The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
BUGS FOUND IN THE OFFICE OF "JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS UNION"
Chairperson of the Judges and Prosecutors Union (YARSAV) Emine Ulke Tarhan said: "We found out that there are listening and recording devices (bugs) in our offices. We, as YARSAV had prosessional security experts to check our offices, and there is no doubt that some devices installed in walls and heating systems. I do not want to [reveal] the names of these experts but it is definite now we are under surveliance as other 72 million Turks."
KILIÇDAROĞLU AND BAYKAL JOIN HANDS IN ANTALYA
Main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP], Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and former CHP Chairman Deniz Baykal were hand in hand at the CHP's rally in Antalya, Baykal's hometown. Baykal said: "I came here to declare my vote in the referendum. Your 'no' votes will be remembered as a medal of merit."
Kılıçdaroğlu said that if this constitutional amendment was approved, corruption would be legitimized in Turkey.
A report prepared by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, which has been investigating claims that the telephone exchanges of the Supreme Court of Appeals and Council of State are being tapped, has revealed a terrifying truth. The report said that conversations were tapped through IMEI numbers and 37 different methods were used to [monitor] the conversations or to record them. The telephone exchanges of the Presidency, Prime Ministry and General Staff have also been compromised, the report said.
"YOU DISAPPEARED AFTER A VIDEOTAPE"
Delivering a speech in the northwestern province of Bursa, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the Republican People's Party [CHP's], former chairman Deniz Baykal's recent remarks in which he said Turkey would be divided if the majority voted "yes" in the upcoming referendum.
"You disappeared after a videotape. I did not want to talk about it, but you forced me to talk. These people have no respect for the nation's will," Erdoğan said.
TWO RESERVATIONS FROM EUROPE
The European Commission replied by letter to a question by a group of Turkish academicians who asked, "Why does the commission back 'yes' in the referendum?"
The commission said that the constitutional amendment package was a step in the right direction, but they cited concerns over two issues. "One of them is the justice minister's being head of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors [HSYK] and the other one is requiring the minister's approval to grant authority for inspection," the commission said.
NEW CONSTITUTION AFTER PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Sabah daily that they would launch a new initiative for a consensus on a new constitution after the parliamentary elections in 2011. Erdoğan said that he believed that Turkish people would say "yes" in the referendum on the constitutional amendment package. "If an agreement is reached with the election board, the parliamentary election scheduled to take place in July 2011 can be held a month earlier," Erdoğan said.
INDEPENDENT COURTS AT RISK, SAYS TOP TURKISH JUDGE
In a much-anticipated annual address, the head of the country's second-highest court has criticized the judiciary-related articles of the proposed constitutional amendments set for a Sept. 12 vote, saying they violate the separation of powers.
"The judiciary is no one's backyard. Never has been and never will be," Hasan Gerçeker, head of the Supreme Court of Appeals, said Monday at a ceremony marking the start of the 2010-2011 judicial year.
Reiterating previously expressed concerns, at the ceremony Gerçeker said the principle of the separation of powers was one of the unalterable articles of the Constitution.
"This article safeguards the superiority of laws, basic rights and freedoms as well as the social and secular rule of law," he said. "With the constitutional amendments, the conflict between the courts and the executive power will increase, as the amendments ignore the courts' will and cut their authority within the judiciary."
Gerçeker said court decisions should be respected and obeyed even if they are disliked.
Top members of the Turkish judiciary had previously leveled harsh criticism at the government-led constitutional amendments in conversations with the justice minister during the process of preparing the package, saying the changes targeted the judiciary.
The country will vote on the proposed amendment in a referendum Sept. 12.
In recent remarks, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the judiciary, in particular the Council of State, had blocked many of the bills the government had proposed.
Indirectly referring to Erdoğan's claims that there is a judicial tutelage, or guardianship, in Turkey, Gerçeker said it is incorrect and unfair to depict the judiciary as an "internal threat" and define its role as "tutelage."
"Some members of the Council of State and all members of the Supreme Court of Appeals are elected from the higher courts, taking their qualities into consideration," Gerçeker said.
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, who was present at the ceremony Monday, left the hall after the event without shaking Gerçeker's hand. Ergin likewise only shook the hand of Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç when entering the hall.
EU POLITICIAN SAYS SHE BACKS TURKISH CHARTER REFORM, NOT AKP
Dutch politician Ria Oomen-Ruijten, a member of the European Parliament and its rapporteur on Turkey, says she sees the country's constitutional amendments in the judicial realm as a first step toward democratization. Despite some claims that her comments on charter reform are tantamount to open support for the [Turkish] government's 'yes' campaign, the parliamentarian says her statement should not be interpreted as backing for the ruling party.
The European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur reiterated her support Tuesday for the government-led constitutional changes going to a referendum Sunday, but underscored that her statement did not mean she backs the ruling party.
"Everybody has the right to go to the polls and express themselves with 'yes' or 'no.' That's one [thing I said]; the second is that I welcome the judiciary reform as a first step," Dutch politician Ria Oomen-Ruijten, a member of the Christian Democrat Party, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a Tuesday interview.
In a recent declaration, the European politician had said she was deeply saddened that some Turkish political parties were calling on their supporters to boycott the referendum and urged everyone to cast a vote, saying the proposed constitutional amendments represented a first step toward Turkey's democratization and modernization.
Oomen-Ruijten's initial statement was interpreted by many in Turkey as open support for the government-led "yes" campaign, leading the opposition to criticize her for allegedly interfering in domestic affairs.
In a recent interview with the private television channel CNNTürk, Republican People's Party [CHP], chief Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu claimed Oomen-Ruijten, along with European Commission spokesman Ferran Tarradellas Espuny, were making statements in support of the referendum in return for gifts they received from the Turkish government – something that would be against European [Union] rules.
The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] is boycotting the referendum, the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] is campaigning for a "yes" vote while the opposition CHP and Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] are in the "no" camp.
Speaking to the Daily News on Tuesday, Oomen-Ruijten said she had already expressed her views regarding the charter reform. "That's my opinion," she said. When asked if it meant she supported the AKP, she said, "I don't do that."
Asked about her expectations from Sunday's referendum results, the politician declined to share her predictions, saying: "It is up to the Turkish citizens to vote. It is not up to a member of the European Parliament. I don't want to interfere."
The accusations that European figures and institutions are not being objective in their assessments of the constitutional reform package are unsubstantiated and should not be made lightly, Angela Filote, a spokeswoman for EU Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, told the Daily News on Tuesday.
"The [European] Commission would suggest that the discussions about the constitutional reform package remain focused on the substance, as these reforms concern the future of Turkey and of the Turkish people," Filote said.
"The commission reiterated its well-known position, namely that this reform package is a step in the right direction: establishing an ombudsman institution, restricting the authority of military courts, introducing positive discrimination [affirmative action] for vulnerable groups [and] extending the rights of civil servants," the spokeswoman said.
Addressing the claims allegedly made by the CHP leader, Filote said the party's representative in Brussels, Kader Sevinç, sent the European Commission an e-mail that said Kılıçdaroğlu had not made such allegations. In the e-mail, shared with the Daily News by the spokeswoman, Sevinç said there was no mention of any European Commission official's name in Kılıçdaroğlu's interview.
"We understand that there was explicit misinformation and confusion in the way his remarks were transmitted to you by some [press outlets] and that your reactions were to alleged views that were not expressed by Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu," Sevinç told Filote in the e-mail.
"In fact, Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu said in clear terms that some EU representatives [no name is mentioned] come frequently to Turkey but are hosted exclusively by the government and its supporting institutions. This creates an ethical problem because they cannot therefore have an objective assessment of the situation in Turkey," Sevinç wrote. "In the past we also heard about gifts and tourist excursions, but it is the task of the media to verify [such claims]. In this interview, Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu did not accuse any EU official of bribery."
The CHP leader is expected to visit Brussels and Germany after Sunday's referendum.
"WEST SHOULD BE FAİRER İN APPROACHİNG TURKEY," SAYS REPORT
A new report from the International Crisis Group [entitled] "Turkey's crisis over Israel and Iran," says the country's Western partners "should be fairer" in approaching Turkey. The report says the West should not use one-sided presentations of its policy on Iran or Israel to decide whether or not it is "Western" and "European,"a leading think-tank said.
Turkey is only "partly to blame for what has gone wrong with its 'zero-problem' foreign policy; when it has erred, it has been mostly due to haste, poor communication, lack of planning and fiery speeches," the International Crisis Group, [ICG] said in its report called "Turkey's crisis over Israel and Iran," which was expected to published on Wednesday.
The report said Turkey still shared goals with its many Western partners, including finding a way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and relieving the suffering in Gaza.
"However, it is much closer to Middle Eastern events and has far greater security and economic exposure to the region than those partners, so it has different tactics, including a policy of engagement with Iran and Hamas. Public opinion is more emotional, too, putting additional pressure on political leaders," the report said.
On May 17, Iran signed a fuel-swap declaration with Turkey and Brazil in which Tehran agreed to exchange 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium on Turkish soil for nuclear fuel in an effort to ease international concerns over the country's nuclear program.
According to the declaration, Iran was to ship low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for 20-percent high-enriched uranium to be supplied at a later date for a Tehran research reactor. The declaration was Iran's counter-proposal to an earlier plan drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency for a fuel-swap deal.
World powers, led by Washington, had previously reacted coolly to the plan and backed a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran on June 9. The U.N. sanctions have been followed by unilateral punitive measures imposed by the United States and the European Union.
Leading countries suspect that Iran is masking a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian atomic program although Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions contain no military aims.
"Critics fear that Turkey is forging an alliance with Iran, or at least joining with it in an Islamist bloc," the ICG report said. "History, however, suggests that political alliances between Turkey and Iran are a considerable rarity."
Turkey's tense relations with Israel and suspicions in Western capitals about its ties with Iran have led to questions and debate over whether Turkey is changing its axis and turning its face to the East instead of promoting its image as a growing Western power.
Turkey-Israel relations are at their lowest point due to an Israeli commando raid that killed eight Turks and a U.S. citizen of Turkish descent on May 31 on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
Ankara denounced the raid as a violation of international law, immediately recalled its ambassador and canceled three planned joint military exercises with Israel. Turkey said Israel must apologize for the raid, pay compensation for the victims and lift the blockade of Gaza for the recovery of bilateral ties.
"The Mavi Marmara affair showed the difficulties Turkey faces when it loses its reputation for neutrality in Middle East disputes, even if it is arguably the injured party," said report.
From a Turkish perspective, Israel and Iran issues have separate dynamics and involve more collaboration and shared goals with Western partners than usually acknowledge.
"The U.S. and EU member states should back U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's four-person, U.N.-led panel of enquiry into the tragic incident," the report said.
The report also said Israel should work to normalize its important relationship with Turkey, "[even] if its soldiers are found to have used excessive force or committed crimes, by prosecuting suspects, and finding ways to give Turkey satisfaction in the matter."
"Turkey's engagement in the Middle East is greater than at any time since the modern republic was founded in 1923 in the core provinces of the Ottoman Empire, the former regional power from the Balkans to the Persian Gulf," said the report.
"Western partners should support Turkey's convergence with the EU, its real efforts to build bridges to Iran and the U.N. investigation into the Mavi Marmara incident. For their part, AKP leaders have a point when they complain that Germany since 2005 and France since 2007 [have been] betraying EU states' long-standing promise of Turkey's eventual EU membership," the report said.
"But angry rhetoric is not the answer. Instead, they should sustain steady work to persuade Turkish and European public opinion alike of the undoubted benefits of a partnership that is still bearing fruit," it said.
TURKEY LOBBIES BEHIND THE SCENES ON BEHALF OF IRANIAN WOMAN SENTENCED TO STONING
After touting itself internationally as the country that can bring Iran to the table, Turkey is belatedly, and quietly, intervening in the Islamic republic's controversial plans to execute by stoning a woman found guilty of adultery.
Turkish officials have interceded with the Iranian regime in the case of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, who, after being sentenced to death by stoning by Iran's highest legal authority, was subjected to a mock execution by hanging, a diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday.
"We have attempted to persuade the Iranian government to show clemency toward Sakineh, [but] we won't reveal our efforts publicly," the source said, adding that public pleas would be counterproductive as far as Iran's perceived international standing is concerned because of the sensitivity of the issue and the mounting global pressure.
With relations between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seen as extremely friendly, Turkey's failure to loudly and publicly interject in the Ashtiani case has been criticized by women's rights groups.
The international community has been loudly calling on the Iranian government to abandon the practice of execution by stoning.
After receiving numerous letters and calls from human-rights groups around the world, Erdoğan asked the Turkish Foreign Ministry to attempt to prevent Ashtiani's execution, the diplomatic source said. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu launched diplomatic efforts to that end during phone conversations in late August with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki.
"We organized campaigns with international human-rights organizations and collected signatures from human-rights groups in Turkey. However, attempts made by Turkey on behalf of Sakineh are only the result of intense recent international pressure," Halime Güner, coordinator of the women's rights group Flying Broom, told the Daily News on Tuesday.
Güner criticized the Turkish government for not pressing Iran strongly enough. "If Turkey did [press strongly], Iran would respond, because Turkey is capable of having a remarkable impact on the Iranian government," she said.
Turkey should not consider some cases in "black or white," Güner said, adding that if the Turkish government advocated on behalf of Iranians in other cases – as it did with its support of Iran's nuclear program – it should also intercede on the matter of Sakineh's sentence.
Ashtiani was acquitted of murdering her husband, but charges of adultery were reviewed and the death penalty handed down on the basis of the judge's juristic knowledge, despite a lack of evidence.
In addition to having been sentenced to death by stoning, Ashtiani has also been sentenced to a punishment of 99 lashes after a photograph of her with exposed hair was published in Europe.