The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
FIGHT OVER BAN ON HEADSCARVES IN TURKEY
Supreme Cvourt Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya warned all political parties about Turban issue saying "it is against the state of law and secularism." The government harshly reacted to the prosecutor, saying, "This is an open intervention in the democratic regime."
Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya said students could not get education in universities wearing a headscarf showing their religious belief. "Such regulations are against the principles of secularism and equality and a breach of Ataturk's reforms. This is also upheld by decisions of Constitutional Court, Council of State and European Court of Human Rights,ECHR." The statement also said all political parties should assume political, social, institutional, economic and legal responsibility from now on.
PULL BACK THE STATEMENT AND APOLOGIZE
Chairman of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) Mehmet Ali Sahin said, "Chief Prosecutor tries to give directives to TBMM by his written statement. I am asking him to pull back his statement and ask for apology from Turkish people and their representative TBMM."
NO COMPROMISE BUT IMPLEMENTATION
No result came out of the talks the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, launched with the opposition on Wednesday in order to solve the headscarf problem in universities. At the same time, the chairman of the Higher Education Board, or YÖK, announced that students could join the exams of the Student Selection and Replacement Center, or ÖSYM, with headscarves.
Five deputy chairman of AKP group at parliament met their counterparts in the Republican People's Party, or CHP. CHP members asked the AKP to assure them that the headscarf will not be used in public institutions, elementary and secondary education. Nurettin Canikli of the AKP said, "Who can assure some one for 10 years ahead?" and the path of compromise was closed.
Commenting on the developments from Finland, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, "They are speaking differently in the evening and in the morning. There is not enough of a majority in the Parliament for a constitutional amendment. Every one should get prepared, and we will discuss it after general elections in 2011."
YÖK Chairman Yusuf Ziya Özcan announced that students could wear headscarves during ÖSYM's exams from now on. In the meantime, a 13-year-old elementary student wearing a headscarf was admitted to her school in the southern province of Mersin. This was M.G's fifth attempt to enter school with a headscarf. Earlier, she was turned down for four times.
SHE IS EXPERIENCING HER RELIGION, I ADMIRE"
German President Christian Wulff's spouse Bettina Wulff spoke to Hürriyet daily. Wulff said she first visited Turkey 15 years ago for a vacation, and defined President Abdullah Gül's spouse Hayrünnisa Gül as a "modern lady who is sure of herself." Wulff said Hayrünnisa Gül was experiencing her religion as she wanted and she admired Hayrünnisa Gül. German Bild newspaper published a story about the meeting of the first ladies as "two first ladies, two worlds."
ERDOGAN PEACE IN AEGEAN SEA
Greek jets which continuously harass Turkish pilots have not been flying for seven days prior to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Greece. The cost of dog fights in the Aegean to the two countries is 444 million euro in the past nine years.
TURKEY WINS NATURAL GAS TENDER IN IRAQ
Turkey's state-run petroleum corporation TPAO, and its consortium partners won two of the three tenders opened to develop three natural gas fields in Iraq.
Reserves in Basra province where TPAO will extract natural gas is 43 billion cubic meters.
The field in Mansuriyah is 128 million cubic meters. 9.3 million cubic meters of gas will be extracted from the two fields in a day.
US ENVOY IN TURKEY TO PRESS IRAN SANCTIONS
A top US envoy will hold two days of talks with Turkish government and banking officials in a bid to strengthen cooperation on sanctions against Iran, the US embassy said Wednesday.
Stuart Levey, US undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, was to meet in Istanbul Wednesday with banking sector leaders and representatives of private industry, the embassy said in a statement.
He will then fly to Ankara Thursday to meet senior officials from the foreign ministry, the finance mininstry, the banking sector watchdog and the financial crimes investigation board.
The talks will focus on the implementation of a fourth round of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in June on Iran over its controversial nuclear program and on ways to "guard against Iranian abuse of the financial system," the statement said.
Turkey, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, had voted against the latest sanctions in a bid to give a chance to diplomatic efforts for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear standoff.
In a newspaper interview earlier this year, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said that Ankara would abide by UN sanctions on neighbouring Iran. But he ruled out following tougher measures imposed by the United States and the European Union.
In September, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara wanted a preferential trade agreement with Tehran which would allow the two neighbors to triple their trade in five years.
Turkey's improving ties with Iran, coupled by a deep crisis in relations with one-time ally Israel, have sparked concern that Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government is taking NATO's sole majority Muslim member away from the West.
US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR CALLS FOR MORE DEFENSE COOPERATION WITH TURKEY
"Cooperation in defense and security between Turkey and the United States is needed more than ever before. If we are to succeed, we have to stand together like we did in the past as NATO allies, strategic partners and friends. No country can stand alone against global challenges," Jones told on Tuesday a closing event of the 29th annual conference of the American-Turkish Council in Washington, D.C.
Jones said Turkey and the U.S. had worked side by side in tackling regional and global challenges, adding that strengthening alliance with Turkey through dialogue, coordination and cooperation has been a key priority for the Obama administration.
"Turkey and the U.S., as two democracies, are facing many challenges and they work together closely. Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 and NATO allies are responsible for each other's security under the 5th Provision of the Alliance," Jones underlined.
Jones said Turkey made major contributions in NATO's achievements in Afghanistan, adding that the Turkish assistance in maintaining stability in Afghanistan and helping the Afghan people were of critical importance.
The U.S. advisor said Turkey also played a significant role in stability-building efforts as well as political and economic development in Iraq.
Jones said the U.S. was fully committed in working together with Turkey and Iraq in the fight against the terrorist organization PKK, adding that his country would keep up the cooperation although U.S. reduced its military presence in the country.
"Our cooperation in many complicated issues, our friendship and partnership are characterized not by our common enemies but by our joint interests and common values such as peace, security, democracy and prosperity," Jones said.
Jones also expressed support for an initiative to boost trade and economic relations between Turkey and the United States "to raise them to the level of already strong political and military relations."
MISSILE DIPLOMACY LATEST TEST TO US-NATO-TURKEY TIES
If the U.S. forces Turkey to accept Iran as a specific threat within the agreement on a missile defense system for NATO, then the long-time allies could suffer another crisis like in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to a security politics expert.
"Turkey does not say there is no ballistic threat, but Ankara says the threat is not restricted to just one state; approximately 30 countries want to achieve this capability, thus this threat should be considered in a global dimension," Professor Mustafa Kibaroğlu from Bilkent University's international relations department told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview Tuesday.
"Turkey has achieved good relations with Iran. Ankara does not want to seem to be pointing to Iran as a threat and does not want to open its territory for a system pointing to Iran as a missile threat."
According to Kibaroğlu, the second and more important issue is not giving Tehran a rationale to develop its arms. He said Tehran might say, "NATO and even my neighbor Turkey see me as a threat and deploy a huge system against me; therefore I have no option other than to defend myself." Kibaroğlu recalled that Iran presented similar arguments on the nuclear issue regarding Israel's nuclear capability.
He said Turkey would not step back from insisting on not specifying a country as a threat. "Turkey's proposal does not affect the outcome of the system. If the U.S. insisted on showing Turkey as hard-nosed on this issue, a new March 1 syndrome [when Turkey denied the U.S. access to its territory as a land base during the 2003 invasion of Iraq] is possible for the relations."
Turkey is in favor of a NATO missile defense system under the roof of NATO, but it demands that its concerns be addressed, the expert said.
"A missile defense system is what Turkey has wanted from day one. However, it's a process and Ankara struggles to profit from it as much as possible," Kibaroğlu said.
While initial plans called for the deployment of a NATO missile defense system in the Czech Republic or Poland, new estimations of Iran's ballistic missile capacity found that the country likely only had medium-range ballistic missiles, rather than long-range, and caused Turkey to emerge as the prime candidate to host a defense system.
Turkey has conditionally approved the deployment of the proposed U.S.-led anti-missile system on Turkish soil. The issue is planned to be concluded at a NATO meeting Nov. 19-20 in Lisbon.
Concerns of potential missile threats from Iran, unsecured missiles in the former Soviet republics, or long-term threats from a changing geopolitical climate underlie efforts to create a system to track and neutralize possible ballistic missiles.
"The system under discussion would deploy radar on Turkish territory that will track a missile in order to determine its route. The missile threat is expected to be eliminated by ballistic missiles, probably from Romania," Kibaroğlu said.
Turkey's other reservations center on being included in the decision process for the system and sharing in its technological expertise – two issues Ankara has had problems with in the past, he said.
"When the system was first discussed with Turkey in the late '90s, Ankara demanded that the defense system be established under the roof of NATO. Turkey didn't want to be alone with the U.S., since it encountered problems with the U.S. on security and arms issues such as the Jupiter missiles in 1962, Johnson's letter in 1965 and the embargo that Washington imposed on Turkey in 1975."
Turkey insists the defense system should protect the entire territory of Turkey because the fifth article of the North Atlantic Treaty, guaranteeing the security of all members, has not always been implemented properly in the past, Kibaroğlu said.
"European members of NATO told Ankara that the alliance would protect Turkey against a threat posed by the Soviet Union, but not from the Middle East. There was a possibility of Soviet Union intervention if Turkey faced any problems with Iraq or Syria, a situation that NATO would not prefer."
Turkey wants a joint decision process, Kibaroğlu said. "The function of the radar is when the missile is launched, it determines the route of the missile. Then anti-ballistic missiles engage the inbound projectile. The territory of the country where the radar is deployed should also be protected. If you push the button for the anti-ballistic missiles too late due to hesitation, the host country might face a threat."
Kibaroğlu said the history of missile defense systems goes to the 1980s, when former U.S. President Ronald Reagan launched the Strategic Defense Initiative project in order to develop missile defense systems as a tool to convince Gorbachev to quit the arms race in the Soviet Era.
In the wake of the collapse of Soviet Union, the 15 former Soviet republics found themselves in possession of weapons of mass destruction, technical expertise, materials and information on the production of a range of ballistic missiles. The roots of concerns in the U.S stem from fears that states such as Iran, Libya and North Korea may have access to these material and expertise as well as to the weapons.
The U.S. thought that in five to ten years these countries might pose a threat not only to Washington's allies such as Israel, but also to the U.S. itself. "The project was on Turkey's agenda and the U.S.'s agenda in 1997-1998 and during the George W. Bush administration; however, the Bush administration exaggerated Iran's missile range and thus planned to deploy the system in Central or Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic and Poland were considered as options. But then the Obama administration admitted that Iran could not develop missiles with a range of 5,000 kilometers in the next decade."
Since the threat of missiles from Iran is thought to cover just a 2,500-kilometer area, which does include Israel, Turkey and Eastern Europe, the U.S. decided to establish the system closer to Iran so that a potential missile threat could be countered, Kibaroğlu said.
"The best option was Azerbaijan, but it is not a NATO member has close cooperation with Russia. Then Turkey became a good alternative for the missile defense radar again, since Ankara objected to installing ballistic missile launch batteries on its soil."
Kibaroğlu also indicated U.S. cooperation with Russia to eliminate Iran's nuclear threat as another reason to shift the defense system southward.
He said Russia warned the U.S. that it might not cooperate on Iran efforts if the defense system was deployed in Czech Republic or Poland.