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Turkish Press Review, 08-01-22

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

22.01.2008


CONTENTS

  • [01] GUL CALLS DARFUR ISSUE A “HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDY”
  • [02] PM ERDOGAN TO ATTEND WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM IN DAVOS THIS WEEK
  • [03] ERDOGAN MEETS WITH US AMBASSADOR WILSON
  • [04] TOPTAN: “NO INSTITUTION HAS THE RIGHT TO PUT ITSELF IN PLACE OF PARLIAMENT”
  • [05] CICEK: “WE WANT TO REMOVE HURDLES TO INVESTMENT AND EMPLOYMENT”
  • [06] CHIEF OF STAFF GEN. BUYUKANIT MEETS WITH HIS BRITISH COUNTERPART
  • [07] LAGENDIJK: “THE AKP CAN SOLVE THE HEADSCARF ISSUE THROUGH THE FRENCH MODEL”
  • [08] TURKEY'S POPULATION ESTIMATED AT 70.6 MLN
  • [09] WHY ERDOGAN’S PUSH ON HEADSCARVES now?
  • [10] CONFLICT AND CATHARSIS

  • [01] GUL CALLS DARFUR ISSUE A “HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDY”

    President Abdullah Gul yesterday received his Sudanese counterpart Omar el- Bashir at the Cankaya Presidential Palace. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Gul described the Darfur issue as a “humanitarian tragedy.” He also called on everybody to work to solve the crisis, saying, “Turkey will continue to support efforts to solve the Darfur issue.” Bashir said that they appreciate Turkey’s efforts to solve the Darfur problem. “Sudan has a lot of natural resources, and we hope to benefit from Turkey’s experience,” he added. Bashir later attended a dinner hosted by Gul at the Presidential Palace, with Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler in attendance. /Star-Milliyet/

    [02] PM ERDOGAN TO ATTEND WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM IN DAVOS THIS WEEK

    The World Economic Forum’s annual regular meeting will officially start tomorrow in Davos, Switzerland. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, State Ministers Mehmet Simsek and Mehmet Aydin, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Energy Minister Hilmi Guler and Central Bank Chairman Durmus Yilmaz will attend the meetings, which will bring together top business leaders and politicians. Erdogan will go to Davos on Friday, and a reception will be held to promote Turkey that evening. /Turkiye/

    [03] ERDOGAN MEETS WITH US AMBASSADOR WILSON

    US Ambassador to Ankara Ross Wilson yesterday paid a surprise visit to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Prime Ministry residence. The meeting lasted 40 minutes. After the meeting, they did not speak to reporters. /Star/

    [04] TOPTAN: “NO INSTITUTION HAS THE RIGHT TO PUT ITSELF IN PLACE OF PARLIAMENT”

    At a press conference yesterday, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan spoke about recent statements by the Council of State and the Supreme Court of Appeals on the headscarf issue. Toptan said that no institution has the right to put itself in Parliament’s place, adding, “The judiciary can’t step into the legislative area or impose any norms. The judiciary interprets legal norms in the light of constitutional principles and the rule of law, and it passes judgment. Yet it can’t consider itself a lawmaker, or resort to arbitrariness.” Toptan said that the judiciary should also avoid expressing its views on possible future disputes that could be brought before it. “Parliament is the sole authority to make law which would be binding for everyone regardless of social, economic and political status,” he said. /All papers/

    [05] CICEK: “WE WANT TO REMOVE HURDLES TO INVESTMENT AND EMPLOYMENT”

    In a statement after yesterday’s seven-hour Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, government spokesperson Cemil Cicek said that the government will unveil a new employment package after it gets finishing touches at the Economic Council Board (EKK). Cicek said that Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Celik had briefed the Cabinet in detail about the package. He said that the EKK headed by Deputy Prime Minister Nazim Ekren will give final shape to the package in order to remove hurdles to investment and employment. Stating that they are working to lower unemployment, Cicek said that in particular they wanted to boost the employment of women and young people. He added that they were aiming to eliminate unregistered employment. /Turkiye/

    [06] CHIEF OF STAFF GEN. BUYUKANIT MEETS WITH HIS BRITISH COUNTERPART

    Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, currently in London, yesterday met with his British counterpart Gen. Jock Stirrup for three hours. Their meeting reportedly focused on Iraq and Afghanistan. Buyukanit is also set to meet with Secretary of Defense Des Browne and Foreign Secretary David Miliband. /Hurriyet/

    [07] LAGENDIJK: “THE AKP CAN SOLVE THE HEADSCARF ISSUE THROUGH THE FRENCH MODEL”

    Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee Co-Chair Joost Lagendijk yesterday proposed that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government solve the headscarf issue through the French model. Under that model, allow university students are allowed to wear headscarves, but elementary and high school students and government employees are not. / Hurriyet/

    [08] TURKEY'S POPULATION ESTIMATED AT 70.6 MLN

    Interior Minister Besir Atalay and Deputy Prime Minister Nazim Ekren yesterday announced Turkey’s population figures according to the Address- Based Birth Recording System (ADNKS). Under system, Turkey's population stood at 70.6 million as of the end of 2007. According to the figures, 70.5 percent of the population lives in cities, while the remaining 29.5 percent lives in towns and villages. The average age is 28.3, and half of the country's population is younger than this. /Milliyet/

    FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...

    [09] WHY ERDOGAN’S PUSH ON HEADSCARVES now?

    BY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)

    Columnist Fikret Bila comments on the current disputes over the headscarf issue. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has begun a push to lift the headscarf ban at universities. He seems to be determined on the matter. His harsh words against the recent statements from the Supreme Court of Appeals’ chief public prosecutor and the Council of State demonstrate this.

    Why is Erdogan, who has held the reins for five years now, suddenly launching an initiative to amend the Constitution to lift the headscarf ban? Erdogan used to make statements urging patience among those who want the ban ended.

    Why now?

    We can list four reasons for his timing:

    1. The new president

    2. The new head of the Board of Higher Education (YOK)

    3. The support of 47 percent of the voters

    4. The upcoming local elections (spring 2009)

    The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had seen two figures, former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and former YOK head Erdogan Tezic, as obstacles to resolving the issue. These two, in line with a Constitutional Court ruling, were opposed to any arrangement allowing headscarves. The court ruling was based on the Article 2 of the Constitution, on secularism.

    For this reason, Erdogan waited for the end of Sezer’s term in office last summer. Now, Abdullah Gul is at Cankaya. President Gul won’t oppose any arrangement allowing headscarves at universities.

    In addition, the naming of a new YOK head has eased Erdogan’s path. New YOK head Yusuf Ziya Ozcan won’t defend the headscarf ban.

    Another reason motivating Erdogan to plunge into the issue is of course his party’s increased vote margin in last summer’s general elections. Erdogan is breathing easier with the backing of 47 percent of the voters.

    Finally, there are the upcoming local elections set for March 2009. Erdogan might believe the AKP can win more votes if he makes an arrangement to lift the ban. With pressure from party grassroots, as there are no obstacles left from the president or the YOK head, he has no excuse not to seek an arrangement.

    All these factors have influenced Erdogan’s taking action.

    Another factor which helped Erdogan’s initiative is the stance of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli. He declared his support for resolution of the headscarf issue and even proposed a constitutional amendment.

    Through this move, the AKP can pass a constitutional amendment on the issue in Parliament with more than the required 367 votes.

    If Gul says there is no need, then this amendment can be put into effect without a referendum.

    Moreover, Erdogan seems to be confident of success if a referendum is held. So he won’t shrink from a referendum.

    This issue of course will face fierce political resistance. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and certain non-governmental organizations will warn that the AKP, following the end of the university ban, will also begin work to lift the ban for civil servants.

    In addition, debates in the judicial arena will be fierce as well, as the Constitutional Court ruling is based on the Constitution’s article on secularism.”

    [10] CONFLICT AND CATHARSIS

    BY MUHARREM SARIKAYA (SABAH)

    Columnist Muharrem Sarikaya comments on religion, the Kurds and freedom. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “He said that there are three issues that we should solve, if necessary, through conflict; religion, the Kurds and freedom. I asked him why they don’t seek a solution through consensus. He said that a consensus has been sought up to now, but supporters of the status quo have always prevailed and those who sought a solution were turned back. Who was I speaking to? A helpful, open-minded figure from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). As our conversation was a friendly one, I won’t reveal his name. I only convey some of it so the reasons for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent aggressive style can be understood.

    The AKP doesn’t believe that these three issues can be solved through dialogue and consensus, but think that a tough stance is needed. It believes that whenever an opportunity for a solution was created on these issues in the past, resistance arose. In the area of religion, he cited the headscarf and Alevi issues as examples. The AKP thinks that now it can prevail with the 47% of votes it won in last summer’s general elections. So do all these voters agree with the party leadership on these three issues? And leaving them aside, do the party deputies agree? A short conversation with these deputies would show that they don’t.

    Two articles of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), under the section on freedoms, can be cited as examples. Although an amendment was due a month ago, the TCK’s article on penitence hadn’t been brought forward yet. The same thing applies to the Article 301. This issue has been a problem since the AKP came to power. Although the TCK was completely revised two years ago, no amendment to Article 301 has emerged. Nothing has changed. Although Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said that they fast-tracked the process, the government is divided on the issue.

    The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) can see this situation in the government clearly. The MHP thinks that the conscience of former nationalists within the AKP won’t allow these changes. Similarly, MHP Deputy Deniz Bolukbasi said that there is a situation beyond confession in the Orthodox church, one called catharsis, in other words, cleansing one’s conscience. He added that now we’ll see how our former colleagues will cleanse their conscience, when these issues come before the full Parliament.”


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