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Turkish Press Review, 08-01-29

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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

29.01.2008

FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS

CONTENTS

  • [01] AKP, MHP REACH ACCORD ON ENDING HEADSCARF BAN AT UNIVERSITIES
  • [02] CHP’S OZYUREK: “SECULARISM IS AT RISK”
  • [03] DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF IN WASHINGTON TO COORDINATE ANTI-PKK EFFORTS
  • [04] PARLIAMENTARY ENVOY IN PARIS
  • [05] PACE RAPPORTEUR TO VISIT TURKEY FOR REPORT ON MINORITY RIGHTS
  • [06] AUSTRALIAN PLATFORM TO BEGIN DRILLING FOR OIL IN CANAKKALE STRAIT
  • [07] CHOICE OF FREEDOMS

  • [01] AKP, MHP REACH ACCORD ON ENDING HEADSCARF BAN AT UNIVERSITIES

    Officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) yesterday met to discuss a package of constitutional changes meant to solve the headscarf issue. After the five-hour meeting, the two parties reached an agreement to amend Articles 10 of the Constitution, which ensures the equality of all citizens, and Article 42, which guarantees access to education for all, as well as supplemental Article 17 of the Board of Higher Education (YOK) Law. The proposal is expected to go to the Cabinet this week and later to the full Parliament after facing Parliament’s Constitutional Committee. AKP leader and Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and MHP leader Devlet Bahceli are expected today to announce details of the changes proposed for both headscarves and the Constitution. /Aksam-Today’s Zaman/

    [02] CHP’S OZYUREK: “SECULARISM IS AT RISK”

    Ending the ban on headscarves at universities would cripple the principle of secularism, said main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Mustafa Ozyurek yesterday. “These changes would push Turkey into a religious state,” he claimed. “They would deal a huge blow to the secular republic.” He added that if the ban is lifted, his party would challenge the move at the Constitutional Court. /Hurriyet/

    [03] DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF IN WASHINGTON TO COORDINATE ANTI-PKK EFFORTS

    Gen. Ergin Saygun, the deputy chief of General Staff, yesterday traveled to Washington to meet with his US counterparts. Their talks are set to discuss closer coordination of US and Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) efforts to fight the terrorist PKK. In addition, today and tomorrow, Saygun and Mary Beth Long, US assistant secretary of defense for international security, will co- chair the annual meetings of the US-Turkish High-Level Defense Group, a mechanism used by senior officials and generals to review the two countries’ military and defense relationship. The last round of talks was held in Ankara last year. Saygun is expected to return to Turkey next week after visiting military bases throughout the US. /Turkiye/

    [04] PARLIAMENTARY ENVOY IN PARIS

    A delegation led by European Union Harmonization Committee Chairman Yasar Yakis went to Paris yesterday to hold talks with French parliamentarians on bilateral relations and Turkey’s European Union membership bid. The delegation will also meet with Turkish businessmen living in France, as well as French businessmen. /Turkish Daily News/

    [05] PACE RAPPORTEUR TO VISIT TURKEY FOR REPORT ON MINORITY RIGHTS

    A Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) rapporteur is scheduled to visit Turkey next week, PACE said on its website. The rapporteur is working on a report on religious freedom and other human rights among non-Muslim minorities in Turkey and Muslim minorities in Greece’s Western Thrace region. /Today’s Zaman/

    [06] AUSTRALIAN PLATFORM TO BEGIN DRILLING FOR OIL IN CANAKKALE STRAIT

    The Atwood Southern Cross, an Australian-flagged giant floating platform, yesterday reached the Strait of Canakkale (Gallipoli) to begin oil exploration in Aegean territorial waters. The platform is set to begin its first drilling tomorrow in the Gulf of Saros. /Aksam/

    FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS

    [07] CHOICE OF FREEDOMS

    BY MUHARREM SARIKAYA (SABAH)

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

    “In the words of one influential Justice and Development Party (AKP) figure, we can see the government’s priorities in its choice of freedoms. He said this because the government postponed changes to Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301 while prioritizing legalizing the wearing of headscarves at universities. In other words, it set aside key legal changes for the progress of Turkey’s European Union membership bid, but made headscarves its most important issue. Actually, this is business as usual for the government. As I’ve said before, the AKP often acts like a hyperactive child. First it discusses an issue, then it gets bored with it, and so it finds another one to deal with. For example, Articles 301 and 221, the latter dealing with criminal penitence.

    As for the headscarf issue, although Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the issue solved while hurting no one, problems within the party will continue. Even if disciplinary steps are being pursued against Konya Deputy Husnu Tuna and Isparta Mayor Hasan Balaban, who both announced plans to lift the headscarf ban in official settings in general, the problem won’t end, because so many within the AKP agree with them. Maybe Erdogan will soften some harsh elements within the party during the spring 2009 local elections, as he did during last year’s general elections. But until then, efforts by those seeking to make waves through the issue will mount, because they’re dealing with it with political aims. That’s why two university students visited Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Oktay Vural yesterday. Talking about the deputy and the mayor, the students said that the two don’t want to solve the problem, but instead intend to stir things up and make the issue political fodder. In other words, the AKP made the issue its priority and then the MHP embraced the issue due to next year’s local elections.

    Mehmet Sandir, deputy co-chair of the MHP parliamentary group, also told me that the AKP was trying to win votes by trampling the nation’s sensitivities and that they wouldn’t allow this. Sandir added that he was concerned the AKP would try to exploit religion in the local elections, but that these efforts would be frustrated. Balaban said that the MHP wants to lift the headscarf ban only at universities, but that it should be lifted everywhere. Although it’s unclear if the proposed changes would be approved by Parliament or face a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) review, discussions along these lines and the current situation are enough to show that it faces a deadlock.”


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