PM to lobby for mine clearance (Turkey)
ANKARA-The fact that an Israeli company will clear the landmines on the Syrian border has nothing to do with the current political situation with Tel Aviv, the Turkish prime minister said at a closed meeting yesterday, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned.
According to sources familiar with the meeting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "We conducted a detailed study in relation to the clearance of landmines. There should be no doubt about the subject." A draft law on allowing an Israeli company to clear landmines on a 510-kilometer-long part of Turkey's border with Syria created controversy in Parliament.
While opposition parties slammed the government for hypocrisy toward Israel, some ruling party members expressed their discomfort with the selection of an Israeli company for the $50 million project.
At the meeting, which was held to eliminate doubts among his deputies on the issue, Erdoğan said, "The controversy was a product of the opposition parties, which try to wear us down through unfair accusations."
Erdoğan informed his deputies that at the beginning the government allocated a fund of $50 million for the military's project, but the General Staff waived the fund and offered to carry out the project through a tender.
Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül also informed the deputies on the subject and said the government and the military are in consensus in relation to the tender. Turkey has removed 43 percent of 2.7 million anti-personnel mines. It aims to complete the removal of more than 1 million mines through 2010.
Von: 20.05.2009, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/11692199.asp?scr=1