Turkey's New Lawmakers to Take Office in June
Turkish parliament will open its doors to a new term next week, once official results of Sunday's general elections are announced by Turkey's Supreme Board of Election (YSK).
Members of the 24th-term parliament are expected take oaths, and formally take office, on June 24, five days after YSK's announcing official election results on Turkish Radio Television (TRT) channels.
An oath-taking ceremony will be held for new lawmakers during the parliamentary session on June 24, which will be presided over by the new parliament's oldest member, Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Oktay Eksi.
Within five days following the ceremony, deputies will run their candidacies for the Parliament Speaker's Office. Applications will be received between June 24 and June 28 and the election process for the new speaker will begin on June 29, lasting for five days.
The new parliament speaker will be elected with a secret ballot. A candidate has to win votes of two-thirds of the MPs in the first two rounds of vote in order to become the new parliament speaker. In the third round of voting, absolute majority will be sought. If absolute majority is not ensured in the third round, the two candidates who win the highest votes will compete in the fourth round. Whoever gets the highest number of votes in the fourth round will be elected the new parliament speaker.
Once the parliament chooses its new head, activities will begin to set up the new government.
Following the establishment of the parliament's Chairmanship Council, Turkish President Abdullah Gul will designate the leader of the political party that has received the highest rate of votes in general elections, namely Justice and Development (AK) Party chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to set up Turkey's 61st government.
Within a week after the formation of the government, the program of the new Council of Ministers will be announced at the parliament. Following debates on the program, a vote of confidence will be held. This process is expected to be completed by early July.
The Turkish parliament will then go into summer recess and the new legislative year is expected begin on October 1.
U.S. Looks Forward to Working with New Turkish Government
On Monday, a senior U.S. diplomat congratulated the Turkish people on a successful election and said the U.S. government was looking forward to working with the new Turkish government on many of the bilateral and multilateral issues the two countries have in common.
"What we saw, from our viewpoint, is a good friend and partner and ally conducted free and fair elections. They were done transparently. And we applaud the results and we applaud the Turkish people for carrying out these elections in a free and fair manner," U.S. State Department Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) had a landslide victory in Sunday's elections, winning 50 percent of votes for a third term.
"We have a strong bilateral relationship with Turkey. Turkey's also a strong partner and ally within NATO," Toner said in his daily press briefing.
"We're committed to working with the new Turkish government on the same issues that we were working with Turkey on. We share a number of multilateral and bilateral issues, and those are going to remain the same and we're going to continue to work with them," he said.
Ankara Revisits Syrian Policy
Only a day after its general elections, Turkey has begun a substantial re-evaluation of its Syrian policy, as more than 7,000 Syrians have now fled to Hatay, while another 15,000 amass near the border, according to reports.
"Turkey will keep engaging with Syria [to urge it to enact reforms and abstain from violence], but Syria's attitude will determine our position," a ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry held a coordination meeting Monday with the participation of the prime minister's office, during which officials made "a political evaluation on Syria," according to diplomats.
The meeting came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday that Ankara would talk to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a "very different manner" after Sunday's vote.
Ankara Drawing Damascus' Indirect Ire
Damascus, in the meantime, has signaled its annoyance with Turkey's critical stance over the turmoil in Syria.
Though there has been no official statement of disappointment from the Syrian administration, vis-à-vis Turkey's position on the Arab country, there has been increasing criticism of Ankara's stance on the uprising in the form of weekly protests in front of the Turkish missions in Damascus and Aleppo, as well as critical articles in the press – particularly against Erdoğan, a Turkish official told the Daily News on Monday.
A group of 1,500 to 2,000 Syrians demonstrated against Turkey outside the embassy in Damascus late Sunday, while similar protests were organized outside the Aleppo consulate earlier in the day, the Daily News has learned.
Some protesters in Damascus climbed the embassy walls to pull down the Turkish flag and hang the Syrian flag in its place, but were prevented from doing so by Turkish and Syrian security forces.
The deputy foreign minister of Syria phoned Turkey's envoy to Damascus, Ömer Önhon, to say that the government would no longer allow any protests at the embassy.
Still, the protests and the critical press have been perceived in Ankara as indirect messages of Damascus' anger toward its northern neighbor.
Following Erdoğan's recent remarks calling the Syrian crackdown "inhumane," Dr. Bassam Abu-Abdallah, a professor of international relations at Damascus University, who is reported to be closely associated with the regime, accused Turkey on Friday of being behind a shipment of arms to Syria in an interview with Qatari Al Jazeera.
Citing Turkish accusations leveled at al-Assad's brother, Mahir al-Assad, professor Abu-Abdallah said: "The Turks must realize that the region cannot tolerate more interference or more of such an escalating language, which is linked to draft resolutions at the Security Council supported by the United States, which is not a friend of Syria. On the contrary, it is the enemy of Syria and supporter of Israel."
Turkey has built strong ties with Damascus in recent years, but has been exerting growing pressure on the Syrian government to stop violence and make reforms in the country. Damascus, however, has not responded, leading Turkey to harshly criticize the Syrian regime.
Recent clashes between government forces and anti-government protesters have led thousands of Syrians to flee to Turkey in fear of bloodshed.
According to reports, Syria's army, under fire for its crackdown on anti-regime protesters, was pursuing "armed gangs" in the mountains near Jisr al-Shughour, which is close to Turkey's border in the southern province of Hatay, after seizing control of the hotbed northern town.
Rights activists reported heavy gunfire and explosions throughout Sunday in the town after troops backed by helicopter gunships and around 200 tanks launched a two-pronged assault at dawn, Agence France-Presse reported.
State television said late Sunday that the army was now in complete control of Jisr al-Shughour.
15,000 Syrians on the Border of Turkey
After the commencement of an operation by the Syrian army in Jisr al-Shughour, 15,000 Syrians left the town, moving closer to the Turkish border. Independent observers say the Syrian army is using artillery fire and choppers, and at least 200 people were arrested. No one knows the number of dead and wounded.
Ankara Re-Evaluating Syrian Policy
A day after the general elections, Turkey has begun a reappraisal of its policies toward unrest-hit Syria, after a recent spike in the number of people fleeing the Arab republic. Some 7,000 Syrians have sought refuge in southern Turkey since the beginning of the security crackdown.
Some 400 Syrian refugees crossed into Turkey overnight, bringing to more than 5,000 the number of people that have reportedly fled the security crackdown in Syria, the Anatolia news agency reported on June 11.
U.S. Offers Turkey Assistance Regarding Syrian Refugees
The U.S. Department of State said on Monday that the United States had offered assistance to Turkey regarding Syrian people crossing the border due to ongoing unrest in the country.
Deputy Department Spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was committed to trying to help.
"We've offered our assistance. I don't know that we've been formally asked," Toner said in a daily press briefing.
When commenting on the possibility of a Turkish military intervention to protect civilians at its border with Syria, Toner said that it was a decision for Turkey to make, and no one was talking about Turkey intervening in any way, shape, or form.
Asked if the option was not off the table, Toner said, "Again, I think that no option is off the table when you're talking about what's happening in Syria. But that's a question for the Turkish Government. Again, what we're focused on, in terms of Turkey, is they've got a real situation along their border, and with a refugee problem, and we're committed to trying to help."
Toner also said Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about international concern over Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's actions in Abu Dhabi.
"We talked about the need for a more cohesive international pressure to be brought to bear," Toner said. "We're aware that, obviously, Turkey's very affected by the situation along the border, and again, we're ready to help Turkey if it needs it."
When a reporter said, "The prime minister said that, after the election, Turkey will be much more focusing on Syria issue," Toner responded: "We welcome that, frankly. I mean, we welcome increased international attention and focus on Syria.
"And I know that this refugee crisis along the border has affected Turkish public opinion when they've seen these refugees pouring across," he said.
When another reporter asked if the Turkish army could cross the border and build a safe area, Toner said, "You're speculating a lot here. I'm just talking about the immediate situation with the refugees in Turkey,"
Door is Open to Erdoğan
Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu said he would speak with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for constitutional change if Erdoğan knocks on his door.
"Of course we will speak to him if he knocks on our door. However, we should see how sincere he is in his proposal," Kilicdaroglu said.
MHP to Determine New Council Members
The first performance of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will be to determine nine new chairmanship council members. MHP Chairman Devlet Bahceli is not expected to make a decision for extraordinary congress.
Survey Questions Voters on Patterns
A&G, a company owned by Adil Gur, conducted a ballot box survey for the Hurriyet Daily at to determine the areas citizens focused on while casting their votes. According to the survey, 72.8 percent of Justice and Development (AK) Party supporters voted for the party's actions; 34.2 percent voted for Erdoğan as a person; 32.1 percent voted as it shared the same views with the AK Party. Nearly 29.4 percent of voters said, "(the) AK Party was the best party compared to the existing political parties in Turkey." A significant portion of well-educated voters (35.8 percent) voted the AK Party for stability and 21 percent said they voted as they believed the party would change the constitution.
Erdoğan: 'Sultan Swept All'
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's election victory had great repercussions in the world. Spain's central rightist newspaper, El Mundo, commented on Erdoğan winning the vote of one of every two people writing, the "Sultan swept all." The Los Angeles Times wrote, "Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development (AK) Party, riding a wave of support from the pious poor and Muslim middle class, garners a majority of parliamentary seats, setting up a third term for Erdoğan."
Erdoğan Maps Out Priorities for New Era
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan set four priorities for his "mastership era" projects. First, the Justice AND Development Party (AK) will name 20 ministers and four deputy prime ministers of the 61st government of Turkey. Second, the AK Party's constitutional committee will learn the views of different segments during the summer. Third, a report analyzing the election results will be presented to Prime Minister Erdoğan until July 1. The budget for 2012 will then be prepared and a medium-term economic program will be updated.
Three Issues Will Shape Turkey's New Constitution
Citizenship, autonomy and native language will be the issues that will give shape to the new constitution. Both Justice and Development Party (AK) and CHP are against the idea of "education in mother tongue," but support "definition of citizenship" and "administrative reform." The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is against all three issues, as the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) support all of them.
CHP Set Up Commission to Evaluate Party's Vote Performance
When asked what he thought of the 50 percent of votes gained by the AK Party (in the recent election), Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu said: "We have set up a commission and we are searching the reason behind the 50 percent of votes." The CHP leader is getting prepared to settle accounts within the party. Kilicdaroglu, who worked at the party headquarters through Monday, told the Vatan daily newspaper they were analyzing the election results.
On the other hand, opposition within the CHP have called for an extraordinary convention, as the party was four points below its 30 percent target in the parliamentary elections. The CHP leader, however, is getting prepared to settle accounts with the heads of local branches, instead of the opposition within the party. Kilicdaroglu said he will call the heads of local branches to Ankara and assess CHP's vote performance.
World Salutes Erdoğan Victory
After his historic election victory, the world saluted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who gave the message that "Sarajevo has won as much as Turkey, Gaza has won as much as Diyarbakir." People rushed to streets in Skopje and celebrated the victory, while there was an atmosphere of feast in Gaza. The European Council invited "the leader of modernized Turkey" to Brussels.