The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.


Gul said: "According to the current laws, this action is under the related minister's authority. There is no need to exaggerate this issue."


Regarding the suspension of Gen. Halil Helvacioglu, Gen. Gurbuz Kaya and Adm. Abdullah Gavremoglu by the orders of Interior Minister Besir Atalay and National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "There are several authorities in line with Inner Services Law. Our Interior Minister and Defense Minister used their authorities within the scope of these authorities."


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was welcomed to Lebanon on Wednesday by thousands of Lebanese carrying Turkish flags and banners that read "Sultan Erdoğan."

Visiting a Turkmen village in Lebanon, Erdoğan spoke to a crowd of about 20,000 people.


Turkey's prime minister called on Israel to apologize for its mistakes in the region in a speech he gave in Lebanon on Wednesday, adding Turkey would do its best to avert a new armed flare-up in Lebanon.

"We will continue to raise our voice against those massacring innocent people and children. We will call a killer 'a killer' when needed," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the Lebanese Turkmen village Kouachra, near the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

Erdoğan's remarks came at the beginning of a two-day official visit to Beirut on Wednesday.

"The people of Israel should see this now. If peace comes to that region, Israel would win as the region wins. If there is war in this region, Israel's people will be harmed as people of the region will be harmed. That is why we call on Israel to turn back from its mistakes, apologize and accept peace," he said.

Following the speech, Erdoğan told Lebanese daily as-Safir that he promised to use Turkey's regional clout to maintain stability in the tiny Mediterranean nation. "Should any signs of war surface in Lebanon, God forbid, Turkey and other countries in the region will do everything they can to prevent that war," he said.

The prime minister's two-day visit will focus on strengthening ties between Beirut and Ankara and is set to include meetings with senior Lebanese officials. A source close to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that Wednesday evening's bilateral meeting would see the two leaders "sign an agreement and build high-level strategic partnerships."

Erdoğan's visit comes at a crucial time, with Lebanon on the verge of political breakdown due to disagreement over a United Nations-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Speculation has soared that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon [STL] is ready to issue indictments against Hezbollah members, following a spate of media reports linking the party to al-Hariri's murder. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has warned of the consequences should arrest warrants against party members materialize, while the cabinet remains divided over issues such as STL funding and the possibility any investigation may be misdirected because of "false witnesses."

"As a leader who loves Lebanon and the Lebanese, I don't want Lebanon to go through such a thing," Erdoğan told as-Safir. "In the event it does happen, all religions, races and sects will destroy Lebanon and those paving the way for such strife will not be able to get rid of their historic accountability."

Giant billboards with Erdoğan's face and a greeting in Turkish adorned Beirut's city center and southern suburbs, echoing the tone of banners welcoming Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad who undertook a historic visit to Lebanon last month.

Lebanon is home to more than 140,000 Armenians and several demonstrations were organized by Lebanese-Armenian religious and political figures to protest Erdoğan's visit.

Demonstrators chanted slogans such as "the Lebanese have not forgotten Turkey's bloody history in the region," and "Erdoğan should bow before our martyrs," although the protests were peaceful amid heavy security.

Lebanese Dashnaktsutyun Party leader Hagop Pakradounian said Lebanese officials were giving Erdoğan "more importance than his real role and forgetting that he is the heir of the Ottoman Empire."

Erdoğan later met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman at the latter's residence "with talks touching on bilateral relations and the general situation in the region," a presidential statement said. He also met Parliament Speaker Nabih al-Berri.

There are hopes Erdoğan may harness Turkey's relationship with Iran and Syria to pressure Hezbollah into submission over the STL.

"Everyone is trying to prevent disturbances in Lebanon and Turkey can pressure Syria and Iran in order to tone down the Hezbollah rhetoric," Simon Haddad, political analyst at the American University in Beirut, told the Daily News, adding that while Ahmadinejad's visit last month sought to boost Hezbollah's domestic standing, Erdoğan's trip was a show of "support for al-Hariri and his politics."


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on a high-profile visit to tension-gripped Lebanon on Wednesday, as Ankara seeks to emerge as a key mediator in the Middle East.

He was greeted at the airport by his Lebanese counterpart, Saad Hariri, who is going head-to-head with Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah over a UN-backed court probing the murder of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

His arrival was punctuated by a group of Armenians protesting what they say was genocide against their community by Turkey's precursor, the Ottoman Empire, in the early 20th century.

The Turkish premier held closed-door talks with President Michel Sleiman -- a former general struggling to play peacemaker between the feuding Lebanese parties -- and met parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri.

"The aim of (Erdogan's) visit was to sign bilateral agreements ... and strengthen quadripartite ties among Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon," Sleiman's office said.

"The meeting also covered ... the importance of finding solutions to all matters related to the international tribunal."

Erdogan's trip comes ahead of an anticipated indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating the 2005 bombing that killed Rafiq Hariri and 22 others.

Tensions are soaring in Beirut as the STL is reportedly set to implicate high-ranking Hezbollah operatives in the Hariri murder, a move the Shiite militant party has warned against.

Erdogan, whose country played a key role in mediating now-frozen peace talks between Syria and Israel, said Turkey would do everything in its power to prevent war in Lebanon, in comments published hours ahead of his visit.

"Should any signs of war surface in Lebanon, God forbid, Turkey and other countries in the region will do everything they can to prevent that war," Erdogan told the Lebanese daily As-Safir on the eve of his two-day visit.

"Today we stand by Lebanon as we always have," he said.

Turkey is widely seen as aiming to position itself as a central regional mediator in the troubled Middle East.

Erdogan's visit is the latest in a string of diplomatic efforts directed at avoiding another crisis in Lebanon, which is bracing for the STL indictments.

The prime minister will hold private talks with Hariri later on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet members of Hezbollah during his visit.

Erdogan is due to visit a village in northern Lebanon, inhabited by Turkmen families, and inspect Turkish troops serving with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon at the Israeli border.

He will also inaugurate a Turkish-funded medical center that specializes in treating burn victims in the southern coastal city of Sidon.

Outside the Beirut airport, around 150 members of Lebanon's Armenian community gathered amid tight security to protest Erdogan's visit, hoisting banners that read: "The Lebanese have not forgotten Turkey's bloody history in the region" and "Erdogan should bow before our martyrs."

They clashed briefly with security forces before being ordered to leave the premises, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

A rival gathering of some 100 students massed across the street waving the red and white Turkish flag and banners welcoming Erdogan.

Lebanon is home to a 140,000-strong Armenian community, mostly made up of the descendants of those who survived the massacres in eastern Anatolia under Ottoman rule almost a century ago.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were systematically killed between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart.

Turkey rejects the genocide label and argues that 300,000-500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.


Given the Turkish governments animosity toward Israel, the Israeli government would be foolish to think a missile defense system in Turkey would defend it from an Iranian attack, according to an American foreign policy expert.

Ariel Cohen, from Washington think tank The Heritage Foundation, criticized what he called the Turkish leadership's adamant position on not letting any data be collected by a planned NATO missile defense system radar be shared with Israel.

"This position suggests an ill intention against the security of Israel," he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review during a Tuesday interview.

"This position can be perceived as potentially a support for those who'd like to attack Israel."

Cohen countered arguments the NATO missile defense system is being constructed to protect Israel from an Iranian attack. Turkey joined NATO countries in a decision to adopt a missile defense system covering all the alliance's territory at the summit in Lisbon last week, despite critics' arguments that the system would also aim to protect Israel.

Israel has its own missile defense system against potential missile attacks, Cohen said. Iran does not need to use Turkish airspace to hit Israel, he said, adding that Israel has complicated relations with some other NATO countries that are critical of some Israeli policies.

While he described the outcome of the NATO summit as a win-win situation for both Ankara and Washington, he warned the question of operational control of the system remains an important one.

"Everything should be agreed in advance. And it should be agreed on in a way that the system could not be shut down on the whim of one general or politician," he said.

Cohen believes Turkey's general strategic direction is worrying a lot of people. Turkey's refusal to let United States soldiers use Turkish territory to enter Iraq in 2003, as well as its refusal to let U.S. warships enter the Black Sea, the offer of the Turkish-Russian platform which excluded the European Union and the U.S. during the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 and more recently the Turkish-Brazilian initiative on the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West, are all worrying developments, he said.

While Turkish-U.S. relations are currently not at their peak, Turkey would be unlikely to find a more sympathetic U.S. government than the Obama administration, Cohen said. "Any government in the future will be tougher."

"Obama has spent tremendous political capital by coming to Turkey in the early days of his administration, to highlight Turkey as a model of a democratic Muslim state. But he was thinking of the Turkey of eight years ago. This image no longer applies. Turkey has wasted its goodwill in Washington. Many in the U.S. are disappointed," he said.

The U.S. has to be clearer in terms of what Turkey will gain if it maintains its Western orientation, according to Cohen. "Washington should also be equally clear on what Turkey will lose if it has an anti-western orientation."

Cohen also criticized the U.S. for remaining passive in public diplomacy, saying it should have objected to movies like "Valley of the Wolves" that depict a negative image of Americans.


The rest of the world has to get used to the fact that Turkey has found its feet both economically and in terms of foreign relations, according to Member of British Parliament Jack Straw.

"Turkey is a big country. It's no longer in the shadow of, say, the United States or consumed by internal problems," Straw said, speaking to private TV channel Skyturk. "I greatly welcome the role that it can play in the wider Middle East, not only in Iran but also in Israel and Palestine."

Straw also said he wants to see the same kind of facilitation toward Turkey from the European Union as the other newly admitted member states. He said the membership application was being held hostage by the Greek Cypriots. Also countries like France are using Turkey's size as an excuse to avoid their real anxieties, which is that Turkey is a Muslim country.

"I am frankly very frustrated to the point of being angry for the lack of [EU] progress," he told NTV in a taped interview with Zeynep Dereli from Turkish Policy Forum. "Although some people in Europe say this is Turkey's responsibility and I am sure Turkey could have done some things better, the responsibility lies with those in Europe who have in practice set much tougher tests for Turkey than were ever set for other applicant countries."

Straw is the author of a column published recently in the Times of London newspaper entitled, "No ifs or buts, Turkey must be part of the EU." In the article, he advocates Turkey's EU membership and claims Cyprus is just an excuse for those who cannot stomach the accession of a Muslim country.

Straw is a British Labour politician and current Member of the British Parliament. He is one of only three people to have served in the Cabinet continuously from 1997 to 2010.


Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) has announced that out of a total of 573 billion Turkish lira (TL) of deposits in Turkish banks, 19.8 billion TL came from those living out of Turkey. 4.3 billion TL of foreign deposits in Turkish banks came from Iran.


The Federation Council, the upper house of Russian Parliament, approved on Wednesday the agreement which envisions construction of nuclear power plant in Akkuyu hamlet of Turkey's southern province of Mersin.

Earlier, Duma, the lower house of Russian Parliament, approved the agreement with 315 against 6 votes of parliamentarians.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit to Turkey on May 12 and signed the agreement on nuclear power plant that has 4.8 GW capacity and will be comprised of four units.

The approval of the agreement will be signed by Medvedev too.

Yuri Lipatov, Chairman of the Energy Committee of Duma, said in an earlier statement that the project was the most important strategic cooperation between Turkey and Russia.

Noting that the first phase of the construction of the power plant would be made by Russian companies, Lipatov said that the first phase would enter commercial use seven years after all documents and licenses were delivered.

Russian government approved the names of companies, which will undertake the construction of the nuclear power plant, on November 17. It announced that the project will be pursued by Russian "ZAO Atomstroyeksport", "Inter RAO UES", "Rosenergoatom", "Atomenergoremont" and "Atomtehenergo" companies.

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