|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Turkish Press Review, 09-02-12
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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 DUE IN RUSSIA TODAYPresident Abdullah Gul is due to arrive today in Moscow for a three-day visit as the official guest of his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, with an eye towards improving trade ties at a time of global economic crisis. During his visit, Gul will also hold talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in a bid to boost cooperation between the two countries. Regional and international issues as well as Turkey's Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform will also be discussed during the talks. Gul's visit to Russia will be the first-ever by a Turkish president. /Aksam/
 ERDOGAN CONTINUES TO SLAM OPPOSITIONCampaigning for next month's local elections, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday addressed thousands of people in a rally in the Black Sea province of Kastamonu. Speaking to the gathering, Erdogan reiterated his criticism that opposition parties have resorted to smears as they have nothing to offer the people. "The only thing they know is to try to prevent us from serving the people," Erdogan said, adding that his party was doing its best to bring public services to every corner Turkey without any political discrimination. "The people know well what we have done in the last six years in office. The opposition parties also know about our performance in power, but admitting this isn't in their playbook. The only thing they can do is try to defame and block us." He went on to accuse some media outlets of cooperating with opposition smear campaigns against the government and ruling Justice Development Party (AK Party) mayors, especially in Istanbul and Ankara. Stating that such smears only serve to delay important AK Party projects such as expanding human rights, fighting illegal groups linked to the state, European Union accession reforms and improving Turkey's investment climate, Erdogan said, "Your only job is smearing, obstructing and causing crises. But soon you will face the ballot box." Saying that residential natural gas service had started in Kastamonu thanks to the government, Erdogan added that no power can prevent him from serving the people, regardless of the opposition. Stating that Turkey now has the world's 17th-largest economy and Europe's sixth largest, Erdogan said that the remarkable growth of recent years was helped by government anti-corruption efforts, pledging that they would continue. Those threatened by these efforts have resorted to smears, he added. Erdogan concluded by voicing his party's slogan, "No stopping, keep moving ahead." /Turkiye-Milliyet/
 EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MUBARAK VISITS ISTANBULEgyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday met with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul in Istanbul, along with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Prime Ministry foreign policy advisor Ahmet Davutoglu and Turkish Ambassador to Cairo Safak Gokturk. Stating that Turkey and Eygpt have good relations in all areas, Gul said that the two sides believe that constructive efforts to solve regional problems are very valuable. He added that Babacan will attend a conference in Cairo next month on reconstructing Gaza. For his part, Mubarak touched on the importance of achieving national compromise in Palestine, adding that the historic place of the Palestinian Liberation Organization should be kept, as "this group is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people." Afterwards, Mubarak met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Gul hosted a diner in Mubarak's honor. /Milliyet/
 OBAMA TO SEND ENVOYS TO ADDRESS CYPRUS ISSUEUS President Barack Obama will send representatives to Turkey, Greece and Cyprus to convey messages and gauge the various sides' positions on Turkish- Greek relations and the Cyprus issue, reported Greek daily Elefteros Typos yesterday. To turn a new page on relations, the new US administration will dispatch Senator Richard Durbin and economic advisor Alexis Giannoulias to visit Athens, Ankara and Nicosia next week. In Turkey, they will meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos. /Sabah/
 BAGIS: "BOTH THE RULING AND OPPOSITION PARTIES ARE COMMITTED TO OUR EU MEMBERSHIP TALKS"After completing his contacts in Brussels, State Minister and chief EU talks negotiator Egemen Bagis yesterday returned to Turkey. Afterwards, evidently referring to main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal's recent visit to Brussels, Bagis told reporters that both the opposition and ruling parties are committed to Turkey's full membership talks with the European Union. Stating that Turkey has been moving closer to the West for nearly 100 years, he added, "Turkey has become an important actor in both the Middle East peace process and the Caucasus, and this situation has a great effect on our EU negotiation process." /Turkiye/
 BAYKAL: "TURKEY'S CURRENT CONDITION BELIES GOVT CLAIMS OF DEMOCRATIC REFORMS"Back in Turkey after a trip to Brussels, main opposition Republican People Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday told reporters that his party supports Turkey's European Union accession bid but under the current government, which claims to have carried out many democratic reforms to this end, the people, media and the judiciary do not feel freer, safer or more independent. "The media now feels more political pressure than seven years ago and doesn't feel free," he added. "The situation of the country paints a paradoxical picture of Turkey that needs to be questioned." /Milliyet/
 TURKEY SUPPORTS SOLUTION TO NAGORNO-KARABAKH ISSUESolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue would have a positive affect on relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as Armenia and Turkey, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Burak Ozugergin yesterday. "Turkey supports a process to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute," he added. /Star/
FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦ FROM THE COLUMNSâ€¦
 BAYKAL TO VISIT BRUSSELS MORE OFTENBY SUKRU KUCUKSAHIN (HURRIYET)
Columnist Haluk Sahin comments on the stances of the premier and opposition party leader on Turkey's European Union EU bid. A summary of his column is as follows:
"We just saw back-to-back visits to Brussels by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, seen as being negative about the European Union in recent years. The good EU vibes, which began after our chief EU talks negotiator Ali Babacan was replaced by Egemen Bagis, give the impression that these visits to Brussels will yield important results. Baykal is back from Brussels after dispelling at least some of his party's lack of trust in the EU, and this situation should be considered very significant. Moreover, Baykal is glad to see that his direct contacts caused relations with Brussels to be taken out of the monopoly of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
Baykal reached this point through giving these messages to the EU administration: Your relations shouldn't be with a single government, but should also take into consideration opposition political parties, trade unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In recent years we have made many changes to our Constitution and other laws in order to harmonize with the EU, but Turkey still doesn't feel safer or freer than in the past. I think there are concrete reasons for this situation.
On the one hand, Turkey is going backwards due to the pressure of certain circles, but the government's moves loom larger. The independence of the judiciary has eroded. Phone lines are being tapped without restraint or control. In addition, there has been great pressure on the media. Social aid which could sway elections continues even during campaigning. Parliamentary immunity remains, and corruption is on the rise.
As a result, over the last six years the Turkish people haven't felt more European. In addition, there has been a retreat from secularism, and a distancing from democracy, too. We came to this point by acting responsibly and now we're waiting for something from you in return. The people he spoke to listened carefully to Baykal and replied to him. I won't go into detail, because the important thing is that Baykal was glad with these replies and mentioned his support for Turkey's EU bid at every opportunity.
Baykal also had a positive stance on the requests of people he spoke to about energy and unionization and said that if the government takes steps, we would support it. Many reports have said that CHP relations with the European Parliament's Socialist Group had soured, but this time Baykal had a good meeting with Martin Schultz, the group's head. I can say this because Schultz invited him to visit later this year, and Baykal immediately accepted.
On his way back from Brussels, Erdogan also greenlighted a measure which might have a huge impact on Turkish politics. Erdogan said it was time to amend the Political Parties and Elections Law, citing the high 10% election threshold and a project for 100 'all-Turkey' deputies to address this. He added that election expenditures should be reduced to EU standards and said they would look into addressing these issues by the end of the year. The CHP is ready to lend its support and if Erdogan is being sincere, it would be great to witness a huge revolution in Turkish politics this year."
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