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Turkish Press Review, 08-02-04

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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

04.02.2008

FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS

CONTENTS

  • [01] PARLIAMENT TO VOTE THIS WEEK ON ENDING UNIVERSITY HEADSCARF BAN
  • [02] BABACAN: “2007 WAS A LOST YEAR FOR EU REFORMS”
  • [03] FM BABACAN TO VISIT RUSSIA
  • [04] OIC, BABACAN CALL FOR RESOLUTION OF PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT
  • [05] EU’S LAGENDIJK: “I SUPPORT THE AKP ON THE HEADSCARF ISSUE”
  • [06] THOUSANDS RALLY AGAINST GOVT HEADSCARF PROPOSAL
  • [07] HISTORY WILL JUDGE BAHCELI

  • [01] PARLIAMENT TO VOTE THIS WEEK ON ENDING UNIVERSITY HEADSCARF BAN

    Constitutional changes meant to lift the headscarf ban at universities will be taken up by Parliament this week. On Wednesday Parliament will debate the amendments and hold its first round of secret voting, followed by a second round on Saturday. The proposed amendment will be passed if it gets the votes of more than 330 deputies. /Turkiye/

    [02] BABACAN: “2007 WAS A LOST YEAR FOR EU REFORMS”

    Turkey’s European Union accession reforms slowed down last year due to general elections and Parliament’s resulting long recess, said Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday. “As soon as Parliament reopened, work on the budget started, and so there wasn’t much progress in legislation in 2007,” Babacan told news magazine Kriter. “But this wasn’t only for the EU, there wasn’t progress in general. 2007 was a lost year for reforms. Now, after the general elections, a new Parliament was seated. There’s also a new president. Now the infrastructure is ready for us to continue with a new wave of reforms.” He said that nearly 230 meetings on the EU acquis have been held since last fall, adding, “Seventeen delegations were sent to Brussels in the last five months. We’ll finish the second round of updates on March 17. More than 40 visits were paid to EU countries at the level of prime minister and state minister. The premier visited five EU countries in five months.” /Sabah/

    [03] FM BABACAN TO VISIT RUSSIA

    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan will pay a visit to Moscow on Feb. 16-17 at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. The two top diplomats will discuss issues such as the Fener Greek patriarch’s claim to be “ecumenical,” Cyprus, the terrorist PKK and Kosovo. /Cumhuriyet/

    [04] OIC, BABACAN CALL FOR RESOLUTION OF PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT

    Following a weekend meeting by the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia focusing on the Mideast issue, an OIC declaration meeting condemned recent actions by Israel. Reading out the declaration, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu a Turkish scholar, said that Israel was responsible for the ongoing deplorable situation on the Gaza Strip. The declaration urged the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the pre-1967 borders. In addition, speaking at the gathering, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said the conflict between Israel and Palestine was the basic reason for many problems in the region, adding that their issues could be resolved through negotiations. /Turkiye/

    [05] EU’S LAGENDIJK: “I SUPPORT THE AKP ON THE HEADSCARF ISSUE”

    EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee Co-Chair Joost Lagendijk said over the weekend that he was in favor of ending the headscarf ban at universities. At a conference in the Netherlands, Lagendijk said, “Ending the headscarf ban wouldn’t contradict European Union principles or criteria.” He added, “I support the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) work on this issue.” /Star/

    [06] THOUSANDS RALLY AGAINST GOVT HEADSCARF PROPOSAL

    More than 100,000 demonstrators flocked to the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on Saturday to voice their opposition to a government proposal to end headscarf ban at universities. Similar demonstrations took place in provinces around the country. The meeting led by women’s groups targeting the efforts of the government and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to lift the ban turned into a huge pro- secularism rally in the capital with the participation of around 60 non- governmental organizations. /Turkish Daily News/

    FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS…FROM THE COLUMNS

    [07] HISTORY WILL JUDGE BAHCELI

    BY TUFAN TURENC (HURRIYET)

    Columnist Tufan Turenc comments on Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli. A summary of his column is as follows:

    “After the death of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Alparslan Turkes in 1997, Devlet Bahceli came silently onto the stage to take the party helm. Actually, nobody could have guessed at that time that such a silent politician would come to play such an important role in the country’s fate. But Bahceli’s decisions and positions ended up changing the country’s fate at critical junctures. Obviously history will judge Bahceli.

    Bahceli was so respectful that during the 1999-2002 coalition government, he didn’t smoke in the presence of then Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. So he was a harmonious partner. But when Ecevit fell ill (only to die a few years later) amid rumors the MHP would be kicked out of the coalition, Bahceli forced early elections. Despite Ecevit’s pleas, he held firm and early elections were held in November 2002. The elections amounted to suicide for a coalition government which has just survived an economic crisis, because the measures and reforms it took had just started to yield results. The economic situation was getting better, but this hadn’t reached the level of the people yet. Bahceli didn’t heed Ecevit’s warnings, and the elections caused the coalition parties to collapse. Ecevit’s Democratic Left Party (DSP) and Mesut Yilmaz’s Motherland Party (ANAP) didn’t pass the election threshold. Bahceli’s MHP suffered the same fate. Meanwhile, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a religious party which was established six years ago, became the ruling party. Obviously, Bahceli is the main actor who caused the AKP to unexpectedly become the ruling party.

    The second incident where Bahceli steered the country’s fate is last summer’s presidential election. AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party members announced that they would elect a religious president in order to establish a regime dominated by Islamic elements. Their candidate was then Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. In spite of all the AKP’s efforts, Gul’s bid fell short and general elections were triggered. Afterwards, Bahceli came to the help of the AKP, anxious that it again wouldn’t be able to elect Gul. He gave surprising support, and so the religious president was elected with MHP help. So Bahceli was the lead actor in this election, which was very dangerous for the regime’s balances. Now Bahceli is again the actor playing the key role in the headscarf issue that we face. A constitutional amendment was necessary to lift the headscarf ban at universities, but the AKP lacked the supermajority in Parliament to change the Constitution. Just then Bahceli appeared on stage to help the AKP lift the ban. Under MHP leadership, girls will be able to wear headscarves at universities as of next week. All the warnings made by opposition parties, the judiciary, non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, the media and most importantly universities had no impact on Bahceli. Bahceli was the lead actor in lifting the headscarf ban, which sets into motion a breaking point for the secular democratic republic entrusted to our nation by Ataturk. Obviously, history will write about the events I tried to summarize here and make its own judgment of Bahceli.”


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