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Turkish Press Review, 09-01-08

Turkish Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

08.01.2009


CONTENTS

  • [01] ERDOGAN ATTENDS FAST-BREAKING DINNER MARKING ASHURA
  • [02] NEW DETENTIONS MADE UNDER ERGENEKON PROBE
  • [03] IN NEW YORK, BABACAN CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE
  • [04] IRAN'S JALILI HOLDS TALKS IN ANKARA
  • [05] BAHCELI: "THE ERGENEKON PROBE IS LIKE A BLACK HOLE"
  • [06] OIC: "ISRAEL'S ATTACK ON A SCHOOL IS A WAR CRIME"
  • [07] KURDISH TV
  • [08] THE JUDICIARY'S ERGENEKON TEST

  • [01] ERDOGAN ATTENDS FAST-BREAKING DINNER MARKING ASHURA

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday attended a fast-breaking dinner in Istanbul marking the day of Ashura and mourning the martyrdom of 72 people, including Husain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala 1,369 years ago. The day of Ashura coincides with the 12th day of the Islamic calendar's month of Muharram. In the first 12 days of this month, Alevis fast to commemorate the massacre of Husain and his relatives. Speaking at the dinner, Erdogan said that attempts to undermine the Turkish people's unity would never succeed. He said everyone living in Turkey can define their identity and faith freely as equal citizens of a secular, democratic country under the rule of law, and touched on government efforts to improve the rights of Turkish Alevis. Erdogan also talked about the government's recent decree restoring the citizenship of renowned Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, saying that he was very happy with this decision. He also said that undemocratic restrictions on free expression should be eliminated. In related news, the state-run TRT 1 channel made its main daily news broadcast from a Cemevi (Alevi house of worship) in Istanbul. Other ceremonies marking the day were held across Turkey and the world. /Sabah/

    [02] NEW DETENTIONS MADE UNDER ERGENEKON PROBE

    Thirty-seven more people, including seven retired generals, were detained yesterday in coordinated police operations in six cities under the ongoing Ergenekon probe. Among the detainees were Kemal Guruz, former chairman of the Board of Higher Education (YOK); Professor Yalcin Kucuk; Tuncer Kilinç, retired general and former National Security Council (NSC) secretary general; retired Gen. Kemal Yavuz; Ibrahim Sahin, former deputy chairman of the Special Operations Unit of the National Police Department; retired Gen. Erdal Senel, former judicial adviser to the General Staff; and a police chief, a naval officer and a colonel. The alleged criminal network known as Ergenekon made headlines in June 2007 after police seized grenades, explosives and fuses in a shanty house in Istanbul. Last October a criminal court in Istanbul began trying 86 suspects in the case. Commenting on the new detentions, main opposition Republican People Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal branded the probe political and unlawful, in violation of international norms of justice and Turkey's Constitution. He said that law was being ignored and used as a tool for political gamesmanship under the probe. Dismissing Baykal's claims, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said, "This is a wholly judicial prosecution, not a political issue." In related news, Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Hasan Gerceker said yesterday that the court had decided to discuss a police search of former Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Sabih Kanadoglu's house under the probe. /Sabah-Turkiye/

    [03] IN NEW YORK, BABACAN CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE

    At UN headquarters in New York, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday attended a meeting to discuss recent developments in the Gaza Strip. Addressing the meeting on behalf of Turkey, now a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Babacan said that the condition in Gaza is grave. Calling the situation a humanitarian tragedy, Babacan said Israel should end the use of disproportionate force and its ground operation, and that an immediate cease-fire is needed. Babacan also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that solidarity between Palestinians and Arabs is very important. In related news, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said that Turkey is an important player in this region that the US stays in contact with. "The president, as you know, talks to President Abdullah Gul and has met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a number of occasions," he added. /Star/

    [04] IRAN'S JALILI HOLDS TALKS IN ANKARA

    Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, yesterday met separately with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. Jalili delivered a message from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad on Israel's offensive in Gaza, saying, "If regional countries act together for Gaza, rapid results will follow." Stressing the importance of an immediate cease-fire, Jalili added that ending Israel's blockade in Gaza and opening the borders are also very important measures. For his part, Gul said that a UN resolution for a cease- fire is very important. Touching on the incoming US administration's stance on the issue, Gul added, "The new US administration should be given a chance to contribute to the process positively." /Aksam/

    [05] BAHCELI: "THE ERGENEKON PROBE IS LIKE A BLACK HOLE"

    Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli yesterday compared the Ergenekon probe to a black hole "which takes in everyone," adding, "It is endless. Be careful what you say." At his party's Central Executive Committee (MYK), Bahceli said there are too few details about the case right now. "There's nothing certain about the grounds for the detentions," he added. "The trial of the case continues. We'll wait for the judiciary's legal conclusion. Everyone should respect this." He also said the process should be watched carefully. /Milliyet/

    [06] OIC: "ISRAEL'S ATTACK ON A SCHOOL IS A WAR CRIME"

    Organization of Islamic Committee (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu yesterday stated that Israel's attack this week on a UN school in Gaza is a war crime and those responsible should be tried in international court. "This is a brutal crime," added Ihsanoglu, a Turkish scholar. /Milliyet/

    FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS… FROM THE COLUMNS…

    [07] KURDISH TV

    BY HASAN CELAL GUZEL (RADIKAL)

    Columnist Hasan Celal Guzel comments on the TRT's new channel in Kurdish, TRT 6. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "While watching TRT 6, I remembered the National Security Council (NSC) General Secretariat's meetings about the southeastern Anatolia region after the 1980 coup. It was a time when the coup administration issued a law banning the use of Kurdish. At that time, PKK terrorism hasn't started yet, but the separatist movements of racist-separatist Kurdish supporters were already present.

    The effect of this prohibitive approach, a leftover of Turkey's single- party era and the coup, was felt by the MGK's military circles. There were calls for TRT to broadcast shows to teach Turkish and provide unity of language and culture for the southeast. Eventually this resulted in TRT radio broadcasts and its GAP TV channel. Now, a quarter-century later, TRT started a channel broadcasting in Kurdish. This starkly shows the change of mentality in Turkey.

    According to some writers, Kurdish is divided into two dialects: Kurmanci, spoken by Kurds living in Turkey and Iraq's western Azerbaijani region, and Sorani, spoken by the majority of Iraqi Kurds and other Kurds living in certain parts of Iran. On the other hand, certain experts don't consider the Zaza dialect to be a true dialect of Kurdish, but a different language altogether.

    Some researchers say that the Kurdish spoken in Turkey is a dialect of Persian with different accents. According to the Russian Kurdologist Vladimir Minorsky, Kurdish vocabulary contains many words with Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Armenian, Keldani, Circassian, and Georgian origins.

    I'm telling all this in order to show how hard it is to broadcast in Kurdish on TV, as we would never denigrate any language spoken in Turkey. But the following facts should be known as well:

    1. There's no single language called Kurdish. It's a fact that people who speak different dialects or even different accents of Kurdish have trouble understanding each other.

    2. The dialects that we know as Kurdish, which are generally spoken in Turkey, are part of the Persian language group and look at lot like Turkish.

    3. Obviously, no dialect of Kurdish was developed in order to spread culture, and this makes broadcasting as well as education and training very difficult. So our state started its Kurdish broadcasts with self-confidence, embraced its citizens with all of their differences, considered these differences a richness, and helped the development of their cultures.

    In discussing the Kurdish TV issue, we would like to highlight the following:

    1. This isn't a concession to the actions of the PKK_Democratic Society Party (DTP), but the state embracing its citizens and showing the same respect for everybody.

    2. Turkey's unitary state status will continue, and the only official language in the new Constitution will remain Turkish.

    3. Our citizens in the southeast will be taught Turkish, and this won't be neglected, either."

    [08] THE JUDICIARY'S ERGENEKON TEST

    BY FIKRET BILA (MILLIYET)

    Columnist Fikret Bila comments on the Ergenekon probe. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "The Ergenekon probe is getting bigger, like a rolling snowball. Yesterday's news highlighted this.

    Prominent public figures were taken into custody: former Board of Higher Education (YOK) Chairman Kemal Guruz, retired generals Tuncer Kilinc and Kemal Yavuz, former General Staff Judicial Counselor ret. Maj. Gen. Erdal Sener, Professor Yalcin Kucuk, and others.

    In addition, a police search of former Supreme Court of Appeal Chief Prosecutor Sabih Kanadoglu's house was a groundbreaking development.

    There are two main thrusts of the Ergenekon probe:

    Firstly, weapons, bombs, certain documents and information about assassinations were seized by the police during searches of some suspects' houses and offices… These suspects are mostly former security officials and civilians that got involved after their retirement.

    The second thrust, high-profile figures known for speeches, articles, books, and TV appearances, and professors as well as retired high-level commanders, are called intellectuals. A common feature of this group is that they are known as nationalists. Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal's criticism that the developments were political rather than judicial was mostly pointing to these figures.

    The probe will clearly cause political disputes. So Baykal tried to link the ruling party and the case, claiming that the government was pushing the probe.

    Another common feature of the people taken into custody is that they are opponents of the current government. The opposition will continue to make criticisms during the trial process.

    Through his remarks, directly accusing the premier and the president of knowing about developments long in advance, Baykal claimed a link between the probe and the top level of the state.

    As part of these claims, the Ergenekon probe and case will be an important test of the body politic, especially for the government. Baykal's claims, criticisms and accusations are important and serious. The government should respond to these claims.

    The Ergenekon case and the ongoing probe are also an important test for the Turkish judiciary.

    Taking suspects accused of planning armed attacks together with high-level, high-profile officials in the same probe and case, and accusing them of being members of a terrorist group, also put a foreign spotlight on the Turkish judiciary.

    This, at the same time, will be a test for Turkish democracy and the principle of the rule of law.

    Our judiciary faces a serious accusation that it has been politicized. This raises the importance and sensitivity of the case and probe."


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