|Thursday, 22 February 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 08-10-21
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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
 PM ERDOGAN VISITS DIYARBAKIRPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday visited Diyarbakir to attend a ceremony marking the new school year at Dicle University. Speaking to the ceremony, Erdogan lambasted demonstrators favoring the terrorist PKK, saying that some shops had been forced to close due to threats. Erdogan also criticized Osman Baydemir, the city's Democratic Society Party (DTP) mayor, saying, "Coming here from the airport, I saw the state of the roads. Should a modern city like Diyarbakir have trash on the roads? Doesn't the municipality have garbage trucks and street cleaners? The people should teach him a lesson." Erdogan also attended the opening of a burn center affiliated with Dicle University Medical School and Turkcell. /Milliyet/
 SPANISH FM: "TURKEY PROMOTES PEACE IN THE WORLD"Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday met with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos, who is on an official visit to Turkey. At a joint press conference afterwards, Babacan said that Turkey, along with Spain, initiated the Alliance of Civilizations and made it a UN project, adding, "The project has gotten a lot of international attention. The first Alliance of Civilizations Annual Forum was held in Madrid, and the second will be held next year in Istanbul." Touching on terrorism, Babacan stated that both Turkey and Spain have been terrorist targets, and that the two will cooperate on the issue. Speaking about Ankara's recent talks with the northern Iraqi regional administration, Babacan added, "Until recently, we had no contact with the administration in northern Iraq. In a major breakthrough, now we have established direct dialogue." Babacan also stressed the importance of Turkish, US, and Iraqi intelligence-sharing for fighting the terrorist PKK. For his part, Moratinos touted Turkey's recent election to a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, saying, "Turkey has scored key diplomatic achievements, and is a guarantor of peace in the world." Touching on Turkey's role in its region, he praised Ankara's mediation of peace talks between Israel and Syria. "Spain has always supported Turkey's EU membership, and it will continue to do," he added. / Star/
 JUSTICE MINISTER: "ERGENEKON IS A NORMAL TRIAL"Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin yesterday met with his Egyptian counterpart Mamdouh Marei. Afterwards, Sahin told a press conference that the Ergenekon trial was one of many trials being heard throughout Turkey and added, "The prosecutors on the case aren't committing a miscarriage of justice, but are judging according to the laws before them and the evidence they have." On controversy over the trial venue, Sahin said that the panel of judges had decided where the trial would be held and added, "Let's not exaggerate things. Soon the problems of the trial's first days should be largely solved." /Cumhuriyet/
 MGK TO CONVENE TODAYThe National Security Council (MGK), chaired by President Abdullah Gul, is set to convene today at the Cankaya Presidential Palace. Issues expected to be discussed include the fight against the terrorist PKK at home and abroad. Media claims of military negligence in the recent terrorist PKK attack in Aktutun are also expected to be discussed. /Aksam/
 ERGENEKON TRIAL BEGINS IN ISTANBULThe trial of 86 suspects accused of being members of Ergenekon, a criminal network with links to the state accused of plotting to overthrow the government, began yesterday. The trial by the 13th Higher Criminal Court began at a special venue built for the hearings inside the Silivri prison complex in Istanbul. The panel of judges, led by Judge Koksal Sengun, set the next hearing for Thursday. The defendants include retired Gen. Veli Kucuk, Labor Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek, journalist Ilhan Selcuk and former Istanbul University Rector Kemal Yalcin Alemdaroglu. Forty-six of the defendants are now standing trial, and the remainder are set to appear in court later. Defendants Selcuk and IP deputy leader Ferit Ilsever did not attend the hearing due to health problems. Tight security measures were taken in and around the court venue. During yesterday's hearing, prosecutors demanded life sentences for some suspects, including Kucuk, Perincek and Alemdaroglu, on charges of attempting to overthrow the government by force and inciting murder. In related news, before the trial started, lawyers for the suspects claimed that the courtroom was too small to hold a fair trial. After the hearing started, Judge Sengun ordered the courtroom cleared due to overcrowding. Hundreds of people also gathered outside the courthouse to support the defendants, holding Turkish flags and pictures of the suspects. Members of both the IP and the League of Turkish Youth (TGB) chanted slogans supporting Kucuk and other defendants. /Turkiye/
 BARZANI SAYS TALKS WITH TURKEY TO CONTINUEMassoud Barzani, the head of the regional administration in northern Iraq, said yesterday that talks with Ankara would continue both in the region itself and in Turkey. Barzani told reporters that the two sides have turned a new page and opened a path for dialogue. Referring to his meeting last week with Turkey's Special Envoy to Iraq Murat Ozcelik, he said, "Turkey took a step to boost relations. This was the first meeting between the head of the regional administration and a Turkish delegation. It was a new beginning which broke down the walls and melted the distrust between Turkey and the regional administration." Barzani said that the two parties didn't discuss specifics regarding the terrorist PKK or any other issue, adding that those would be dealt with in detail later. He also said the talks carry great importance for finding solutions to the problems of the region. /Turkiye/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 OUR UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIPBY ILTER TURKMEN (HURRIYET)
Columnist Ilter Turkmen comments on Turkey's UN Security Council temporary membership for 2009-2011. A summary of his column is as follows:
"Turkey's temporary UN Security Council membership shouldn't have been extraordinary. Many countries far smaller than Turkey with no geopolitical importance have been elected. The reason Turkey hasn't gotten a seat since the early '60s is the Cyprus issue. Greek also hasn't sat on the council until recently for the same reason. But it was good to see us get the support of 150 states, more than the number of votes needed. Our country scored a great success thanks to an intensive diplomatic initiative and lobbying campaign. It wouldn't be right to complain about how much money was spent on this.
This investment got us council membership and also boosted Turkey's profile and influence on the international stage. We should congratulate our president, government, and Foreign Ministry, and our UN Ambassador Baki Ilkin, who brilliantly capped off his diplomatic career on the verge of retirement, and all the diplomats who helped him.
The Security Council, which is responsible for international peace and security, is obviously the most important organ of the UN system. Under the UN Charter, measures taken by members to exercise the right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the council and shall not in any way affect the council's authority and responsibility to take such action it sees as necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. But this rule has been obviously violated. The presence of five states with the right to veto has sometimes crippled the council. The council approved of the 1991 Gulf War, but it couldn't stop the unfortunate US intervention in 2003. The council later decided to authorize the presence of coalition forces in Iraq and thus indirectly legalized this occupation. Issues concerning Iraq might be brought to the council during Turkey's membership. Some fear Turkey might be put in a difficult position due the council dealing with Iraq and Iran, but avoiding the risks of membership is impossible. Of course, we won't try not to offend anybody.
For example, if we believe that Iran's nuclear program constitutes a serious threat, we'll have to take a stance in line with that. If the Georgian issue comes up, we will insist on Georgia's territorial integrity. Some also wonder if membership will provide us with certain advantages, but right now I think the answer is no. In terms of the Cyprus issue, all the council does now is hold routine meetings to, for instance, extend the peacekeeping force's mandate on the island. Expecting the talks between Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot administration leader Demetris Christofias to produce a solution which might require Security approval in just two years is overly optimistic. Of course, we can't foresee what crises might come before the council, only that it will face critical new problems due to the unstable time in which we live.
And there's another key point. When countries are elected to the council, they generally send their best diplomats to New York to represent them. The ambassador we decide to send should have experience in international institutions as well as easy rapport, quick judgement, fluent English and expression skills, and a good sense of humor so that we can play an effective role on the council."
 BATTLE LINES OVER ERGENEKONBY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)
Columnist Fikret Bila comments on the Ergenekon trial which began yesterday. A summary of his column is as follows:
"Following months of intense public attention, yesterday the Ergenekon trial finally began. Not only Turks but many observers worldwide are watching. The case involves thousands of pages of files concerning a vast alleged terrorist plot.
The case will be closely watched by both domestic and foreign legal and political circles. It could even go as far as the European Court of Human Rights.
Such a large, bold case will test the Turkish judiciary. Every stage of the trial will be scrutinized.
On the first day of the trial, serious problems were faced due to the unsuitable physical conditions. Amid chaos, the trial had to be postponed for several hours. The panel of judges decided to try the defendants and suspects in separate hearings, to limit the number of lawyers, reporters and observers, so as to ensure proper physical conditions for a fair trial.
These first day problems showed that the Justice Ministry failed to take proper preparations. For instance, it failed to calculate the number of defendants, lawyers, family members and reporters who would want to attend the trial, and so a courtroom designed for only 200 people was trying to squeeze in about twice that many.
Importance of the case
The Ergenekon case will have a special place in Turkish judicial history for its size and the content of the allegations. It covers a series of events from the attacks on the Council of State and the offices of Cumhuriyet daily, and allegations of a gang within the state, a terrorist organization and unsolved murders.
The court will have to tackle all this.
Drawing political battle lines
The case has also led to the drawing of political battle lines. Scenes outside the courtroom are important signs of the political meaning attached to the case.
Members of the Workers' Party (IP), the Kemalist Thought Association and other groups are protesting the government during the trial.
On the other hand, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), Socialist Platform for the Oppressed, Ozgur-Der and Socialist Democracy Party have gathered on the other side.
This situation risks sowing tension around Turkey's Kurdish issue.
Whatever the political sides and disputes, it is important that the trial present the facts to the judges.
The judges' burden will be heavy and not at all easy.
But we have to trust in them.
The facts will come out in the course of the trial."
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