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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-03-29

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 58/10 26-27-28.03.10

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Talat says he never made the illegal Turkish settlers an issue of bargaining and alleges that the recent decision of the ECHR on the property issue recognized the property right of the Turkish settlers
  • [02] Eroglu continued his election campaign and said that the two sides in Cyprus perceive the principal of political equality in different ways
  • [03] Eroglu alleges that Avci has asked money from him in order to extend ORPs support to his candidature; Talat opened bank accounts collecting money from the people for his campaign
  • [04] The chairman of the illegal Turkish settlers explains why they support Talat and alleges that 2011-2012 might be the period of the recognition of the TRNC
  • [05] Fulles statement on the Direct Trade Regulation causes satisfaction in Turkey and in the occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [06] The leader of the Socialists in the EU Parliament said that he is hopeless on Cyprus
  • [07] The World Association of Press Councils held a meeting in occupied Cyprus
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [08] From the Turkish Press on 26-28 March 2010

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Talat says he never made the illegal Turkish settlers an issue of bargaining and alleges that the recent decision of the ECHR on the property issue recognized the property right of the Turkish settlers

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (29.03.10) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat has described as lie the allegation that in case a solution is reached, the Turkish settlers will be send back to Turkey and noted that he never made the Turkish settlers an issue of bargain.

    In statements yesterday during the opening of the Mehmet Ali Talats Election Bureau of the association of the settlers coming from Turkeys Reyhanli area, Mr Talat said: They go around and say that Talat will gather all of them [the settlers from Turkey] and send them back to Turkey when a solution is reached. This is a lie. I have in no way made you an issue of bargaining.

    Mr Talat called on the Turkish settlers not to believe in the false propaganda carried out about them and asked those who have doubts in their minds to think well and carry out an investigation to find out the truth. He claimed that even in case the proposals of the Greek Cypriot side are accepted, there will be no problem for the Turkish settlers, because the number which the Greek Cypriot side alleges that it will accept is higher than the number of the Turkish settlers.

    Mr Talat alleged that the fact that only the people of Cypriot origin are able to benefit from the advantages of the EU is inhuman and added: I am raising this issue continuously to Christofias and I say to him that you are committing a human crime, you are treating unjustly even those who have been born here, this is contrary to the human rights.

    Mr Talat alleged that the Greek Cypriot side cannot make a positive step on the issue of the solution because of difficulties in its internal politics and added that the solution of the Cyprus problem is important for everybody. He claimed that everybody will become citizens of the EU with the solution, both the people of Turkish origin, as he calls the settlers, and the people of Cypriot origin.

    He noted, inter alia, the following: From this point of view perhaps the solution is more important for the people of Turkish origin than the people of Cypriot origin. Therefore, our citizens of Turkish origin should support more the solution due to its character and support it with all their power.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (29.03.10) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat referred to the issue of the Turkish settlers during a visit to the occupied villages of Bogazi, Ardana, Agios Andronikos, Agios Iacovos and Mandres in Trikomo area.

    Mr Talat said that their basic aim is to make an agreement which will lead to a new partnership under the guarantees of Turkey, based on bi-zonality, bi-communality, political equality of the two peoples and the equal status of the two founding states. He claimed that the Turkish Cypriots will make a step to come closer to the world even in case a solution is not found and the responsibility for this does not belong to the Turkish side.

    Mr Talat reiterated the allegation that the Turkish Cypriots started to be accepted by the world thanks to the pro-solution policy he follows and pointed out that this policy is pursued in cooperation and in harmony with Turkey. He noted that thanks to these successful and correct policies, foreign capital started to invest in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    Referring to the recent decision taken by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the property issue, Mr Talat said that this decision has been taken thanks to the correct policy of the Turkish side and claimed that with this decision the rights of the property owner and the user of the property are almost equalized as time passes. The property right of our citizens of Turkish origin has been recognized for the first time with this decision, said Mr Talat.

    Mr Talat referred also to the discussion of the Direct Trade Regulation by the European Parliament (EP) and argued that all these are gains of our successful policies.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Eroglu continued his election campaign and said that the two sides in Cyprus perceive the principal of political equality in different ways

    Illegal Bayrak television (26.03.10) broadcast the following:

    Prime Minister the leader of the ruling National Unity Party Dervis Eroglu has said that it was a mistake for President Mehmet Ali Talat to agree on the principles of single sovereignty and single identity at the negotiations table. The Prime Minister, who visited the Dilekkaya village [Fr. Note: occupied Aya Kepir village] as part of his election campaign yesterday, said 'once you dont have sovereignty, you become a minority'.

    Speaking to the villagers who gathered at the village square, Mr Eroglu said that the two sides in Cyprus have perceived the principle of political equality in different ways and criticized President Talat for failing to make the Cyprus Turkish perception clear to the Greek Cypriot Side.

    'For Greek Cypriots, political equality is the equality of individuals, as being enjoyed by Maronites and Armenians living on the island but for us, it is the equality of communities, the equality of rights. A person who refrains from making this issue clear cannot defend the rights of the Cyprus Turkish people' he said.

    Describing the upcoming Presidential elections as historic, he stressed that the election result will reflect the political will of the Cyprus Turkish People who applauded the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    In addition, illegal Bayrak television (26.03.10) broadcast the following:

    Its wrong to lean Turkeys European Union membership on the solution of the Cyprus problem, Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu has said. Receiving a delegation from the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey, the Premier reminded of the fact that Greece and the Greek Cypriot Side became EU members despite of the non-solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Prime Minister Eroglu stressed that the Cyprus problem can no way be resolved by Turkey itself.

    He reconfirmed that Cyprus peace negotiations will be maintained if he wins the presidential post next month.

    The Premier blamed the Greek Cypriot Side for creating problems at the negotiations and said 'the solution would be realized long before if it was up to the Cyprus Turkish Side'.

    The President of the Women Entrepreneurs Association Gulseren Onanc said that the aim of the visit is to produce long-term projects in the TRNC.

    She said that the removal of the Cyprus question from Turkeys EU membership process with a settlement to be found to the problem has vital importance for them.

    [03] Eroglu alleges that Avci has asked money from him in order to extend ORPs support to his candidature; Talat opened bank accounts collecting money from the people for his campaign

    Under the front page title From the Colony to the people, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (29.03.10) writes on the allegations which have been put forward on the money spent during the election campaigns in 2005 and 2010 in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus.

    The paper writes inter alia the following:

    During the elections held in 2005, Mehmet Ali Talat had collected the money spent for his election campaign from businessmen who were gathered at the Colony hotel On the other hand, now he is collecting it from the people with accounts he opened in the banks. Dervis Eroglu, however, alleges that Talat has entered in the elections with a lot of money and that he is using this method in order to hide the source of money. No reply has come from Talat yet on Eroglus statements to the Anatolia news agency.

    The paper, further, writes that Dervis Eroglu has claimed that Turgay Avci, leader of the Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) has asked from the National Unity Party (UBP) 350 thousand Turkish Liras (TL) in order to extend his support to Eroglu during the 2010 presidential elections. According to a statement made to the press by Dervis Eroglu, during his meeting with ORP, Turgay Avci has asked from him money and participation in the coalition government in exchange to ORPs support to Dervis Eroglu in the presidential elections. UBP, has rejected ORPs proposal and that is why the ORP announced that supports Mehmet Ali Talats candidature, Afrika writes.

    Moreover, Mr Avci stated that the initiatives for a meeting with Eroglu were continuing until the minute before the announcement of ORPs final decision on whom the party would support in the so-called presidential elections. Turgay Avci has replied to the allegations of Dervis Eroglu without clarifying whether he asked for 350 thousand TL from UBP, the paper adds. Mr Avci described Mr Eroglus statements as effort to humiliate, blemish and denigrate the ORP.

    On the same issue, Afrika newspaper (28.03.10) reported that Mehmet Ali Talat has opened five accounts, in the banks published their numbers in the newspapers, and called on the people to contribute to his election campaign.

    (ML)

    [04] The chairman of the illegal Turkish settlers explains why they support Talat and alleges that 2011-2012 might be the period of the recognition of the TRNC

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (29.03.10) reports that Enver Dincoglu, chairman of the Turkish Refugees Association of Mutual Aid and Solidarity, has said that Turkey works in a scientific manner on the Cyprus problem and added that after meetings they held with Turkish officials in Ankara and all the issues were explained to them, the association decided to support the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat in the forthcoming elections on April 18.

    In an interview with Yeni Duzen, Mr Dincoglu said that their association has been criticizing Mr Talat in the past and added, inter alia, the following:

    We have met with officials in Ankara, but we saw that when we were criticizing him, there were issues which we ignored and we did not know. Moreover, Talats policy and statesmanship were analyzed We decided to support Talat because of the fact that he has undertaken the mission of the presidents behaving impartially and the mission of the statesman and furthermore because of the positive view of Ankara on Talat

    The world started seeing this reality. I am alleging that 2011-2012 might be the period of recognition for the TRNC and it should be recognized. The Greek Cypriots are those who are intransigent. The Greek Cypriots see us as minority. However, because they do this, it would not be right for us to come out with slogans such us division or death. No concession was or could be given on issues such as our sovereignty, security, territorial integrity.

    Talat says I could not even make an issue of bargain the citizens who are refugees from Turkey, they are my citizens. Fifty thousand persons have been accepted. Those who were married here and those who were born here are not included in these fifty thousands. We had conducted a census and the number was 62 thousands. A lot of disputes came up among us, we discussed a lot. We have carried out the census according to the lists we acquired from the Higher Election Council and those who were married and born here were included in the lists. After they were excluded, forty thousand 786 persons were actually left

    We hold meetings in Ankara. During that meetings they put forward the truth and explain to us what could happen on the Cyprus issue, the national issue, the point to which Cyprus will go. All these are being examined there, the state of the Republic of Turkey is working in a scientific manner. Those which were explained to us showed that we should support Talat here

    When he was asked to explain the aim of the association of the Turkish settlers and the number of its members, Mr Dincioglu said the association was established in 1996 and had 214 founding members from Turkey, Azerbaijan and all over the world.

    He added, inter alia, the following:

    Old Turkish Cypriots and new Turkish Cypriots come here [Tr. Note: The term old Turkish Cypriots concerns the original Turkish Cypriots, while the settlers are called new Turkish Cypriots]. We help these people without making discrimination. We have struggled for the recognition of the TRNC, for the flag not coming down from the pole and for the TRNC to live. We have 9.200 registered members... Five years ago we started to work in the entire island after an event which required money. We have 19 organizations. These form the organization of the association with party discipline in the regions. 134-140 villages were taken as basis and we are expecting around 40 thousand members. The number of the members in the 19 organizations is 5.600...

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Fulles statement on the Direct Trade Regulation causes satisfaction in Turkey and in the occupied areas of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Haberdar newspaper (27.03.10), in its front page under the title Is Turkey opening its ports?, reports that Turkeys chief EU negotiator, State Minister Egemen Bagis noted that Turkeys stance on the issue of opening its ports to Cypriot vessels is clear, adding that Turkey keeps its words and in case the EU fulfill its promise regarding the direct trade with the TRNC and the lifting of the so-called embargo, then Turkey will show its determination by opening its ports as it happened until 1987.

    Commenting on Fulles statement that in case Turkey does not open its ports to Cypriot vessels 2010 would be a critical year for EU-Turkey relation, Bagis said: I have been in political life for eight years. Every year I hear that in the end of this year we will enter into a critical turning point on the Cyprus issue. I have never heard that this year is not important for the Cyprus issue. At the same time last year, they were talking what will happen this year with Cyprus situation, are we going to bump into a wall, will the train be derailed?. However, thanks God, we have not faced any serious problem until today on this issue, as we did not face serious problems on the issues as well.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, commenting on the intention of Mr Full to take the Direct Trade Regulation to the European Parliament (EP) for approval, said that this is an important development for the Turkish Cypriots. He also added that the European Parliament (EP) got into action on the issue of Direct Trade Regulation and appointed a rapporteur regarding the regulation. Mr Talat also said that if EP approves the Direct Trade Regulation, then the Council is in a sense obliged to accept it.

    Hasan Ercakica, the spokesperson of the Turkish Cypriot leader, said that the issue of the Direct Trade Regulation came again into the agenda as a result of their long time struggle. Describing this development as satisfactory, he explained that since 2004, they have been trying to explain to the world that this regulation is a right of the Turkish Cypriots.

    (DPs)

    [06] The leader of the Socialists in the EU Parliament said that he is hopeless on Cyprus

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (27.03.10) reports the following:

    The leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has said the latest proposal to amend the Turkish Constitution is a step closer to the European Union and its values.

    Speaking on the 'European Desk' broadcast on STVHaber, Schulz supported the package, declaring it to be 'clearly in the interest of the modernization of Turkey and aiming to bring Turkey a step nearer to the European Union and her values'. Stressing that his first feeling was that the package was a quite good proposal, Schulz underlined that he would also listen carefully to the concerns of the opposition.

    'The content of the proposals, to make it more difficult to close the political parties, to give more rights to women, etc., is clearly in the interest of modernizing Turkey and bringing Turkey a step nearer to European Union and her values. I will not comment on any constitutional change in any country.

    It is highly controversial in Turkey, and I need to say that it is up to the political parties. But my first feeling is that it is a good proposal. I will of course listen to the remarks of the opposition carefully', he said. After discussing Turkeys fight for democratization, the socialist leader also commented on the ongoing Ergenekon trial, where almost 200 defendants are standing trial for various offenses including plotting to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Turkish Republic.

    'Ergenekon is a very specific internal issue for Turkey. It is now up to the judiciary, and it is forbidden for me to comment a lot on this. But I think a civil government and an independent judiciary have always the right and even the duty to go ahead and try those who attempt to undermine the constitutional reality of a democratic country. If there are suspicions that generals, colonels and other officers have created plans to bring down democracy, then it is the duty of the government and the judiciary to go after that. If those people are innocent, of course they should be released', he said.

    Schulz, who leads the 184-strong Socialist group, which was renamed the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats after the June 2009 elections, is expected to be the next president of the European Parliament in 2012. Known as a supporter of Turkeys bid to join the EU, Schulz criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union for the lack of honest approaches vis-a-vis Turkey. On the eve of her first visit to Turkey in four years, he called on Merkel to be clear on Turkeys EU process.

    'When I first heard about the privileged partnership, I thought it is like living together without being married. Now Ive learned that nobody can explain to me what privileged partnership is. If Merkel goes to Turkey and openly says that she is against Turkey and justifies why and proposes alternatives, she will have my full respect. But here in Brussels people speak differently behind closed doors. The speeches behind closed doors are very different from the ones made publicly. Publicly everyone says we are for the negotiations, behind closed doors lots of European leaders say Turkey will never join European Union', he said.

    Schulz also commented on the recent tension over Armenian killings during World War I. He said Turkeys proposal to form a joint commission of scholars to determine the reality of the past was a good step forward. 'The call by the Turkish government to form a common commission of international scholars on history of 1915 was a very good step forward. Why take a step now and go back before the commission starts working? It is not meaningful. It would have been better to wait for this commissions findings. I never expected this government would take such a huge step forward', he stated.

    The Socialist leader also assessed the prospect of reunification for the long-divided Cyprus. He said the then-leader of the Greek side, the late Tassos Papadopoulos, was to blame for the failure of the Annan plan in 2004. He also noted that the EU did not live up to its words following the Turkish approval and Greek rejection of the plan.

    'For sure the EU made mistakes on Cyprus, and not all the promises were kept, but it is a complicated issue. Turkey should apply the Ankara Protocol. To be honest with you, sometimes I am hopeless on Cyprus. GŁnter Verheugen, a very close friend of mine, I remember very well, told me when he came back from Cyprus as the then-enlargement commissioner that everyone on the island agreed on the Annan plan. But then Papadopoulos worked against the agreement. We have a word for that in civil life, but I wont use it. There is a certain interpretation of what Mr. Papadopoulos did, but I will not use it publicly. But it was an enormous damage to the credibility first and foremost for Mr. Papadopoulos himself', he said.

    [07] The World Association of Press Councils held a meeting in occupied Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (28.03.10) broadcast the following:

    The Executive Council meeting of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) was held in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in Lefkosa yesterday, which was hosted by its member- the Cyprus Turkish Press Council. Members of the WAPC Executive Council from Africa, Asia, North America and Turkey, together with the TRNC representatives, took up the problems experienced within the media of member countries and highlighted the importance of freedom of expression in the press.

    Problems faced in Zimbabwe regarding the freedom of the press was among the major subjects of discussion.

    In his speech, the Chairman of the Cyprus Turkish Press Council Ismet Kotak described the two main problems faced in the Cyprus Turkish media as corruption and biased journalism serving the political parties.

    For his part, the WAPC Chairman Ganendra Narayan Ray said that the freedom of expression, in press as well, is an indispensable human right.

    The WAPC Executive Council later agreed to hold the next meeting in Nepal between 23rd and 27th of October this year.

    The details of the Councils other agreed issues will be published later.

    In addition, illegal Bayrak (27.03.10) broadcast the following:

    The TRNC is hosting the Executive Council meeting of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC).

    The meeting is hosted by the Cyprus Turkish Press Council which is a member of the Association.

    A reception was held at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Lefkosa last night, in honor of foreign delegations from Africa, North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East where local media representatives were also present.

    Speaking to the BRT, the Secretary-General of the Association Chris Conybeare expressed the hope that the Cyprus Turkish People will move forward with the solution of the Cyprus problem, where its national and cultural identity will be protected.

    Also speaking, a delegate from Bangladesh Mounuddin Quaderay Showkat expressed support to the Cyprus Turkish People in their national cause and said he favors the international recognition of the TRNC as an independent state.

    In an opening speech at todays meeting, the Chairman of the Cyprus Turkish Press Council Ismet Kotak welcomed the delegates and hoped that the meeting will bring fruitful results.

    Another address came from the Chairman of WAPC Ganendra Narayan Ray who underlined the importance of collective wisdom in dealing with problems experienced in media across the world.

    A minutes silence was then observed in memory of journalists who lost their lives on duty.

    The WAPC takes up the problems of the media today where the freedom of expression is a top subject of discussion.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [08] From the Turkish Press on 26-28 March 2010

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 26-28 March 2010:

    a) Constitutional Debate

    Cengiz Candar declares in his column for Hurriyet (28.03.10) that circles opposed to the constitutional reforms boast about the existence of so-called 'independent judiciary' without realizing that this 'independent judiciary' is producing judicial decisions that are incongruent with international standards. The clear evidence of this is that the Turkish citizens have to date filed more than 10,000 applications with the ECHR, which has thus far ruled over 1,939 cases, voiding the Turkish court decisions in 1,676 cases -- that is, the ECHR has found 90 percent of Turkish court decisions as being in violation of European norms. Candar adds that a judicial system that adopts record amount of decisions in violation of human rights has to be revamped.

    Arguing against those who claim that the constitutional reform is an attempt by the AKP government to take control of the judiciary, Oral Calislar says in his column for Radikal (28.03.10) that this present constitution is the product of military coups the aim of which was to restrict the power of the parliament and political parties by increasing the power of the military and bureaucracy. Calislar notes that under the current system a small group of ideologically-motivated judges in Ankara are acting like a political party and trying to impose their hegemony over the country. The problem is that this system is proving to be untenable under changing social conditions. Explaining that the real division of powers rests in legislative, executive, and judiciary exercising mutual checks and balances on each other, Calislar says one way to establish balance between various institutions is to promote local administrations, whereas under the current system the local administrations are powerless against the centralized authority in Ankara. Calislar says the Turkish society will gain, not lose anything, if other powers start to exercise some control over the wayward judiciary.

    Orhan Bursali takes the opposite view in his column in Cumhuriyet (28.03.10). He argues that the reform package aims at destroying the independent and impartial judiciary by bringing it under AKP's control in total violation of EU norms. Bursali says AKP's plan is to keep the judiciary under its control for the next 12-15 years. In that way it can continue to exercise control over the country even if voted out of government and presidential office. Bursali warns that if the AKP wins another term Turkey is certain to turn into an 'authoritarian' religious state.

    Istanbul Bar Association has granted this year's Mahmut Esat Bozkurt Judicial Award to HSYK [Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors] Deputy President Kadir Ozbek, who is an opponent of the constitutional reform package, says a Taraf (28.03.10) report, explaining that Mahmut Esat Bozkurt was one of the first justice ministers of the newly established Turkish republic and is famous for his statement that those who are not Turks have only one right in Turkey, the right to be the servants and slaves of Turks.

    In an article entitled The Package and Three Different Styles, Yeni Safak (28.03.10) columnist Kursat Bumin criticizes what he describes as a very disturbing perception of the latest constitutional amendment package on the part of some of its 'unconditional' supporters as a set of proposals that will end the current 'judicial hegemony' in this country. Criticizing the assumptions that lie behind this perception, Bumin argues that democracy cannot simply be reduced to a 'people-have-the-last-word formula', adding that a theory or practice of democracy that disregards the importance of the legal system and treats it as something that can be dispensed with is unthinkable.

    In an article entitled Changing the Constitution, Yeni Safak (28.03.10) columnist Fehmi Koru links the extraordinary opposition to the Government's latest constitutional amendment package from part of the judiciary to the fact that the package entails arrangements curtailing the powers of certain higher judicial bodies established by the architects of the military takeovers on 27 May, 1960 and 12 September, 1980. He claims that the people are 'excited' at the prospect of a new constitution that redefines the powers of the judiciary because they are aware how certain judicial institutions have tried in recent years to 'obtain political results' by 'overstepping their authorities'. He also calls on President Gul to put the amendment package to referendum even if it is adopted by a large majority vote in Parliament.

    In an article entitled A Judicial Party, Zaman (28.03.10) columnist Mumtazer Turkone argues that 'the all-out war waged by the higher judicial oligarchy against the draft constitutional amendments is doing the greatest harm to the CHP 'in the sense that 'judicial oligarchs are making the CHP redundant by engaging in political opposition'. He also claims that the judicial resistance to the amendment package is aimed at protecting the interests of a pro-status quo minority at the top of the judiciary rather than defending judicial independence.

    Under the headline, Felicity Shows the Way, Milli Gazete (28.03.10) carries a front-page report which highlights a suggestion by Felicity Party, SP, leader Numan Kurtulmus that entails each article in the constitutional amendment package being voted on separately in a referendum. The report lauds the suggestion as one that is set to defuse the tensions caused by the amendment package.

    In his article entitled The Constitutional Reform and MHP's Strategy, Taraf (27.03.10) columnist Emre Uslu focuses on the position adopted by the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, on the constitutional amendments proposed by the Justice and Development Party, AKP, government. He says that in order to increase its popularity, the MHP has always sided with the government on the issues concerning the nationalist and conservative circles. However, he notes, the MHP position on the recent constitutional amendments 'categorically conflicts' with what it has done so far. According to Uslu, even the strong supporters of the MHP are 'sharply criticizing leader Devlet Bahceli and the party administration' because they believe that the majority of the AKP and MHP grassroots back the constitutional amendments. Commenting on the reason that might have led the party to pursue this unexpected strategy, the columnist speculates that certain MHP whips are imposing a 'short-cut strategy' on the party with the conviction that the ruling AKP will be closed down by the Constitutional Court soon and then the MHP will come to power by securing the majority of the conservative votes.

    An article in Hurriyet Daily News (27.03.10), Mustafa Akyol expresses support for the government's constitutional reform package saying that none of the proposed amendments will make the judiciary an arm of the government. But, he adds, 'they will help saving it from being an arm of the state ideology, which, again and again, has proven to be an obstacle to a more free and democratic Turkey'.

    Writing in the same newspaper, Goksel Bozkurt views the speculation that the AKP deliberately drew up a comprehensive constitutional amendment package as part of its plan to hold early elections. In her article, Bozkurt views the alleged plan as follows: The CHP will take the package to the Constitutional Court under the pretext that Article 2 in the Constitution is being violated. The court will rule for a stay of execution and then overrule the package. The AKP will interpret this as a 'judicial coup' and decide to seek an early election.

    In an article entitled Constitutions Are Serious Documents, Milliyet (27.03.10) columnist Semih Idiz views the Constitution as the most significant document of a country and questions the AKP's management of the process which might lead to the amendment of Turkey's Constitution. Pointing to the need for a 'broad social consensus' for the adoption of a permanent Constitution, he says that the amendment package proposed by the AKP carries positive changes, but 'obviously there is something wrong with the way the ruling party tries to adopt it'. Stressing that the government is planning to hold a referendum to adopt the amendments, he warns: However, it is not possible to achieve a healthy result from a referendum that will be held under the current circumstances. Various political motives will control the citizens' decision in a referendum to be held under the present tense atmosphere. Idiz asserts that it will be 'more reasonable' if the government postpones the adoption of the proposed amendments until after the general elections. Recalling Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek's remarks that a new Constitution is an EU requirement, the columnist says that he finds this argument "unconvincing" because the government has ignored most of the EU-related work thus far.

    In an article in Hurriyet (27.03.10), Cengiz Candar makes an analysis of the 'six-article constitutional amendment proposal' by the opposition Republican People's Party, CHP. According to Candar, the CHP's proposal aims to 'block' the government's amendment package rather than contribute to the adoption of a new Constitution. Referring to the CHP's proposal to reduce the election threshold, the writer argues that the opposition party proposed this article in an effort to prevent the pro-Kurdish Democracy and Peace Party, BDP, from supporting the government which is determined not to lower the threshold. Recalling that the BDP, which has become a 'key party' for the referendum the government plans to hold, also calls for a reduction in the election threshold, he notes: 'The alliance formed by the CHP and the Constitutional Court try to obstruct Turkey's transformation whenever an action is taken to amend the 12 September military coup Constitution and to adopt 'structural changes' such as the reorganization of the judicial system and the prevention of party closures'.

    In his article in Sabah (27.03.10), Mahmut Ovur views the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the Metropoll research company on the possible outcome of a referendum on the government's constitutional amendment package. According to the survey, he says, some 44.7 percent of the respondents expressed support for the changes while 39.8 percent voted against it. Noting the 5 percent difference between the supporters and the opponents of the bill, Ovur cites 'experts' as saying that the 'critical difference' shows that the outcome of the referendum depends on 'how the process will be managed'.

    Commenting on the same survey, Sabah's (27.03.10) Nazli Ilicak draws attention to the 'approaching tough process' during which the political parties will campaign to persuade their grassroots and secure the support of the undecided voters. In her article, Ilicak warns against certain circles' efforts to create the impression that 'the government is trying to seize the judiciary and establish a civilian dictatorship' through the proposed amendments. On the contrary, she says, the amendments will 'reduce the government's influence' on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors and restructure the board with a democratic understanding. She concludes by lamenting that the voters will have difficulty in making the right decision because of the 'deceitful' campaigns.

    Under the banner headline HSYK [High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors] Seeks Chaos, Yeni Safak (27.03.10) carries a report which highlights a statement issued by the Turkish Ministry of Justice in response to allegations that the Ministry and its Undersecretary are interfering in the HSYK's affairs. The statement accused HSYK members of trying to provoke a confrontation after the announcement of the bill aimed at amending the Constitution.

    Criticizing the MHP's stance on the constitutional amendments in his article entitled CHP's Bed is a 'Deathbed' for MHP, Vakit (27.03.10) columnist Hasan Karakaya comments: People respond to those who take steps conflicting with their choices in elections. The MHP is facing a similar situation today. People demand a new constitution. The MHP would make a great mistake if it ignores their demand.

    In an article entitled 'Is Democratization the Only Problem?' Milli Gazete (27.03.10) columnist Abdulkadir Ozkan points out that the proposed constitutional amendments would not find solutions to all problems facing Turkey, including growing poverty and budget deficit.

    To clarify the situation, Samil Tayyar explains in his column in Star that the HSYK [The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors] in its present form has seven members. Two of them are the justice minister and his undersecretary. Of the remaining five, three are appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeals and two by the Council of State. Also noting that the HSYK elects the members of the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State, and the latter just turn around and elect the members of the HSYK in a 'merry-go-round' cliquishness by ignoring the opinions of some 12,000 judges and prosecutors serving in different corners of Turkey, Tayyar says that another negative side of the current system is that the justice minister has the right to attend any HSYK meeting and use his vote, the HSYK cannot adopt any decision unless justice ministry undersecretary is present at the meeting, and the inspectors can launch an investigation only at the permission of the justice minister. Whereas, under the proposed reform the HSYK actually gains greater independence because the HSYK members will be increased to 21. Leaving aside the minister, his undersecretary, and four members to be appointed by the country's president, 10 of the remaining 15 members will be elected by 12,000 judges and prosecutors from among senior judges and prosecutors with at least 15-year of service -- a system that precludes the AKP from inserting its own men into the new HSYK. Also, under the new system, the justice minister will preserve his status as the head of the HSYK General Assembly but will not be able to attend HSYK departmental meetings and, moreover, the HSYK will be able to adopt decisions even without the presence of the ministry undersecretary, and the inspection council will be attached to the HSYK itself. In short, Tayyar notes, the new measures will actually broaden the autonomy of the HSYK, adding that the allegations that the judicial system is coming under the siege of the AKP is unfounded, for 15 of the 21 members will come from the judiciary itself. The dispute, Tayyar points out, boils down to the fact that a few judges in Ankara do not want to share their power with the grassroots judges and prosecutors.

    A report in Milliyet (26.03.10) notes that precisely because the Justice Ministry Undersecretary Ahmet Karaman is not attending the HSYK meetings using various pretexts, the HSYK is not able to make new judicial appointments. The report adds that the five elected members of the HSYK have asked the justice ministry to open an investigation against Karaman, warning that if the ministry refuses their request then they will take the matter to court. The report quotes HSYK Deputy Chairman Kadir Ozbek as saying that the justice ministry appears to be ignoring the current HSYK and wants the appointments to be made by the new HSYK body.

    A Vatan (26.03.10) report says that under the criteria of the Venice Commission, which is the legal consultative body for the Council of Europe, the AKP cannot take a single reform package that includes disparate and unrelated items to the referendum because these criteria demand that each such item be put to separate referenda. A single referendum could be held only in case of a total change of the constitution.

    In view of the sharpening dispute, President Gul has decided to call a meeting of academicians and political scientists at the Cankaya Palace on Monday, says a Milliyet (26.03.10) report, adding that the seven people selected for the meeting are personalities that can make a breakthrough on the debate on constitution. One of them is anti-AKP Mustafa Bumin, a former president of the Constitution Court. The other invitees are Osman Arslan, a former president of the Supreme Court of Appeals; Isik University Rector Prof Ersin Kalaycioglu; Bilkent University lecturer Prof Ergun Ozbudun, KONDA polling firm director and journalist Tarhan Erdem; Milliyet columnist and jurist Taha Akyol; and former justice minister Hikmet Sami Turk.

    In an article entitled It Does Not Suit the MHP [Nationalist Action Party], Yeni Safak (26.03.10) columnist Fehmi Koru criticizes the MHP for opposing the government's bill aimed to amend the Constitution in spite of the fact that the current Constitution serves the interests of what he calls 'invisible government' which regards the MHP as a threat even more dangerous than the AKP. Pointing out that the MHP's stance could eventually help the opposition Republican People's Party, CHP, come to power, Koru comments: 'How could the MHP explain its attitude if the attempt to amend the Constitution eventually fails? What would MHP leadership say to people when the package of amendments is put to a referendum? '

    In an article entitled 'BDP's [Peace and Democracy Party] Stance Will Be of Crucial Importance', Yeni Safak (26.03.10) columnist Yalcin Akdogan, writing under the pseudonym Yasin Dogan, says that the BDP should take a constructive stance and support the proposed constitutional amendments because it would face a serious handicap if it attempts to block it only in the name of standing in the way of the AKP. He concludes by saying: 'Of course the BDP may criticize the package, propose different amendments or attempt to influence them in its own favor. In the final analysis, even the worst arrangement to be made in that context would represent a great gain toward Turkey's democratization. Opposing it would seriously damage the BDP's sincerity.'

    Under the banner headline 'Business Community Says 'Yes' To Constitutional Reform', Zaman (26.03.10) carries a report which says that the bill on constitutional amendments has been welcomed by the majority of organizations representing businessmen and industrialists while Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association took a cautious approach to the bill.

    ES/


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