The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
TOP EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT ACCEPTS CASE OVER SEIZURE OF UZAN COMPANIES
The European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday said it agreed to hear a $12.5 billion lawsuit filed by Turkey's Uzan family over the seizure of their two electricity grid companies in southern Turkey. The court said it would look into charges of breach of property rights and [denial of the] right to due process. The first hearing is scheduled for November 30.
CHP DEPUTY SEYHAN CLAIMS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS HIGH-LEVEL CONNECTIONS WITH ABDULLAH OCALAN
Tacidar Seyhan, deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has claimed that the head of Turkey's top intelligence body had held a meeting with Abdullah Öcalan. Seyhan said Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization, met with Öcalan on July 20 at a prison [where Ocalan is held] on İmrali.
"They departed for the island in the morning and they returned in the afternoon. All video and audio recording network was shut down and they avoided taking a helicopter [so as] not to leave a trail on air traffic logs," Seyhan said.
FIRST MESSAGE FROM GEN. KOŞANER
Gen. Işık Koşaner, who was assigned as the Chief of Turkish General Staff, speaks at the handover ceremony for Gen.Ceylanoglu, as the Commander of the Turkish Land Forces. He said: "Success could not be achieved without the armed forces in the fight against terrorism.
Koşaner said that all border units would be completed within a year.
MAIN OPPOSITION LEADER PROMISES GENERAL AMNESTY
Leader of the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Wednesday called for a general amnesty during a referendum rally in the southeastern province of Tunceli. "Just say 'No' in the referendum and open the way for a general amnesty for everyone through compromise. Turkey wants peace. We can all live together like brothers and sisters," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
TURKEY'S CHIEF OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS COMMENTS ON OPENING HAGHIA SOFIA TO CHRISTIAN SERVICES
The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate Ali Bardakoğlu said the Hagia Sophia museum could be reopened for Christian religious services. "We are for freedom. But reopening Aya Sofya is not our call to make. Turkey will not turn into a Christian country just by allowing religious services at churches," Bardakoğlu said.
"BREAK THE FETTERS"
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey's future would be voted on September 12, not the future of a political party.
"Turkey will take a sound step on the path towards the democracy with the constitutional amendment," Erdoğan said, adding that a constitutional amendment "would break the fetters of Turkey."
TURKEY CONSIDERS AMICABLE SETTLEMENT IN DINK CASE
The Turkish government is considering a "friendly settlement" with the family of murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in a case being heard at the European Court of Human Rights, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said late Tuesday.
In a televised interview with Bugün TV, Davutoğlu said Turkey is planning to take steps to
handle cases against it at the European court – in particular, the Dink case – in compliance with contemporary and international law.
"There are two issues in the Dink case; one is about the protection of the right to life and the other is [about] freedom of expression," Davutoğlu said. "The state has to fulfill all its responsibilities regarding [both] the right to life and freedom of expression."
The Turkey vs. Dink case at the European court is the merger of two civil cases; one preceded Dink's killing three years ago and the other is related to the murder, for which suspect Ogün Samast is currently on trial in Istanbul. The first case was filed with the European court as a challenge to the journalist being charged with "insulting Turkishness" under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, while the second alleges Turkey failed to adequately protect the life of Dink, who received numerous death threats before his assassination on Jan. 19, 2007.
Turkey has drawn controversial parallels between Dink's views and Neo-Nazism in its defense at the European court--statements for which the government is now trying to make amends. The country's Justice, Foreign and Interior ministers met early this week to discuss what steps should be taken and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said Wednesday that the state had failed to protect Dink. "We will look for a friendly deal," Ergin said.
Under the terms of a "friendly settlement," the state will admit it violated the principles of the [victim's] right to life and free speech as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and will pay compensation to the victim's family.
Rıza Türmen, Turkey's former judge at the European court, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday that the European court must approve any settlement, before that the case can be dropped from the court docket.
The European court is set to deliver its final verdict in September and Turkey needs to inform the court of any settlement before then.
Dink's family has ruled out any settlement with the state as long as Article 301 continues to exist in the Turkish Penal Code. It is not yet clear if the government will take such a step, but Davutoğlu said Turkey has to make moves to broaden freedom of expression.
Commenting on the controversial Neo-Nazi defense, the foreign minister also said that "such defenses are prepared at the technical level without any need for signature from any minister" and said the statements were "not an appropriate defense in the context of our current criteria."
"But are those who wrote that defense?" Davutoğlu said. "They are in a position to defend the government's actions. This has nothing to do with the executive, but as the judiciary is a state institution, we need to take this into account."
TURKEY ASKS FOR U.S. GOVERNMENT'S HELP IN ELIMINATING MISUNDERSTANDINGS
Turkey has asked for the support of the Obama administration to eliminate misunderstandings about Turkey in the United States.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu is visiting the United States, and meeting U.S. officials, including officials of the U.S. State Department.
During his talks, Sinirlioglu discussed Iran's nuclear program, the situation in Iran, relations with Israel, Middle East, Balkans, Turkey's possible initiatives in Afghanistan and bilateral relations [between the U.S. and Turkey].
Diplomatic sources in Washington D.C. told reporters that Sinirlioglu's meetings were within the framework of "regular political consultations."
Turkey had asked for U.S. administration's support to eliminate misunderstandings that occurred after Turkey's vote against sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council and recent relations with Israel, diplomatic sources said.
Diplomats also said Turkey was planning to have a close cooperation with the United States in coming days.
The American Turkish Council (ATC) meeting will take place in Washington D.C. in October was another matter Sinirlioglu debated during his talks with U.S.officials.
Turkey's State Minister Ali Babacan and State Minister Zafer Caglayan for foreign trade are expected to represent Turkey in the meeting.
During ATC meeting, Turkey will focus on increasing trade with the United States and encouraging direct investments.
On Iran's nuclear program controversy, Turkey expressed its view that it was not intending to take sides but to assume an neutral role. Diplomatic sources said Turkey, as a neighbor of Iran, could not remain indifferent to developments in that country but was not taking sides.
According to the sources, Turkey's aim was to bring together P5 1 group and Iran.
They also said a meeting to take place between European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Aston and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili could be in Istanbul or New York.
Turkey, as Iran's neighbor, did not want any instability in the region, they said.
Diplomats said Turkey was only committed to UN sanctions on Iran, but EU sanctions or the unilateral sanctions of the United States do not bind Turkey.
The same diplomats said Turkey was not against use of nuclear energy for peaceful reasons, but did not want any country to produce nuclear weapons.
On the attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Turkish delegation told U.S. officials that this was the first time that Israel faced such an incident with a friendly country.
Diplomatic sources said Turkey asked Israel to apologize and pay compensation and demanded an international investigation if that did not happen.
Things would have been settled quicker if Israel had apologized and paid compensation but Israel did not prefer that method, diplomats said.
They said UN international investigation delegation would present its first report on the incident before September 15.
The sooner Israel apologized and paid compensation, the quicker the problem would be solved, they said.
Diplomats said a delay in resolution would be hurt both Turkey and Israel.
Sinirlioglu also discussed situation in Iraq with U.S. executives. Diplomats said Turkey and the United States had similar views on Iraq, and Turkey wanted establishment of a broad-based government including all segments of the society in Iraq as soon as possible.
On Turkey's role in the Middle East peace process, diplomatic sources said Syria wanted Turkey to assume a mediating role in its relations with Israel, but first Turkey's relations with Israel had to got better.
Also, diplomats said the United States would always support Turkey's fight against terrorism and Turkey had asked the United States to encourage European countries to support Turkey's fight against the terrorist organization PKK.
Diplomatic sources said the United States wanted Turkey to continue its initiatives in Afghanistan, particularly to train soldiers and police forces, and Turkey was positive on this matter.
Sinirlioglu is expected to return to Turkey later on Wednesday.