|Thursday, 22 February 2024
Turkish Press Review, 07-08-09
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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
 PRESIDENT SEZER: “THE ELECTION THRESHOLD SHOULD BE LOWERED”President Ahmet Necdet Sezer yesterday criticized Turkey’s 10% election threshold, saying, “If the threshold had been lowered to 7-8% during the 2002 general elections, then last month’s general elections would have produced very different results.” In a meeting with Turkish Journalists Association head Nazmi Bilgin, Sezer reportedly spoke about how politics works in Turkey. Lamenting a lack of intra-party democracy, Sezer said, “Primaries aren’t being held. Before the elections, candidates should be chosen this way. Candidates should be selected by the votes of the registered members, not the votes of delegates.” Sezer also said that despite positive economic figures, he dosen’t believe the economy is in good shape. /Milliyet/
 ERDOGAN ANNOUNCES AKP’S PARLIAMENT SPEAKER CANDIDATESpeaking at his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) group meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before announcing Koksal Toptan as his party’s Parliament speaker candidate that democracy and discipline within the party would work in concert. Erdogan said that during recent meetings of the AKP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) and Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), Toptan was found to be a good fit for the post. Speaking after Erdogan, Toptan said that Parliament speaker was the best and highest post a politician could attain, adding that being chosen was an honor for him. Following the group meeting, Erdogan met with outgoing Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. The trio, who also met last week, reportedly discussed the upcoming presidential election process and the new Cabinet. /Turkiye-Milliyet/
 SPEAKER ELECTION TO START TODAYParliament is set today to start to elect a new speaker. Under an agreement reached by the parties in Parliament, all of the rounds of the elections will be held today. The new speaker is expected to be elected in the third round at the latest. In related news, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy leader Ali Topuz praised Koksal Toptan, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) choice for Parliament speaker candidate. The CHP decided not to field a candidate, saying it would be futile, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chose Tunca Toskay. /Turkiye/
 BAHCELI ADDRESSES FIRST MHP GROUP MEETING IN NEW PARLIAMENTSpeaking yesterday at his party’s first group meeting in the new Parliament, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli said that the MHP would be a center of compromise, tolerance, and dialogue and would work to play a constructive role. Commenting on the upcoming presidential election, Bahceli said that the new president should sincerely embrace the republic’s core principles. He further stated that if the AKP pushes its presidential candidate like it did before last month’s general elections, democracy would suffer and this could lead to a national crisis. /Sabah/
 DTP HOLDS FIRST-EVER GROUP MEETINGThe Democratic Society Party (DTP) yesterday held its first-ever parliamentary group meeting. In his opening remarks, acting DTP leader Nurettin Demirtas said that the party has already begun contributing to Turkey’s domestic peace, referring to the way its deputies conducted themselves at Parliament’s swearing-in ceremony. “Even though we’re represented by a small group in Parliament, I want to express our pleasure at helping to advance democracy and dissolve political tension by turning a new page with our presence in Parliament,” said Demirtas. /Turkish Daily News/
 US STATE DEPT: “THE TURKEY-IRAQ ANTI-TERROR MEMORANDUM IS A VERY POSITIVE STEP”Asked about this week’s memorandum of understanding against terrorism signed in Ankara between Turkey and Iraq, US State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack yesterday called it a “very positive step” and added that more of the same should follow. “We're trying to help those two countries deal with it (the terrorist PKK), both Iraq and Turkey,” he added. “We've made some progress in that regard.” /Cumhuriyet/
 IN ANKARA, US CONGRESSMAN URGES JOINT EFFORTS AGAINST PKKUS Republican Congressman Christopher Shays yesterday paid a visit to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara. After meeting with Turkey’s Special Envoy to Iraq Oguz Celikkol, Shays met with Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan and Turkey’s Special Anti-Terror Envoy Rafet Akgunay. Afterwards, Shays told a press conference, “By signing a memorandum of understanding against terrorism (with Iraq), something which was clear was made explicit: the PKK is a terrorist group, it’s as clear as that,” He added, “This is a terrorist organization and nothing will be gained when a country conducts operations within its territory. Turkey has a right to take all the necessary steps against a neighboring country which tolerates such activity. In order to forestall actions by individual countries, the US, Turkey and Iraq acting together would benefit all three.” /Hurriyet/
FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 BETTER THAN NOTHINGBY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)
Columnist Sami Kohen comments on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Ankara this week and the memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries on efforts against the PKK.
“It would be easy to belittle Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to Ankara this week. We have many reasons for doing so:
§ The talks didn’t result in a proper agreement. Instead of an agreement to cooperate against terrorism, only a memorandum of understanding was signed. A real agreement is said to be two months down the road.
§ Maliki's government is falling apart at the seams. Resignations are mounting. Maliki has to rely on the Kurds in his Cabinet more than ever now.
§ Even if the planned agreement is signed, it won't be easy to implement it, because the regional Kurdish administration is much more powerful than Iraq's central government.
§ Thus, the chances that Maliki, whose days in office may be numbered, will be able to realize Turkey’s expectations about the PKK are very weak.
All of this is true, including the part about Maliki's bleak political future. So under these circumstances, we shouldn’t expect much from his visit. The memorandum of understanding was just better than nothing at all. That’s that.
What was good about his visit, then?
§ The Iraqi government recognizing the PKK as a terrorist group and expressing its determination to fight it.
§ The central government’s commitment to take the necessary measures to isolate and eliminate the PKK.
§ The memorandum of understanding’s creating a legal basis which can be referred to if necessary.
§ Scheduling of preparations for the real agreement.
So what's the importance of all this?
Taking into account the weakness and even dysfunctionality of the central government, it’s easy to see how difficult fulfilling this commitment will be. It’s clear that the central government in Baghdad can’t undertake a mission to start a fight against the PKK. Kurds control the northern region. We also know that northern Iraqi leader Massoud Barzani doesn’t want to take part in efforts against the PKK.
Moreover, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari approving the memorandum of understanding and taking part in the talks is important, as he is of Kurdish origin and has close ties with the regional government in the north. In fact, including the northern Iraqi administration in this process will be helpful. Otherwise, all the documents and commitments will be for nothing.
One may ask what the point of negotiating with Maliki and signing some documents bilaterally is, but of course, one of the alternatives to a military operation is working with the Baghdad administration. As one of the people participating in the talks said, ‘Turkey is trying to push all diplomatic means. If they fail, it won’t be blamed for having tried’.”
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