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Turkish Press Review, 08-01-18

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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

18.01.2008


CONTENTS

  • [01] GUL TO TRAVEL TO SYRIA
  • [02] ERDOGAN SPEAKS TO THE NATION’S GOVERNORS
  • [03] BAYKAL CRITICIZES PM’S HEADSCARF REMARKS
  • [04] MHP SIGNALS SUPPORT FOR CHANGING HEADSCARF RESTRICTIONS
  • [05] CHIEF PUBLIC PROSECUTOR WARNS AGAINST ENDING HEADSCARF BAN
  • [06] TUSIAD DELEGATION MEETS WITH GOVT TO DISCUSS REFORMS
  • [07] CB LOWERS INTEREST RATES
  • [08] LIRA STRONGER AGAINST ALMOST ALL CURRENCIES
  • [09] SOLVING HEADSCARF ISSUE NOT AS EASY AS IT SEEMS

  • [01] GUL TO TRAVEL TO SYRIA

    President Abdullah Gul is set to travel to Damascus tomorrow at the invitation of his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. During his one-day stay, Gul will attend events marking the opening of the Damascus 2008 Arab League Culture Capital. The president will be accompanied by State Minister Nimet Cubukcu and officials from the Culture and Tourism Ministry. /Cumhuriyet/

    [02] ERDOGAN SPEAKS TO THE NATION’S GOVERNORS

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday attended a meeting of the nation’s governors at the Interior Ministry. Speaking to the gathering, Erdogan said that Turkey has made necessary reforms for its European Union bid. “If the impact of these reforms is felt in Istanbul, we urge that it also be felt in Hakkari, and our governors have an important role to play in that,” he added. Erdogan said that once the terrorist PKK claimed that evidence of the state in the country’s southeast, such as schools and hospitals, was lacking, but that now they can no longer do so, and the PKK is losing its power. Erdogan called on the governors to come out of their offices and meet with the public. “Our prime minister, Cabinet ministers, mayors and governors should help the poor,” he said. He added that the government with never concede on security. /Aksam/

    [03] BAYKAL CRITICIZES PM’S HEADSCARF REMARKS

    Responding to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statements about headscarves, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday said that an attempt to create constitutional grounds for the headscarf as a political symbol would pave the way for the proliferation of political symbols in public places and even the Turkish Armed Forces. "This will be a major breaking point in the constitutional history of the republic," he warned. He added that Article 24 of the Constitution clearly calls making political symbols of religious beliefs a form of religious exploitation. /Hurriyet/

    [04] MHP SIGNALS SUPPORT FOR CHANGING HEADSCARF RESTRICTIONS

    Turkey’s conservative parties seem to be joining forces to lift the ban on wearing headscarves in certain places through changing the Constitution. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has challenged the ban on headscarves in universities and public offices, saying this week there was no need to wait for a constitutional amendment to end the ban. Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli seemed to agree with Erdogan as he said yesterday that a “minor change” to the Constitution could accomplish that end. In a written statement, Bahceli said the problem could be resolved without sowing political and social tensions through adding a clause to paragraph 4 of Article 10. /The New Anatolian/

    [05] CHIEF PUBLIC PROSECUTOR WARNS AGAINST ENDING HEADSCARF BAN

    In the midst of calls by some political leaders to lift the headscarf ban in universities, Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Public Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya said yesterday that lifting the headscarf ban would violate the “secular unitary structure” of the state. In a written statement, Yalcinkaya warned political parties not to violate principles of the republic, saying that efforts to destroy Turkey’s modern structure would sow divisions and cause conflict. /Sabah/

    [06] TUSIAD DELEGATION MEETS WITH GOVT TO DISCUSS REFORMS

    A delegation from the Turkish Union of Industrialist’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) yesterday met separately with Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Celik and Health Minister Recep Akdag. The delegation, led by Arzuhan Dogan Yalcindag, reportedly exchanged views on the government’s economic and health policy reforms set to be implemented this year. /Turkiye/

    [07] CB LOWERS INTEREST RATES

    The Central Bank yesterday announced quarter-point cuts in interest rates. At its meeting, the CB’s Monetary Policy Committee decided to lower the overnight borrowing interest rate from 15.75 to 15.50 percent and the lending rate from 20 to 19.50 percent. /Star/

    [08] LIRA STRONGER AGAINST ALMOST ALL CURRENCIES

    The Turkish lira appreciated against the currencies of 99 out of 100 countries last year, according to Finance Ministry data. The ministry yesterday announced the exchange rates for foreign currencies as of the end of 2007 for use in all types of debt and claim transactions in these currencies. The value of the lira ranked 83rd among the 100 other currencies included in the data, with little difference in the four currencies following it in terms of exchange rates. /Today’s Zaman/

    FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…

    [09] SOLVING HEADSCARF ISSUE NOT AS EASY AS IT SEEMS

    BY BILAL CETIN (VATAN)

    Columnist Bilal Cetin comments on the headscarf issue. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been the ruling party for more than five years. In addition, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the prime minister for nearly five years. The AKP is sensitive about the headscarf issue and has been promising to solve this issue since 2002, when it first ran for office. But there hasn’t been any solution, because solving the issue isn’t as easy as it seems. There is a high risk of tension and even crisis. The AKP has made a few moves but each time it saw the lack of social and institutional consensus, it beat a hasty retreat. But now, for the first time, Erdogan seems to be very determined. For a few days, he has been hinting that even if you call headscarves a symbol, the ban at universities will be lifted. In other words, there will be a constitutional change to end the ban.

    The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has been wanting the ban ended for a long time. Just like Erdogan, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli wants the ban lifted and the issue solved without any tension or conflict. The only disagreement between them is this: Erdogan thinks that people should be allowed to wear it, even if it’s a symbol, whereas Bahceli thinks it shouldn’t be allowed to be used as a political symbol due to sensitivities about secularism. In addition, Bahceli thinks that the AKP’s initiatives to solve the headscarf issue are insincere and that it’s only using this issue as a political tool.

    So yesterday the MHP took action on this issue. It proposed a constitutional amendment, saying that if the AKP is sincere, the change should be made to end the wrangling over the issue. The MHP’s solution is very simple. It says a clause on ‘presenting all kinds public services and benefiting from them’ should be added to Article 10 of the Constitution, which is on the principle of equality before the law. In other words, all citizens will be able to benefit from all sorts of public services equally, and thus students wearing headscarves will be able to benefit from this service equally, as higher education is a also a public service. But this doesn’t seem likely to overturn a 1989 Constitutional Court decision establishing the basis of the ban, because the ruling says nothing about the principle of ‘equality before the law or benefiting equally from public services.’ In upholding the ban, the court directly referred to the principle of secularism and Articles 2 and 24, where this principle is stated.

    Turkey will be discussing this issue for a while longer with non- governmental organizations, lawyers and universities. Most importantly, government agencies will become parties to this discussion. Actually they started doing this yesterday. The Supreme Court of Appeals’ chief public prosecutor issued a statement criticizing the push to end the ban. He branded the MHP and AKP efforts as ‘activities aiming to alter the republic’s secular character.’ In other words, he thinks that these parties are violating the Constitution. Even if the way seems simple, it won’t be easy to end the headscarf ban. Yesterday came the prosecutor’s harsh criticism. Tomorrow this might be followed by other institutions. Even certain institutions whose intervention is never desired might criticize this as well.”


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