|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 08-12-26
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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
 ERDOGAN: "WE DON'T HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH BAGHDAD OVER THE FIGHT AGAINST THE TERRORIST PKK"Turkey doesn't have the slightest problem with the Iraqi central government over the fight against the terrorist PKK, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday in the wake of his Wednesday meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Speaking to reporters, Erdogan stated that there was a consensus on measures needed against the terrorist group. Asked whether any concrete steps on making the PKK lay down its arms had been taken at the meeting, Erdogan stressed that the Iraqi government isn't involved with that aspect of the issue. "We discussed investment in fields such as energy, education, and infrastructure," he added. /Milliyet/
 PM ERDOGAN TOUTS TURKISH CONTRACTORS' ACHIEVEMENTS ABROADSpeaking at a ceremony in Ankara yesterday recognizing Turkish contractors' achievements abroad this year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the government pays a great deal of attention to foreign contacts and is constantly working to boost Turkey's trade volume. Thanking Turkish contractors for making him proud with their work overseas, Erdogan said, "I have always been proud to hear from foreign presidents and prime ministers about the successes of Turkish contractors." He said Turkish contractors' overseas projects would reach $2.5 billion by year's-end, adding that the long-term goal is to have projects worth $50 billion all over the world. "Turkey ranks third in the world, after the US and China, in projects assumed by its contractors overseas," he said. "This is important, as it shows Turkey's potential. Facilitating a stable environment guided by an atmosphere of trust and the government's efforts to address our problems will help Turkey reach its potential. No one should doubt this. We will continue to succeed." On the global economic crisis and Turkey, he said the only way out of the crisis is to seek new investments opportunities to turn it into an opportunity. Erdogan said that the government is continuing to take measures to counter the crisis and to protect the real sector. He also said that the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) candidates for next year's local elections in 46 provinces, including Ankara, would be announced over the weekend. /Turkiye/
 COURT RULING ON DISSOLVED MUNICIPALITIES SPURS DEBATEA recent Council of State ruling allowing municipalities dissolved by Parliament to participate in the local elections next March has spurred heated debate among Turkey's high judicial bodies. Parliament passed a law earlier this year declaring that municipalities with populations below 2, 000 would not take part in the local elections, and the Constitutional Court approved this measure. The Council of State, however, just ruled that those 862 municipalities could in fact take part in the elections. The Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) also adopted a course of action on the municipalities in line with the Council of State ruling. The Constitutional Court had previously announced that those municipalities could not appeal to the judiciary to overturn the decision. This week, both Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Constitutional Court Chief Justice Hasim Kilic accused the Council of State of overstepping its authority and violating the Constitution. In response to the criticisms, the Council of State released a statement saying that Erdogan's comments are out of line with the rule of law and accusing Chief Justice Kilic of overstepping his constitutional duty, authority and responsibility. Other Constitutional Court members have also spoken out, criticizing Kilic's accusations of the Council of State. Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said everyone must comply with Constitutional Court rulings. Commenting on the debate, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal called the situation a crisis in Turkey's judicial system, blaming Erdogan for causing the dispute. /Sabah/
 INONU COMMEMORATED 35 YEARS AFTER HIS PASSINGIsmet Inonu, Ataturk's successor as second president of the Turkish Republic, was commemorated yesterday on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of his death. Among those attending a ceremony at Anitkabir, Ataturk's mausoleum, were Deputy Presidency Secretary-General Nadir Alparslan on behalf of President Abdullah Gul, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, State Minister Murat Basesgioglu, Ankara Governor Kemal Onal, military officers, bureaucrats, and members of Inonu's family. During the ceremony, the attendees laid a wreath at Inonu's tomb and observed a minute of silence. /Milliyet/
 MINIMUM WAGE RISING TO 527 YTL NEXT YEARThe government will raise the minimum wage by 4.3 percent for the first six months of 2009 and by another 4.1 percent for the second half of the year. With this hike, the lowest salary will reach 527 YTL. /Aksam/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 FOUR YEARS INBY YILMAZ OZTUNA (TURKIYE)
Columnist Yilmaz Oztuna comments on recent developments in Turkey. A summary of his column is as follows:
"For months, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's top priority has been the local elections set for next March. Though he is the premier, his efforts to promote his party in the elections are quite normal. Moreover, he believes that if it falls short in the elections, Turkey's stability will suffer.
In addition, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal is also focused on the elections. He doesn't want to make fewer election promises than Erdogan. Another opposition leader, Devlet Bahceli, seems to feel that the last person to speak will win the debate.
Of course the local elections are important, but their real importance is as a sign of the public's mood ahead of the next general elections. They are even a factor in deciding if general elections are held sooner or later.
Erdogan is normally engaged in all of the country's issues. He makes great efforts, including in foreign policy. But he recently gave himself a bit of an image of being angry with the European Union. He seemed to have left the matter drift. He's waiting for Europe to see that Turkey is indispensable.
Our EU membership would be a guarantee of both Europe's borders and our own. It would end deceptive charges against Turkey.
So Erdogan's decision to travel on January 19 to Brussels, which he hasn't visited for four years, is a good one. We should repair our neglect of the EU over fruitless disputes. This is the best shortcut on the path to civilization. Other ways are very hazardous."
 THE FIGHT, NOW AND TODAYBY ISMAIL KUCUKKAYA (AKSAM)
Columnist Ismail Kucukkaya comments on the local elections set for next March. A summary of his column is as follows:
"As there are just three months until local elections, things are tense. Although our democratic culture isn't yet a settled one, our country can still hold elections and change our political leaders through the ballot box. This is the fruits of 60 years of multi-party rule. We also have the ability to rapidly and radically eliminate political structures. Moreover, there's a sort of fragmentation among government institutions. Intellectuals are split in two, and the institutions are having internecine fights. There's nothing wrong with this, but if our legal institutions are at issue, we should stop to examine this. If the judicial branch is at risk, who can we trust?
The current struggle over the judicial branch is only part of a larger fight. Let's consider the reasons behind it. We've spent the last two years disputing the regime and thus lost time and energy. We've faced a problematic process. The spirit of the fight has permeated all our institutions. Not only politics and the judicial branch, but also such institutions as the Board of Higher Education (YOK) and the Directorate General of Security are now caught in the same vicious circle. What's more, the people are tired, too.
The past of this fight is well known. It started with the November 2002 general elections (which brought the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, to power), and stretched through this year's unsuccessful closure case against the AKP. We can see that this struggle will continue. This is a requirement of politics to a certain extent. The fight also carries a price for everybody. The political intelligence sometimes factionalizes others. This might be towards the judicial branch, the media, or sometimes great capital forces. All the actors of the game of politics should be aware of this.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is tired. Abdullah Gul was elected president and former Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc and former Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener moved on due to the AKP's four-part leadership structure. Now there's nobody in the Cabinet to share Erdogan's burden or sometimes warn him. Now the local elections are nearing. Let's take a look at the real situation: We face an economic crisis. This time our agenda isn't being determined by abstract debates, but the concrete problems of large sectors of society. This is important. Such basic issues as poverty, unemployment, and inflation are setting the terms. The real performance of ruling parties is measured by their actions in these areas. Now the period of clever opposition has started. You can be sure that the debate over the judicial branch is making people angry.
The date of the elections, March 29, is very important. Politicians and leaders always have to win to maintain their power. Losing power might lead to a cascade effect on certain structures and critical nexuses. Erdogan's biggest test since taking office six years ago will be the measures he takes to fight the economic crisis. Policies which have an impact on people's daily lives will be key.
Our voters are extremely rational and pragmatic and very sensitive in their expectations about their daily lives. They are guided by their wallets. The AKP's political future depends on what it can do to counter the crisis. The ruling party should use all of its political know-how for investment, employment and economic stability. Some people are also trying to shift the spotlight. The Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) has been unable to prevent serious problems with the voter rolls on the eve of elections. The Constitutional Court seems to be very willing to step into the fight. Don't turn this debate into a replay of the closure case. If the balance of justice shifts, these people wouldn't forgive you. The local elections should be above-board so that the people can gauge the real performance of the ruling party and make good choices."
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