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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 10-04-22

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. 73/10 22.04.10

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Eroglu assures Gul, Erdogan and Davutoglu that he will work for a solution in Cyprus within the framework of the UN parameters
  • [02] Details on Eroglus swearing ceremony. Davutoglu to attend the event and hold talks with Eroglu on Cyprus
  • [03] Osman Ertug says he is ready to offer his services to Eroglus negotiation team
  • [04] Davutoglu discusses Cyprus and Irans nuclear issue with high-ranking EU officials
  • [05] The head of TUSIAD visits Spain and alleges that the direct trade is important for the solution in Cyprus
  • [06] Children from several foreign countries are visiting the illegal regime to attend the 23rd April celebrations
  • [07] Turkish officials have talks in Abkhazia
  • [08] Turkish Parliament adopts Articles 6, 7 and 8 of Constitutional amendment bill
  • [09] IMF predicts 5.2% growth in Turkish economy in 2010
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [10] From the Turkish Press on 21 April 2010

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Eroglu assures Gul, Erdogan and Davutoglu that he will work for a solution in Cyprus within the framework of the UN parameters

    Under the title Thanks like an oath, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (22.04.10) reports that Dervis Eroglu, newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader, has sent a letter of thanks to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu in response to their congratulating messages after his victory in the illegal presidential elections of 18 April 2010 in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

    According to the paper, Mr Eroglu referred to the negotiations for finding a solution to the Cyrus problem and noted, inter alia, the following in his letter:

    I am determined to exert efforts with a constructive understanding for a solution within the framework of the UN parameters. In case the Greek Cypriot side approaches the ongoing negotiating process with the necessary good will, I have no doubt that this mission will reach to success. I will carry out my duty with great honor, pride and responsibility. I will exert the maximum effort in defending the national cause of Cyprus. I fully believe that Turkey will offer to us the same support from now on as well. The elections, which have been held with great maturity and transparency, have been a new and successful test for our democracy and contributed for our people to confirm its self-determination right once more in front of the international community. There is no doubt that Turkeys increasing role in the international field will be reflected positively in carrying forward our national cause of Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (22.04.10) reports that Mr Eroglu participated yesterday for the last time in the meeting of the self-styled council of ministers of the breakaway regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus. In statements after the meeting, he said he will be concentrated on his duty of negotiator during his term in the presidency and exert intensive efforts for achieving an agreement on the Cyprus problem. He said his intention is to meet with the self-styled government and the council of ministers from time to time and inform them about the negotiations. He noted that he also thinks of taking the views of the council of ministers on a possible agreement when it comes to the stage of submitting this agreement to a referendum.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Details on Eroglus swearing ceremony. Davutoglu to attend the event and hold talks with Eroglu on Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (21.04.10) broadcast the following:

    President-elect Dervis Eroglu will be swearing into office at the republics assembly on Friday. Mr Eroglu will take over the presidency of the TRNC from president Mehmet Ali Talat on the same day.

    Eroglu will take oath in the parliament at 4 oclock in the afternoon. He will then lay wreaths to the tomb of the late leader Dr Fazil Kucuk and the Ataturk Monument in [occupied] Lefkosia. Later, Eroglu will go to the presidential palace to take over the presidency from president Mehmet Ali Talat.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will also attend the hand-over ceremony, at the end of which, a reception will be given on the grounds of the presidential palace. The reception will be open to the public.

    Meanwhile, Turkish daily Radikal newspaper (online, 21.04.10) reports that during his illegal visit to the occupied part of Cyprus, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will share with the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, his views regarding the continuation of the negotiations and the finding of a solution to the Cyprus problem until the end of the year.

    [03] Osman Ertug says he is ready to offer his services to Eroglus negotiation team

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (22.04.10) reports that the General Secretary of the National Unity Party (UBP), Mr Irsen Kucuk, in a television programme on Turkish Cypriot Ada TV, said that thoughts are being made for appointing a person, who is not member of the self-styled assembly as head of the new Turkish Cypriot leaders negotiating team. He indicated that Osman Ertug is one of the persons who might be appointed.

    In statement to AdaTV, former undersecretary and ambassador, Osman Ertug said that he is ready for this duty in case of the proper offer comes. He claimed that for the time being, he has not received any proposal.

    Mr Ertug, inter alia, said that although the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat and the Cyprus President Christofias were practically of the same ideology, they could not reach an agreement. He claimed that the real opportunity for a solution is now.

    (DPs)

    [04] Davutoglu discusses Cyprus and Irans nuclear issue with high-ranking EU officials

    Turkish daily Zaman newspaper (online, 22.04.10) reports on the meetings of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with high-ranking EU officials during a sudden visit to the Belgian capital, Brussels. Referring to the outcome of the illegal presidential elections held in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus on 18 April and the victory of Dervis Eroglu, Mr Davutoglu gave to the European Union the message that it should not worry.

    Speaking during a press conference after his two-hour meeting with Stefan Fule, Commissioner responsible for EUs Enlargement, the Turkish Foreign Minister alleged that Eroglu is committed to the negotiation process and I confirm this, and added that the new Turkish Cypriot leader will continue the negotiations with the same determination. TRNC has shown that it is a country that has democratic maturity. It will also show what a great maturity it has on the issue of state continuity at the negotiations. Doubts on this issue are baseless, Mr Davutoglu stated. He also reiterated the Turkish allegation that the EU did not keep its promises towards the Turkish Cypriots and that the direct trade regulation is still on the agenda.

    Moreover, Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (online, 22.04.10) reports on the same issue and writes that during his meeting with Stefan Fule, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu assured him that as the new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu stated before and after his election, he will continue the negotiations with determination. Davutoglu stated that Fule is not in panic as regards Eroglus attitude in the negotiations and said that the EU did not keep any of its promises given after the 2004 referendum.

    During the meeting, Davutoglu claimed that the EU played an important role in the outcome of the illegal elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus and who gave the message that the EU has no right to complain about this outcome. He further warned Fule not to be deceived by the games of the Greek Cypriots regarding Eroglu. He also said that they will continue to pursue the lifting of the isolations imposed upon the Turkish Cypriots.

    As the paper writes, during the meeting of the two officials, Mr Full made no reference to the opening of the Turkish ports to ships and aircrafts under the flag of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Furthermore, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (22.04.10) reports the following:

    Paying an unscheduled visit to the de facto capital of the European Union, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu departed from Belgrade for Brussels on Wednesday for talks on an international dispute over Irans controversial nuclear program.

    'Im going to Brussels with a proposal' for a diplomatic solution to the controversy surrounding Irans nuclear program, Davutoglu said on Wednesday, while speaking to a group of journalists on board a plane en route to Brussels from Belgrade. He didnt elaborate on the content of the proposal.

    Davutoglus Brussels visit, during which he held talks with both EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, was not previously scheduled.

    The Brussels talks followed Davutoglus visit to Tehran on Tuesday. Apparently stemming from his positive impressions in Tehran, Davutoglu, on his way to Belgrade, had already decided that he should meet with Ashton, and the meeting was quickly arranged.

    'These days we are observing the first movements on the Iran issue since October, ' Davutoglu said, apparently referring to the fact that a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to swap Iranian low-enriched uranium (LEU) which was put on the table in October.

    Davutoglu, meanwhile, also said his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, will pay a visit to Turkey in the coming days. Amorims visit will focus on the Iran issue. Amorim will proceed to Tehran after his talks with Turkish officials. Turkey and Brazil are working on a proposal to resolve the dispute over Irans nuclear program peacefully.

    While in Tehran, Davutoglu also said Turkey is prepared to mediate with the West to defuse the nuclear standoff with Iran and revive a diplomatic solution to the dispute that would involve Iran sending some of its uranium abroad in exchange for higher-grade fuel.

    In Washington, during a daily press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States welcomed the constructive efforts by Turkey, but noted that Iran had 'in no way, shape or form' indicated it was willing to deal seriously with international concerns.

    'In order to play a mediation role, you have to have a country like Iran that is actually going to engage seriously and thats whats been lacking over the past several months, ' Crowley said.

    [05] The head of TUSIAD visits Spain and alleges that the direct trade is important for the solution in Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Haberdar newspaper (22.04.10) reports that the TRNC, breakaway regime in the occupied areas of Cyprus and the issue of direct trade, is among the topics on the agenda of Umit Boyner, chairwoman of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmens Association (TUSIAD), during her contacts in Madrid, capital of Spain, which is holding the EU term presidency this period.

    In statements to Anatolia news agency, Mrs Boyner noted that the Cyprus problem came onto the agenda during her meetings with Spanish officials. She alleged: Starting direct trade with the TRNC will be an important step in the solution of the Cyprus problem. There are some promises which have been given by the EU, but they are not kept. The continuation of the negotiations in Cyprus is very important.

    She said that they were visiting Spain within the framework of the visits paid by TUSIAD to the countries which hold the EU term-presidency. She expressed the view that four chapters in the negotiations between Turkey and the EU might open during Spains term-presidency. We came to ask for support on this point, she added. She pointed out that chapters in the negotiations between Turkey and the EU have been opened even during the presidencies of Germany and France, which have doubts for Turkeys accession into the Union, and added that they want serious support from Spain.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] Children from several foreign countries are visiting the illegal regime to attend the 23rd April celebrations

    Illegal Bayrak television (21.04.10) broadcast the following:

    The 23rd of April National Sovereignty and Childrens Day is being celebrated in the TRNC alongside with Turkey. Children from various countries who are currently in the republic to attend this years celebrations visited the speaker of the republics assembly, Hasan Bozer and the minister of national education, youth and sports, Kemal Durust. Welcoming the groups, the parliamentary speaker Bozer said that the visiting children will promote the TRNC after returning to their countries.

    Stressing that the children are the future of the nations, he expressed the belief that foreign children will maintain their relationship with their friends in the TRNC.

    The children also visited the minister of national education, youth and sports, Kemal Durust, who welcomed the group by saying that the 23rd of April National Sovereignty and Childrens Day is a symbol of independence and brotherhood.

    As part of their visits, foreign children groups also visited the Turkish Embassy in [occupied] Lefkosia.

    Children from the TRNC, Turkey, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Ukraine, Serbia, FYROM and Bulgaria are in the republic to attend the 12th International Children Festival which started yesterday with a cortege.

    [07] Turkish officials have talks in Abkhazia

    Turkish Daily Todays Zaman newspaper (22.04.10) reports the following:

    Turkey has expressed readiness to help Georgian and Abkhazian authorities find a common platform on which to tackle their problems during a visit by senior Foreign Ministry officials to the breakaway region.

    Foreign Ministry South Caucasus Department head Nurdan Bayraktar visited the breakaway region of Abkhazia along with Turkeys envoy to Georgia Levent Murat Burhan on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry announced Burhans visit in a statement late on Tuesday, saying it was aimed at keeping relations between Turkey and Abkhazia alive. Bayraktar met with Sergei Shamba, the prime minister of the self-declared republic, and discussed bilateral relations between Turkey and Abkhazia, the Abkhaz Apsnypress news agency reported. Noting that the Abkhaz community is very active in Turkey, Bayraktar said they can contribute significantly to developing Turkeys relations with Abkhazia.

    [08] Turkish Parliament adopts Articles 6, 7 and 8 of Constitutional amendment bill

    Turkish daily Todays zaman newspaper (22.04.10) reports the following:

    Parliament passed three more articles of the constitutional reform package on Tuesday night, completing the initial voting rounds on the first five articles, which will all have to be taken to a referendum. All five articles were approved by more than 330 deputies, which mean they have passed but a referendum will be needed. For the package to be enacted without being referred to a public vote, at least 367 votes in favor are needed.

    There will be a second vote on the package. Although a remote possibility, the Republican People's Party (CHP), which has been boycotting the first round of voting, might change its tactic and support the package in the second round and pass it with more than 367 votes in order to be able to pressure President Abdullah Gul to refer it to a referendum himself or send it back to Parliament for further discussion, after which it would be passed. This would make it easier for the CHP to appeal the package at the Constitutional Court. However, this appears to be unlikely.

    The three articles most contentious in the package -- making changes to political party closure procedures and the structure of the judiciary -- were on the agenda for a vote on Wednesday night.

    The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has already started organizing a referendum. It plans to assign 600,000 members in local organizations to the referendum polling stations. The ministers and deputy chairmen of the party will leave Ankara as soon as talks in Parliament are complete to campaign for the package in their electoral regions. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to campaign in at least 20 provinces.

    The third article of the package was passed on Tuesday night with 337 votes for and 71 against in a secret round of voting in which 408 deputies participated. This article changes Article 23 of the Constitution on freedom of travel and makes it much more difficult to issue international travel bans on citizens facing criminal proceedings. The fourth article was passed with 336 votes for and 69 against. One vote was canceled. The fourth article changes Article 41 of the Constitution on the Protection on Family and adds a clause to the Constitution asserting that the state is responsible for protecting children from all kinds of abuse. The fifth article of the package was also passed with 333 for and 70 against. This article changes Article 51 of the Constitution on the Right to Unionize. With the change, an employee will have the right to be member of more than one union in the same field. Parliament was to discuss and vote on Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the package on Wednesday night.

    Parliament passed three more articles of the constitutional reform package on Tuesday night amid attempts by opposition parties to delay the vote on the package.

    Talks on the package started on Monday. The first two articles were passed late Monday night. The CHP and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are boycotting the voting. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is attending but voting against the articles. The ruling AK Party has 336 seats, but deputy Mehmet Ali Sahin cannot vote as he is the parliament speaker. The CHP has 97 seats, the MHP 69 and the BDP 20. There are 12 independent deputies in Parliament, while the Democratic Left Party (DSP) has six deputies. If an article receives less than 330 votes, it will be removed from the package. If all goes according to the AK Partys plan, Turkey will have a referendum on the package in July.

    Subtitle: AK Party deputies who didnt vote for package

    Meanwhile, the mathematical distribution of the votes for the articles clearly indicates that two deputies of the AK Party have voted against the package. Five independent deputies say they will vote for the package, with two of them saying they will not vote for the three articles that make changes to political party closure procedures and the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The AK Party currently has 335 deputies who can vote. Three independent deputies said they supported all the articles so far. However, the fifth article received only 333 votes, meaning that five AK Party deputies voted against it.

    Two former members of the AK Party who both resigned when the package was referred to Parliament -- Zekai Ozcan and Feyzi Isbasaran -- are now joining the votes as independents. Isbasaran is reportedly voting for the package, while Ozcans vote is either yes or undecided depending on the article.

    Independent Sanliurfa deputy Seyit Eyupoglu is also supporting the package. Recai Birgun, a former DSP member, and the Turkey Partys (TP) Yasar Ozturk are also voting either for or against the package depending on the articles. The statements of independents indicate that five AK Party deputies did not vote for the article that was passed with 333 votes. The AK Party has no idea who these deputies might be.

    Talks and voting rounds are not moving quickly, as the opposition uses filibustering tactics to slow talks on the package. It takes five to six hours before an article can be voted on. The general assembly convenes in the afternoon but can start voting only in the late hours due to various motions on irrelevant topics submitted by the CHP, MHP and BDP.

    The sessions also frequently see brief quarrels. In one such incident on Tuesday night, speaking about one of the amendments in the package on the role of the state in protecting children from abuse, BDPs Sabahat Tuncel criticized the lengthy jail sentences handed down to Kurdish children in the Southeast who throw stones at security forces during protests. She said, 'There is a war in this country, ' when she was interrupted by Parliament Speaker Sahin, who demanded that she correct her words that make it sound like the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is a legitimate military force of a foreign country. Tuncel accused the parliament speaker of stealing some of her speech time. There was also a brief discussion amid rows between BDP and AK Party deputies. The BDPs Bengi Yildiz walked in anger toward the AK Partys Kursad Tuzmen and Gokhan Saricam. Some AK Party and Republican Peoples Party (CHP) deputies intervened, holding Yildiz back.

    Subtitle: Articles passed on Monday

    Voting on the package started on Monday with an initial vote on whether to start the voting rounds, 333 deputies voted for while 73 voted against. The first article included in the amendment package was passed with 336 votes for, 70 against. This amendment changes Article 10 of the Constitution on gender equality. The change allows affirmative action for women as well as the elderly and the disabled and ends the legal possibility of affirmative action being interpreted as a violation of gender equality. The second article also passed late Monday night, changing Article 20 of the Constitution on the confidentiality of ones personal life. It was passed with 337 votes for and 68 votes against.

    Moreover, Ankara Anatolia news agency (22.04.10) reports from Ankara that Turkish Parliament adopted Article 8 of a Constitutional amendment package late on Wednesday.

    The article 8 on closure of political parties was adopted with 337 against 72 votes, while five abstained during the voting joined by 414 deputies.

    Several deputies from Peace & Democracy Party (BDP) --which earlier did not participate in the voting of other articles-- also joined the voting of the article 8.

    The Parliament will continue to debate the bill on Thursday.

    [09] IMF predicts 5.2% growth in Turkish economy in 2010

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (21.04.10) reported the following from Washington:

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Turkish economy is expected to grow by 5.2 percent in 2010 and 3.4 percent in 2011.

    'World Economic Outlook' report of the IMF said that global economic growth would probably become 4.25 in 2010 and 2011. The report said that consumer prices in Turkey would probably rise by 9.7 percent in 2010 and 5.7 percent 2011.

    'In emerging Europe, growth prospects also vary widely. Economies that weathered the global crisis relatively well (Poland) and others where domestic confidence has already recovered from the initial external shock (Turkey) are projected to rebound more strongly, helped by the return of capital flows and the normalization of global trade, ' it said.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [10] From the Turkish Press on 21 April 2010

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 21 April 2010:

    a) In the aftermath of the so-called presidential elections in occupied Cyprus:

    An unattributed editorial in Hurriyet Daily News views the implications of Dervis Eroglu's victory in occupied Cyprus, expressing the hope that "the candidate of intransigence will perhaps wake up the Cyprus team at the EU which has been asleep for the last six years."

    In an article in the Hurriyet Daily News, Yusuf Kanli points out the different approaches of Mehmet Ali Talat and Eroglu to the settlement of the Cyprus problem, adding that, however, Eroglu is determined to push hard for an accelerated process aimed at reaching a "compromise settlement."

    The EU and Washington are those who have been vanquished in the elections held in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus, writes Sedat Ergin in an article in Hurriyet. Accusing the EU and the United States of not fulfilling the promises made to the Turkish Cypriots in the aftermath of the 2004 referendum, Ergin points out that the last minute efforts of the EU and the United States such as the trade regulations sent to the European Parliament for approval and the invitation extended to Talat to come to Washington have not had an effect on the election results. In conclusion, the writer wonders how the EU that is incapable of exhibiting the political capability of strengthening the position of a politician close to itself can exert its influence in world politics and become a global player.

    Assessing the results of the elections in north Cyprus in an article in Radikal, Haluk Sahin writes that the message conveyed by the Turkish Cypriots to the Greek Cypriots was that the time has come to grow up and to accept the realities. Noting that the Greek Cypriots twice refused to open the door to the chance of a settlement, once when the Annan Plan was submitted to a referendum in 2004 and a second time when Talat was elected in 2005, Sahin describes as an unattainable dream the Greek Cypriot expectation of an international conference during which Eroglu will be sidelined. Accusing the Greek Cypriots of acting like a spoiled child in the aftermath of their accession to the EU, Sahin calls on the Greek Cypriot side to accept the changing conditions and the fact that the cards are now being redistributed, underlining that time is working against the free territories of the Republic of Cyprus.

    In an article entitled "Vicious cycle or virtuous circle?", Today's Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar warns that if the ruling AKP slows down the reform process, elements in occupied Cyprus affiliated with the Ergenekon network may take advantage of Dervis Eroglu's election as the new Turkish Cypriot leader to "create a deadlock with the West in general."

    b) Constitutional amendments and the presidential system:

    Viewing the presidential system proposed by Erdogan in an article in Hurriyet, Ertugrul Ozkok wonders what the reaction of the Cankaya Mansion is to this proposal. The expectation till recently was that President Gul would become the prime minister and Erdogan would be the president, writes Ozkok, adding that this unwritten agreement has now been cancelled unilaterally. Questioning whether the prime ministerial seat will be as attractive to Gul under a different system, Ozkok continues: "Cankaya is no longer the same Cankaya since last Sunday. The winds blowing in its corridors have changed." Wondering whether Erdogan sees his election to the presidency as a sure thing, Ozkok speculates what will happen if the suit Erdogan has tailored especially for himself is worn by someone else. Furthermore, since Gul will no longer be the old Gul, will his view of Erdogan change, questions Ozkok, adding that "these are the unknowns of the political scene." In conclusion, Ozkok writes: "Therefore, I believe that from the moment he uttered those remarks last Sunday the prime minister of the Republic became a 'lame duck.'"

    Questioning the reason why Erdogan has raised the issue of a presidential system in an article in Vatan, Bilal Cetin maintains that the powers exercised by the prime minister in Turkey are more extensive than those exercised by the president in a presidential system. Once the judicial problem in the constitutional amendment package is overcome the prime minister will have more powers than the presidents of certain Latin American countries, argues Cetin, adding that Erdogan's proposal for a presidential system stems from his desire to rule the country for one or two more terms from the Cankaya Mansion.

    Commenting on Erdogan's presidential system proposal in an article in Taraf, Ahmet Altan writes: "If he attempts to establish the office of the 'presidency' without changing anything else and to make a transition to that system, I believe that this change will be disastrous for Turkey. The presidency will, in a short while, turn into 'dictatorship.' I am not saying this only because of Erdogan's inclination for 'a single man administration', but because I know that our system is very open to 'dictatorship.' The United States grants extensive authorities to 'its president' but these authorities are subject to 'strict supervision.' Above all there is a federal administration there." Stressing the necessity of first establishing a 'federative' system before making a transition to a presidential system, Altan underlines that only thus can we establish a system that will supervise the powers of the president. Detailing all the social and political freedoms in the United States, Altan asks whether those who want a presidential system are ready to accept all those freedoms as well.

    Summing up the views expressed by Ahmet Turk and Sirri Sakik during a program aired on CNN Turk in an article in Milliyet, Hasan Cemal writes that both believe that the amendment package is insufficient, but that it is still an improvement compared to the current state. Noting that Turk and Sakik, Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, deputy from Mus, believe that the package should be supported and that the BDP should not follow the line of the Republican People's Party, CHP, or the Nationalist Action Party, MHP, Cemal agrees with the two politicians that despite its shortcomings this package is a step closer to the European democracies.

    Focusing on the intensity with which the constitutional amendment package is being discussed in parliament and the remarks made by Prime Minister Erdogan on a presidential system in an article in Vatan, Okay Gonensin writes that these developments strengthens the possibility that the AKP is getting ready for a referendum in spring and early elections in autumn. Viewing the tens of thousands of employment possibilities created by the government, Gonensin argues that elections will be held without waiting the 14 months necessary for the normal date of the next elections. The AKP, which expects to receive positive votes of at least 60 percent in the referendum, would want to transfer that percentage to the general elections, maintains Gonensin, adding that if the CHP takes the issue to the Constitutional Court and has the results of the referendum annulled, then the elections will definitely be held in October. Noting that these are the calculations that have prompted the prime minister to raise the issue of a presidential system, Gonensin warns the opposition parties that the tactic of increasing the tension with regards to the constitutional amendments will actually benefit the AKP.

    In an article entitled "Who is more libertarian?", Zaman columnist Ali Bulac asserts that the following "political players in 12 different categories" should be allowed to take part in a possible effort to draw up a new and civilian constitution: "1.The MHP and the BBP [Grand Unity Party], 2.Independent Turkish nationalists, 3.The BDP, 4.Independent Kurdish nationalists, 5.Islamists and religious communities, 6.Conservatives and rightists, 7.Supporters of the CHP and social democracy, 8.Leftists or socialists, 9.Kemalists and neo-nationalists, 10.Liberals, 11.Alevis,12.Non-Muslims."

    In an article entitled "The way to correct a mistake", Milli Gazete columnist Abdulkadir Ozkan warns against the "problems that might be caused" by a switch to the presidential system in Turkey. He asserts that the presidential system could pave the way for a dictatorial regime in countries like Turkey where the culture of democracy and tolerance for differences have not taken root.

    /EI


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