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Turkish Press Review, 08-03-20

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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

20.03.2008


CONTENTS

  • [01] ERDOGAN: “ISTANBUL WILL BECOME A CITY OF MUSEUMS”
  • [02] BABACAN: “THERE’S NO DECISION YET WHETHER TURKEY WILL SEND MORE TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN”
  • [03] SEZER: “CHANGING THE RULES ON PARTY CLOSURES DURING THE AKP CASE WOULD HARM THE RULE OF LAW”
  • [04] TRNC’S TALAT: “THE LOKMACI GATE WILL REOPEN NEXT MONTH”
  • [05] US’ BRYZA: “THE US WILL STAND BESIDE TURKEY AS IT DEALS WITH THE PKK”
  • [06] UNDERSTANDING THE “OTHER”

  • [01] ERDOGAN: “ISTANBUL WILL BECOME A CITY OF MUSEUMS”

    Speaking at the reopening yesterday of a restored Ottoman era housing project, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Istanbul will be made into a city of museums. “An excessive influx of migrants threatens Istanbul, but this megalopolis will change through the new Local Governments Law,” he added. “We decided that many historical buildings will be turned into hotels, so we can both promote our historical sites and boost the bed capacity for tourists.” /Star/

    [02] BABACAN: “THERE’S NO DECISION YET WHETHER TURKEY WILL SEND MORE TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN”

    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday met with his visiting Afghan counterpart Rengin Dadfar Spanta. “Turkey hasn’t decided yet if it will send more troops to Afghanistan,” Babacan told reporters after the meeting. “Turkey will make its decision clear in the days to come.” He stressed that Ankara will try to strike a balance between its own fight against terrorism and how it can help the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Babacan also said that at next month’s NATO summit, a comprehensive strategy against terrorism in Afghanistan would be discussed, and Ankara would strongly support Kabul. /Cumhuriyet/

    Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday criticized Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli’s proposal for constitutional changes to make it harder to close political parties. Speaking at his party’s group meeting, Baykal said that the main problems facing Turkey are violations of the constitutional principle of secularism and the actions of some parties and politicians. He added that the changes proposed by Bahceli are “irregular” and that if they passed, the CHP would challenge them in court. /Aksam/

    [03] SEZER: “CHANGING THE RULES ON PARTY CLOSURES DURING THE AKP CASE WOULD HARM THE RULE OF LAW”

    Commenting on proposals for constitutional changes by both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition National Movement Party (MHP) to make it harder to close political parties, Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Zeki Sezer yesterday warned these changes could lead to fresh chaos. Making such proposals in the midst of the closure case against the AKP would hurt the rule of law, he added. Stating that the DSP opposes party closures but encourages calm and respect for the law, Sezer said if the AKP had followed the DSP’s advice on the headscarf issue, this problem could have been avoided. /Cumhuriyet/

    [04] TRNC’S TALAT: “THE LOKMACI GATE WILL REOPEN NEXT MONTH”

    Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat is expected to meet tomorrow with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Hristofias. Talat said yesterday that the Lokmaci Gate, a key opening from the TRNC’s capital Lefkosha into Greek Cyprus which has been closed since 1963, will be reopened within weeks. Stating that opening Lokmaci will have a symbolic meaning as it will make the two communities feel as if they belong to the same city, Talat added that they will open the gate at the beginning of next month. German-Turkish Interparliamentary Friendship Group Chair Claudia Roth, currently visiting the TRNC, yesterday said that eliminating the barrier will help overcome hurdles in people’s minds. /Hurriyet/

    [05] US’ BRYZA: “THE US WILL STAND BESIDE TURKEY AS IT DEALS WITH THE PKK”

    US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Matt Bryza yesterday said that bilateral cooperation against the terrorist PKK has revitalized relations between Ankara and Washington, adding, “Military cooperation against the terrorist PKK will continue.” Speaking to Milliyet daily, Bryza said that US President George W. Bush had assured Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the US would stand beside Turkey as it continues dealing with the PKK issue, and added, “We think a multi- level, multi-pronged approach is needed on this issue.” Touching on US Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to Turkey next week, Bryza said, “I expect the vice president to speak about the cooperation against the terrorist PKK which started during Premier Erdogan’s visit to the US last November.” Also commenting about a prosecutor’s indictment to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Bryza stated that Turkey is facing a difficult time, but added, “Turkish democracy has the ability to get through difficult periods.” /Milliyet/

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

    [06] UNDERSTANDING THE “OTHER”

    BY ERGUN BABAHAN (SABAH)

    Columnist Ergun Babahan comments on the split between conservatives and secularists in Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows.

    “Turkey is split between the people who favor and those who oppose the closure of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). This split, which was felt to a certain extent before last summer’s general elections before picking up steam, can be seen clearly now, and this is the greatest danger facing Turkey, apart from the possible closure of the AKP and the Democratic Society Party (DTP). Most people don’t try to understand people with different views and see them as enemies and the opposing side. It seems unlikely that such a country can continue to move forward. Here, the ruling AKP is at fault, but the rightness of criticizing a party facing the threat of closure like the sword of Damocles is debatable.

    The AKP’s trouble understanding secularists’ worries and concerns has promoted this atmosphere. But the secularists haven’t made any effort to understand conservatives either, warning that allowing young women wearing headscarf to enter universities would lead to a chaos. Conservatives are seen as a group who want religious rule, and their efforts to bring about modernization and change haven’t been taken seriously.

    In Taraf daily yesterday, Etyen Mahcupyan wrote that although conservatives have remained religious, they have been modernizing. Mahcupyan added that the secret of this issue, which is difficult to understand from a modernist point of view, is that religious people have begun adjusting their daily lives to the requirements of the modern world. He added that the headscarves’ function of liberating women from the pressure of men and families is an extension of this process of change.

    Now these people are being eyed suspiciously, and there are efforts to paint them as dangerous. So the upcoming Constitutional Court ruling won’t be just about the future of political parties, but the nation’s determination to live together in peace. Turkey has to create an atmosphere in which government institutions and the people don’t exclude each other but try to understand each other. When everybody thinks that everyone else is trying to destroy them, society suffers. Our recent past shows the high cost of such polarizations.

    A nation (including its ruling party and opposition) which learns lessons from history is capable of seeing the risks of such a course. It’s everybody’s duty to understand the ‘other.’ Political parties aside, there will always be sectors of society who see each other this way. This is a picture which should disturb everyone. That’s why democracy exists.”


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