The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
CHALLENGING AND BARGAINING
Justice & Development (AK) Party proposed that the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) pass a law regarding the headscarf, but asked the CHP not to appeal to the Constitutional Court.
AKP Vice Chairman Huseyin Çelik said the document that the Higher Education Board (YÖK) sent to universities to ease [the official] attitude towards the headscarf could not solve the issue. Çelik said: "Let's amend laws instead of the constitution. As long as the CHP does not apply to the Constitutional Court, it shows its sincerity, we can solve this issue."
Hakkı Süha Okay, Vice Chairman of CHP responded to Çelik's remarks. Okay said: The "Prime Minister should openly tell us from whence headscarf freedom will start. Will he ask for the same thing for pre-school, primary and secondary schools? Or will he ask for public employees saying that the university process is over? All these issues have to be clarified."
ERDOGAN TO EU: DO NOT KEEP US WAITING
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harshly criticized the European Union. "If you do not want Turkey, then say it openly. It does not matter whether or not you accept us," the prime minister said.
Criticizing the [European] Union's creating difficulties for Turkey's [process toward] full membership, Erdoğan said, "when we ask them (EU member states) not to delay the process, they make up some formulas to show that they do not keep us waiting. That is how we carry on with the process at the moment."
"WE ARE A LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES"
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited foreign investors to [come to] Turkey. "Turkey is a safe haven. You do not have to think about tomorrow here. We are also ready to support you on everything you need," Erdoğan said.
Noting that Turkish economy had recovered from the global crisis, the prime minister said, "Turkey has broken records in growth as the rest of the world got smaller. We are a stable country."
IMF: TURKEY WILL GROW 7.8%
The International Monetary Fund released its World Economic Outlook report and projected that Turkey would grow by 7.8 percent in 2010 and 3.6 percent a year later. According to IMF's report, global economy is projected to grow by 4.8 percent in 2010 and 4.2 percent in 2011. IMF report indicated that Turkey would be the fastest-growing economy in Europe in 2010. Recalling that consumer prices increased by 6.3 percent last year, it forecast that rise in consumer prices would stand at 8.7 percent in 2010 and 5.7 percent in 2011.
ERDOĞAN INVITES BUSINESSMEN TO TURKEY
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered a speech at the 14th International Business Forum in Istanbul gathering 3,000 businessmen from 65 countries. Erdoğan said that Istanbul had become one of important international finance centers and invited businessmen to invest in Turkey. Addressing businessmen in the forum, Erdoğan said, "You should taste Turkish coffee here. Then Istanbul will become a city of bridges and it will turn into a city where you can invest peacefully."
TURKEY'S PROTESTANTS COMPLAIN OF DISCRIMINATION
Turkey discriminates against its Protestant community and fails to take action against hate speech targeting Christians, according to a report released by a church association Wednesday.
The Association of Protestant Churches report said one problem was public perception in the predominantly Muslim but secular country that "missionaries constitute a grave national threat and must be opposed."
"The Protestant community has been labeled as 'missionaries' and has, as a result, borne the brunt of being stigmatized and denounced over the last 20 years," said the group, which says it represents 85 percent of the 100 parishes in Turkey.
The report charged that Turkish media often portrayed Protestants as "illegitimate" and turned them into a "hate object," especially by targeting missionary activities.
"It is no coincidence that physical attacks against Protestants almost always follow negative news stories about Protestants in the media. Virtually none of these incendiary broadcasts targeting Protestants has resulted in the prosecution and conviction of those responsible for the broadcast," it said.
The association charged that missionary activities were also stigmatized in school textbooks and underlined that religious classes taught at school, that focused mainly on Islam, posed further problems. "To obtain exemption for their children, [Protestant] families are forced to tell what religion they are.
"Further, the children are put on display and, because they belong to a different religion, may encounter exclusion, derision and insults from friends and even from some teachers," it said.
Other grievances raised in the report include "restrictive decisions" by officials and "inadequate regulations" on the use of places of worship, restrictions on public employment and obstacles to training pastors.
The Protestant community says it has a congregation of between 3,000 and 3,500. Many of them are Muslim converts. In a 2007 attack that shocked the nation, three Protestants — a German and two Turkish converts — were murdered at a Christian publishing house in the eastern city of Malatya after they were tortured for hours.
Their murder followed the 2006 killing of a Catholic priest in the northern city of Trabzon on the Black Sea coast. "Security problems have decreased significantly as a result of security measures" taken after the killings, the report said.