The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
ERGENEKON PRISONERS TO BE RELEASED WITH ELECTRONIC SHACKLES
The Ministry of Justice took action to solve the problem of prolonged detention after President Abdullah Gül criticizes [the practice].
Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin said that the ministry prepared a draft law after examining some examples [of similar legislation] around the world. He said that the draft includes use of electronic shackles to monitor detainees' whereabouts.
TWO CALLS FROM TWO OPPOSITION PARTIES
Republican People's Party [CHP] leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] leader Devlet Bahçeli made two proposals to the government about the democratic move and constitutional reform.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the government should inform the public about its talks with northern Iraq, the United States and the Peace and Democracy Party.
Meanwhile, Bahçeli proposed to establish a parliamentary commission to reach a compromise on constitutional reform.
CHP OFFERS IRANIAN MODEL
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chairman and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that all opposition parties, especially the CHP, should do what they [had] promised.
Delivering a speech at an AKP meeting, Erdoğan said: "They said at rallies that they would solve headscarf issue. I asked them How? And they said they are working on the matter."
Erdoğan said the CHP proposed an Iranian/Pakistani style of head covering for Turkish girls and women. "The CHP has brought fear to the country that Turkey is becoming like Iran," Erdoğan said. "Now it proposes that Turkish girls and women should wear a headscarf like Iranians do."
ELECTION DATE: JUNE 5
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that they were planning to hold general election in the first week of June 2011.
Accordingly, Turkish people will go to the ballot boxes on June 5.
JOINT INITIATIVE AGAINST TERRORISM
Twelve Turkish ministers including National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Interior Minister Beşir Atalay visited Syria for a high-profile meeting of the Turkish-Syrian Strategic Cooperation Council in the Syrian port city of Latakia.
Atalay said Turkey could stage joint operations with neighboring countries. Replying to a question, Atalay said Turkey did not have a problem regarding security with Syria. After the meeting, Davutoğlu said: "If we see each other as a single country in transportation, energy, trade, health, agriculture and environment and consider each other's interests as our own national interests, the two nations can have the opportunity to become developed together."
"TURKEY COULD NOT MAKE PROGRESS IN ITS EU ACCESSION PROCESS"
Only 13 of 35 chapters were opened as part of Turkey's negotiations to become a full EU member-state and only one chapter was closed [completed].
Croatia and Turkey started negotiations at the same time, but Turkey could not make as much progress as Croatia. Turkey started negotiation talks with the EU five years ago. What is the current situation? Eight of 35 chapter headings could not be opened to negotiations due to the Cyprus issue.
SYRIA, STRATEGIC PARTNER
Turkish and Syrian parties have agreed to cooperate in all areas and carry out a joint fight against the PKK terrorist organization during a meeting of a high-level strategic cooperation council in the Syrian port city of Latakia. The two countries have also agreed on several new projects. They decided to establish a border crossing in Nusaybin and build a [high] speed train line between Gaziantep and Aleppo.
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT SAYS TURKEY WILL FORM NEW ALLIANCES
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Saturday that Turkey was the key country for the formation of new alliances in the world in the future.
"Turkey is opposing unjust treatment and it is fighting injustice. Under these circumstances, what Turkey is doing will pull us together like a magnet. You might be doing certain things your own way and you might think that you are not free but the most important role for you in the 21st century will be devising brand new alliances," Clinton told a conference at Istanbul's Bilgi University.
Clinton said he had always tried to defend Turkey in the country's bid for European Union membership bid, adding that he had cited Turkey's commitment in democracy and its role of a model country for the Middle East to show that religion and terrorism were different from each other. Clinton said Turkey's major achievements over the last years contributed to dialogue between religions and cultures, also helping people understand they could not consider that all Muslims were the same.
"Turkey is based on secularism while it allows for freedom for different religions. This is the only way that Islam cannot be considered as an agent of divisions. You are offering a new window for Europe into Muslim countries and into the East," Clinton said. Clinton said he disagreed with skeptics who argued that Turkey was moving away from the West and it was drifting to extremes.
"I do not believe that is the situation. Turkey has drawn a way of its own and it is making progress. You are trying to become a bridge and make sure that bad things do not happen. There were some skeptics in the West but they have also seen how unwise it would be to turn their backs on Turkey," Clinton said.
"I believe that Turkey will have a major role to play in the 21st century and that you will play that role very well. You will provide an opportunity not only for people living here in Turkey but also for those on whom you will make an impact to live better lives," Clinton said.
PM SAYS THERE IS CONTACT WITH ADMINISTRATION IN NORTHERN IRAQ
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before his departure for Bulgaria on Monday that there was a contact with the administration in northern Iraq [Kurdistan] due to presence of separatist terrorist organization in that region.
When a reporter reminded him of the Turkish interior minister's talks in northern Iraq, Erdogan said that officials with National Intelligence Organization, Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry had contacts with the administration [there]. "We are exerting great efforts to get results in fight against terrorism as soon as possible," Erdogan said. "There is no problem regarding informing the parliament on those contacts. It can be done. After we return, we can assess it and discuss the issue at a secret session of the parliament," he said.
TURKISH FLOTILLA SHIP BECOMES SETTING FOR ANTI-ISRAEL MOVIE
A Turkish protest ship that was the scene of bloodshed during Israel's deadly May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has now become the setting of an anti-Israeli film.
Part of a movie is being filmed on board the Mavi Marmara, where Israeli troops clashed in May with pro-Palestinian activists trying to breach the blockade in Gaza, Salih Bilici, a spokesman for the Turkish Islamic charity that sponsored the flotilla, told the Associated Press on Sunday.
The movie "Valley of the Wolves – Palestine" is a spin-off from the controversial but highly popular TV drama series "Valley of the Wolves," which tells the story of a nationalist undercover agent assigned to kill state enemies. The series sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel this year after one episode showed Israeli security forces kidnapping children and shooting old men.
This time, the hero Polat Alemdar and his team are given the task of hunting down the raid's military commander and planner, a fictional character called Mose Ben Eliezer, according to the film's website. "Mose destroys villages, kills children and throws everyone who helps Polat into prison," it says.
In Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declined comment because they had not seen the film. "Israel hasn't seen the show and will not comment on something we have no direct knowledge of," Palmor said. No one was available at the Pana production company Sunday.
In January, Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador to complain about "Valley of the Wolves," forcing the envoy to sit on a low sofa. Turkey was outraged and demanded an apology.
Bilici said the crew was currently filming an enactment of the May 31 raid aboard the Mavi Marmara. It shows activists performing early morning prayers when an Israeli helicopter approaches and soldiers rappel on board and shoot at them, Bilici said. The movie's release is scheduled for Jan. 28.
The Mavi Marmara and two other Turkish ships were part of a flotilla sailing toward Gaza to protest Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. Israel insisted its troops acted in self-defense after being attacked by activists on board.
Last week, a report by three U.N.-appointed human rights experts found that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided the flotilla. Israel responded by saying the Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, had a "biased, politicized and extremist approach."
The "Valley of the Wolves" films and TV series are highly popular in Turkey but are also [strongly] criticized for stoking nationalism and glorifying violence. In the early years of the TV series, upset fans held a minute of silence in the memory of one of the heroes who was killed off. They had obituaries printed in a newspaper expressing their grief, while a gang of angry youths beat up the actor who played his killer.