The following are translations of extracts from the Turkish press.
COURT RULING PAVES THE WAY FOR PROMOTION OF THREE GENERALS
Three generals who were not promoted to a higher rank during the Supreme Military Council [YAŞ] meeting because of the Balyoz probe have won the appeal they filed at the High Administrative Military Court [AYİM] for a stay of execution.
Balyoz suspects major generals Halil Helvacıoğlu and Gürbüz Kaya and Rear Adm. Abdullah Gavremoğlu had appealed to AYİM when their promotions were not approved at the YAŞ meeting. AYİM recognized the claim of the three generals and ruled for the stay of execution. The commanders, who were appointed to posts of a higher rank, were sent on indefinite leave. The ruling, which will send the three commanders back to their posts, opens the way for their promotion.
BARRIER TO TANKERS USING TURKEY'S STRAITS, ENERGY MINISTER
Speaking at the opening session of the Black Sea Energy & Economy Forum yesterday, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said that several restrictions would be brought in upcoming years for oil and natural gas tankers traveling through Turkey's straits. Yıldız said these restrictions would be about the size and insurance procedures of the tankers.
The Eskişehir Police Department, which was inspected one month ago, was inspected once again after Hanefi Avcı's book was published. Avcı said that his cafeteria expenses, up to the sandwiches he ate, were inspected. "This is not an ordinary, routine practice," said Avcı.
Meanwhile, Mesut Değer of the Republican People's Party [CHP], who visited Avcı at Silivri Prison, quoted Avcı as saying: "It is out of the question for me to seek justice against an unlawful act." Değer said Avcı requested everyone to carefully read the warnings he made and the complaints he filed which were mentioned in his book.
ARINÇ: IT IS DISBELIEF IN COURTS TO SAY AVCI WAS ARRESTED BECAUSE OF HIS BOOK!
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç criticized those who linked the arrest of Hanefi Avcı to his book. "This means disbelief in the justice system. I don't believe that the government or the political authorities have any influence or interference on this one," said Arınç.
"Against those who say he was arrested because of his book are those who say he knew he would be arrested and prosecuted and that's why he published his book. The biggest fact is there is an ongoing legal investigation and we should all follow it carefully."
EUROPEAN HOOK TO KANDIL PROCESS
The disarmament process of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] will be on the agenda of the European Parliament soon. Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe [PACE], who have paid visits to Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and the Peace & Democracy Party proposed the implementation of the Northern Ireland model in order to make the terrorist organization lay down arms. PACE members suggested that a delegation comprising of international representatives could be set up and the terrorist group could lay down its arms under the supervision of such a delegation.
U.S. QUESTIONS FRIDAY PRAYER IN ANI
The request of Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] leader Devlet Bahçeli and his followers to hold Friday prayers at the Fethiye mosque, also known as the Cathedral of Ani, at the Ani ruins has been accepted. Meanwhile a U.S. delegation visiting the MHP asked why they were going to Ani. The MHP delegation said: "We have respected the religious services at Sümela and Akdamar. This should also be met with respect."
42% MAY BE AFRAID
Commenting on the results of the recent referendum in Turkey, the Constitutional Court's head Haşim Kılıç gave two important messages to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Supreme Court of Appeals head Hasan Gerçeker.
"It is a promising development that Prime Minister Erdoğan pays attention to the 42 percent of [No] votes cast at the referendum. The fears and concerns of the 42 percent should be understood. People's biggest sensitivity is an intervention in their lifestyles. All possible efforts should be displayed in order to eliminate these concerns," Kılıç said.
Kılıç also noted that Gerçeker had used a political language during his speech at the opening of the new judicial year, adding Gerçeker had claimed that the judiciary authority was being taken under siege. "The argument that those to be chosen will act in accordance with the preferences of those who have chosen them is totally inaccurate," Kılıç said.
FORMER US SECURITY ADVISER CALLS FOR CLOSER US-TURKEY TIES
Turkey is a key player in the United States' continued military withdrawal from Iraq and its push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a former U.S. national security adviser has said, calling for close cooperation with Ankara.
"We need Turkey as the withdrawal process [from Iraq] continues," Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser for U.S. presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Thursday. "I think we need to stay, hopefully until the Iraqis can agree on a government."
Iraq's political parties have been deadlocked since the parliamentary elections in March over who should form the new government and serve as prime minister and president. The elections were ultimately inconclusive, as they gave no party a majority in the 325-member parliament.
Despite the country's [Iraq's] political deadlock, Barack Obama's administration has withdrawn most U.S. troops from Iraq.
"We and Turkey need to work together to try to make Iraq an important stable element in a very difficult region," Scowcroft, who also assisted Obama in choosing his national security team, told the Daily News on the sidelines of the Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum in Istanbul. "We need each other to try to deal with Iraq."
Commenting on the friction between Turkey and Israel after the latter's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla, Scowcroft also hinted that Ankara could play a role in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations if it can resume a more normal relationship with Tel Aviv.
"Turkey plays a unique role in the region," he said. "I think as we move toward a serious negotiation on the Palestinian issue, Turkey can be invaluable in working with Israel, so [I] hope that they can repair that relationship. It is very important."
Ankara insists on two conditions – an apology for the raid and compensation to its victims or their families – for resuming normal relations with Tel Aviv.
Asked if Israel would be able to comply with these conditions, Scowcroft said: "I don't know. And I'd rather not take a public position on that, but I hope the two can work together."
Acknowledging that there has been a very emotional difference between Turkey and Israel over Hamas and the Gaza issue, he also expressed his hope that the rift "will not have to continue and stand in the way of a relationship that has been good, not only bilaterally, but for the region itself."
Washington has recently seen an increase in debates about Turkey, with some U.S. political figures concerned about an apparent shift in Turkey's foreign policy and questioning U.S. relations with Ankara due to Turkey's dissenting vote on sanctions against Iran and its treatment of Israel.
Asked to describe how Turkey looks from Washington's perspective, Scowcroft said there was some unease in the United States about Turkey's intentions and direction.
"Are they fundamentally different than the old Turkey that we know and love? Are its [actions] just an expansion of their interests? There is a lot of uncertainty about that. And that brings anxiety because Turkey is a very important ally of the United States," he said.
Scowcroft said Turkey's "no" vote against the U.N. sanctions resolution on Iran had been received very badly in the United States but added that he understood the Turkish position.
"I think that the United States and Turkey are not too far apart and really, the sanctions are designed to get Iran to be willing to talk," he said. "That's what Turkey wants and that's what the United States wants. I hope we can mend this difference of opinion right now and can work together to persuade Iran to have serious talks about the future."
CIVIL WAR 'WORST SCENARIO' FOR IRAQ, SAYS ANALYST
Prolonged political crisis in Iraq is carrying a risk of fueling ethnic and religious tensions, says an analyst at the Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum in Istanbul. Considering Turkey's willingness to invest in Iraqi oil and gas fields, the International Crisis Group's Middle East expert says: "Turkey has followed a smart policy in dealing with both Baghdad and Irbil"
The lack of a government in Iraq for over seven months is carrying the risk of fuelling ethnic and religious tensions and leading up to civil strife, a leading analyst on Iraq told a prestigious forum Thursday.
"There are two ways in Iraq. Without a government, which is the very bad scenario, it can lead up to the return to civil war," Dr. Joost Hiltermann, Middle East expert with the International Crisis Group, told one of the panels at the Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum in Istanbul. He said the second option for the war-torn country is to establish a broad-based government but warned that none of the scenarios is moving ahead right now. "Iraq will face a very difficult period."
Another problem facing Iraq is lack of an agreement between the central government in Baghdad and the regional Kurdish administration in Arbil over the oil law. "A decision should be made. No progress has been made since 2007," said Hiltermann.
Turkey's willingness to invest in Iraqi oil and gas fields, however, raises the question of how to deal with Baghdad and Irbil, the expert noted, referring to Turkey's growing ties with the regional Kurdish administration over the past years. "Turkey has followed a smart policy in dealing with Baghdad and Irbil."
İbrahim Kalın, the Turkish prime minister's foreign policy adviser who took the floor in the same panel, said nurturing the Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish relationship was because of the "realities on the ground."
"We normalized our relations with the Kurdish regional government, which we didn't have any relationship with before," he said. Asked which party Turkey would support, Irbil or Baghdad, if the worst scenario happens and Iraq devolves into a civil war between its majority Arab population and minority Kurdish population, the advisor said: "We hope it does not come to that."
He added, "We are in dialogue with all groups in Iraq, no matter whether they are Sunnis or Shiites."
In comments on the Kurdish problem, he said that issue has links with northern Iraq, but referring to the Kurdish population of the countries in the region – Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria – he made it clear that no single country can control regional dynamics by itself. "They are all inter-dependent."
WE PLAN ON ESTABLISHING 'SCIENCE DIPLOMACY', TURKISH FM SAYS
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday they wanted to open a new field in diplomacy called "Science Diplomacy."
Speaking to reporters following his meeting with academicians and students at the Harvard University, Davutoglu said that Turkey would appoint scientific attaches to countries like the U.S., Japan, China, Germany and England where new and high technology was present.
We decided to establish "Science Diplomacy" to improve Turkey's scientific image and bring high technology to Turkey in a shorter period of time, Davutoglu stressed. Turkish diplomats will not only follow diplomatic, political and economic developments but also the recent scientific and technological developments, Davutoglu said. During my talks in Boston, we had a chance to discuss with both Turkish and U.S. academicians ways to realize "Science Diplomacy", Davutoglu also said.
Minister Davutoglu will return to Turkey on Thursday.