pela oposição que lhe foi movida pelo establishment secular – entre os quais as Forças Armadas, que voltaram a fazer ouvir a sua voz nesta eleição presidencial – e, em particular, pelo papel de contrapeso do Presidente da República, Ahmet Necdet Sezer): i) tentativa de reintroduzir a criminalização do adultério, na esteira do dispositivo tradicional da Sharia islâmica; ii) tentativa de revogar a proibição do uso de véu nas universidades e organismos públicos; iii) expansão das prerrogativas dos graduados das escolas iman-hatip (religiosas), que formam os pregadores e «clérigos» muçulmanos, de modo a que estes, no futuro, possam aceder à máquina administrativa do Estado; iv) aumento do ensino religioso e difusão dos estudos corânicos junto das crianças; v) colocação de personalidades com simpatias pro-AKP em cargos importantes do Estado, incluindo o sistema judicial e o próprio exército; vi) reconfiguração da política externa em moldes ideológicos, deixando cair a anterior proximidade estratégica com Israel, em favor de novas proximidades ideológico-estratégicas islâmicas (aproximação ao Irão e Síria, abertura ao governo islamista do HAMAS na Palestina, etc.). Mas o mais paradoxal é que esta estratégia sofisticada de reislamização precisou, em parte, da cobertura da União Europeia para ser viável, ou seja, para não ser interrompida, como em 1997, pelo establishment secular e, sobretudo, pelas Forças Armadas.... Por outras palavras, os «valores europeus» têm sido usados pelo AKP para tentar afastar o controlo estatal das instituições religiosas da Turquia, incluindo mais de 100.000 mesquitas e waqf (fundações religiosas e de assistência caritativa) e criar uma contra-elite islamista. Isto porque secularismo na Turquia não significa tanto a separação entre a mesquita e o Estado, mas, sobretudo, um controlo da primeira pelo segundo. Nesta estratégia de construir um contrapeso para as estruturas seculares, a eleição de um Presidente da República conservador-islamista era, pelas razões já apontadas, uma peça fundamental. Ao contrário da União Europeia, o establishment secular turco percebeu bem o que estava em jogo e como a democracia pode ser usada para cobrir estratégias que visam corroer lentamente valores democráticos e seculares.
JPTF 2007/05/07

maio 05, 2007

Entrevista com Yiorgos Lillikas, Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros de Chipre in Spiegel online International, 4 de Maio de 2007

‘Por que é que deveríamos adoptar a cultura turca?‘

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The road to Turkish membership in the European Union leads through Cyprus. Should Turkey not recognize Cyprus and open up trade with the country, it cannot become an EU member. But domestically, Turkey also has a lot of work left to do to implement the criteria for membership. Does the current government crisis in Turkey between the military-backed secularists and the Islamic government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan worsen Turkey's chances of accession and lessen the chances of finding a solution to the Cyprus problem?
Yiorgos Lillikas: Both. I am afraid that every time we have a political crisis in Turkey, Cyprus pays the price, especially should the military return to power. As we have seen in the past, that would mean a more hardliner policy and a more aggressive policy toward Cyprus. Cyprus is still seen by the Turkish military as vital for the country's security. This is a very old fashioned and outdated approach. If they don't change, then the Cyprus problem cannot be solved and it won't be possible for Turkey to become a member of the European Union.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Last December at the EU summit, Turkey maintained its refusal to open up all its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus and elected not to move towards normalizing relations between the two countries. Do you think the Turkish position might soften once the upcoming elections are over?
Lillikas: I certainly hope so. In the European Union, a lot of partners thought that because of approaching elections in Turkey, the government in Ankara was unable to implement its obligations toward the European Union. If that is the case, then it can also be true of the Cyprus problem.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Given the role the military plays in Turkish political life, why should Turkey be a part of the European Union at all?
Lillikas: If Turkey doesn't change its political culture by adopting European values, then of course it cannot become a member of the European Union. That should be clear for everybody. But we have to keep the incentives alive for Turkey. I am always opposed to those who say that Turkey should never become a member of the EU, because then, the Turkish government has no incentive to pursue reforms. But I am also opposed to those on the other extreme who say that they support Turkey unconditionally. The result is the same. If the Turkish government believes that it can become an EU member without fulfilling the criteria, then it would likewise have no incentive to reform.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is Turkey's desire to join the European Union the only lever that Cyprus has in negotiations with Turkey over the potential reunification of the island?
Lillikas: Unfortunately yes. We are too small to have other levers. This is why I am dumbfounded when Turkish politicians say they would never accept the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus for security reasons. Come on! Maybe we are not very clever, us Cypriots, but we are not so stupid that we would attack Turkey.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is the goal of eventual Cypriot reunification the only reason that Cyprus supports Turkish membership?
Lillikas: This is the main reason. On the other hand, if Turkey stays out of the EU, what is the future of Turkey? If we don't accept Turkey into the European Union, then it will turn to other solutions. But what other solutions are there? There is no other solution.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: And there is no other solution for Cyprus?
Lillikas: No, there isn't.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Given this fact, wouldn't it make sense for Cyprus to support certain EU concessions toward Turkey like opening up trade with the Turkish controlled, northern part of the island - which the EU promised Turkish Cypriots in 2004 but which has been blocked by Cyprus since?
Lillikas: This idea is a paradoxical one. Five days before the accession of Cyprus into the EU, the EU decided to work for the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots and that this should lead to the economic integration of the island and eventually to reunification. The question I asked the Commission though is how, through imposing separate trade relationships, this is consistent with the goal of economic integration and reunification? By establishing separate interests, you lead the country to a division. If this is what some Europeans want -- a division of the island -- it is better to say it clearly. But if we are sincere that we want the reunification of the island -- and according to the accession treaty of Cyprus into the EU, the whole island is already a member of the EU -- they must give an answer as to how direct trade serves economic integration. And they haven't answered this question.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Could one not see the establishment of trade as a symbolic gesture to build trust with Turkey and thus make Ankara more willing to move toward concessions of their own?
Lillikas: If there is someone in Europe who wants to create trust between the European Union and Turkey and to offer more benefits to Turkey as an incentive to integrate with the EU, they should give this benefit from their own country.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Cyprus, of course, continues to insist that the issue of Turkish accession and the issue of trade with northern Cyprus are separate ...
Lillikas: ... they are separate ...
SPIEGEL ONLINE: ... they are legally separate, yes. But if you want to solve the Cyprus problem, do you really think that the two issues can be completely split from one another?
Lillikas: Why should we adopt the Turkish culture? We should think in a European way, not in a Turkish way. The Turkish government, from the beginning, has been trying to negotiate the European acquis communautaire (European law which new members must accept). It is the first country to have done that. Because they say they have difficulties accepting this or adopting that, they ask for something in exchange. Instead of trying to adopt the European culture, they are trying to get into a political game like in an Anatolian bazaar. We don't accept this. Some politicians in Europe are ready to accept it. My answer to them is: They can give benefits from their own country to Turkey.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But the issue of divided Cyprus is one issue, with roots much further back than the 1974 Turkish invasion. Turkey's EU aspiration is a completely different issue. But Cyprus insists on wrapping itself in the cloak of the EU in order to address this unrelated problem.
Lillikas: The other way around would be very abnormal. Cyprus fulfilled all of the criteria to join the European Union. Had we not been allowed in because of the Turkish invasion, it would have been like punishing us for being punished by Turkey. Cyprus became a member of the EU because we adopted the EU criteria. We have contributed to the European civilization since antiquity. We are not like Turkey which is trying to adopt European culture. We had the European culture and we contributed to its development.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Unfortunately, that doesn't make the solution to the Cyprus problem any easier.
Lillikas: To solve the Cyprus problem, compromise must come from both sides, not just from our side as the small, weakest party.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is Cyprus really the weaker partner? Cyprus has what Turkey wants and Cyprus can block Turkish membership.
Lillikas: If you think like that, you forget the origin of the problem. The origin of the problem is that there is an occupation. The problem is because Turkish troops came to Cyprus. We cannot start with 2007. If Turkish troops had not invaded Cyprus, and there were no occupation, we wouldn't have the problem with Turkey. We have to go back to the origin of the problem.,1518,481079,00.html
JPTF 5/05/2007

maio 04, 2007

“Dois projectos revolucionários no Líbano e na Turquia” in Dar Al-Hayat, 3 de Maio de 2007

MP Michel Aoun's call for holding presidential elections in Lebanon through direct popular vote, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's to elect the president of the republic directly by the people, involve two revolutionary projects which undermine the meaning of the "State" in both countries and that of the Constitution. This Constitution protects the meaning of the "State", strikes a balance between the society's components and stands in the face of deeming easy any attack on that meaning whenever such an attack seems to be a convenient means of forcing any one party's will on others. Despite the differences between the two regimes in Lebanon and Turkey, the similarity lies in their attempt to break the shackles of the law and annul the role of the legislative institution when one party finds it difficult to ascend the throne and another finds it tough to impose its full authority. Aoun doesn't seem to see any glimpse of hope in winning the presidential elections, due within months under the current Parliament which enjoys an unrelenting legitimacy and of which Aoun is a member. He thinks that the solution lies in a constitutional change that might make his dream come true "at least once". On the other hand, Erdogan, whose Islamic Party does not have complete authority over the state through Parliament, wants to dodge the role of the legislative institution and its competences also through changing the constitution. Perhaps Aoun's call is inspired by the mandatory constitutional amendment which extended the current president's term under the Syrian military presence. Aoun considered resorting to a course of intimidation giving the Lebanese nation a choice between polls or bullets, making a point of being a man of the "resistance". Yet, the Parliament member, whose political life didn't make him forget being a General, is grossly contradicting himself in many ways; for instance, he calls for early parliamentary elections, then eats his words when his popularity goes down claiming that "confidence is a proxy given to a member of Parliament in order to represent the authorizer until the next elections". Why does that apply to him and not to the majority members? Once more he contradicts himself as he appeals for a decision to be made by the "popular majority", alluding to his Shiite allies. However, he refuses to attest to the "cliché" of Christians becoming a minority in Lebanon, saying that, "It is not a matter of numbers", because that's exactly what the majority is trying to communicate to him when it stands up for the Ta'ef Agreement. This agreement set the foundation for harmony between the Lebanese people in a way that goes beyond the sizes of sects and the number of its electors paving the way for establishing a "secular" partnership so to speak, and protecting diversity against the danger of monopolization which undoes the meaning of Lebanon. The capricious Aoun is then ready to change his mottos on the spot as long as this serves his purpose of occupying the presidential seat because, in his practices, the end justifies the means. Nevertheless, the Lebanese people who have become well aware of his tactics when he was heading the infamous military government, and bore the consequences of his blunders and temperament won't make the mistake of the "experience of the experienced". As for Erdogan's party which managed to head the government, owing to the elections which awarded it a majority in Parliament, it is all set to back out on this institution in case it would not help extend its authority throughout the country, and wage a war against the judiciary authority which is inspired by and protects the constitution. This scheme not only endangers the stability of Turkey, but also threatens to thwart the eternal dream of the Turks of joining the European Union. Aoun and Erdogan are two revolutionary projects working against the clock and do not bode well. JPTF 2007/05/4

maio 03, 2007

“O que está em jogo na Turquia” in Jornal de Notícias, 3 de Maio de 2007

A anulação da votação da eleição presidencial, feita pelo Supremo Tribunal, após o recurso do Partido Republicano do Povo (CHP) – o maior partido da oposição social-democrata, liderado por Deniz Baykal –, mostra uma situação política complexa. O Partido da Justiça e Desenvolvimento (AKP) de Recep Tayyip Erdogan, de direita e raízes islamistas, procurava eleger uma personalidade da sua confiança (Abdullah Gül, o Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros), pois na eleição parlamentar de 2002, com pouco mais de 1/3 dos votos (34,3%), tinha obtido quase 2/3 dos assentos. Embora oficialmente conservador-democrático, o AKP não se desligou das suas raízes islamistas. Várias medidas e iniciativas legislativas como a criminalização do adultério, a revogação da proibição do uso de véu nas escolas e organismos públicos, e a colocação de personalidades pro-islamistas em cargos importantes do Estado (algumas frustradas pelo veto do Presidente da República, Ahmet Necdet Sezer), sugerem isso. O mais paradoxal é que esta estratégia reislamização soft precisou, em parte, da cobertura da adesão à UE para ser viável, pois os «valores europeus» serviram também para criar uma contra-elite, oposta às Forças Armadas e ao establishment secular. A questão é saber se a UE está preparada para lidar com a complexidade e especificidades da democracia turca.
OBS: Artigo publicado no JN sob o título O que está em jogo em Istambul
JPTF 2007/05/03

maio 02, 2007

“A mesma guerra diferente campanha” in Turkish Daily News, 2 de Maio de 2007

How bizarre, there is a uniform chorus of genuine amazement at the late night communiqué released from the General Staff HQ last Friday. I am personally astonished at the amazement the communiqué has caused. It was not a declaration of war, it just marked the opening of a new battle in an ongoing war. I was 21, a student of economics and a part-time reporter for this newspaper, when I learned from Suleyman Demirel, many times a former prime minister, then an opposition figure banned from politics, a future prime minister and president, the simple rule of logic that was, in his words: “In order to safely predict what is going to happen, you must drop from your analysis, one by one, what is most probably NOT going to happen.” Two decades later, Mr Demirel's teaching looks applicable in predicting the future of the war - between the ones who say that there is a war and the ones who say that there isn't (as the Canadian poet/singer once wrote.) What is going to happen in the war between the increasingly polarized Islamists (or self-declared Conservatives) and the Secularists (including the Army?) But, first, what is NOT going to happen?

What is not going to happen is (a) the Islamists giving up their strategic fight for a Turkey that is best described in the American nation-building jargon as “a modern Islamic state,” and (b) the Secularists (including the Army) giving up fighting back. With these two options dropped from the analysis, we safely reach the uncomfortable conclusion that the Cold War in Ankara will go on. That given, what other options, then, could be dropped? These would probably include Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his men taking such bold moves as to further provoke response from the military HQ and challenging the already very fragile modus vivendi; and, on the other extreme, the Army taking over in a conventional coup. No, these are not going to happen. But, what will be the most likely “weaponry” in the old war with a “new battle” opened last week? The principal weaponry in the new phase of the War will probably be the miracle word that is taqiyya -- till the next phase which may see less polite weaponry. For example, we will probably see Mr. Erdogan's men, particularly presidential candidate, Abdullah Gul, switching to a more secularist, more moderatist rhetoric, in order not to alert the enemy. And similarly, the generals will “wait and see” when they do not wholeheartedly assure Mr. Erdogan that he should “not worry,” but will privately craft numerous “contingency plans” – more than they normally do. For the same reasons, the “psychological warfare” will gain prominence. Actually, the military's communiqué, among many other objectives, aimed to add ammunition to the “civilian initiative” on the part of the Secularists such as the Apr. 14 and Apr. 29 crowds of millions in Ankara and Istanbul; to reinforce the “new spirit” these spectacular demonstrations may create between now and whenever the elections will be held; and send unity messages at many wavelengths to the hopelessly split opposition. Understandably, there is a uniform chorus of criticism of the military's warning of Apr. 27, timed carefully so as to minimize the financial market damage.

Although the “but-this-is-against-democracy” cliché naturally finds supporters among both one side of now deeply polarized Turkey and unbiased democrats, it does not explain the picture as a whole. It would be fairer to say the military's warning was against “arithmetical democracy,” not democracy in its true meaning. The message looked less like a Thai military communiqué and more like sensible EU warnings that ousted Austria's Joerg Haider. It is always debatable whether it is in democracy's purest spirits if a party should control two-thirds of parliament with votes amounting to one-quarter of the electorate and elect a president only half a year before its term in office expires. Moreover, it is always questionable whether it is “the will of the nation (or its majority)” to have all three of the offices of the president, parliament speaker and the prime minister run by men coming from a political doctrine that has left behind numerous political parties closed down by court warrants over radical Islam – warrants also endorsed by the European Court of Human Rights. But there is more. Essentially, the military's communiqué, (well, the next one may be less polite and come out at the opening hour of financial markets,) without mentioning any political party, said that the military would take sides and defend secularism (vis-à-vis Islamism as a political doctrine.) But what would the General Staff have said? That the military has given up defending secularism? Perhaps Bulent Arinc, parliament speaker, was right when he said that the military repeated what it had always said. But then, if Mr. Arinc is right, why all the high-alert tone at Mr. Erdogan's party HQ? The Constitution authorizes the military to defend Turkey, its secular regime and its territorial integrity against “foreign and domestic” enemies. But who are the foreign and domestic enemies/threats? Of course, the military cannot decide itself, and there must be democratic rules and practices to establish what these threats are. Actually, there are…

What is widely known as Turkey's national threat whitepaper, or in its full formal name, the National Security Policy Document, can be helpful in understanding why the communiqué was not a deviation from democracy, although it may be seen as a deviation from “arithmetical democracy.” The threat paper now in effect was signed by all of Mr. Erdogan's ministers and, finally, by himself. It deems Islamic fundamentalism, the subject of Friday's communiqué, as top domestic security threat – repeat, with Mr. Erdogan's signature underneath. The question is: If the Constitution authorizes the military to defend Turkey against foreign and domestic threats, and if, further, the elected government has established that the top domestic security threat is Islamic fundamentalism, what is so strange about the military issuing a warning against Islamic fundamentalism? In fact, this simple logic very much resembles Mr. Erdogan's political rhetoric. Mr. Erdogan often argues that his party came to power as a result of perfectly legitimate elections for a term of five years, that his party has every right to use this term in full, that it is perfectly constitutional that this parliament elects the next president and, further, that everyone should respect if parliament elects Mr. Gul as president. Both arguments look convincing, and no more or less convincing than the other. Of course, we all know that they are both nice pieces of rhetoric hoping for the best use of what the word “taqiyya” stands for. But that's all normal in a long-term strategic warfare. But what will be the military's next move? We can only know that we cannot know. Anyone with some understanding of Turkey's “military affairs” can guess that there will not be another communiqué soon. The generals think that this time, when they pushed up the volume a little bit, the “music” was better heard. For the time being, there seems to be no reason for “louder music.” That, however, does not mean we shall never hear it louder. Funny, each time there is a warning from the military, HQ people tend to speculate around the word “coup.” In military contingency planning there are always dozens of different scenarios, their proper and prioritized actions, counter-actions, counter-counter-actions and their timings vis-à-vis the threat, but not a coup – a coup is like using a nuclear weapon in a war which an army thinks it can win conventionally, but would resort to when all other conventional options failed. What these contingency plans have in common is their “unpredictability.” How many members of the government, really, how many analysts, speculators, pundits, diplomats were able to anticipate the Apr. 27 communiqué?
JPTF 2007/05/02

maio 01, 2007

“Votação presidencial turca anulada” in CNN, 1 de Maio de 2007

Turkey's highest court on Tuesday annulled a presidential vote dominated by concerns over the rising profile of political Islam, opening the way for possible early general elections. The Constitutional Court's decision is crucial for the future of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government, which is at odds with the country's secular establishment over fears it might be trying increase the influence of Islam in public life. On Sunday, at least 700,000 protesters marched in Istanbul to demand the government's resignation. The country's influential association of Turkish industrialists and businessmen, TUSIAD, urged the government to declare immediate early general elections. The ruling party's candidate for president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, failed to win a first-round victory Friday in a parliamentary presidential vote marked by tension between secularists and the pro-Islamic government. Most opposition legislators boycotted the vote and challenged its validity in the Constitutional Court. Due to the ruling party's majority in parliament, Gul is guaranteed to be elected, at the latest in the third round on May 9. Some secularists object to his candidacy because his wife covers her head with a head scarf and is therefore seen as potentially allowing more Islamic influence on the state. On Friday, the military said it was gravely concerned and indicated it was willing to become more openly involved in the presidential election process -- a statement some interpreted as an ultimatum to the government to rein in officials who promote Islamic initiatives. Members of the ruling party said Tuesday that party officials were considering calling early general elections after the court ruling. If the verdict is in favor of the opposition party and cancels Friday's first round presidential vote, the government could quickly declare early general elections for late June or early July, party officials said. Analysts said that a call for early elections could ease political tension and market concern. "Early general elections seems to be only way out of this business," said Saruhan Dogan, a market analyst with Finansbank. "The ruling party has become a party which is straining social balances." The opposition Republican People's Party, which boycotted parliament's first round of voting, has argued that were not enough lawmakers present to establish a quorum during Friday's vote and that the result should be canceled. "Turkey would be dragged toward a dangerous clash" if the Constitutional Court rules that the vote was in fact valid, said Deniz Baykal, chairman of the opposition party. Erdogan on Monday appealed for stability and drew attention to his strong economic record in a national address. But the Turkish stock market continued its slide Tuesday. The benchmark index, the IMKB-100, fell by 3.2 percent to close at 43,529.49 points. The index had sunk 6.3 percent on Monday as the government came under pressure to declare early general elections. "Turkey is a poorer country compared to Friday," said State Minister Ali Babacan, in charge of economy.
JPTF 2007/05/01