|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 08-07-31
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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
 PRESIDENT GUL VISITS SCENES OF SUNDAY'S DOUBLE BOMBING IN ISTANBULPresident Abdullah Gul and his wife Hayrunnisa yesterday visited the site of Sunday's terrorist attacks in Istanbul 's Gungoren district and offered their condolences to the residents of the neighborhood. During the visit, Gul again condemned the attacks, saying, "Everyone who comes here sees that those who carried out these terror attacks, those who were behind them, those who masterminded them, and those who instigated them have done something terribly inhuman." He added, "All of the victims of these attacks were innocent. They (the culprits) intentionally targeted innocents without discriminating between men and women, the elderly and children. When they see pictures of the children they killed in newspapers, they cannot claim responsibility for the attacks due to their shame." He also said, "Unfortunately, in today's world the richest and the poorest countries alike have to live with terror. The security forces of all countries are fighting terrorism. Heads of state and government from around the world have sent us messages offering their condolences. They condemned these terror attacks which claimed the lives of innocents and gave their full support to our fight against terrorism." He added that the people responsible for the attacks would be brought to justice. People living in the Gungoren neighborhood welcomed Gul and his wife with Turkish flags hung from their windows. Gul pledged that the damage caused by the attacks would be compensated for as soon as possible. Tight security measures were taken for the visit. In related news, police yesterday detained nine people over possible connections with the terrorists who planted the bombs. /Turkiye/
 TOP COURT DECIDES NOT TO CLOSE RULING PARTY, IMPOSES FINANCIAL PENALTY INSTEADFollowing two days of deliberations and debate, the Constitutional Court ruled yesterday not to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but it also decided to cut the party's financial assistance from the state in half. Six members of the Constitutional Court voted to close the party â€" one short of the seven needed â€" while four others voted to cut the party's financial assistance from the Treasury, and one voted to reject the case outright. "Accordingly, the AKP will be deprived of half of the financial assistance that it would have received from the Treasury," said Chief Justice Hasim Kilic yesterday. He characterized the ruling as a serious warning. Kilic also called on politicians to reach a consensus to make the Constitution's sections on party closure cases more democratic, adding that this is urgently needed. Kilic said that he believed that from now on everyone would work to reduce domestic political tension. This case marks the first time the Constitutional Court used Article 69 of the Constitution to cut a political party's financial assistance, something made possible by a 2001 amendment. The amendment says that in closure cases, the court can fully or partially deprive a political party of financial assistance instead of banning it. /All Papers/
 ERDOGAN: "THIS RULING SAVED TURKEY FROM INJUSTICE AND ENDED UNCERTAINTY"Commenting on the Constitutional Court ruling declining to close down his Justice and Development Party (AKP), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said the decision had saved not only the AKP but also Turkey from injustice. "Now our democracy doesn't have to live under a great shame," Erdogan told reporters at AKP party headquarters in Ankara . Erdogan said Turkey 's political, social and economic stability would benefit from the decision, and also said that all sectors and institutions of Turkey , and especially politicians, should work to prevent similar situations from happening again. He reaffirmed his party's determination to act towards this goal, adding that he believes Turkey 's democracy and legal system could emerge stronger from the closure case. Erdogan said that Turkey would continue going down the path of modernization laid out by Ataturk, which he said was also the path to European Union membership. "Our priority is to strengthen social peace, and no one should doubt that we will continue to embrace everyone, whatever their political creed," he said, adding that the AKP would never deviate from that course. Erdogan said the court's ruling had also ended an uncertainty hanging over Turkey . "With its decision, the court dispelled a serious uncertainty clouding Turkey 's way," he said. Erdogan said that his party had worked to turn the trial process into an opportunity to strengthen Turkey 's constitutional order, parliamentary democracy based on the separation of powers, and social peace. He said that the ruling party couldn't be expected to remain indifferent to a process that could damage political, social and economic stability and cause serious losses that would be difficult to recover from, and could harm unity and solidarity. "Acting with this responsibility, the AKP managed this process to avoid harming the people, and we're pleased that our nation has not been made to face heavy costs," Erdogan said. He again denied that the AKP had ever been the focal point of anti-secular acts, saying that it would continue preserving the fundamental principles of the republic. /All Papers/
 BAYKAL: "THE COURT RULING IDENTIFIED THE PROBLEM BUT LEFT IT UNSOLVED"The Constitutional Court identified the problem but left it unsolved, said main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday on the ruling not to close the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) but to impose a financial penalty on it instead. "Almost all the court's members found that the AKP became a focal point of anti-secular acts," he said. "This is a decision that will have important consequences for our political life, democratic regime and the Constitution." He said that the AKP should clearly show a convincing and confidence-building transformation of the main principles of the republic. Baykal said that the court hoped that the ruling party could overcome the current crisis through making the right decisions, adding that the whole country shares this wish. He said the AKP should work hard to save the country from its current crisis and shouldn't be afraid to criticize itself. /Sabah/
 TOP EU , US OFFICIALS WELCOME COURT DECISION NOT TO CLOSE AKPEU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn yesterday welcomed the Constitutional Court decision not to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and he called on Turkey to continue its rapid and determined reform process towards modernization. Saying he felt relieved at the court's decision, Turkey-EU Joint Parliament Committee Co-Chairman Joost Lagendijk said choosing to close down the AKP would have been an undemocratic decision incompatible with European values. Lagendijk also asked the AKP to take some lessons from the ruling, saying Turkey should continue to carry out reforms paving the way for its EU membership. Stressing that such reforms should start with a civilian and democratic constitution, Lagendijk said the current Constitution's provisions allowing the closure of political parties should be changed as soon as possible. Lagendijk also said that the AKP should act to address the fears and concerns of people who don't support it. Asked about the decision, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, "I would just repeat what we have said all along: that we have confidence in Turkey and confidence in the Turkish people and their democracy. We are going to continue to work with this government. We work quite well with them." He added, "We would also encourage Turkey to use this moment to reinvigorate its efforts with the EU. And I know that requires both sides, both the EU, to reinvigorate its efforts as well, to move forward on the basis of Turkey continuing its efforts at political and economic reform, based on Turkey 's Constitution and secular democracy." /Sabah/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 WHAT HAPPENS NOW?BY ISMAIL KUCUKKAYA (AKSAM)
Columnist Ismail Kucukkaya comments on the Constitutional Court's decision not to close down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). A summary of his column is as follows:
"With yesterday's historic decision, a heavy burden was taken off the Constitutional Court 's shoulders. Now we might see a new era in Turkish politics. Instead of praising or damning the ruling, all relevant figures and institutions should learn lessons from it, and the ruling and opposition parties and public institutions should find a way to provide social restoration and domestic peace. All institutions, and especially the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), have made many mistakes over the last year-and-a-half. I guess only the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) got through this without harming itself. Practicing politics by hoping that some party will be shut down should be left behind, and the AKP will pay for its mistakes at the ballot box. I argue ruling parties should be given their walking papers through elections.
A decision to close the AKP would have hindered the development of politics outside the AKP. Yes, the AKP made serious mistakes, but closing it would have been a very heavy penalty. Now, again it got a stern warning. So Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party got a new lease on life. Now a new window of opportunities which shouldn't be closed has been opened, and mistakes which shouldn't be repeated have been exposed.
Many said from the very beginning that the indictment was weak and lacked evidence of anti-secular actions. A large part of society had and still has genuine concerns, but the evidence of crimes is lacking. Only AKP propaganda appealed to religious populism. But its decision not to criminalize adultery as well as its efforts to integrate with the European Union belied the accusations against it.
Two mistakes made by the AKP were in last year's presidential elections and its push to relax headscarf restrictions. But many feared that closing it would throw the country into chaos. Many people, as well as the financial markets, thought closure would be a step backwards. I personally wouldn't want to give the AKP the trump card of unjust treatment.
If opposition arguments are needed, they should include economic policy, privatization, corruption and how state resources are allocated. The headscarf push was an important turning point. The AKP tried to relax the restrictions because its economic policies weren't working. But the Constitutional Court annulled the changes. Now the AKP should think about the accusation it was the focus of anti-secular actions and change its image. Saying 'I'm not the problem' is no solution. If the perception exists, it should be changed. The way to do this is through policies. I really think AKP leaders made great mistakes over the last year. But the reaction to this shouldn't be closing it.
This party, which acts in line with the social stratification in Turkey , established relations with all layers. It had a lot of traits packed into its bag: liberal, EU supporter, nationalist, social democrat and conservativeâ€¦ Politics opposing it should follow the same road. Turkey has 70 million people and a great state, but its political institutions have failed toÄ± solve its problems and the whole burden was put onto the court's 11 members. This time foresight won, and I hope this will be a lesson for everybody, and that the AKP accounts for its recent actions and what they have cost. We're going through a period in which extreme ends don't work. Conflict should result not in disintegration, but consensus.
Our democracy is getting stronger and gaining experience. Turkey faced a serious outlay of energy, but what's important is to gain experience to build the future. The nation has certain sensitive points. Now Erdogan has a task, and Turkey has expectations from him. He's the prime minister of not only AKP voters, but the entire Turkish nation. We have to make the ruling benefit Turkish democracy, not just the AKP."
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