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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2008
In Today's Papers
AKP Not Closed, Received Serious Warning
All papers, TV channels: The Constitutional Court announced
yesterday the verdict over the AKP closure case. The Court decided
not to close down the AKP, but to cut fifty percent of its Treasury
assistance. Mainstreams Milliyet and Vatan headlines read "No
Closure, but Serious Warning" and reports that six of 11 judges
voted for closure of the party, four concluded that the party should
be deprived of half of its state funding and one judge (the Court
President, Hasim Kilic) voted for rejection of the case. Because
the Court couldn't achieve the seven votes needed to impose a ban,
the AKP was not closed. However, ten of eleven judges agreed that
the AKP was responsible for anti-secular acts and decided to impose
the financial sanction. Liberal Radikal headline reads "Turkey
Releaved"; Islamist-oriented Zaman and Yeni Safak headlines read
relevantly "Closing AKP Rejected" "Turkey Wins"; leftist-nationalist
Cumhuriyet headline reads "Court Fines AKP".
Reactions to the Constitutional Court Verdict
All papers: Following the announcement of the Court decision, PM
Erdogan held a press conference at 21.00 hrs at his party
headquarters. Erdogan said "we will value the decision of the court
as best we can and our priority is to enhance social peace."
Mainstream Vatan quotes PM Erdogan saying "Turkey has survived a
major hardship. We will continue on our path with a responsibility
to make sure that the country cannot be dragged into a similar
position in the future. The AKP, which has never been a center of
anti-secular activities, will continue to uphold the basic
principles of our Republic." Cumhuriyet quotes main opposition
party CHP leader Deniz Baykal as saying "the Constitutional Court
did not solve the crisis, but diagnosed the crisis. The AKP has the
duty and responsibility to lead Turkey out of this crisis." MHP
leader Bahceli said "Everyone should respect the court decision. PM
Erdogan and the AKP Administration should derive necessary lessons
from the process that the country went through." DTP chairman Ahmet
Turk said "the Supreme Court passed an important test of democracy
however this does not mean that AKP has not made mistakes."
Responding to journalists' questions at a reception, Chief of
General Staff General Buyukanit said "the Constitutional Court made
its decision, how would you expect me to interpret it?" General
Buyukanit underlined the view of the Turkish Armed Forces on
secularism will not change. Sabah reports that TUSIAD issued a
written statement saying that Turkish democracy came out of a test
of maturity successfully.
Meanwhile, the western world welcomed the Constitutional Court
decision. US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said "we
trust in Turkish democracy and the Turkish people. We have been
working well with the Turkish government and will continue doing so.
We encourage Turkey to use this opportunity to activate its efforts
for the EU." Radikal reports that EU Commissioner Oli Rehn said
that "with the Constitutional Court decision, Turkey should focus on
reforms with a broad consensus and based on dialogue with all
sections of Turkish society."
Editorial Commentary on Court Decision
Ismet Berkan wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (7/31): "Since
the beginning of the closure case, for 3 and a-half months,
political polarization has increased and economic indicators have
worsened. There should not have even been a court case if Turkey
had a mature democracy. Or at least the majority of justices should
not have found the party guilty. On the contrary, 10 out of 11
justices asked for some kind of sanction against AKP. In the
aftermath of the Constitutional Court decision, it will not easy to
move forward because the entire process was traumatic for both the
people and for the politicians. Neither the AKP, nor the parliament
should pretend as if nothing has happened, or claim that all is well
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after the court case. This was not a small scale road accident.
This parliament, unfortunately, has expired and there is a need to
merge new general elections with the local elections in March 2009.
We have to understand that Turkey's current democratic system has
run its course. We will not have real democracy until we achieve a
greater social reconciliation to support our democratic system and
to make sure that cases like the party closure do not happen again."
Mehmet Barlas wrote in mainstream Sabah (7/31): "In the aftermath
of the Court's decision, Turkey is now stronger and more stable than
before. It provided a relief for everyone who worries about
Turkey's future development. At the same time, the court decision
provides an important warning to the ruling AKP which should be
considered seriously. The Justices did not close the party, but
gave a kind of warning concerning the party's future character.
Today, we should move forward with Turkey's targets for democracy
and progress, including the EU harmonization process and efforts for
Cuneyt Arcayurek wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (7/31):
"The party should have been closed. The decision does not make much
sense because 4 judges actually joined the other 6 members in
agreeing that the charges in the indictment were accurate, but they
also stood against the closure. With this decision there is no
obstacle to PM Erdogan to achieve his goals. All we can expect from
him and from the AKP is no different than the election aftermath.
He promised to be everyone's PM, but deliberately pursued policies
to favor his party roots. That's exactly what we will get from now
on. Can a leopard change its spots?"
Fehmi Koru wrote in mainstream Yeni Safak (7/31): "This is an
important decision for democracy because the AKP -- which garnered
support from half of the voters'-- will be able to continue ruling.
We should not expect any political system-related problem because
none of the AKP members got punished. The court's decision only
serves as a warning which the AKP should not have received in the
first place. During its 6-year term, the ruling party showed enough
attention to the country's sensitivities. Let's not forget that the
controversial headscarf decision was not solely an AKP initiative;
it was approved by all the parties in parliament except the CHP.
From now on the best thing is to include the people dynamic into the
decision process. When there is an effort to make some fundamental
change on a controversial issue, a referendum may be the proper
Sukru Kucuksahin wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (7/31): "The court
decided to cut off financial aid instead of closing the AKP. The
decision provided a warning on secularism, but at the same time
prevented a shame such as closing a political party. From now on it
is very important the way both Prime Minister Erdogan and the AKP
stand. It remains to be seen whether they will continue to act as
they did before, or act in accordance with the court's message and
focus on social reconciliation."
14 Illegal Immigrants Found Dead in Istanbul
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and
others report 14 illegal immigrants, most of them from Pakistan,
Bangladesh and Burma, were found dead on Wednesday in the
Kucukcekmece neighborhood in Istanbul. Local eye witnesses said the
bodies were dumped by human traffickers. Around 150 immigrants had
reportedly been transported from the eastern province of Van in the
container of a truck. Police captured 78 immigrants, some of whom
said they paid the traffickers USD 4,500 each to go to Greece from
Iran through Turkey. Islamist-oriented Zaman says some 35,000
illegal immigrants have been detained in Istanbul over the last
US Senate Approves Yovanovitch as Ambassador to Armenia
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
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Maria Yovanovitch, President Bush's nominee to be the U.S.
Ambassador to Yerevan, was voted out by the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. Liberal Radikal writes "First Approval to the U.S.
ambassador to Yerevan," saying "President Bush who couldn't fill the
space for the Yerevan Ambassador because of the Armenian lobby's
reactions, jumped an obstacle in the Congress." Mainstream Sabah
writes in "Despite Obama, Ambassador Approved," that "despite Barack
Obama's efforts to push Yovanovitch to use the word "genocide", the
committee approved her candidacy." Mainstream Hurriyet writes the
approval came after Deputy Assistant State Secretary Matthew
Reynolds sent a letter to Foreign Relations Committee Chairman
Joseph Biden. Reynolds says, "The U.S. Administration recognizes
the mass killings, ethnic cleansing and forced deportation of over
1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans. We actually see
the Ottoman officials as responsible for these crimes."
- Nine suspects have been taken into custody in connection with
Sunday's twin bomb blasts in Istanbul that killed 18 people and
wounded dozens of others.
- A prosecutor demanded a five-year prison sentence for Kurdish
activist Leyla Zana on charges of spreading terror propaganda in a
speech she delivered in the British parliament.
- The judicial holiday begins August 1.
- Radovan Karadzic is transferred to the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague on charges of
ordering genocide in the 1992-95 Bosnia war.
- Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official Bahros Ghalali said
Turkey could send a delegation to Kirkuk to investigate Monday's
bomb attacks in the city that killed 32 Kurds and wounded hundreds.
- Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Washington prefers to
apply economic and political pressures against Iran, but a military
strike against the country is still possible.