|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 09-02-11
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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 BLASTS OPPOSITION "SMEAR CAMPAIGN" FOR NEXT MONTH'S LOCAL ELECTIONSSpeaking at his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan charged that opposition parties were using smears to campaign for next month's local elections, saying that instead they should explain how they will serve the people. "If you believe that AK Party mayors have engaged in illegal activities, you should use the legal system, not smear campaigns," he said. "But you know that your claims are inconsistent. The people are aware of everything." No smear campaign will sway the AK Party from serving the people, he added. He further predicted that the party would better its 2007 local elections showing of 47 percent of the vote. Rejecting claims that the government is using social aid programs to win votes, Erdogan said such programs are always offered, not only at election time. Erdogan also criticized recent moves by the traditionally pro-secular main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) such as wooing women with chadors as members and pledging to establish Koran courses, suggesting these were hypocritical after the CHP gave support last year to a closure case against the AK Party over its efforts to lift the university headscarf ban. Erdogan also addressed thousands of supporters at a rally in the central Anatolian province of Kirsehir, the second of 60 planned rallies across Turkey. /Turkiye/
 EP CALLS ON ANKARA TO SPEED UP REFORMSThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) should resurrect efforts to draw up a new civilian constitution with human rights at the center, according to a new report prepared by Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur. The report, passed yesterday by the EP's Foreign Affairs Commission, covered such subjects as party closure cases and an alleged slowdown in reform efforts. Touching on the continuing Ergenekon probe, the report praised efforts to bring members of criminal networks to justice, but also expressed reservations about reports of suspects being mistreated while in custody. The report urged jurists to abide by principles of a fair trial and the rule of law. In related news, State Minister and chief EU talks negotiator Egemen Bagis, currently in Brussels, yesterday met with Ruijten. /Star/
 BABACAN: "THE EU SHOULD KEEP ITS WORD ON TURKEY'S FULL MEMBERSHIP PROCESS"Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, currently in Luxembourg for an official visit, yesterday met with Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs and immigration. Afterwards, Babacan told a joint press conference that the European Union should abide by its commitment to Turkey's full membership process. Implying that some countries are trying to block Turkey's negotiations, he added, "They cast a shadow over Turkey's EU negotiation process through their vetoes." Touching on Nabucco, a project for transporting Caspian natural gas to Europe via Turkey, Babacan stated that Europe places great importance on the project, pointing to the irony that Turkey's talks on the energy chapter have been blocked, though Ankara is technically ready. On Cyprus, he stated, "A settlement on Cyprus will be no mere dream if the international community gives strong support to both parties to successfully complete the talks." For his part, Asselborn said that they see Turkey as "important actor" as a member of the G-20. Stating that the EU needs a European Turkey and doesn't want it to turn its back on Europe, he added, "The EU will keep its commitments in full membership negotiations with Turkey." /Turkiye/
 PARLIAMENT AUTHORIZES POSSIBLE DEPLOYMENT OF NAVAL FORCES TO GULF OF ADENParliament yesterday passed a motion authorizing the government to send naval forces to prevent piracy in the Gulf of Aden, Somalia coastal waters, the Arabian Sea and adjacent regions. All parties except the Democratic Society Party (DTP) backed the motion. No Turkish forces deployed under the authorization would take part in any ground operation on Somali soil, said the motion. /Cumhuriyet/
 IN BRUSSELS, BAYKAL STRESSES SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIZATION, BUT DECRIES LACK OF PROGRESS UNDER EU REFORMSThe main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is ready to support democratization initiatives in Turkey towards European standards, said CHP leader Deniz Baykal yesterday. Speaking at the European Policy Center in Brussels, Baykal said the CHP isn't responsible for its image problems in Europe, and charged that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has mishandled European Union prescriptions. Stating that EU reforms have been done according to the Union's wishes, Baykal said, "They were fulfilled in order to develop democratic life, but we can't say that the Turkish people enjoy more freedom or are safer and more European than six or seven years ago." Baykal also met with EU Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso. /Milliyet/
 BAHCELI URGES GOVT TO FOCUS ON "REAL ISSUES"Turkey should focus on its real issues, not fruitless political squabbles, opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli said yesterday. Speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting, Bahceli claimed that even as Turkey is overwhelmed by worsening problems such as rising unemployment and poverty, its real issues are not being addressed. The concerns of the government are completely different from public concerns and expectations, he said. Bahceli also charged that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is using social aid programs to win votes in local elections set for late next month, calling the programs "election bribery." /Turkiye/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 UNFAIR TREATMENT OF THE CHPBY HALUK SAHIN (RADIKAL)
Columnist Haluk Sahin comments on criticism of the Republican People's Party (CHP). A summary of his column is as follows:
"We've been seeing more and more unfair criticism of the Republican People's Party (CHP) in the press recently. There have been blows to the party from four sides - the right, left, center and margins - over its wooing of women wearing chadors as members and its pledges to start Koran courses. The CHP is the favorite punching bag of our press and intellectuals; nor am I entirely exempt from this. But I believe things have gone too far in recent weeks, and this offends my sense of decency.
There are many reasons why people love to attack the CHP. Firstly, the price of doing so is low, because the CHP is a perennial opposition party. It lacks the allure and acclaim of the ruling party. Those who criticize the ruling party take certain risks, but those who criticize the CHP win praise, provided, of course, that they don't criticize the ruling party. On the CHP's recent moves concerning religion, we should ask this: Is the party doing them so as to use religion as political fodder, or in order to avoid it?
If the former, this means that it's just like other parties which exploited religion for votes. But if the latter, this means it's taking a step to solve one of our most chronic political problems and that it deserves support. Religion has been abused and exploited to attack the CHP since 1946, when Turkey switched to the multiparty system. All the center-right parties, including the True Path Party (DYP) and Motherland Party, did this. The main weapon of the 'National Vision' parties has been religion. Don't forget that the leaders of those parties said that those who vote for them would go to heaven.
There's another dimension of this exploitation, an invisible one. The CHP has been smeared behind closed doors as an 'infidel' party. Can democracy work properly in a political atmosphere where people use religion as a weapon? We know that it can't. This problem has remained unsolved in spite of the Constitution and our legal prohibitions of religious exploitation.
So maybe the belief that some people have a monopoly on religion should be targeted. But be careful! I'm not saying that religious exploitation should be turned into a general rule. I'm saying that the categories should be redefined or at least blurred and the claims of those who say that God always favors them deserve suspicion. Then maybe the advantages of religious exploitation will decline over time and the political abuse of faith will end. If I haven't misunderstood him, CHP leader Deniz Baykal had a similar reasoning behind his party's recent moves. This shouldn't be considered unreasonable"
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