The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.


Speaking at the closing session of 2011 Budget discussions at the parliament, Prime Minister Erdogan says that the only common and official language of Turkey is Turkish.

PM Erdogan continues as: "Request for autonomy and bilingulalism is a very dangerous game. I won't let anyone to play games on the unity of Turkey. As a prime Minister, I accepted that our Kurdish brothers have some problems. We will overcome this within the unity. My nation's only and common language is Turkish. Some dark forces are trying to create a chaos in our country while we are heading for elections. The scenario is open: to mingle the minds of people before the elections by gossip and fake news. We will not tolerate such demands."


Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman criticized Turkey, Palestinian Administration and his own Prime Minister Nethanyahu on in an academic conference on Sunday. He says that the current Israeli Government cannot implement a stable foreign policy. He says: "The Turks are liars. And the Palestinian Administration is not our counterpart."

The Israeli prime minister made a statement that Foreign Minister Lieberman's words do not reflect the policy of the Israeli Government.


The Mavi Marmara, which was raided by Israeli troops 219 days ago while carrying aid to Gaza, returned to Istanbul on Sunday. Many boats and around 10,000 people welcomed the ship carrying the photographs of 9 people who died during the raid. Fireworks were set off as the ship approached the harbor. Some of those present burst into tears.


The vessel Mavi Marmara will make another attempt to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip a year following its ill-fated first journey, one of the main activists, who organized the trip, said Sunday.

Seven months after nine people were killed onboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, the ship returned to Istanbul on Sunday, where it was welcomed in the Sarayburnu neighborhood with commemorations for those who died in Israeli commandos' May 31 attack as well as past victims of the Gaza blockade.

"The fate of the Mavi Marmara will be determined by its owners' conscience. We will organize another trip to Gaza on May 31, the same date the raid happened this year, with a larger crew to draw interest to the embargo one more time," Ümit Sönmez, the production branch coordinator of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which organized the flotilla, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

An additional 50 ships will accompany the Mavi Marmara on its next journey, Sönmez said, adding that the İHH has been receiving a lot of international support for its campaign. Asked whether the activists are afraid of experiencing another deadly incident, Sönmez said they only had to undergo that fear once, while the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank experience it every day and should be liberated from their hardships.

"Children should be able to go their schools without the fear of bombs. Of course, we have fear, but we think Israel will not demonstrate the same cruelty toward unarmed human-rights activists," he said. "If they attack, there is nothing to do. It's their choice."

The welcome for the Mavi Marmara came on the two-year anniversary of the start of Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" against Gaza, something Sönmez said the İHH wanted the crowd gathered to see the ship to remember. "Many civilians lost their lives and suffered financial losses. This was an opportunity to remember them along with the Mavi Marmara," he said.

The area set aside for the welcome in Sarayburnu was full of people carrying Palestinian and Turkish flags, chanting slogans as the aid flotilla approached and commemorating the dead.

Noting that the İHH's aim is not only to liberate people in Gaza, but also to support victims in the rest of the world regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity, Sönmez said the Mavi Marmara could travel to Africa, the Philippines and Thailand in the future.

The İHH has initiated a project called "Nine Martyrs, Nine Monuments," under which it will construct schools, cultural centers or sports complexes in the hometowns of those who died to remind people of the risks they took, Chairman Bülent Yıldırım said.

Noting that Israel-born Swedish human-rights activist Dror Feiler and Greek human activist Dimitris Plionis appeared onstage during the Mavi Marmara welcome, Yıldırım said the Israeli government would draw reactions from Jews, Christians and Muslims if it engaged in another attack on Gaza.

The Mavi Marmara will anchor for a week in Istanbul, where it will be open to group tours led by guides who experienced the May 31 incident. Following this, the vessel will be taken to a shipyard to undergo maintenance before next year's journey. "The bullet and blood traces are still left on the walls and seats," Sönmez said.

Relatives of the victims and accredited press members wanted to board the ship in the northwestern province of Çanakkale on Saturday and sail with it to Istanbul, but were prohibited from doing so at the last minute, according to Cihat Gökdemir, chairman of the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples, or Mazlum-Der. "The undersecretariat of maritime affairs didn't allow it due to technical problems," he said.


Turkish-U.S. relations have been through turbulent periods in the past and may become strained again, according to Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who told journalists Saturday that Turkey wanted to be influential in global politics and have a more robust role in the relationship.

"It will take time for the U.S. to become accustomed to the necessary psychological change, since Turkey does not want to be a strategic ally of the U.S. from the security perspective only," the foreign minister told a group of journalists Saturday.

Turkey's views need to be taken into account by the U.S. while it shapes its policies, Davutoğlu said. "It will take time for the U.S. to adapt to this situation, but I see this as a healthy process," he said.

Turkey wants to be influential and visible in global politics, he said, adding that this ambition has been one of the main pillars of the current government's policies. "Turkey wants to be one of the countries shaping the new world order. We want to establish the image that Turkey is a country to contribute to the restoration of the international system," he said.

"We don't want to be a country adapting to the system. We want to be a central country whose word carries weight, a country that says how the United Nations system or G-20 should be shaped, a country offering a view on how the global financial crisis should be solved," he said.

Davutoğlu has been asked by many of his colleagues when Turkey would announce its candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, he said, adding that Turkey was very successful in this seat during 2010. "Turkey will apply for a non-permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council, at the latest, within the next 10 years," he said.

Strengthening Turkey's strategic direction since the cold war era has been another essential aim of government policy, Davutoğlu said, adding that despite frustration over the slow pace of European Union membership negotiations, Turkey has the political will to pursue its EU bid. "Turkey's future is in the EU. Without the EU we will be like a body with one arm cut off. And the EU's future will be shaped with Turkey."

Davutoğlu dismissed speculation that Turkey is drifting away from the West, saying that 51 percent of his 81 visits abroad this year had been to North America and Europe, while 27 percent to the Middle East, 17 percent to Asia and 5 percent to Latin America and North Africa. If Turkey had lost its neutrality, Istanbul would not have been chosen as the site for the next round of nuclear talks between the West and Iran, he said.

Davutoğlu denied having said that Turkey wants to establish an Ottoman commonwealth-styled political system in an interview with the Washington Post. "Neither me, nor the president or the prime minister have ever talked about an Ottoman Commonwealth," he said, adding, however, that he has never shied away from using history as a reference point for interpreting contemporary affairs.

Turkey cannot manage foreign policy in the absence of knowledge of history, he said. "I said during a conversation with the Washington Post that Turkey is a nation state and is equal to the tiniest state in the Middle East. We do not want to dominate. We want to integrate with our region by making our borders more flexible."

Turkey is a successfully multicultural state, he said. "I said during the interview that Turkey has societal relations with the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. In Turkey you can find an Azerbaijani neighboring an Albanian, both Turkish citizens living in an apartment building together. The British Commonwealth was a colonialist structure. Britain did not establish a joint history with its colonies. It no longer has geographical continuity. Or look at France's Francophony [organization]. What does France have in common with Pacific islands? As I said all of this, it was perceived as Turkey wanting to establish an Ottoman Commonwealth."

"I say this independent of Jackson Diehl [author of the Washington Post article], but we are facing psychological warfare because of our increasing influence. We are shaking the anti-Turkish and anti-Ottoman feelings that dominated the mentality of some Arab intellectuals," said Davutoğlu, adding that some people were unhappy with Turkey's improving relations with its neighbors and wanted to spread the view that the "Turks are coming back."

"We are improving our relations with the Serbs for instance, and some feel concerned about it," he said.

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