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Turkish Press Review, 07-04-30

Turkish Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>

Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning

30.04.2007

FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS

CONTENTS

  • [01] ANKARA TO HOST SUMMIT BETWEEN AFGHAN, PAKISTANI LEADERS
  • [02] HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS RALLY IN ISTANBUL
  • [03] GUL PLEDGES TO CONTINUE PRESIDENTIAL BID
  • [04] CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SET TO RULE TOMORROW OR WEDNESDAY ON CHALLENGE TO PRESIDENTIAL RACE
  • [05] SENER CALLS RALLIES IN ANKARA, ISTANBUL “DEMOCRATIC STANCE” OF THE NATION
  • [06] BAYKAL: “THE WEEKEND RALLY WAS GOOD NEWS FOR TURKEY”
  • [07] TUSIAD CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS
  • [08] BAYULKEN LAID TO REST
  • [09] DEMOCRACY IS THE ONLY WAY
  • [10] CONCLUSIONS FROM THE PROTEST RALLY

  • [01] ANKARA TO HOST SUMMIT BETWEEN AFGHAN, PAKISTANI LEADERS

    Hamid Karzai and Pervez Musharraf, the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, arrived in Ankara yesterday for bilateral talks to cool tensions arising from the fight against the Taliban insurgency. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer last night hosted a dinner in honor of the two leaders at the Cankaya Presidential Palace, along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Today the Afghan and Pakistani leaders will again meet with Sezer and Erdogan to improve dialogue between the two countries. Karzai is expected to visit the central Anatolian city of Konya and tour its Mevlana Rumi Museum. The Afghan government and Western military officials have repeatedly said that Taliban fighters are hiding in Pakistan and stage attacks against Karzai’s US-backed government from there. Pakistan denies the charge. /Turkiye/

    [02] HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS RALLY IN ISTANBUL

    Around one million demonstrators filled the streets of Istanbul yesterday carrying Turkish flags and banners opposing the presidential bid of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Abdullah Gul. Organized in the wake of a similar mass rally in Ankara two weeks ago, the Caglayan Demonstration for the Republic brought together people from all over the country calling for the secular system in Turkey to continue. A statement issued by the General Staff on Friday night decrying what it called “serious and escalating threats” to the fundamental values of the republic was also cited by the demonstrators, although they said they did not want a military coup. Foreign media outlets also covered the demonstration, calling it a “giant rally for Turkish secularism.” /Cumhuriyet/

    [03] GUL PLEDGES TO CONTINUE PRESIDENTIAL BID

    Notwithstanding a strong warning from the army, the Turkish government yesterday signaled its resolve to continue to pursue the presidency, as the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, said that he would not withdraw. After sharp criticism from by the chief of staff, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, the government fired back on Saturday, emphasizing that Buyukanit is officially serving under the prime ministry and that issuing statements against the government is undemocratic. Gul, a founding member of the AKP, told reporters that the presidential election process had begun and would continue, adding that his bowing out of the race was out of the question. He also expressed his confidence that the Constitutional Court would make the best decision on the matter. /Turkish Daily News-Aksam/

    [04] CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SET TO RULE TOMORROW OR WEDNESDAY ON CHALLENGE TO PRESIDENTIAL RACE

    The focus is now on the Constitutional Court, as a military-government standoff over the presidential election continued and the ruling Justice and Development Party ignored calls for early general elections. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Constitutional Court Chief Justice Tulay Tugcu said that the court would decide on the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) legal challenge to Friday’s first round of voting in Parliament, as the session took place with less than 367 deputies, less than a quorum in the CHP’s eyes. Stressing that the court would discuss the case today and a final decision could be announced tomorrow or early Wednesday, Tugcu underlined that the court’s ruling would be in line with the law and the Constitution. If the top court annuls the first round of voting, Parliament will be forced to hold early general elections, but if it upholds the process, this will clear the way for the AKP to elect Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul president in a third round of voting, which needs only a simple majority vote. /Turkish Daily News, Milliyet/

    [05] SENER CALLS RALLIES IN ANKARA, ISTANBUL “DEMOCRATIC STANCE” OF THE NATION

    Commenting on Friday’s General Staff statement expressing grave concern about a number of trends in Turkey, which some interpreted as an ultimatum to the government to rein in officials who promote Islamic initiatives, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener Sener yesterday said that there would be no general elections before the presidential elections are completed, adding that early elections could be held in August. Also commenting on hundreds of thousands of people rallying in Ankara and Istanbul in recent weeks, Sener called these a demonstration of “democratic stance,” adding that their message should be considered. /Sabah/

    [06] BAYKAL: “THE WEEKEND RALLY WAS GOOD NEWS FOR TURKEY”

    Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday praised a weekend rally in Istanbul favoring secularism and protesting Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s presidential bid, saying that the demonstration signaled good news for Turkey. Baykal said that although he didn’t attend the rally, he was there in spirit. “It was a magnificent demonstration,” said Baykal. “Not only state institutions, but also the nation is protecting the secular, democratic republic. Everyone, especially the government, should heed this message.” /Sabah/

    [07] TUSIAD CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS

    The Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) yesterday issued a written statement calling for early elections. The statement stressed that early elections were a must in order to prevent damage to democracy from the current situation. It also warned that tension over the current presidential election process reached a peak with the General Staff’s declaration late Friday, adding that the crisis over this should be solved with common sense. /Hurriyet/

    [08] BAYULKEN LAID TO REST

    Former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister Umit Haluk Bayulken yesterday was laid to rest following a state funeral in Ankara’s Kocatepe Mosque with the attendance of leading politicians, including Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and former President Suleyman Demirel. /Turkiye/

    FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS

    [09] DEMOCRACY IS THE ONLY WAY

    BY TAHA AKYOL (MILLIYET)

    Columnist Taha Akyol comments on democracy as a solution in Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “The government is standing firm against the General Staff’s declaration. This situation is an indicator of the power gained by democracy in Turkey. Let alone political death sentences, nobody has ventured to close Parliament for a quarter century. But until recent years, when the General Staff made a ‘harsh statement,’ governments would fall and prime ministers who were humiliated openly by the General Staff used to reply gently that ‘just like everybody else, the military also speaks in democracies.’ But today, the government is reminding the military of its place in the Constitution. The economic and social level Turkey has attained makes democracy the only way.

    In the past, people planning interventions gave no thought to the impact on the stock market, because there was none. They also didn’t used to consider if society would oppose such intervention, because masses of villagers were unable to criticize and the elite was enmeshed in the official ideology and disconnected from society. Meanwhile, the intellectuals were single minded. Today, the economy is working and developing not through remote control, but by the market. Market rules reject not only political intervention, but also military intervention. In Turkey today there are not only Kemalists, but also liberal, socialist, conservative, and social democratic intellectuals; identities are becoming clear, and a Greens movement will develop as well. In such a diversified and developed Turkey, thinking that secularism would be lost is a totally irrational scare tactic. However, this is a social and psychological reality which expresses itself in mass rallies.

    Let’s consider all this:

    The government’s standing firm against intervention is a modern, democratic stance. It shows the triumph of the civilian will in Turkey.

    The government should take certain steps to dispel tensions and such scare tactics. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) should be more open to the center, and no marginal voices should come out of the party, and so party discipline should be strengthened. Concerns over education should also be addressed.

    It’s best politically to wait for the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the presidential election, but no matter how it rules, the government should immediately hold elections. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who obviously deserves to become president, should win the office by being elected.

    The official ideology and Kemalists should also know that modernization inevitably creates social diversity. ‘Different’ citizens who pay their taxes and sometimes pay the ultimate price defending their country have as much right as anyone else to vote, be elected and be appointed as government officials. Treating the masses as ‘unfortunate citizens’ would divide the country. The way to strengthen such vital, basic values as national unity and the unitary state is to strengthen the spirit of tolerance and coexistence.

    Speaking against racial discrimination, John F. Kennedy once said that there tolerance and compromise are the basis of American unity. These words apply to all societies equally.”

    [10] CONCLUSIONS FROM THE PROTEST RALLY

    BY TARHAN ERDEM (RADIKAL)

    Columnist Tahran Erdem comments on yesterday’s protest rally in Istanbul. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “I think most of us have learned a lot in recent days. The presidential election beginning with one candidate, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) challenging the first round of the election in the Constitutional Court, and the statements of the General Staff and the government are all unusual aspects our political life.

    Yesterday’s large, successful protest rally also had an unusual justification: secularism and democracy … The masses gathered at Istanbul’s’ Caglayan Square added another theme to that expressed at a similar rally two weeks ago in Ankara, namely opposition to the government. Although other themes were also voiced, they weren’t fully embraced. Politicians and parties alike should learn from these two rallies, and Ankara should consider its policies accordingly. Here I would like to summarize what I learned:

    1. Many people in our country are skeptical of how secularism and democracy are being treated nowadays. The statement read out by Justice Minister and government spokesperson Cemil Ciçek saying, ‘Our government is much more sensitive about and party to Turkey being a secular, democratic and social state of law’ failed to satisfy those skeptics. The ruling party should take a lesson from the woman at the rally who told reporters, ‘I’m scared. I’m here for my grandchildren.’ It’s clear that stability will be damaged and the public will be split.

    2. The reason many people demonstrated should be understood correctly. I believe that these people didn’t gather to listen to criticisms of the government’s economic and foreign policy, etc., but rather its anti- secularist policies.

    3. These rallies also showed a split in the opposition. Those agreeing with the opposition parties in their claims that the government is anti- secularist haven’t joined forces with those parties. The main opposition CHP in particular should take lessons from this.

    4. No anti-democratic slogans were used in the rallies, and the protestors didn’t resort to anti-democratic means.

    5. After secularism, the second important theme of the rally was democracy. People chanted slogans about the right to representation as well as the election threshold. Holding general elections without abolishing the threshold would only make things worse. There’s still enough time to do this. The ruling and opposition parties should come together and make that change.”


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