The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
DIFFERENT LINKS CAN BE REVEALED
Regarding the suicide bomber who blew himself up at Istanbul's Taksim Square last weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said different links might be revealed regarding the suicide bomber in the future.
After the bomber was identified as Vedat Acar, his relatives started to come to the forensic medical institute to give DNA samples.
Istanbul Police Chief Huseyin Çapkın said: "There is only one assailant and there was not any other person besides the assailant."
The terrorist organization PKK, which has extended its ceasefire, is preparing to withdraw its militants to northern Iraq. Upon PKK terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan's orders "to withdraw," 1,500 militants of the terrorist organization stationed in Turkey have begun preparations to go to Qandil.
A delegation headed by Selahattin Demirtaş, the chairman of the Peace & Democracy Party (BDP), went to Irbil on Wednesday. BDP delegation will give a message to Barzani "to recognize the responsibility to supervise the lives to the PKK members who would leave Turkey and come to northern Iraq." PKK members are planned to settle down in villages on the foot of Mount Qandil.
For Ankara, settlement of terrorists in Hakurk and Haftanin camps near its border with Iraq is of strategic importance. Terrorists can easily infiltrate Turkey from these camps.
KILIÇDAROĞLU EXCLUDES SAV FROM EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF CHP
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP) demolished the bridges between himself and Secretary General Önder Sav, who paved the way for Kılıçdaroğlu's chairmanship with the support he extended. CHP excluded Önder Sav, who has been the secretary general of the party for a long time, from the Central Executive Board (MYK).
SWORDS DRAWN IN TURKEY'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY
Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on Wednesday was the scene of the most serious crisis in its history as tensions heightened when CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu excluded the party's secretary general, Önder Sav -- a senior figure within CHP ranks -- out of the party's central executive committee. "We have defeated the empire of fear. Those who derive their powers from somewhere else do not need to be in this party. Here is the new CHP, get used to it," Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters.
Sav responded harshly to Kılıçdaroğlu, criticizing him trying "wear out" the party and "shift its axis."
ERDOGAN SAYS MILITARY OFFICERS WHO SKIPPED NATONAL DAY RECEPTION MIGHT BE RELIEVED OF DUTY
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said military officers who skipped a reception the Turkish president hosted at the Çankaya Presidential Residence to mark October 29th National Day could be relieved of their duties if related laws require it. "What is done is totally unacceptable. The legal process will make the final call. And we will not hesitate to relive from command those who need to be relieved and we will not answer to anyone," Erdoğan told reporters on Wednesday before his departure for Kosovo.
RULING AKP PUTS ITS STAMP ON TURKEY'S CHANGING FOREIGN POLICY
Members of the European Parliament held placards reading 'Yes' on Dec. 15, 2004 during a vote on a resolution asking EU members to open talks with Turkey immediately.
Hailed early on for its efforts to join the European Union, Turkey's ruling party has more recently alarmed observers who believe Ankara is shifting away from the West as it seeks regional and global influence.
"There once was a time when the U.S. and the EU could take Turkey for granted... That time has passed," the Transatlantic Academy wrote in a recent study.
Soured by its experience with EU accession negotiations and seeking a broader role on the world stage, Turkey under the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] has drawn both acclaim and criticism for its growing involvement in regional and global issues.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's "zero problems with neighbors" policy has opened many doors, both economically and politically, but threatened to close others, as Turkey's stance on Israel and Iran, among other issues, generates further wariness in a United States already concerned about Ankara's loyalty.
"The fact that Turkey said 'no' to the United States' request to use Turkish territory for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a turning point for the AKP," said expert İlter Turan, adding that until that time, there had been no real test of Turkey's loyalty as a U.S. ally.
Following its rise to power as a result of the Nov. 3, 2002, general elections, the AKP set out to differentiate itself on foreign policy from its predecessor, the Islamic-rooted Welfare Party, which was broadly seen as anti-Western.
Amid heated speculation that the new ruling party had a secret agenda to Islamize the country, the AKP moved quickly to prove its determination to pursue Turkey's bid for European Union membership, officially opening accession negotiations in October 2005. The ruling party swiftly passed major packages of EU-required reforms though Parliament, something previous governments had largely failed to do. The changes, unprecedented in both substance and number, generated a wave of appreciation within the European Union, securing international legitimacy for the party.
Its opponents, however, seized on the fact that some of the reforms aimed to curb the military's power and accused the AKP of pushing the EU agenda in order to weaken the role of the army, seen as a pillar of the secular state. Closing its ears to such criticism, the party continued with its bold moves, changing long-time Cyprus policies that had ostracized Turkey and Turkish Cyprus, which had been seen as unwilling to compromise.
The AKP's efforts to find a lasting solution for the divided island failed when Greek Cypriots refused to support a U.N.-backed peace plan in a referendum. It also failed to remove an important obstacle to Turkey's bid to join the European Union, the resolution of the Cyprus question. The suspension of several chapters of accession negotiations because of the continued dispute over Cyprus has left many members of the AKP bitter and distrustful toward Europeans.
Frustrated by negative messages from some European governments, questioning Turkey's eventual entry to the 27-nation bloc, the AKP's enthusiasm for relations with the European Union diminished day by day. Meanwhile, its foreign policy successes in the Middle East fed its ambitions to become a regional power and a global player – to the dismay at times of its traditional allies.
The AKP's policy of deeper engagement in its own neighborhood began before its second term started in July 2007, but gained momentum with Davutoğlu's ascension as Turkey's new foreign minister. Driven by his concept of "zero problems with neighbors," Turkey sought not only to improve relations with neighboring countries but also to play a more influential role both regionally and globally. The AKP leadership knew that Turkey could not be a successful actor in the international arena if it was continuously entangled in disputes with other countries. It was also aware that improved relations with the nations that previously harbored members of the outlawed Kurdistan People's Party [PKK] would facilitate a solution to the Kurdish problem in the country. It is no coincidence that the AKP's Kurdish opening in 2009 came following the improvement of once-strained relations with the Regional Kurdish Administration in northern Iraq.
The AKP's landslide victory in the 2007 general elections boosted the party's confidence, while Turkey's election in 2008 as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council pushed Ankara to play a more proactive role regionally, aspiring to become what Davutoğlu called a "play maker."
In practice, this aspiration was reflected in increased Turkish mediation between rival actors, with Davutoğlu becoming the "flying minister," shuttling from one country to the next. Turkey mediated between conflicting factions in both Iraq and Lebanon, as well as between Iraq and Syria. Davutoğlu's pursuit of "strategic depth" was not limited to the Middle East, but extended to the Balkans and even to Africa. In April 2010, Turkey's mediation efforts brought the Muslim leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina together for the first time with the Serbian leadership.
The AKP's biggest mediation success came when it sponsored indirect talks between Israel and Syria in 2008. But this effort proved to be a turning point for the party. Israel's 2008 bombing of Gaza not only stopped the indirect talks with Syria but also strained relations with Turkey. The relationship between Turkey and Israel, once close allies, deteriorated as Ankara criticized Israeli policies in Palestine openly and with an unprecedented severity. Turkey's attempts, along with Brazil, to meditate between Iran and the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear program also proved fateful. The efforts failed to keep the United States and its allies from passing a U.N. Security Council resolution to impose fresh sanctions on Iran and Turkey's dissenting vote further complicated relations with a Washington already anxious about the tension with Israel.
"I see a third-world approach to foreign policy. The [Turkish] government cooperated with Brazil on the Iran issue, for instance.
Furthermore, one of the reasons it is supporting Iran's right to enrich uranium is its objection to a world monopoly on uranium enrichment," said İlter Turan from Istanbul's Bilgi University. "The AKP leadership, which is conservative and partially familiar with the Western way of living, feels much more comfortable and at ease with the Arab neighbors. I believe this also plays a role in its engagement with neighbors."
Turkey's pursuit of zero problems with neighbors has not always been a smooth one, however. On the contrary, attempts to mend fences or improve relations with one country often seem to have come at the expense of another.
"Since Davutoğlu became foreign minister, Turkey has been excluded from the Middle East peace equation. While trying to favor Hamas, it lost El Fetih. As it became the enemy of Israel, its value with the Syrians diminished," columnist Kadri Gürsel wrore Monday.
The AKP's reservations about U.S.-backed NATO plans to install a missile defense shield against Iran have meanwhile further fueled debates on whether Turkey is drifting away from the West.
Ironically, the same confusion that reigned in 2002 about Turkey's foreign policy has reappeared in 2010, after the AKP has been in office for eight years. But during that time, the party's stance has shifted. While it initially worked to assuage concerns about Turkey's place in the world, it now expects the international community to understand and accept its policies.
"Turkey's influence in the region no longer only stems from its large population and military capacity. With the aim of $1 billion gross national product, its businessmen traveling with their suitcases on all continents, its assistance organizations and its press force, there is a reality of 'new Turkey' in this geography," journalist Gürkan Zengin wrote in his newly published book about Davutoğlu.
Though Turkey's newly assertive posture has actually been in the making for 30 years, starting with the liberal policies of former President Turgut Özal, major global players are struggling to accept and handle the new stance. And even within the country, the AKP's Islamic credentials are increasingly being held responsible for Turkey's failure to strike the right balance between priorities in the East and the West. If the party wins a new term in 2011, its aspirations on the regional and global stage will be more closely watched than ever.