The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
FIRST LADIES MARCH
Hayrünnisa Gül, wife of the Turkish president, hosted the "First Ladies" of four countries in an international congress meeting on cultural heritage and music in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
In her address at the congress, Hayrünnisa Gül said there were very important duties for women in the improvement of intercultural dialogue.
HE IS NOW THE LEADER
The Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor's Office has approved the Central Executive Board formed by the leader of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Thus, Kılıçdaroğlu won the political and legal battle against former CHP Secretary General Önder Sav.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, Kılıçdaroğlu said that the CHP would embrace all segments in Turkish society.
US MIDTERM ELECTIONS RESET LOBBY DYNAMICS FOR TURKEY
Republican-control of one house of the U.S. Congress, brought by Tuesday's midterm elections in the United States, is a mixed blessing for the future of the U.S.-Turkish relationship, diplomats and analysts said Thursday.
"We eventually got rid of the Californian gang, and it's good," said one Turkish diplomat privately, referring to campaign losses for both Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrat Howard Berman, who were known to be hostile to Turkey. California has a large Armenian community.
Pelosi will cede her post to the present Republican minority leader, John Boehner, with whom Turkish diplomats have good working relations.
Berman, the pro-Armenian chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will also be replaced by a Republican, likely Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The changes affecting Turkey mirrored the trend across the country, as Tuesday's midterm elections dealt a massive upset to Democratic President Barack Obama, with the opposition Republicans regaining the control of the House of Representatives, Congress' lower chamber. The Democrats managed to keep their control in the Senate, Congress' upper chamber, but their formerly comfortable majority diminished.
For Turkey, however, the so-called Armenian lobby remains strong in both houses of Congress. For example, Republican Representative Mark Kirk of Illinois, a leading sponsor of the "Armenian Genocide" resolution in the House, won his election bid to the U.S. Senate in Illinois, filling the seat once held by Obama.
Also in a hotly contested race, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, an "Armenian Genocide" resolution co-sponsor, won re-election, as did the same bill's other co-sponsors, Senators Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, and Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York.
In the House, all major pro-Armenian lawmakers were re-elected, with the exception of George Radanovich, a Republican from California, who previously announced his decision not to run again.
In the 1990s, Turkish diplomats dealing with the United States had a motto: "Democratic presidents and Republican Congresses," since Republicans were less concerned about Turkey's human rights history.
The situation in Turkey, however, has changed in the last 15 years or so. Whereas Turkey was once a loyal ally of the United States, it now has its own independent foreign policies and initiatives, particularly in the Middle East, including rapidly improving ties with Iran and Syria and a worsening relationship with Israel. As such, many U.S. conservatives, especially in the Republican Party, are upset with Turkey.
The new Congress to be elected Tuesday will take office Jan. 3, and any congressional sessions between now and the New Year are called "lame duck" sessions. There is a slight chance two important things could happen for Turkey during the lame-duck sessions. First, there has been no U.S. ambassador in Ankara for more than three months. Obama's ambassadorial nominee, Frank Ricciardone, has so far failed to win Senate confirmation as prominent Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas has effectively blocked Ricciardone's nomination.
Ricciardone can at best be confirmed in the Senate's lame-duck sessions beginning in mid-November on the condition that Brownback lifts his hold. Brownback was elected governor of Kansas on Tuesday and will leave his Senate job at the end of the year.
If Brownback were to lift his hold on Ricciardone – despite there being no sign of such intent – and the Senate confirmed Ricciardone, the latter could take his job in Ankara. However, if Brownsback does not lift his veto and the Congress does not vote for Ricciardone, the Ankara envoy's seat will remain vacant at least until the new Congress is convened in January.
Secondly, Turkey is also concerned about a vote on the "Armenian genocide" resolution pending in the House of Representatives during the lame-duck season.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs narrowly approved the "genocide" bill in March, and the resolution is awaiting a possible vote on the House floor. U.S. Armenians are seeking a vote on the resolution in one of the lame-duck sessions, but Obama's administration is standing resolutely against this bill.
Many Republicans are ultimately angry about Ankara's rapprochement with Iran and the new hostile relationship between Turkey and Israel; if this situation continues, they could take hostile action against Turkey.
Moreover, if pro-Armenian congressmen do not bring forth a "genocide" resolution bill during the lame-duck sessions, they could conceivably reintroduce such a bill after Jan. 3. Many Republicans, angry with Turkey, could back these bills.
MORE PALACE INTRIGUE AS TURKISH OPPOSITION PARTY BOUND BY CHAOS
The Prosecutor's Office of Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals on Thursday approved the list for the main opposition's new senior management that was proposed Wednesday by party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
The decision followed a day full of confrontation and chaos in the main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP] and came after a dramatic dispute over party administration broke out Wednesday between Kılıçdaroğlu and Secretary-General Önder Sav over the structure of party management.
Sav on Thursday applied to the Prosecutor's Office to annul Kılıçdaroğlu's new Central Executive Board [MYK] after gathering 80 signatures from party assembly members on Wednesday in support of his move. Sav said the new board was formed in an illegal way.
Later Thursday, however, 19 members withdrew their signatures. Media reports said Kılıçdaroğlu was trying to convince more members to withdraw their signatures as well to solve the problem without the need for a convention.
CHP's Istanbul branch announced its support for Kılıçdaroğlu on Thursday, but Sav declared that he would convene all the CHP's provincial branches on Saturday in Ankara.
Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated Thursday that the new administration was resisting "fear" and that their struggle would continue.
"We are winning because we are right," he said, adding that the CHP was a revolutionary party and that its direction was clear. "Our way is toward a secular, democratic and social rule of law, as well as contemporary civilization."
Speaking after the MYK meeting, Süheyl Batum, whom Kılıçdaroğlu named secretary-general Wednesday, said there was nothing illegal and that Sav, who is a jurist himself, would eventually understand.
The dispute broke out Wednesday when Kılıçdaroğlu canceled a party assembly that was scheduled for discussing the chief prosecutor's warning to implement the party's amended bylaws regarding the structure of party management. Sav, however, gathered signatures from 80 members of the party assembly and overrode Kılıçdaroğlu's decision. There will likely be a convention at the end of the month to decide whether or not to annul the 2008 bylaw amendments.
Kılıçdaroğlu has defended the amendments, which call for reducing the traditionally strong role of the secretary-general and appointing 13 deputy leaders alongside a would-be figurehead secretary-general. Sav, however, opposes the new model, fearing that the change will eliminate his clout.
At Wednesday's party assembly, Kılıçdaroğlu proposed a list of new candidates for the new MYK and sent the list to the Prosecutor's Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals.
Sav, however, announced later in the day that the party assembly had convened and had decided to hold a convention on Nov. 27-28 to change the new bylaws back to their old structure and that the decision would be provided to the Chief Prosecutor's Office, signaling that he would apply Thursday to annul the new MYK and the amended bylaws.
PRESS FREEDOM IN TURKEY FADES TO BLACK UNDER AKP RULE
The ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] has accomplished much during its eight years in charge, including presiding over the most spectacular economic growth in Europe, minor steps forward on the Kurdish issue and reducing the power of the military. Aside from such good news, however, decreasing press freedom under the current government presents a far more depressing picture.
With a tax fine totaling billions of dollars levied against the country's largest media group, journalists forced to resign due to government pressure and more and more journalists facing prison time as the result of changes made to the country's media laws, many journalists believe their situation has worsened under the current government.
"The change in the Turkish Penal Law in 2005 led to the related article of the Press Law on the violation of a trial's secrecy, which brought fines and then prison sentences. That leads press freedom in a negative direction," said İsmail Saymaz, a journalist for daily Radikal.
There is unquestionably more variety in the current Turkish media landscape, yet the near-decade of AKP rule has been marked by increasing polarization of the press; while one side of the media depicts a ruling party that can do no wrong, the other paints a picture of a government that is evil incarnate. Although there is both a small middle ground and a number of journalists who attempt to cover the news objectively, many must read the same story in three different newspapers in order to grasp all the facts.
Figures from Reporters Without Borders indicate a depressing, downward trend in terms of press freedom under the AKP. When the party took the reins of power in early 2003, Turkey was ranked 116th in worldwide press freedom. While this figure was already distressing, the country has since slide further: in 2009 it was 122nd and in 2010 it fell to 138th. "A historic low," the organization said.
While the AKP's clashes with the military-backed, bureaucratic status quo slowed the pace of the party's reform measures and forced them to accept compromises, it is clear that there was no outside force exhorting them to implement more draconian laws on the freedom of the press and speech, resulting in thousands of banned websites and hundreds of journalists on trial.
A tightening of the screws on press freedom has meant that thousands of websites have been banned for violating various laws and trials for numerous journalists.
There are currently 27 articles in the Turkish Penal Code that limit the freedom of the press in addition to two in the Anti-Terror Law.
Most intriguingly, anti-government journalists have not been the only members of the media to run afoul of the law during the AKP's time in power.
Helin Şahin from daily Star, a newspaper considered pro-government or even an AKP partisan, faces 57 years in prison due to her reporting on some alleged coup plot cases. There are 80 ongoing investigations and 40 cases against her.
Mehmet Baransu, an award-winning reporter for the anti-military daily Taraf, is currently facing approximately 40 trials. Most critically, the journalist could be sentenced to 10 years in jail for "exposing secret documents of the government."
Baransu has so far been ordered to pay fines of 20,000 Turkish Liras for two of his offenses and 25,000 liras for another two.
Saymaz, who is not a journalist sympathetic to the AKP, is currently facing 10 cases and 83 years in prison for alleged press violations.
"The change in the Anti-Terror Law in 2006 regarding making propaganda for a terrorist organization is more often used against 'non-famous' reporters," Saymaz said, adding that the AKP was responsible for all the changes.
Some 47 Turkish journalists are currently under arrest or on trial, while more than 700 criminal and civil cases involving journalists are ongoing.
In previous years, journalists all over the country saw some of their stories arbitrarily banned before they went to print – and thus a large white space in the newspaper – as well the shuttering of newspapers by the will of a single official with journalists facing lifelong prison sentences.
While such treatment is rarely now experienced by journalists in the western part of the country, the same cannot be said for journalists in areas with high Kurdish populations.
Adil Zozani, a columnist and editor for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat (Free Homeland), who has been an active journalist since 1992, said he saw many colleagues killed during the dark days of the 1990s in eastern Turkey.
"At that time, despite all that pressure, the prosecutor did not have the authority to shut down newspapers; a court order was needed. We were able to publish the paper with an empty part, writing, 'This story has been censored," Zozani said.
"Not being shot in the streets notwithstanding, we are yearning for the 1990s before the AKP era," he said.
Zozani said Kurdish journalism still had no legitimacy in the eyes of the government.
"We, as Kurdish journalists, have never been tried in Turkey within the scope of the [law on] freedom of opinion and expression," he said, referring to the controversial Article 301, a law that bans "insulting Turkishness" and has caused trouble for many.
Many Kurdish journalists also face trials based on Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law for praising crime or criminals, according to Zozani.
Vedat Kurşun, Azadiya Welat's former news editor, faced a prison sentence of 525 years when he spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News; he was finally sentenced to 166.5 years in prison in May.
"Being a Kurdish journalist in Turkey automatically means being subjected to double standards," said Zozani, adding that the oppression extends beyond the courtroom. "When the police see our newspaper on a table at a teahouse, he may consider it criminal evidence against the owner. People who distribute our newspaper are under pressure."
Metin Alataş, a 34-year-old Azadiya Welat distributor, was found dead April 5, hanging from a fruit tree in the southern province of Mersin. Alataş had been receiving threats for some time, according to his family and the daily's lawyer, Vedat Özkan, who said they did not believe the death was a suicide.