The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
Minister of Interior Beşir Atalay unexpectedly traveled to northern Iraq. He met with Massoud Barzani, head of the regional administration, in Salahaddin. First item of the agenda of the meeting was measures to be taken to disarm the PKK terrorism organization.
Barham Salih, prime minister of the regional administration, said later the same day that they did not want to harbor the PKK in northern Iraq any more.
ANKARA'S IRBIL SECRET
Hakan Fidan, Undersecretary National Intelligence Organization, will be travelling to Irbil next week. Fidan is set to hold talks with Iraqi authorities on efforts for disarming the PKK terrorist organization.
LET'S GIVE UP FIGHTING
Republican People's Party [CHP] leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to give up fighting and seek ways of working together. "We have turned a new page. There are rights, freedoms, efforts to end regional disparities, struggle for European Union membership and respect for criticism," he said.
WE'LL PASS IT IN A WEEK
Republican People's Party [CHP] leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated his proposal to make a new constitution before the general elections in 2011. "I am positive that we will pass the new constitution in Parliament in just a week," he said. Kılıçdaroğlu said: "Let's initiate the timetable. In that case, the parliament speaker will take action and establish a commission to find out which articles of the Constitution needed amendment. Both parties should have members in the commission."
WE WILL NOT PERMIT ANYONE [TO CARRY GUNS], GÜL SAYS
Turkish President Abdullah Gül said, in reference to rumors that the terrorist organization PKK has left Turkish soil, that they will never permit anyone to carry weapons within the boundaries of Turkey. If people have understood this fact, then it is a good development, Gül said.
MIDDLE EAST UNION ON THE WAY
Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have made a decision to cooperate in many economic areas. The common market will be implemented in January. All four countries agreed on a model envisaging a free trade and visa-free zone. The countries will also cooperate in commerce, energy, transportation and tourism.
MUSLIM NATIONS CALLED TO FIGHT ISLAMOPHOBIA THROUGH EDUCATION
Muslim nations must collectively resist growing Islamophobia in the United States and Europe, the head of the world's largest organization of Islamic countries told ministers from the 57 member nations gathered in New York this week.
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu urged members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, to work with Western leaders to dispel misconceptions about their faith.
The OIC secretary-general told the Associated Press on Saturday that he would be taking the message on the road next week to Chicago, where the organization will host a major conference on Islam and Muslims in America at the American Islamic College.
Education, İhsanoğlu said, is the key to helping the West truly understand Islam.
Islam has recently been under attack in the United States, especially with a controversy over a proposed Islamic center near the World Trade Center site and threats by groups to burn the Quran in protest. The OIC chief's new book, "The Islamic World in the New Century: The Organization of the Islamic Conference, 1969-2009," includes an entire chapter on the danger of growing Islamophobia in the West.
"The Muslim world is going through an unprecedented difficult and trying time," İhsanoğlu told the ministers during their annual meeting Friday. "We are facing daunting challenges and severe hardships. Islam and Muslims are under serious attack, and Islamophobia is growing and becoming more rampant and dangerous by the day."
İhsanoğlu said a "pandemic of Islam vilification" is sweeping through some parts of Europe and the United States, increasing misperceptions about Islam and eroding Muslims' human rights.
"We need an all inclusive effort of OIC member states to stem this menace," he told the ministers. "That is why I firmly believe that this question of Islamophobia should figure prominently on the agenda of all OIC member states whenever they deal with their Western counterparts."
İhsanoğlu, who is from Turkey, has headed the OIC since 2005. The group is seen as a moderate, collective voice for Islam. "The OIC is a strategic and crucial partner of the United Nations and plays a significant role in helping to resolve a wide range of issues facing the world community," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement to the group when it met Friday.
Member states reflect the reach of Islam across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, and include Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Morocco, Afghanistan, Syria, Chad, Senegal, Niger, Sudan, Guyana and Surinam.
PERES: ISRAEL WILL "SEEK FRIENDSHIP WITH TURKEY"
President Shimon Peres said Israel will "seek friendship with Turkey" despite fallout over a deadly flotilla raid, while Turkish President Abdullah Gül said normalizing [strained] ties would be up to Israel.
The leaders appeared independently on a U.S. Sunday talk show and, while the two insisted that they remain on friendly personal terms, there appeared to be tension over a recent New York meeting, which fell through amid charges by Peres that Turkey had demanded an apology over the Israeli raid. "I read they first want apologies and compensation. I was very much surprised," Peres told CNN show "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
That meeting was scrapped between the leaders, whose countries had been strategic allies until the raid, after which Ankara withdrew its ambassador and canceled joint war games. "But we didn't change our attitude to Turkey," Peres said. "We were friends of Turkey, we shall seek friendship with Turkey."
Last week Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported that Gül didn't meet Peres in New York because of the Turkish leader's busy schedule, and on Sunday's broadcast Gül said reports that his government demanded an apology from Peres as a condition of their meeting were exaggerated. "No, these are not correct," he said.
Yet Gül reiterated Ankara's position that Israel was to blame for the Mediterranean tragedy that left nine people dead, including eight Turks and one of Turkish-American descent. "They are defending their act and they are criticizing us as if we (did) something wrong. With this understanding, how can I meet?" he asked. "We do not prefer this deterioration in relationship but unfortunately it was a great mistake from Israeli side because this blockage, embargo on Gaza," he told CNN in English. "We're not against Israel. We are not enemies, but we have a right to criticize the policies."
While not directly stating that Turkey wanted an apology in order to mend ties, Gül said fixing the relationship was "up to Israel."
Peres said that if he had a chance to meet with Gül he would tell him "we have to continue our friendship," and that there were ways for Turkey to remain a key broker in the Middle East.
"Tell Hamas to stop shooting," Peres said, referring to the Islamist movement that in 2007 took over the Gaza Strip, from where rockets rained down on Israel in 2008 prompting a deadly Israeli incursion into the coastal enclave. "Tell Iran to stop sending missiles. Tell Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not to threaten to destroy Israel or deny the Holocaust," Peres said.
Gül said his government invited Hamas representatives to Turkey after their election win in Gaza and told them to "act democratically" and to stop the "nonsense" of firing rockets into Israel.
PROCESS OF CHANGING TOP JUDICIAL BODIES BEGINS IN TURKEY
Controversial changes to the composition of top judicial bodies approved in the Sept. 12 referendum will be submitted to a cabinet meeting Monday, paving the way for new members to be appointed to both groups.
The adjustment laws [reforms mandated by the outcome of the September referendum] pertaining to the Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges [HSYK] and the Constitutional Court have been completed and will be presented to the cabinet on Monday, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said Friday.
"We will make a presentation to the cabinet. We will release it on our website in order to receive feedback. We want suggestions and criticism on these laws," Ergin said.
Among other changes, the draft ends the privilege of the Justice Ministry undersecretary, who held a position that previously did not have a reserve member and had to be in attendance for HSYK meetings to take place.
Under the adjustment laws, the board will have 22 members instead of seven. They will work as three separate departments, each with seven members. The Justice Ministry undersecretary represents the 22nd member.
At least five members must be in attendance for the board to convene and its members will be able to make decisions with the vote of four members. Departments will be able to make decisions without the presence of the Justice Ministry undersecretary.
The HSYK General Assembly will convene under the invitation of the Justice Minister with at least 15 members. Decisions will be made according to absolute majority vote. The general assembly will appoint new members for the Court of Appeals and the Council of State in the event of any vacancy in these institutions.
Members coming from the Court of Appeals, the Council of State, the Justice Academy and other bodies, as well as members who will be selected by the president, will be distributed evenly within the three departments.
Inspection, investigation and interrogation requests for the judges and prosecutors will be considered by the departments, but the decision to launch an investigation will depend on approval from the justice minister, whose decisions will be subject to administrative justice supervision.
HSYK decisions that result in the expulsion of judges and prosecutors will be taken to court.
While the justice minister will not be attending meetings and voting, he will be administering the board. Complaints against judges and prosecutors will be examined by the relevant department.
According to the new regulation, the president will elect four members and the judiciary will elect the rest of the members on the HSYK.
Previously, the HSYK had consisted of the justice minister and his undersecretary as well as members from the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State.
The Constitutional Court will meanwhile also see an increase in its number of members, from 11 to 17, three elected by Parliament and 14 appointed by the president.
To the existing 11 members will be added two who will be elected from the Court of Accounts and Turkey's bar associations and presented to Parliament as candidates for HSYK membership. The four members who are currently reserve members in the top court will also become permanent members.
The entire process of selecting and electing new members to the Constitutional Court is expected to take 15 days.