The following are translated excerpts of articles that appeared in the Turkish press.
MAJOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT COMING AFTER 2011 ELECTIONS, ERDOĞAN SAYS
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that his government is taking the step of partially amending the Constitution written in the aftermath of a military coup. "We will make major constitutional amendments following the general elections of 2011," Erdoğan underlined.
TURKEY'S CHP ANGERED BY MINISTER'S COMMENTS ON REFERENDUM
Ruling party Minister Egemen Bağış should apologize for remarks in which he doubted the mental health and patriotism of anyone intending to vote against the constitutional amendments in the forthcoming referendum, an opposition deputy said Monday.
"Egemen Bağış, who insulted the people, should immediately issue an apology," said Muharrem İnce, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Republican People's Party [CHP] in a statement Monday.
Arguing that Bağış still runs a translation office in the United States and owns property there, İnce said, "It was funny for someone who has a translation office abroad to question the people's patriotism."
He also said that Bağış, who is Turkey's chief negotiator for European Union accession talks, was disregarding the people's free will, an essential element of democracy.
Bağış, in a statement over the weekend, urged the people to vote in favor of the constitutional amendments referendum, saying that the approval of the amendments would work to Turkey's advantage in its EU entry bid.
"We cannot join the EU with a constitution made by the [1980 military] junta," he said Sunday in Mardin, a southeastern Anatolian province.
TURKISH POLITICAL LEADERS DEBATE ANCESTRY ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL
With the campaign heating up ahead of next month's constitutional reform referendum, the debates between the two main leaders are taking an ever more tangential turn, with the latest arguments now centering on the politicians' ancestries.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan created fresh controversy over the weekend at a party rally in the southeastern province of Gaziantep when he questioned the ancestry of his main political rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
Republican People's Party[CHP] leader Kılıçdaroğlu is from Tunceli, an eastern Anatolian province that is predominantly inhabited by Kurds and Alevis.
"Mr. Erdoğan has talked about my mother and my father. Now, in a speech in Gaziantep, he even questioned my kin," Kılıçdaroğlu said Monday, adding that he was proud of his ancestry and his family.
"I have a suggestion to Mr. Recep. If he wants to learn about my family, then he can examine the state records. But if he is so curious about people's ancestry, he may as well come and measure my skull. I would not mind it."
Measuring skulls was an old custom among ultra-nationalists to prove one's roots of pure Turkishness.
The party leader continued to criticize Erdoğan's manner, claiming that the prime minister looks into the cameras and reads off speech cards. "He is not sincere, and everyone knows this."
Continuing, Kılıçdaroğlu said: "My request is that the prime minister does not resort to swearing. He blames me for falsely accusing him. It is not me who has accused him of being a fraud. It is the attorney general of this country who has done so."
Kılıçdaroğlu said it was Erdoğan himself who signed the exact document from the attorney general and sent it to Parliament, meaning, according to the CHP leader, that the prime minister himself had read the document in which he is called a slanderer.
"Why does he blame me for such a thing?" asked Kılıçdaroğlu. "He should not have done things to provoke such comments. Now he plays the fool when I address these issues. But I will unmask him."
In addition, the CHP leader said Sept. 12 was very soon, adding that a defeat of the referendum would pave the way for positive changes in Turkey.
"Justice will be restored," he said. "A Turkey with a bright future will be ahead. We will keep telling the public the truth to reveal the indecent. A 'no' answer to the undutiful ones will pave the way for Turkey's prosperity."
STATE TRIES, AND WILL TRY, EVERYTHING TO FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM
Turkish President Abdullah Gül delivered critical statements on his way to Azerbaijan. Gül said the state would neither sit at a table with terrorism nor negotiate with it. Pointing to the institutions of the state, Gül said, "The state organs know what to do." The president also noted that the state would try every method in an effort to put an end to terrorism. "Every method means both an armed fight and political and diplomatic ways," Gül said.
"IT WAS NOT AN ULTIMATUM; WE JUST PASSED OUR CONCERNS TO TURKS"
The White House denied press reports that President Barack Obama warned Turkey that she could lose her chance to obtain U.S.-made weapons over her position on Israel and Iran on Monday. The Financial Times newspaper quoted a senior official as saying that Obama told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that "some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill" referring to the U.S. Congress.
These questions centered on "whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally," said the official. But while he confirmed that the two leaders spoke several days ago, White House spokesman Bill Burton denied that any "ultimatum" had been issued to Ankara. "I really don't know where they would have divined that from," he said.
"The president and PM did speak about 10 days ago, and they talked about Iran and the (Gaza-bound) flotilla and other issues related to that," Burton said. "We obviously have an ongoing dialogue with them, but no such ultimatum was issued."
Erdoğan wants to buy American drone aircraft to combat the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] after the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq at the end of 2011, the Financial Times reported. The PKK has bases in the mountains in the north of Iraq, near the Turkish border.
The paper quoted the unnamed official as saying that congressional concerns over Turkey mean "that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry it would like to fight the PKK, will be harder for us to move through Congress."
Relations between Turkey and Israel were thrown into crisis after an Israeli raid targeting Gaza-bound aid ships on May 31 and 9 Turks were killed.
Obama called on Turkey to cool its rhetoric about the raid when he met Erdogan at the G20 summit in Toronto in June, said the Financial Times. The Turkish PM meanwhile said in a television interview Monday that Turkish-American relations were on the up and up.
"Right now our relations with Obama and the relations between Turkey and the United States are going very well, we don't have any problem," Erdoğan said. Describing his contacts with Obama as "warm," Erdogan declared: "The problems that might arise during negotiations on the purchase of arms are internal questions for each country."
The U.S. Congress "might have a different evaluation, just as we have with our parliament," he said.
UNCERTAINTY SHOULD BE SOLVED
On his way to Azerbaijan, Turkish President Abdullah Gül commented for the first time on Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç's recent remarks in which he stated that "the president's term of office" should be "five instead of seven years." "The uncertainty on this matter should be removed as soon as possible," he said.
WAVES AT BASE BREAKING BOYCOTT
The atmosphere supporting a boycott against the constitutional amendment package in southeastern Turkey is changing. The Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] is waiting for the Sept. 3 rally of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Diyarbakır. The pressure from non-governmental organizations in southeastern Turkey is forcing the BDP to review its decision to boycott the constitutional amendment package.
'VIRGIN MARY NOT CRYING ANYMORE'
Following the religious mass at the Sümela Monastery, the residents of the northeastern province of Trabzon and the global Orthodox community were very happy. The Greek press praised the mass, saying, "The Virgin Mary is not crying anymore." Around 3,000 tourists spent 1 million euros during their stay in Trabzon for the religious mass.