The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.


Turkish-Iranian Business Council held a conference in Istanbul. PM Erdogan, during his speech, said: "We established a non-problematic trade relation with the west. I don't see any reason that we cannot have the same arrangements with Iran. Our trade volume is 10 billion U.S. dollars now. Why not to increase it to 30 Billion U.S. dollars?"

The Iranian Vice President Rahimi said: "Turkey is the best friend of Iran in the world. Turkey is very important for Iran's political and economic security. Our Holy Leader Khamanei also asks for acceleration of political, economic and security relations with Turkey."

At the end of the conference, co-chairman of the Turkish-Iranian Business Council Rahimi Sadeghian kissed Prime Minister Erdogan, thanking his support to increase trade volume, economic, political, and security cooperation.


Turkey's state minister for foreign trade said on Thursday that the trade volume between Turkey and Iran was up 86 percent in the first seven months of 2010.

Minister Zafer Caglayan underlined the importance of the rise in Turkish-Iranian trade volume in the first seven months of 2010. "It seems that we will reach the trade volume we had before the 2009 global crisis [by] 2011," Caglayan said during Turkish-Iranian Business Forum in Istanbul.

Caglayan said the trade volume was $2.3 billion in 2002, and it reached $11 billion in 2008.

"However, it fell to $5.5 billion in 2009, due to global crisis and decline in oil and natural-gas prices in the world," he said.

Caglayan said initiatives were under way to raise the trade volume between the two countries to $30 billion in the following five years.

Minister Caglayan said Turkey's exports to Iran were up 40 percent, but Turkey had only $2 billion of share in Iran's $68.5 billion of imports in 2008.

Caglayan said Iran made more than $8 billion of its overall exports of $100 billion to Turkey. Therefore, trade volume between the two countries should be balanced as soon as possible, he said.

Caglayan said Turkey had ratified the border trade agreement and sent it to Iran, however trade [under the agreement] as Iran had not approved the agreement yet.

Initiatives on establishment of a joint industrial zone were about to be completed, he also said.


The main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP] leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had a meeting with European Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fule, in Brussels.

Kılıçdaroğlu said: "We conveyed our sensitivity on independence of judiciary to him." Fule said they would monitor the process on legal changes [in accord with the consitutional referenedums].


Turkish Industry Minister Nihat Ergün, who earlier said "President Abdullah Gül's term of office was 7 years," said that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was "the candidate for presidency without any rivals."

Ergün said Erdoğan could be elected president with more than 50 percent of votes in the first round.


Just days before the September 20 deadline for terrorist organization PKK to decide to lay down its arms, nine people were killed in a bomb blast that hit a minibus in southeastern Hakkari province.

Two land-mines and C-4 explosives were found in backpacks at the scene of the explosion. Four people, including two children, were wounded in the attack.


Republican People's Party's (CHP) former chairman Deniz Baykal said that the "two-key" system used during the Cold War era was being implemented in CHP and such practices blocked the path for a solution.

During conversations with his colleagues, Baykal said: "There are two keys for big safes in the banks and unless two people carrying these keys come together, the safe cannot be opened. The situation in CHP is exactly like that. One key is at the chairperson and the other at the secretary general."


The Turkic world reached its goal of "one nation, six states" with the establishment of the Turkish Cooperation Council in Istanbul on Thursday.

President Abdullah Gül said: "We are proud of being six states and one nation," at Summit of Turkish Speaking Countries which was not attended by Uzbekistan. Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and Kyrgyzstan's interim President Roza Otunbaeva attended the summit hosted by Gül.

After the summit, Turkish Speaking Countries Cooperation Council was established.


A group of nearly 200 people led by a Greek-American nongovernmental organization has canceled its plans to hold a religious service in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, NTV reported Friday.

Chris Spirou, the group's leader, said they have canceled their trip to Istanbul and will not attempt to hold religious service in Hagia Sophia, NTV television broadcasted early Friday morning.

The Turkish Embassy in Athens was effective in changing the group's decision, report said.

Spirou told NTV they would try legal action regarding the status of Hagia Sophia.

The Turkish government had said in no uncertain terms that the group would not be allowed to conduct a religious service at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia.

"A message was delivered to [event organizer] Chris Spirou that his attempts were seen as a provocation," Turkish diplomatic sources told reporters Thursday. The sources did not disclose who gave the message to Spriou, ]both] a Greek and American citizen.

The group led by Spirou, a former adviser to Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and the founder of the International Hagia Sophia Coalition, is planning to arrive in Istanbul on Saturday to conduct a religious service at the well-known building, which served as a church and a mosque before being secularized and opened as a museum in 1935.

Turkey does not allow religious services to be performed in museums. Special permission was required for both the Divine Liturgy to be held Sunday at the Surp Haç (Holy Cross) Church on Akdamar Island in the eastern province of Van, and the historic mass last month at the Sümela Monastery in the Black Sea province of Trabzon.

"We have directly and indirectly held talks to stop this [Hagia Sophia] initiative," another Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. "We made it clear that any attempt to disturb the public order would not be tolerated."

The Daily News has also learned that the ministry has contacted its Greek and American counterparts to try and get their support for stopping the group's attempt to hold a religious service at Hagia Sophia, an act that is believed to pose a threat to the bilateral relations between Turkey and Greece.

The Turkish government's efforts to stop the service are being coordinated by the Foreign Ministry with the participation of the Interior and Culture ministries. One option is to refuse the group entry to Turkey, officials said.

"The state will take measures against such efforts," Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay said, speaking to private CNNTürk television.

Describing the participants as a group of fanatics, Günay said a very recent application from a Muslim group had also been refused due to the principle of keeping Hagia Sophia closed to worship.

Despite recent speculation – prompted in part by a statement of openness to the idea from the head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate – that Istanbul's Hagia Sophia was also prepared to hold a service, Günay said earlier this month that the iconic Istanbul site would never host any kind of religious service and would maintain its status as a museum.


A U.S. official has reaffirmed the close relationship between Turkey and the United States in response to a global survey in which Turkish participants expressed more interest in cooperation with the Middle East than with the West.

According to Philip Gordon, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, there is no other country in Europe with which the United States has as much open, ongoing dialogue as it does with Turkey.

Speaking at the German Marshall Fund on Wednesday, Gordon said Turkey and the United States had many common interests and policies although they had some differences of opinion on some issues. The German Marshall Fund of the United States had conducted the survey that included Turks' views on the Middle East.

Gordon said Turkey and the United States had similar thinking on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but differences of opinion on whether or not the Islamic republic had fulfilled required criteria regarding this matter. The assistant secretary said the two countries were sincerely hold differing positions regarding the controversy over Iran's nuclear program.

The U.S. official said Ankara and Washington also exhibited sincerity in dealing with their differences of opinion regarding Hamas and the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla of aid ships to the Gaza Strip.

Turkey's relations with Armenia are another point of diverging perspectives, the assistant secretary said, adding that the United States was supporting the normalization process between the two countries.

Gordon said normalization would be beneficial to both countries and to the region, an idea also supported by the Turkish government. The assistant secretary said he did not agree with claims that Turkey has turned its back to the West.

Closer ties with the Middle East were supported by 20 percent of Turkish participants, double last year's rate, in the annual "Transatlantic Trends" survey, conducted internationally by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo in Italy. It was released [this past] Wednesday.

Gordon said Turkey had been interested in the Middle East for a long time, but had always stood close to the United States and the West. Adding that Turkey is also still interested in the European Union accession process, he said the EU should take some steps to get Ankara's focus back on the process and underlined the importance of encouraging Turkey in its bid.

Turkey's EU accession depends on both Turkey and the European Union, he said, noting that the United States continues to support Turkey.

Gordon said the EU would become stronger with inclusion of a Turkey that had fulfilled EU membership criteria. The United States' dialogue with the Turkish government was not in line with the view that Turkey has become distant from the West, he said.

The U.S. official said all remarks from Turkey indicated that it was still seeing itself as a distinguished member of NATO, that it is eager for EU membership and that it places importance on cooperation with the United States.

Gordon also said the United States was trying to establish a model partnership with Turkey and attached importance to its relations with the country and the views of the Turkish people. He defined U.S. relations with Turkey as important and strategic and said the relationship is a fruitful one for both countries.


The head of Turkey's main nationalist party has sent out a six-page letter to his party's organization urging them to prepare for the upcoming elections while warning against "evil plotters."

Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] leader Devlet Bahçeli said dark propaganda was being carried out following the results of Sunday's referendum on constitutional reform and warned of a campaign of slander against the party.

The headquarters for the "dirty alliance" plotting "traps" against the nationalist community is located in the Justice and Development Party [AKP] and "beyond the ocean," said Bahçeli, referring to Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish religious leader based in the United States.

The letter went on to state that the constitutional changes opened the door for a new presidential system and a federal structure.

Bahçeli drew attention to certain lies circulating that some nationalists did not vote for the MHP.

Media reports of former nationalists voting "yes" in the referendum and splits within the party are untrue, said the party leader.

Noting that a counter group is emerging in reaction to the rise of the nationalist movement, Bahçeli said: "The price against those plotting against our case will be heavy. No matter what the source and power of our party is, no matter where and who it comes from, it is ready to defy every curse, trick and attack, and we will have huge national enthusiasm on the matter."

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