The following are translated excerpts from articles that appeared in the Turkish press.
ACCUSATIONS TO 1,208 JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS FROM THE PM
While responding to questions from local media in the Black Sea province of Rize, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made very strong statements against the Judges and Prosecutors Association [YARSAV]. Erdoğan said: "CHP, MHP, BDP and YARSAV came together. How will I depend on members of a jurisdiction that are members of YARSAV now? How can I trust in a member of the judiciary body if he openly criticizes and defames the government?
THEY WANT TO SET UP INQUISITION COURTS
In a speech at a rally in Nevşehir, Republican People's Party[CHP] head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said: "There is only one body left in the country they could not take over, and that is the judiciary. It is wrong to politicize the judiciary. Once upon a time there were inquisition courts. What they want to do right now is to set these up today. They want to subordinate the judges and prosecutors to their authority."
TERROR REPROACH FROM ERDOĞAN
Speaking at a fast-breaking dinner which was attended by ambassadors and many guests, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan relayed the message, "We are disappointed over the tolerance shown by some countries to terrorist organizations despite all our warnings, all evidence and all
information and documents."
THERE ARE KORANS ON FLAG POSTS
Naval Academy Commander Admiral Türker Ertürk has explained why he resigned during the handover ceremony."A psychological war is being waged against the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK]. The Naval Forces are right at the center of this. They accused some of our students of depravity, with unfounded claims. Did they have any evidence? No, they did not. "You know what these libertines accused us of: forbidding prayer and worship, and forcing prostitution. Those whom they accused are people who put our holy book, the Koran, wrapped up seven times in plastic, at the top of flag posts. "They said there were 32 perverse students at the academy and asked me to kick them out of the academy. What was their proof? Unsigned letters. Unfortunately some of our superiors believed these letters. And, yes, I took those students under my wing because I believe they are innocent."
NEO-CON OBSTACLE TO RICCIARDONE'S APPOINTMENT TO ANKARA
Republican Senator Sam Brownback suspended the approval process of Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, who was criticized for being too close with his counterparts when he served in Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq. Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said it was not the time to appoint an ambassador to Ankara who was known for serving the interests of local autocrats.
PKK LIKELY TO DECLARE UNILATERAL TRUCE AS A RESULT OF CIVIL-SOCIETY CALLS
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK's, decision to announce a cease-fire may have been influenced by calls from civil-society organizations for a halt to the violence as well as the beginning of Ramadan, experts have said.
Calls from civil society, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party [BDP], and the Democratic Society Congress [ DTK], for a bilateral cease-fire "played a role in this decision," Galip Ensarioğlu, the chairman of the Diyarbakır Trade and Industry Chamber, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Thursday.
"The [PKK] cannot ignore those calls," Ensarioğlu said.
Others, however, believe different factors led to the decision. "The PKK could not make an attack as noteworthy as it wanted to this summer," Professor Ümit Özdağ, an expert on terrorism, told the Daily News on Thursday."This might have depressed the organization. Then the calls of civil society came out. In a PKK attack, Kurdish people who were close to the organization died. The PKK may also be using Ramadan as an excuse for a cease-fire," Özdağ said.
The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Daily Taraf argued in its Thursday edition that Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned head of the PKK, was expected to instruct members of the outlawed organization to lay down their arms during the holy month of Ramadan, which also coincides with political campaigning for the upcoming charter referendum Sept. 12.
Öcalan was scheduled to hold a weekly meeting Wednesday with his lawyers, but they were unable to meet with the PKK leader, reportedly because there was no available sea transportation to İmralı Island, where he is imprisoned.
The first signals of a possible cease-fire came in July in an interview with Murat Karayılan, a senior PKK member, who said he was willing to order the group to lay down its arms under United Nations supervision if the Turkish government agreed to a cease-fire."If the Turkish state does not accept this solution, then we will independently declare democratic confederalism," Karayılan said.
The interview was given during a period of increased attacks by the PKK, beginning in June. The Turkish government has so far ignored the call.
Karayılan's statement was followed by increased militant activity throughout the entire country, which ultimately fueled urban clashes between Kurds and Turks in various centers.
Concerned with the increasing division in the country, representatives of civil society and political parties, including DTK co-chairs Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, as well as BDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş, called on both the government and the PKK to lay down their arms.
Some experts said the month of Ramadan could not be the sole reason for the cease-fire, as the PKK is not a conservative religious organization.
"The violence was increased as soon as the referendum was announced. However, the PKK has now declared a cease-fire," Ensarioğlu said. "If these are evaluated as mutual gestures, they may assist in finding a solution."
Asked why the PKK had changed its strategy, Ensarioğlu said: "Maybe there are some indirect talks for the solution."
The government, moreover, could take some confidence-building steps to enable a longer cease-fire, he added. "Steps could be taken without legal changes, such as changing the names of villages back to their original [names] and strengthening the authority of the local administrations," he said. "Maybe the government will not be able to declare stopping the operations verbally, but they can decrease in practice."
Özdağ, however, said there are hints that the PKK could still attack despite the cease-fire: "The security forces are therefore suspicious about this cease-fire."
This sentiment was backed by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. "We may guess that attacks might decrease, but we will take all security measures, as we have some intelligence that [there may be attacks] to create fear, panic and anxiety to prevent [people] from going to vote," Arınç said Thursday in an interview with the private channel NTV.
Similarly, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay also said that the security forces would do everything within their power to ensure a safe and secure Ramadan and referendum process, the Anatolia news agency reported Thursday.
TURKISH COMMISSION WILL HEAR İHH'S SIDE, INSPECT SHIPS
The new Turkish commission established to look into the Israeli raid on Gaza-bound aid ships will listen to all responsible parties including the organizers of the flotill; and will submit a report to the UN's inquiry panel. Diplomats say the report needs to be ready by the end of the month, so that it can be submitted to the UN before its mid-September report is released
A Turkish commission set up to look into the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla will listen to all parties responsible, including the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, which organized the aid ships to break the Gaza blockade.
"The commission will meet with everyone responsible including those who were aboard the ship from the Turkish side," a senior Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Thursday. There were claims that İHH members aboard the Mavi Marmara ship attacked by Israeli commandos on May 31 lacked passports; and a few of them were carrying only business cards.
Turkish officials, however, denied any contact with Israel, saying that "the goal of the commission is to carry out an investigation in Turkey." The members of the commission, who held their first meeting Wednesday, will submit a report to the international inquiry set up by the United Nations earlier this month to look into the incident. Diplomats said the report needs to be ready by the end of this month, so that it can be sent to the U.N. panel before its initial progress report is released in mid-September.
The members of the commission will also examine the three ships towed into the port at İskenderun on Turkey's Mediterranean coast after the Israeli government allowed Turkey to take them back, diplomatic sources said. The vessels were part of a six-ship flotilla that tried to make a run on Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid. Turkish diplomats said the return of the ships has made an inspection easier.
Turkey established a committee in the wake of the May 31 incident, made up of officials from the Justice and Foreign ministries and the Maritime Undersecretariat. Officials said, however, that the current commission, which will work under the Prime Ministry, is a brand new body that will also provide information to the U.N. panel, which has the full confidence of Turkey, and is broader than the former committee, as it also includes officials from the Interior and Transportation ministries.
Israel has set up two internal commissions into the raid, one military and the other a civilian committee that includes two international representatives. Asked if the Turkish commission will also include civilian figures for impartiality, the unnamed Turkish diplomat said: "We'll speak with civilians, but whatever we do, we cannot appear impartial. However much we don't see the Israeli commission as impartial, they too will not see ours as impartial."
He added: "Only the state and its institutions have the capacity of conducting this inquiry. To what extent can we trust a civil society organization to do this?"
Ambassador Mithat Rende will, in a way, head the Turkish commission, as he will be the point of contact to help liaise between the members of the internal commission and the U.N. panel.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry declined to announce the other members of the commission apart from Rende.
The U.N. panel is chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, co-chaired by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and includes Israeli representative Joseph Ciechanover and Turkish representative Özdem Sanberk.